Hamas Covenant

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The Hamas Covenant also known as Hamas Charter, refers to the Charter of the Hamas, issued on 18 August 1988, outlining the movement founding identity, stand, and aims.[1]

The Charter identified Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories,[2] and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.[3][4] It emphasizes the importance of jihad, stating in article 13, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."[5] The charter also states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they "stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region".[6] The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam.[1]

In 2008, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, stated that Hamas would agree to accept a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, and to offer a long-term truce with Israel.[7] In contrast to this, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that any talk of the 1967 lines is "just a phase" until Hamas has a chance to "regain the land...even if we [Hamas] have to do so inch by inch."[8] Other Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Meshaal have also stated repeatedly that "Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it,"[9] and that "we shall not relinquish the Islamic waqf on the land of Palestine, and Jerusalem shall not be divided into Western and Eastern Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a single united [city], and Palestine stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and from Naqoura [Rosh Ha-Niqra] to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in the south."[10][11]
In 2009 interviews with the BBC, Tony Blair claimed that Hamas does not accept the existence of Israel and continues to pursue its objectives through terror and violence; Sir Jeremy Greenstock however argued that Hamas has not adopted its charter as part of its political program since it won the Palestinian legislative election, 2006.[12] Instead it has moved to a more secular stance.[13]
In 2010 Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons."[14] Hamas has moved away from its charter since it decided to run candidates for office.[13]


In 1987, twenty years after the 1967 war, the First Intifada (1987–1993) began.[15] In the late 1980s, the PLO sought a negotiated solution with Israel in the form of a two-state solution. This was not acceptable to Hamas, the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood,[16] and the covenant was written to bridge the ideological gap between the PLO and Muslim Brotherhood.[17] According to Hamas's Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Yousef, the Charter "was ratified during the unique circumstances of the Uprising in 1988 as a necessary framework for dealing with a relentless occupation".[18]

While the PLO was nationalistic, it was more secular in nature, while Hamas subscribed to a neo-Salafi jihadi theology and nationalism.[16] Hamas was a shift from the Muslim Brotherhood's more universal Islamic vision to a focus on Palestinian nationalism and a strategy of armed struggle, or violent jihad.[17] Its political goals were identical to those of the PLO's charter and was essentially an armed struggle to retrieve the entire land of Palestine as an Islamic waqf.[17]

Relevance of the Charter in the 21st century[edit]

Dr. Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Ismail Haniyeh (the senior political leader of Hamas) claimed that Hamas has changed its views with time since the charter was issued in 1988.[18] In 2010 Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons."[14]

In 2006, Hamas proposed government programme, which stated that "the question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people."[19][20] However many remain sceptical of Hamas's new stance, and view it as a ploy to hide its true agenda, "but it is equally true that the “new” discourse of diluted religious content—to say nothing of the movement’s increasing pragmatism and flexibility in the political domain—reflects genuine and cumulative changes within Hamas."[13]


  • Article 1 describes Hamas as an Islamic Resistance Movement with an ideological programme of Islam.[21]
  • Article 2 of Hamas' Charter defines Hamas as a "universal movement" and "one of the branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine".[17][21][22][23]
  • Article 3 the Movement consists of "Muslims who have given their allegiance to Allah".[21]
  • Article 4 the Movement "welcomes every Muslim who embraces its faith, ideology, follows its programme, keeps its secrets, and wants to belong to its ranks and carry out the duty."[21]
  • Article 5 Demonstrates its Salafist roots and connections to the Muslim brotherhood. [21]
  • Article 6 Hamas is uniquely Palestinian,[24] and "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned."[17][21]
  • Article 7 describes Hamas as "one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders" and links the movement to the followers of the religious and nationalist hero Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.[21][23]
  • Article 8 The Hamas document reiterates the Muslim Brotherhood's slogan of "Allah is its goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur'an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief."[17][21]
  • Article 9 adapts Muslim Brotherhood's vision to connect the Palestinian crisis with the Islamic solution and advocates "fighting against the false, defeating it and vanquishing it so that justice could prevail".[21]
  • Article 11 Palestine is sacred (waqf) for all Muslims for all time, and it cannot be relinquished by anyone.[21]
  • Article 12 affirms that "Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed" .[21]
  • Article 13 There is no negotiated settlement possible. Jihad is the only answer.[21]
  • Article 14 The liberation of Palestine is the personal duty of every Palestinian.[21]
  • Article 15 "The day that enemies usurp part of Muslim land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim". It states the history of crusades into Muslim lands and says the "Palestinian problem is a religious problem".[21]
  • Article 16 Describes how to go about educating future generations.[21]
  • Article 20 Calls for action "by the people as a single body" against "a vicious enemy which acts in a way similar to Nazism, making no differentiation between man and woman, between children and old people".[21]
  • Article 22 Makes sweeping claims about Jewish influence and power. [21][25]
  • Article 28 Conspiracy charges against Israel and the whole of the Jewish people: "Israel, Judaism and Jews".[21][25]
  • Article 31 Describes Hamas as "a humanistic movement", which "takes care of human rights and is guided by Islamic tolerance when dealing with the followers of other religions". "Under the wing of Islam", it is possible for Islam, Christianity and Judaism "to coexist in peace and quiet with each other" provided that members of other religions do not dispute the sovereignty of Islam in the region.[21]
  • Article 32 Hamas condemns as co-plotters the “imperialistic powers”.[25] References The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[21][26]

Statements about Israel[edit]

The Preamble to the Charter states: ″Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam invalidates it, just as it invalidated others before it″.

