Hamas was founded on the premise that Islam is a way of life that can provide a solution to any problem faced by humankind. Hamas does not seek to impose this perspective by force. Rather, the group's position is that such an understanding comes only through conviction and after a long-term and gradual process. We believe in the comprehensiveness of Islam and that one part of it cannot be separated from another. All the components of a dignified life are provided for in Islam and this includes political, security, economic and social rights.
Hence, the creation of a truly Islamic state does not come about abruptly or spontaneously but after a long process of work and action.
That process has been evident in the gradual emergence of Hamas. Over the years Hamas succeeded in raising a generation that has taken in the meaning and values of Islam through an ongoing educational process. Hamas started out focusing on social and institutional work through its charitable societies and organizations. The movement also participated in the resistance against the Israeli occupation. Finally, the movement joined the formal political life of the nation. Having gained the trust of the people, it emerged from elections victorious. Thus, Islam in Palestine today--as values and action--is represented in mosques, charitable and social institutions, municipalities, universities and now in the parliament as well.
Islam is not merely the enactment of laws but is preceded by a large-scale process of mobilization and education. Furthermore, sharia, or Islamic, law cannot be realized unless an independent and sovereign state is established, which is not the case at present. Therefore, we in Hamas are first concerned with completing the liberation of Palestinian land.
But once this is accomplished, we will leave it to the people to choose the political system they want. We believe that if Islam is implemented, it will be the reference for values of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. That is, we seek to build a civilized civil society where everyone enjoys rights and equality. This society will not be unjust or ignorant, as some have tried to portray it. The main goals that Islam aims to achieve are represented in the preservation of five pillars: religion, intellect, self, money and progeny.
For example, we believe in all women's rights in terms of education, work, choice in marriage and political participation. These are guaranteed by preserving the status of women and their privacy and not allowing them to be exploited or harmed. We do not seek forcefully to restrict her to a certain dress code but try and guide her to that which will preserve her wholesomeness.
We also believe that before punitive measures are carried out, the basic necessities of life must be provided. We cannot talk about cutting off the hand of a thief if we have not provided a good economic life for the people. We are also concerned with internal social relationships, especially as regards minorities and safeguarding their rights, allowing them freedom of belief without harassment or persecution.
As for the political system, there is no specific model to be followed. It depends on the nature of interests at certain stages. The ruler may set up alliances or become involved in international organizations if it serves the public. Islam is far from extremism or radicalism; it is a religion of tolerance and openness. Islam is not fearful of others; the coming together of peoples to communicate and exchange experiences and cultures is a tenet of the religion. Islam works hard to move mankind away from war and to defuse conflicts with dialogue. Always, people are urged to adhere to their innate humanity.
An Islamic state must develop gradually. However, we must strive for agreement between our laws and the way of Islam. One thing made clear by the Palestinian vote for Hamas is a definite desire for change through an Islamic approach. Those who voted for Hamas have complete faith that Islam represents a way out of the crises that surround them.- Published 9/3/2006 © bitterlemons-international.org