In the annals of Palestinian history, one name stands out as a symbol of unwavering resistance, determination, and inspiration: Izzuddin Al-Qassam. Born in Jablah, Syria, in 1882, Al-Qassam’s life journey would intertwine with the struggle against colonialism, imperialism, and the birth of Israel, leaving an indelible mark on the Palestinian national consciousness.
Raised in a devout Sunni Muslim family, Al-Qassam received his early education in Syria before furthering his studies in Al-Azhar, Cairo, a renowned center of Islamic learning. Influenced by the lectures of Mufti Muhammad Abduh, he developed a vision of modern, independent Islam free from Western colonialism’s shackles. His return to Jablah marked the beginning of his career as an educator and preacher, advocating not only for religious awareness but also for social justice and anti-colonial sentiments.
Al-Qassam’s fiery sermons found a purpose when Italy invaded Libya in 1911. Calling for jihad against the oppressors, he rallied volunteers, creating a small but fervent resistance force. Though the resistance dwindled due to a lack of resources, his spirit remained unbroken. Over the years, Al-Qassam’s ideology evolved, blending Arab nationalism with Islamic principles and shaping his approach to resistance against both colonialism and Zionism.
During the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925 against French occupation, Al-Qassam’s bravery became evident. His role in organizing local defenses against the French, particularly in the mountains near Latakia, demonstrated his commitment to the cause. As the revolt was suppressed, he fled to Palestine, where he continued his struggle against the British occupation and the Zionist project.
In Palestine, Al-Qassam became a pivotal figure, founding schools, teaching literacy, and spreading love for the homeland. He held leadership positions, such as president of the Young Men’s Muslim Association, and was an advocate for armed resistance. In 1935, he declared jihad against the British and the Zionists, forming the Black Hand group, a guerrilla organization fighting for Palestinian independence. His teachings inspired hundreds of followers, creating a network of resistance across Palestine.
Al-Qassam’s journey came to a tragic end in 1935 during a confrontation with British forces in Jenin. His death, however, became a catalyst for widespread Palestinian resistance from 1936 to 1939. Strikes and protests erupted across Palestine and Syria, mourning the loss of a true hero.
Decades later, his legacy lives on through the Brigade Izzuddin Al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, founded in 1991. The Brigade’s primary objective remains the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Izzuddin Al-Qassam’s teachings and sacrifices continue to inspire generations of Palestinians, serving as a reminder of the resilience and determination embedded in the Palestinian spirit.
In the face of adversity, Al-Qassam’s story remains a beacon of hope, reminding the world of the ongoing struggle for Palestinian self-determination and the pursuit of justice in the face of oppression.