August 02, 2007

West Bank Scholars Push for Spiritual Reply to Hamas Extremism

Islam is 1,400 years old and it still hasn't evolved and it will take another 1,400 years for it to digest this new concept. From West Bank Scholars Push for Spiritual Reply to Hamas Extremism:

As Fatah struggles to contain the spread of Hamas in the West Bank, some Palestinians are pushing for an Islamic critique to compete with the militant brand of religion practiced by the new rulers of Gaza. Some advocate a liberal brand of Islamic politics that would support territorial compromise, while those with a strict interpretation of the Koran are attacking Hamas for straying too far by mixing religion and politics. But most agree that any challenge to Hamas must include a new spiritual formula. The recent dominance of Islamic politics in Palestinian life is part of a pan-Arab trend in which religious parties have become the main opposition to regimes perceived as corrupt and undemocratic, says Hanna Siniora, codirector of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information in Jerusalem. "Thirty or 40 years ago, it was fashionable to be leftist and socialist. Now it is becoming fashionable in the Arab world to be an Islamist," he said. Recognizing Palestinian society's traditionalist leanings, Mohammed Dajani, a political science professor at Al Quds University, argues that the only way to challenge Hamas is by setting up a separate religious party that will push interpretations of Islam that back non-violence and tolerance. Dajani named his party Wasatia - a term used in the Koran that means moderation. "What we want to do is change the culture of the people," he says. "Our goal is to teach youth that suicide bombing is not Islam."