Anti-Semitism claims[edit]

According to Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, "The Hamas credo is not just anti-Israel, but profoundly anti-Semitic with racism at its core. The Hamas Charter reads like a modern-day 'Mein Kampf.'" According to the charter, Jewish people "have only negative traits and are presented as planning to take over the world."[27] The charter claims that the Jews deserve God’s/Allah’s enmity and wrath because they received the Scriptures but violated its sacred texts, disbelieved the signs of Allah, and slew their own prophets.[28] It quotes a saying of Muhammad from a hadith: "The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, 'O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' Only the Gharkad tree would not do that, because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)[29]

The charter goes further in detailing how Jihad against the Jews is a duty. "The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters."[30]

The charter contains references to anti-Semitic canards, such as the assertion that through shrewd manipulation of imperial countries and secret societies, Jews were behind a wide range of events and disasters going as far back in history as the French Revolution. The document also quotes Islamic religious texts to provide justification for fighting against and killing the Jews, without distinction of whether they are in Israel or elsewhere.[31] It presents the Arab-Israeli conflict as an inherently irreconcilable struggle between Jews and Muslims, and Judaism and Islam, adding that the only way to engage in this struggle between "truth and falsehood" is through Islam and by means of jihad, until victory or martyrdom.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hamas Covenant 1988: The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement". The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy. Yale Law School. August 18, 1988. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Israeli Official Says Hamas Has Made Abbas Irrelevant" The New York Times, February 27, 2006
  3. ^ "Covenant of Hamas". Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ The Palestinian Hamas By Shaul Mishal, Avraham Sela. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  5. ^ "Hamas Covenant 1988". Yale Law School Avalon Project. Retrieved 7 September 2014. [part of Article 13 of the Covenant] There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. 
  6. ^ Article 31 of the Hamas Charter (1988) Yale Law School: The Avalon Project
  7. ^ Haniyeh: Hamas willing to accept Palestinian state with 1967 borders Haaretz (09-11-08)Retrieved 27th May 2011
  8. ^ "Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar Slams PA President Abbas for "Aimless Kangaroo-Like" Political Gymnastics and Says: We Will Not Relinquish Any Piece of Palestinian Land". Memri TV. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al: We Will Not Relinquish an Inch of Palestine, from the River to the Sea". Memri TV. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, in Visit to Tunisia: We Shall Not Relinquish Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River". Memri TV. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya Reaffirms Hamas' Commitment to Armed Resistance and Says: We Will Liberate Palestine in Its Entirety, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River". Memri TV. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "BBC Today Programme interview with Sir Jeremy Greenstock, January 12, 2009". BBC News. January 12, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c A “New Hamas” through Its New Documents. Khaled Hroub, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol 35, no. 1 (Summer 2006), p. 6. On web.archive.org
  14. ^ a b Mazin Qumsiyeh on the History and Practice Of Nonviolent Palestinian Resistance Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May–June 2010, pp. 40-42
  15. ^ 1987:First Intifada May 6, 2008BBC
  16. ^ a b The PLO Charters of 1964 and 1968 and the Hamas Charter of 1988 By Philipp Holtmann
  17. ^ a b c d e f The Palestinian Hamas: vision, violence, and coexistence Shaul Mishal, Avraham Sela]
  18. ^ a b Hamas Charter: Vision, Fact and Fiction Palestine Chronicle (23/1/2011)Retrieved 27th may 2011
  19. ^ Hamas should hold a vote on recognizing Israel CBS Business Retrieved 31st may 2011[dead link]
  20. ^ Israel's Likud, Hamas square off over future relations(March 12, 2006)Retrieved 31st May 2011
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Hamas Covenant 1988, Avalon.
  22. ^ HAMAS Between Violence and Pragmatism By Marc A. Walther
  23. ^ a b pg 4 American Jewish Congress Yehudit Barsky HAMAS- The Islamic Resistance Movement of Palestine
  24. ^ Hamas Covenant 1988 Retrieved 27th May 2011
  25. ^ a b c Reform Judaism Online The 'Protocols' of Hamas Steven Leonard Jacobs - Winter 2007
  26. ^ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Analysis of the Hamas Charter January 8, 2006
  27. ^ [1] Anti-Semitism at Core of Hamas Charter ]ADL Retrieved 27th May 2011 Archived May 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ The Anti-Semitism of Hamas by Meir Litvak in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism pg 87
  29. ^ Hamas Covenant 1988 Avalon project Retrieved 27th May 2011
  30. ^ http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp The Avalon Project : Hamas Covenant 1988
  31. ^ Hamas Charter (1988) Retrieved 27th May 2011

External links[edit]