The campaign to eradicate Hamas rule in Gaza, which was initiated by Israel in response to the October 7 massacre, has led to a significant increase in religious polemic. This polemic condemns the peace agreements and normalization with Israel, particularly among al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya movement, one of the largest Salafi movements in Egypt. It defines them as a threat to Muslim identity, bolsters Israel’s territorial expansion objectives, and advocates for the establishment of a Palestinian state encompassing the entire territory of Israel. Conversely, this discourse does not violate the “rules of the game” and offers religious and apologetic justifications for the importance of upholding the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. It argues that adhering to the agreement aligns with the principle of maslaha, meaning the interest and benefit it brings for Muslims. Additionally, it emphasizes the principle of accepting the authority of the ruler and his decisions, even if it is not universally seen as legitimate.

The Salafi movement in Egypt has maintained a deep-seated presence within Egyptian society since the onset of the 20th century. This movement is distinguished by its adherence to purist principles and its fervent dedication to establishing an Islamic society founded upon the core tenets of Islam. Additionally, the movement engages in religious polemics that denounce the Shia and the Sufis, as they are perceived as straying from the true teachings of Islam.

Traditionally, the Salafist movement has endeavored to uphold cordial relations with the Egyptian government and has taken great care not to be viewed as a dissident force that jeopardizes its stability. Consequently, the movement has predominantly voiced its endorsement of the government’s policies. This strategic stance has enabled the movement to retain influence, particularly during times of oppression imposed by Islamist activists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, notably under the leadership of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Today, three prominent Salafist currents are active in Egypt: Jama‘at Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhamadiyya, al-Jama‘at al-Sharia, and al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya.

The formation of al-Da’wa al-Salafiyya crystallized during the 1970s in Alexandria. Since its inception, it has garnered the backing of the Egyptian government, aiming to foster an influential Islamic entity that would counterbalance the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.[1] In 2011, it gained international recognition following the remarkable success of its political faction, al-Noor Party, which won a quarter of the votes. Subsequent to the military coup led by Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi and his assumption of power in 2013, al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya has consistently demonstrated unwavering support for the Egyptian regime’s policies, including endorsing the exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood from both public and religious domains. Nonetheless, the Salafi movement exhibits a complex stance toward the peace accord between Israel and Egypt.

The Theological Critique of the Peace Accord With Egypt and the Diplomatic Normalization Agreements With Israel

Al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya demonstrates a profound antipathy toward the peace agreement with Israel and the Abraham Accords, denouncing them in a religious polemic even prior to the massacre. Notably, Sheikh Muhammad Isma‘il al-Muqaddam, a founding figure of al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya, and particularly Sheikh Yasser Burhami, a prominent leader known as the “soft iron fist” of the movement’s propaganda apparatus, emerge as prominent proponents of this polemic.[2] Several prominent themes within the offensive line demonstrate significant leadership characteristics in this context:

  1. The fear of blurring the Islamic identity

Sheikh Muhammad Isma‘il al-Muqaddam, a prominent figure in the establishment of al-Da‘wa Al-Salafiyya, issued a cautionary statement in the early 2000s regarding Israel’s malicious intent to erode Egypt’s Islamic identity. This was underscored by Israel’s insistence on the exclusion of literary and religious allusions, notably Quranic verses, from Egypt‘s educational syllabus. These references depicted Israel and the Jews in a demonic and negative light. According to Sheikh al-Muqaddam in his address to the Egyptian Parliament in October 1980, President Yitzhak Navon expressed concern that the inclusion of certain references could jeopardize the harmonious relations between the two nations. The sheikh argued that the removal of these references, deemed integral to the Islamic faith, was not feasible. He contended that the Israeli request was not only without merit but also aimed at undermining the religious identity of Islam.[3]

