Izz ad-Din al-Qassam: Proto-Osama?

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Izz ad-Din al-Qassam

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Izz ad-Din al-Qassam
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Born 19 November 1882
Jableh, Vilayet of Syria
Died 20 November 1935(1935-11-20) (aged 52)
Ya'bad, British Mandate for Palestine
Alma mater al-Azhar University
Occupation Terrorist, Teacher, Imam
Organization The Black Hand
Religion Islam

Sheikh Muhammad Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (1882– 20 November 1935) (Arabic: ?? ????? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? ???? ???????, ?Izz ad-D?n bin Abd al-Q?der bin Mustafa bin Yousef bin Muhammad al-Qass?m) was a Muslim Sunni who led militant activities against British, French, and Zionist organizations in the Levant in the 1920's and 1930's.



[edit] Early life

Al-Qassam was born in Jableh, Syria, in the northern Latakia Governorate, son of a teacher and adherent of the Qadari Sufi order. He was educated at al-Azhar University, where he gained a reputation for piety and self-sufficiency. Upon his return he became a teacher and an imam at the local mosque, where he called for the villagers to return to b'alal.

After Italy's 1911 invasion of Libya, al-Qassam began collecting funds for the Libyan resistance and composed a victory anthem. He enlisted dozens of volunteers and set out for Libya, but Ottoman authorities detained him. He later enlisted in the Ottoman army when World War I broke out, where he received military training and was attached as a chaplain to a base near Damascus. Returning home before the war's end, al-Qassam organized a local defense force to fight the French occupation, but French-incited internecine fighting led him and several of his followers to head into the mountains to prepare for a guerrilla offensive.[1]

[edit] Involvement in the 1921 Syrian revolt

Al-Qassam was a key figure in the 1921 Syrian revolt against the French when Faisal I declared his kingdom of Greater Syria in Damascus and was sentenced to death after its failure. After the French besieged the city, al-Qassam fled via Beirut to Haifa, then under the British Mandate, where his wife and daughters later joined him. Already in his forties, he concentrated his activities on the lower classes, setting up a night school for casual labourers and preaching to them as imam in the Istiqlal mosque, and he would seek them out on the streets and even in brothels and hashish dens.[1] His greatest following came from the landless ex-tenant farmers drifting in to Haifa from the Upper Galilee where purchases of agricultural land by the Jewish National Fund and Hebrew labour policies excluding Arabs had dispossessed many of their traditional livelihoods'.[2] He was also a prominent member of the Young Men's Muslim Association. Associated with the Istiqlal party (Independence Party), his activities were financed by several well-off businessmen due to his spreading reputation.[1]

In 1929 he was appointed the marriage registrar in Mufti Amin al-Husayni's Supreme Muslim Council Sharia court in Haifa, a role that allowed him to tour the northern villages, whose inhabitants he encouraged to set up agricultural cooperatives. According to Abdullah Schleifer, Al-Qassam was:

'An individual deeply imbued with the Islamic social gospel and who was struck by the plight of Palestinian peasants and migrants. Al-Qassam’s pastoral concern was linked to his moral outrage as a Muslim at the ways in which the old implicit social compact was being violated in the circumstances of British mandatory Palestine. This anger fueled a political radicalism that drove him eventually to take up arms and marks him off from the Palestinian notable politicians’[3]

He also took advantage of his travels to deliver fiery political and religious sermons in which he encouraged villagers to organise resistance units to attack the British and Jews.[1] After the 1929 Hebron massacre, he intensified his agitation and obtained a fatwa from Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Taji al-Hasani, the Mufti of Damascus, authorizing those attacks.

