, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 297-314
Date: 05 Sep 2012

Tunes of religious resistance? Understanding Hamas music in a conflict context

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Abstract

Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawamat al-Islamiyya) was established in 1987 as a resistance organization against Israel and as an alternative to Fatah. One of the resistance tools of Hamas is music, which it produces, performs, records, and uses. Music in the Palestinian context can be seen as creating a political space for expression that the Israelis cannot control; inasmuch as as Hamas was established as a result of the occupation, so also, to a large extent, was its music. Palestinian resistance music has existed ever since the 1948 al-nakba (the catastrophe), and music centers in Cairo and Beirut have been influential factors in its production. Originally, the music was constituted by a wide range of popular music, which included lyrics about the Palestinian struggle. This article scrutinizes how Hamas music is being created, how it is used, and how it is linked to the organization’s resistance struggle against Israel and for a Palestinian homeland in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It concludes that Hamas resistance music is not permeated by the religious affiliation of the organization. Rather, it has as its aim social connection, spreading the messages of the organization, and exhorting resistance against Israel. In addition to resistance music, Hamas produces and uses music of grief and tributes to political and religious leaders, as well as anashid, songs different from the resistance music saturated by a religious character.