- Izz ad-Din al-Qassam
SheikhIzz ad-Din al-Qassam (1882– November 20, 1935) ( _ar. عزّ الدين القسّام, ArabDIN|‘Izz ad-Dīn al-Qassām), full name,Izz al-Din ibn Abd al-Qadar ibn Mustapha ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad al-Qassam, was an influential Sunni Islamicpreacher in the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1930, he founded the Black Hand, a Palestinian Arabmilitant group, which he led until his death in 1935.
Al-Qassam was born in
Jableh, in the northern Syrian 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 imamat the local mosque, where he called for the villagers to return to God.
After Italy's 1911 invasion of Libya, al-Qassam declared a
Jihadand collected funds for Libyan resistance, as well as composing a victory anthem. He enlisted dozens of volunteers and set out for Libya, but was detained and ordered home by the Ottoman authorities. He enlisted in the Ottoman army when World War Ibroke 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 organised a local defence force to fight the French, but French-incited internecine infighting led him and several of his followers to head into the mountains to prepare for a guerilla offensive.cite book |last=Segev |first=Tom |authorlink=Tom Segev |title=One Palestine, Complete |year=1999 |publisher=Metropolitan Books |isbn=0805048480 |pages=pp. 360-362 ]
Involvement in the 1921 Syrian revolt
Al-Qassam was a key figure in the
1921 Syrian revoltagainst the French when Faisal I declared his kingdom of Greater Syriain Damascus and was sentenced to death after its failure. After the French besieged the city, he 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.. His greatest following came from the landless ex.tenant farmers drifting in to Haifa from the Upper Galileewhere purchases of agricultural land by the Jewish National Fundand labour policies excluding Arabs had dispossessed many of their traditional livelihoods' [ 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] . 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 businessman due to his spreading reputation.
In 1929 he was appointed the marriage registrar in Mufti Amin al-Husayni's
Supreme Muslim Council Shariacourt 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’ [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]He also took advantage of his travels to deliver fiery political and religious sermons in which he encouraged villagers to organise guerilla cells to attack the British and Jews. After the
1929 Hebron massacre, he intensified his agitation and obtained a fatwafrom Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Taji al-Hasani, the Muftiof Damascus, authorizing those attacks.
The Black Hand group
In 1930 al-Qassam organized and established the Black Hand, an
anti-Zionistand anti-British militant organisation, which was subsequently classified by the Mandatory authority as a terrorist group. He recruited and arranged military training for peasants and by 1935 he had enlisted between 200 and 800 men. The cells were equipped with bombs and firearms, which they used to kill Jews in the area, as well as engaging in a campaign of vandalism of the Jewish-planted trees and British constructed rail-lines.
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
imamof the al-Istiqlal mosqueand shariaregister - 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... As long as the terrorist activity was directed only at Jewish targets, the Mufti saw nothing wrong with this. On the contrary, it fell in line with his own anti-Jewish policy; he secretly encouraged it and apparently extended financial aid to al-Qassam and his organization. [cite book|title=Arab Rebellion and Terrorism in Palestine 1929-39: The Case of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam and His Movement|first=Shai|last=Lachman|year=1982|publisher=in "Zionism and Arabism in Palestine and Israel", edited by Elie Kedourie and Sylvia G. Haim, Frank Cass. London|pages=76]
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.
In late 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
Jeninand Nablus, spending ten days on the move, during which they were fed by local villagers. When two of his men engaged in a firefight with a Palestine policepatrol hunting fruit thieves in which a Jewish policeman was killed, British police launched a manhunt and surrounded al-Qassam in a cave near Ya'bad. In the ensuing battle, al-Qassam was killed.. 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.’ [Addullah Schleifer, in Burke, op.cit.p.166]
Although al-Qassam's revolt was unsuccessful in his lifetime, radical organizations gained inspiration from his revolutionary example. His funeral drew thousands, which turned into a mass demonstration of national unity. He became a popular hero and an inspiration to fighters, 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, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, bears his name. The Qassam rocketis 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. His grave has been desecrated several times by Israeli extreme right activists.
*Ted Swedenburg, "The Role of the Palestinian Peasantry in the Great Revolt (1936-1939)," reprinted in Hourani, Albert H., et al., "The Modern Middle East" (
I.B. Tauris, 2004), pp. 467-503. ISBN 1-86064-963-7
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Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam — Cheikh Izz al Din al Qassam (عزّ الدين القسّام) est né en Syrie en 1882 et mort en 1935 lors d une bataille contre les Britanniques. Il est considéré comme un des pères de la résistance palestinienne. Pour les palestiniens, Izz al Din al Qassam… … Wikipédia en Français
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