[edit] The Black Hand group

In 1930 al-Qassam organized and established the Black Hand, an anti-Zionist and anti-British militant organisation, which was subsequently classified by the Mandatory authority as a terrorist group[citation needed]. He recruited and arranged military training for peasants and by 1935 had enlisted between 200 and 800 men. The cells were equipped with bombs and firearms, which they used to raid Jewish settlements and sabotage British-constructed rail lines.[1]

According to Shai Lachman, between 1921 and 1935 al-Qassam often cooperated with Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Mohammad Amin al-Husayni:

'During the (nineteen) twenties, both were on good terms, their understanding probably based on identity of views and mutual esteem. It was then that al-Qassam was appointed imam of the al-Istiqlal mosque and sharia register – appointments which required the Mufti's prior consent and approval and were financed by the awqaf administration. The cooperation may well have increased as a result of the 1929 riots. One source claims that al-Qassam's men took an active part in the bloody riots... Later towards the mid-1930s, there was a falling out between the two men. The reason for this is unknown, but it seems to have been closely related to al-Qassam's independent activity...

When the Mufti rejected his plans to divert funding marked down for mosque repairs towards the purchase of weaponry, Qassam found support in the Arab Nationalist Istiqlal Party. Qassam continued his attempts to forge an alliance with the Mufti in order to attack the British. He was not successful for the Mufti, who headed the Supreme Muslim Council, was still committed to a diplomatic approach at the time. Qassam went ahead with his plans to attack the British on his own.

[edit] Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai & Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam

Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai Al Fraihat was the only one from Jordan who provided a direct support to the Palestinian Revolution of 1935, the "Revolution of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam", and he provided direct protection to the rebels, the Palestinians and their leadership in the mountains of Ajloun and fortified them with supplies and weapons through the region called “Makadet Kraymeh” near Ajloun as well as direct meetings with the struggling Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam and Hajj Amin al-Husseini from Palestine, Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai also afforded the necessary funds for the Palestinian rebels through intermediaries, who were sending his aid to Palestinian revolution directly, in addition to the Prince Rashed multiple visits, these visits to Palestine, which was accompanied by the pro-Jordanian Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai sent to fight in Palestine, under the direct command of the Palestinian revolution and he brought several Palestinian militants wanted by the Jews and the British Mandate and settled them in Jordan to live among many Jordanian tribes.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

As a direct result and in particular to the revolution of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam fighter in Palestine and in direct support from Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, these Arabian noble stands led most of the Jordanian national clans that were loyal to Prince Rashed for a direct confrontation with the Jordanian regime, especially with Jordans King Abdullah I and the British Mandate, which tried to liquidate Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai by bombed his positions and killed many of the rebels loyal to the Jordanian Prince Al-Khuzai at that time, forcing him to leave the land beyond Jordan, to Saudi Arabia, and under the policy of pressure and fatigue by the British Mandate and his aides in the Emirate of East Jordan stated at that time, such serious political situations were forced Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai and a group of his fellow elders and leaders of Jordan in 1937 to leave Jordan into Saudi Arabia where Prince Al Khuzai lived there for several years in the hospitality of the late King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. It was a difficult period of political history in Palestine & Jordan too. Most of the Palestinian militants cling and believed in Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, may have been the reason behind this is linked very closely with the struggling Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Gods mercy.[11][12][4][5][13][7][8][9][10]

[edit] Death

Front view of Izzedine grave, 2010

In November 1935, fearing arrest after a British constable had been killed in a skirmish with some of his followers, al-Qassam and twelve of his men left Haifa to hide out in the hills between Jenin and Nablus, spending ten days on the move, during which time they were fed by local villagers. When two of his men engaged in a firefight with a Palestine Police Force patrol hunting fruit thieves and killed a Jewish policeman, British police launched a manhunt and surrounded al-Qassam in a cave near Ya'bad. In the ensuing battle, al-Qassam was killed.[1] The manner of his last stand assumed legendary proportions in Palestinian circles at the time:

'Surrounded he told his men to die as martyrs, and opened fire. His defiance and manner of his death (which stunned the traditional leadership) electrified the Palestinian people. Thousands forced their way past police lines at the funeral in Haifa, and the secular Arab nationalist parties invoked his memory as the symbol of resistance. It was the largest political gathering ever to assemble in mandatory Palestine.’[14]

Two weeks later David Ben Gurion, leader of the Jewish workers organisation, the Histadrut, warned the political committee of Mapai that "Now for the first time, the Arabs have seen someone offer his life for the cause. This will give the Arabs the moral strength they lack." He compared al-Qassam to Joseph Trumpeldor who had been killed at Tel Hai in 1920.[15]

[edit] Influence

Although al-Qassam's revolt was unsuccessful in his lifetime, militant organizations gained inspiration from his example. His funeral drew thousands, which turned into a mass demonstration of national unity.[1] He became a popular hero and an inspiration to militants, who in the 1936–1939 Arab Revolt, called themselves Qassamiyun, followers of al-Qassam. His grave became a place of pilgrimage.

