Educating Charles Krauthammer on Hamas’ Ten Year “Truce” Offer

Suggested reading for Mr. Krauthammer and other serious journalists of his ilk


Dear Mr. Krauthammer,


I read with interest your opinion piece on Hamas’ ten year “truce” offer, “The Hamas ‘Peace’ Gambit,” published today, Friday, May 8, 2009. While I certainly share your overall sentiments, unfortunately the piece ignores the uniquely Islamic context of Hamas’ truce “offer” which is firmly rooted in classical Muslim jurisprudence, the precedent being Muhammad’s temporary “treaty” of Hudaybiyyah


Below are extracts from my book “The Legacy of Jihad” which elucidate the underlying Islamic principles for such truces. I have included for your edification the classical interpretation of the great jurist and scholar Averroes (d. 1198), followed by the historical/juridical analyses of two important 20th century scholars of Islamic Law/ jihadism, Antoine Fattal, and Bassam Tibi.




Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS

Associate Professor of Medicine

The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University


Averroes (Ibn Rushd) [d. 1198]: “Among those who profess that the Imam is entitled to conclude a truce when he considers it in the interest [of the Muslims] are Mālik (founder of the Maliki school of Sunni Islamic Law), Shāfiī (founder of the Shafi’ite school of Sunni Islamic Law), and Abū Hanifah (founder of the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic Law). Shāfiī maintains that a truce may not be concluded for a period longer than that of the truce which the Prophet concluded with the unbelievers in the year of Hudaybiyyah… Therefore, says Shāfiī, a truce may never exceed the period for which the Prophet concluded truce in the case of Hudaybiyyah.  Still, there is controversy about the duration of this period.  According to some it amounts to four years, but according to others three or ten years. Shāfiī opts for the latter.” 



Antoine Fattal (1958): “Connected with the notion of jihad is the distinction between dar al-harb (territory or “house” of war) and dar al-islam (house of Islam).  The latter includes all territories subject to Moslem authority.  It is in a state of perpetual war with the dar al-harb.  The inhabitants of the dar al-harb are harbis, who are not answerable to the Islamic authority and whose persons and goods are mubah, that is, at the mercy of Believers.  However, when Muslims are in a subordinate state, they can negotiate a truce with the Harbis lasting no more than ten years, which they are obliged to revoke unilaterally as soon as they regain the upper hand, following the example of the Prophet after Hudaibiyya.”


Bassam Tibi (1996): “Islamic wars are not hurub (the plural of harb) but rather futuhat, acts of “opening” the world to Islam and expressing Islamic jihad. Relations between dar al-Islam, the home of peace, and dar al-harb, the world of unbelievers, nevertheless take place in a state of war, according to the Qur’an and to the authoritative commentaries of Islamic jurists. Unbelievers who stand in the way, creating obstacles for the da’wa, are blamed for this state of war, for the da’wa can be pursued peacefully if others submit to it. In other words, those who resist Islam cause wars and are responsible for them. Only when Muslim power is weak is “temporary truce” (hudna) allowed.”


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