[Scott Sanford] On 21 August 2008, the al-Qaida-affiliated Global Islamic Media Front released a statement written by Abu al-Harith al-Ansari concerning the conversion of Mosab Hassan Yousef from Islam to Christianity. This conversion is significant because Yousef’s father is a senior Hamas leader in an Israeli prison and Yousef himself allegedly was in a leadership position in Hamas’ youth movement. Ansari explains that he felt compelled to respond to Yousef’s conversion and he uses four points to frame the conversion. He then outlines a course of action Muslims should take in response. The following is a brief synopsis:
1. Further research must be done to ascertain the truth about whether or not Yousef converted and then pass judgment.
2. Yousef chose his own path and it is important to remember other noteworthy infidels, who also chose their own path, like Noah’s son and wife, Abraham’s father, and Muhammad’s paternal uncle.
3. The fate of infidels does not change. The previously mentioned notables are all in Hell.
4. “Islam is larger than men.” Yousef’s actions will not harm Islam.
Ansari then gives several pieces of advice to individual Muslims and Hamas:
1. Muslims must announce their disavowal from Yousef’s actions and ask for God’s forgiveness upon him.
2. Just like the United States is dangerous and attacks Islam, Christianity’s evangelical institutions are dangerous too. There are many Christian schools in Gaza where 90% of the students are Muslims. Hamas must be aware of this.
3. While Yousef’s criticisms of individuals are not related to Islam, his criticisms of Hamas’ leadership have merit. Hamas must review its actions and seek guidance from Islam in further decisions.
4. Due to his apostasy, Yousef is weak-minded. “What do [Hamas supporters] know of Islam except the name? We see their fanaticism for the movement as if it were fanaticism for religion.” Hamas must learn about Salafism and read the proper books from writers like al-Tahawi, Ibn Taymiyya, and the Najdi scholars.
5. Yousef went to the United States in search of work. However, the immigration of a Muslim to a non-Islamic country for work is forbidden.
6. Israeli and Hamas oppression in Gaza is probably the biggest reason for Yousef’s apostasy. This does not justify it, but it is possible that God will guide him back to Islam.
If he comes back to Islam great, but if he does not, his fate is as an infidel without honor. The prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever alters his religion, kill him [Ansari’s font changes].” He should not have proper burial rights and he should not be buried with Muslims.
This is his fate under God’s law. The situational laws and human legislation is what causes the spread of apostasy, allows infidel institutions, and protects these institutions.
Such attacks on Hamas are common by al-Qaida and its supporters because Hamas’ nationalistic and more pragmatic approach to Islam challenges al-Qaida’s dogmatically unchanging and global Islamic view. Al-Qaida supporters see Hamas as a direct threat to its hegemony in the Middle East and it is attempting to break Hamas by bringing its followers into al-Qaida’s fold. Ansari tries to do this through discrediting Hamas’ leadership by blaming Gaza’s problems on them and proposing al-Qaida’s ideology as a solution. This is a common al-Qaida tactic against Hamas.
Ansari is also able to connect the believed dangers from the United States and Christianity to Gaza. In doing so, he is attempting to frame the Palestinian conflict in al-Qaida’s Islamic narrative where almost everyone is an enemy. This is in contrast to Hamas’ Palestinian narrative that has much more grey area, depending on Hamas’ goals at a particular time, about who the enemy is and how to deal with the threat.
Ansari does not mention that one of Yousef’s stated criticisms of Islam are those who have an unwavering and rigid doctrinal view, such as Ansari’s view. Thus, Ansari’s solution to the so-called problems in Gaza is unlikely to alleviate any of his stated grievances. It will be interesting to monitor the standoff between al-Qaida and Hamas, but given Hamas’ current authority and popularity in Gaza, it is unlikely that al-Qaida will make much headway in its goal of splitting Hamas’ leadership from its rank and file.
Document (Arabic): 8-21-08-ekhlaas-GIMF-on-mosab-hassan-yousef