The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bears his name. The Qassam rocket is named after the brigades who use them.

Al-Qassam is buried at the Muslim cemetery at Balad ash-Sheikh, now Nesher, a suburb of Haifa.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Segev, Tom (1999). One Palestine, Complete. Metropolitan Books. pp. 360–362. ISBN 0805048480. 
  2. ^ Rashid Khalidi, citing Abdullah Schleifer’s book, in his ‘Palestinian Peasant Resistance to Zionism before World War 1’ in Edward Said & Christopher Hitchens (eds.)Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, Verso, London 2001 ch.11 pp.207–234 p.229
  3. ^ Abdullah Schleifer, 'Izz al-Din al-Qassam: Preacher and Mujahid,' in Edmund Burke (ed.), Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East, IB Tauris, London and New York,1993 Ch.11 p.164
  4. ^ a b "????? ????? ?????". Odabasham.net. http://odabasham.net/show.php?sid=39526. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "????? ????". Alarabnews.com. 9 October 2010. http://alarabnews.com/show2.asp?NewId=26645&PageID=26&PartID=8. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "????? ???? ????? ???? ??????? – ???????". Falestiny.com. http://www.falestiny.com/news/7894. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "????? ???? ????? ???? ???????". Felixnews.com. http://www.felixnews.com/news-7461.html. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "???? ?????? ????????". Althawra1965.com. http://althawra1965.com/index.php?open=detail&id=3259. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "????? ?? ????? ?????? ???? ????????? ??????????? – (ANN)". Anntv.tv. 19 November 1935. http://anntv.tv/new/showsubject.aspx?id=17145. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "????? ????? | ???? ???????.. ?? ?????? ????? ??????? ?????". Alrai.com. http://alrai.com/pages.php?news_id=284850. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Account Suspended". Almoarekhsaudi.com. http://www.almoarekhsaudi.com/?p=174. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "???? ????? ?????? ? ??? ?????". Asharqalarabi.org.uk. http://www.asharqalarabi.org.uk/ruiah/b-sharq-115.htm. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "????? ???? ????? ???? ??????? – ???????". Falestiny.com. http://www.falestiny.com/news/7894. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Addullah Schleifer, in Burke, op.cit.p.166
  15. ^ Teveth, Shabtai (1985) Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs. From Peace to War. Oxford University Pres. ISBN 0 19 503562 3. Page 151.

[edit] Further reading

  • [1] Network of Saudi Arabia- King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, founder of the Kingdom.
  • [2] The Saudi Historian Net- The historical strong ties between King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, founder of the Kingdom, Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai- ruler of Ajloun Emirate, and Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.
  • [3] The Arab Orient Center for Strategic and civilization studies London, United Kingdom- The political relationship between Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai and Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.
  • [4] Althawra News-The Official Website of the Palestinian National Authority- Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam and Prince Rashed Al Khuzai role in the Palestinian revolution at 1935– All rights reserved for Althawra1965.com.
  • [5] Arab News Network, London- United Kingdom- The political relationship between Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, and Saudi Arabia.
  • [6] Odaba Sham Network, London- United Kingdom- Honorable History of Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, an article published by the Swedish Historian Dr. Mohammad Rahhal.
  • [7] Al Arab News- Honorable History of Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, an article published by the Swedish Historian Dr. Mohammad Rahhal.
  • [8] Felix News, Yemen- Honorable History of Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, an article published by the Swedish Historian Dr. Mohammad Rahhal.
  • [9] Palestinian Official Website, Palestine- Honorable History of Prince Rashed Al-Khuzai, an article published by the Swedish Historian Dr. Mohammad Rahhal.
  • [10] Alrai- Formal Jordanian news paper, Rashed Al Khuzai .. Home of the men and militants in the nation issued at 27 July 2009.