On April 4, 2023, top Hamas leaders, including political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, who is also a member of Qatar-supported International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); the leader of the Hamas movement abroad Khaled Mash'al; political bureau member Moussa Abu Marzouq; and senior Hamas Official Khalil Al-Hayya met with IUMS Secretary-General Ali Al-Qaradaghi and other IUMS officials in the Qatari capital of Doha. In the meeting, the IUMS officials asserted their commitment to support the Palestinian issue and praised the role played by Hamas and other resistance factions. The IUMS published on April 3 a fatwa calling upon Palestinians to perform I'tikaf in Al-Aqsa Mosque with the intention of waging jihad and declared April 7 a "Day of Rage."
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani
Hamas Leaders Meet With IUMS Officials In Qatar On April 4, 2023; Praising Jihad And Palestinian Resistance
Over the years, there has been a cooperation between the Qatar-supported IUMS and senior Hamas officials, some of whom reside in Doha and are also supported by Qatar, such as political bureau chief Isma'il Haniya, who is an IUMS member. Recently, on April 4, 2023, a Hamas leadership delegation met with a group of scholars in Doha, in response to an invitation from IUMS Secretary-General Ali Al-Qaradaghi. According to a report from the Hamas Palinfo.com  website, Isma'il Haniya "highlighted the crucial changes that occurred in the region and with regard to the Palestinian issue" and he "focused on the dangers to which the Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque are exposed under the current Zionist government, which is considered the most racist, extreme and dangerous that seeks to end the Palestinian issue and implement the plot of taking control over the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque to assume control over it and divide it temporally and spatially."
Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Qatar Ismail Haniyeh with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani
The report also mentioned that the meeting was attended by a group of senior scholars from numerous countries and that Haniya praised the "historic and crucial role played by the scholars of the ummah throughout history especially in supporting the Palestinian issue as they considered it the central issue of Muslims."
Haniya then praised the "heroic resolve" of the people of the West Bank and the courage that they display in all confrontations, attributing it to "the legacy of jihad of our people and our ummah and the conviction of the Palestinian youth in choosing resistance to attain liberation."
The scholars reasserted their "firm position in supporting the Palestinian issue... [and] supporting the resistance project against the occupiers," and also praised the role of Hamas and the resistance factions, while highlighting the religious dimension of the Palestinian issue and the conviction of their "inevitable triumph."
Fatwa By IUMS Secretary-General Ali Al-Qaradaghi: i'tikaf In Al-Aqsa Mosque Is A Religious Duty
SUPPORT OUR WORK
On April 3, 2023, iumsonline.org, the official IUMS website, published a fatwa ruling that defending Al-Aqsa with all legal, legitimate, and available means is a religious obligation and that i'tikaf with the intention of taking part in ribat and waging jihad for the sake of Allah is one of these means. Delivering the fatwa, Al-Qaradaghi said: "We direct this call in the name of the scholars of the ummah to our people in Palestine to the men and women who are taking part in ribat [guard duty] activities. Oh, our Islamic ummah, the leaders, the people and the scholars: We call on you to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque and you are aware that the Zionists did not leave anything standing. They want to demolish and destroy Al-Aqsa as well as eradicating the Palestinian people so that they would not need to acknowledge their existence. What is left for us to use as to bargain? Therefore:
"Firstly, the scholars of the ummah have authored a fatwa that it is a religious duty to defend and protect by all means, legitimate, legal, and available to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Part of these important tools for our people would be taking part in i'tikaf as it becomes a religious duty on everyone who can practice i'tikaf inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque to protect Al-Aqsa 24 hours [per day] during the blessed month. This i'tikaf should be practiced with the intention of taking part in ribat and waging jihad for the sake of Allah and repelling the aggression of the Zionist occupiers and confronting them with all available means once they storm, Allah forbid, inside the destination of the Isra of the Prophet Muhammad. The scholars of the ummah salute the men and women who are on guard duty in the blessed Aqsa and they call on them to take part in i'tikaf by all available means to enter the destination of Isra in the event they were prevented from doing so.
IUMS Secretary-General Ali Al-Qaradaghi (left) and former chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Khaled Meshal.
"Secondly, we call on our Islamic ummah, all preachers and ministers of religious endowment in the Islamic world to dedicate next Friday, (April 7, the third Friday of the month of Ramadan) as a day of support and a day of rage for the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque all over the Islamic ummah. The entire world must see our support and our rage for the destination place of Isra by organizing peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, and all other means available in each country.
"Thirdly, as we call on our Islamic ummah to provide this protection and as we call on our Palestinian people to provide direct protection and practice i'tikaf, we salute our brothers in Palestine and in particular the men and women who are taking part in guard duty activities. May Allah grant you success and make your targeting be precise and may Allah protect you from the plots of the Zionist occupiers and give us all the honor of taking part in the liberation of Al-Aqsa.
"Doha, 12th of Ramadan 1444 – April 3, 2023. "
Hamas And Former Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Ikrima Sabri Call For I'tikaf In Al-Aqsa
The IUMS fatwa constitutes support for the many calls heard from Hamas and other extremist elements to arrive en masse at Al-Aqsa, which they say is in danger, and to barricade themselves within it as part of the confrontation with Israel. For example, Maher Salah, a member of the Hamas political bureau, called on Palestinians to take part in ribat and practice i'tikaf in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, saying there are "religious duties during this time to confront the occupier settlers and they are the minimum contribution required to thwart the Zionist plot to impose by force a temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque." According to Alresalah.ps, Salah urged "our people in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and those in Israel to be constantly present in Al-Aqsa and journey to it to take part in guard duties and i'tikaf in preparation to stack the largest crowd of worshipers in Al-Aqsa."
After reiterating that the Palestinians should abide by the fatwas that deem ribat and i'tikaf religious duties, Salah noted that Muslim nations have a responsibility to "support those who are taking part in guard duty to help the people of Jerusalem remain steadfast in their land and defend Al-Aqsa Mosque by all means." Salah concluded his statement by noting that "the enemy only understands the language of force and direct confrontation against the gangs of its settlers and the criminal soldiers of its army. There are some glad tiding indications that its demise and defeat in our blessed land has approached and now, the most crucial religious duty would be supporting the resistance with all the capabilities and resources to attain liberation and return to our blessed land."
On the same day, Felesteen.news reported that the former mufti of Jerusalem sheikh Ikrimah Sabri also called on Palestinians to go to Al-Aqsa Mosque to practice i'tikaf and participate in ribat saying that these acts have become religious duties. Felesteen.news also noted that Sabri called on "anyone who could go to Al-Aqsa to practice i'tikaf and take part in ribat there." and stressed that "Al-Aqsa needs Muslims to come to it and fill its spaces and this can be done with ribat and i'tikaf.”
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1576, As Qatar Mediates Between Israel And Hamas, It Holds Mass Rally For Hamas In Doha Supporting Armed Struggle And Jihad Against Israel – Participants Included Hamas Political Bureau Head Isma'il Haniya, May 21, 2021.
 I'tikaf is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days for worship.
 Palinfo.com, April 4, 2023.
 Iumsonline.org, April 4, 2023.
 Al-Isra is the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey from Mecca to the "Farthest Mosque" in Jerusalem, i.e., Al-Aqsa, from which the Prophet then ascended to heaven, also known as Al-Mi'raj.
 Alresalah.ps, April 4, 2023.
 Felesteen.news, April 4, 2023.