Islam's diversity is a direct result of centuries of schism and factionalism, and presents a challenge to the original spirit of unity as envisaged by its founder, the Prophet Mohammed. Rivalry within Islam undermines the precedent notion of unity through communal belonging (tawhid and ummah). Yet in the twenty-first century this diversity is ignored, and political Islam is represented as being more of a monolith than a spectrum of ideas and aspirations. Generally, the materialization of new Islamist groups is a challenge to those who hold that unity is all. In the Gaza Strip, specifically, the dominant Islamist actor, Hamas, is facing internal challenges from other Islamist elements. These rival Islamists are also influenced by events across their border in post-revolutionary Egypt where a plethora of new Islamist actors are vying for political space and power. This article deals with Hamas's Islamist rivals, and the effects they have had on Hamas's governance of the Gaza Strip, and political and religious legitimacy within it. It will focus on ideological and violent disputes between the Islamist elements in Gaza, and the means by which Hamas and its security elements have tackled newly emerging rivals.
- al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamist, Jihadi, Palestinian, Salafi