From January 2021 until the present day, Sheikh Yasser Burhami has published approximately 200 opinion statements that articulate reasons for rejecting the Abraham Accords and any other normalization agreement with Israel. He has expounded on the United Arab Emirates’ purported atonement for God and the mission of Muhammad through its endeavor to establish a new religion known as the “religion of Abraham,” symbolizing unity among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, while in practice, this initiative was purportedly intended to erode Islam’s identity by promoting the notion that the three monotheistic religions are equal, despite their differences and contradictions. According to Burhami, the promotion of this new religion was intended to perpetuate Israel’s regional supremacy and impose Zionist hegemony on the Arabs to the point of subjugation. The terminology “Abraham’s agreements” is also invalid and deviates from its original meaning, as the Qur’an states that Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a Hanafi/Muslim monotheist.[4] Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, the head of Al-Azhar, has consistently dismissed the claim that the purpose of the Abraham Accords was to corrupt the three monotheistic religions. Since 2021, he has reiterated and emphasized that the Accords aimed to foster interfaith brotherhood, religious tolerance, and the prevention of bloodshed between members of different religions. Therefore, respect for the beliefs of others should not be confused with the intention to corrupt the three monotheistic religions.[5]

In Sheikh Yasser Burhami’s view, cultural normalization with Israel is highly dangerous because its purpose is to exclude religious texts that deal with Jews, such as hadiths that refer to the war against the Jews in the last days. An example of this is the well-known hadith about the stones and trees that are said to open their mouths and call on Muslims to murder the Jews who were hiding behind them. Nonetheless, Burhami has clarified that the study of the Hebrew language as a component of cultural normalization is permitted; however, it should not be pursued with the intention of bridging cultural barriers with the Jewish community, unless the purpose is to uncover their true intentions or to address any perceived enmity toward Muslims, purportedly stemming from their inferior nature.[6]


  1. The Palestinian Issue

In the view of al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya, the peace agreement with Israel is considered problematic because it neglects the rights of the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Consequently, the movement called for a reevaluation of the agreement on the eve of the Arab Spring, emphasizing the need to address the Palestinian issue. Already at the beginning of the 21st century, Sheikh al-Muqaddam advocated for the adoption of the 1956 religious ruling of al-Azhar University, which stated that “reconciliation with Israel is not permitted according to Sharia law” due to the usurpation of Muslim land. Therefore, it was asserted that all Muslims are obligated to collaborate in the effort to return Palestine to its people.[7] Al-Muqaddam and also Burhami have outlined several reasons for the loss of sovereignty of the ancient Israelites over the territory of Israel:

2.1 The Belief in God as a measure of gaining ownership and control over the Land of Israel

In their views, the Jews lost their right to sovereignty over Israel because their faith in God was corrupted and falsified over the years. The Prophet Muhammad and his companions embarked on a successful campaign of conquest in the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, and although they had no historical rights to Egypt, Iraq, and the Levant at the time of their conquests, nor the lands of the Jews in the Arabian Peninsula, they gained legitimacy to rule over them due to their firm belief in God.

2.2 The dubious origin of the Jews in Israel

In the perspective articulated by al-Muqaddam and Burhami, the current Jewish leadership in Israel does not directly descend from the ancient Israelites but rather are descendants of various groups of converts such as the Khazars and Assyrian soldiers. It is contended that the authentic Jewish population perished in historical conflicts. Al-Muqaddam further expounds,

They are not the progeny of the Israelites to whom the covenant was promised in the Torah, but rather represent a distinct lineage […] They were supplanted by the diaspora Jews, who are the exception to this narrative, a notion supported by genetic evidence.[8]

In November 2023, Sheikh Burhami emphasized the obligation of all Muslims to avoid any expression of normalization with Israel across various domains, including culture, sports, and science. He asserted that such normalization would entail forgetting the Palestinian issue.[9] Furthermore, in a legal ruling published in the same month, Sheikh Burhami articulated his position against the idea of two states in Palestine, contending that all of its territory belongs to Muslims. However, he also acknowledged the possibility of accepting the current reality of Palestinian control in the West Bank and Gaza, even though it is only a tenth of the territory of Palestine, albeit as a temporary situation that is a step toward the liberation of Palestine. This perspective is based on the historical agreement that the Prophet Muhammad made with the Jews of al-Madina, allowing them to reside in the city. Nevertheless, when the Jews allegedly betrayed this agreement, the Prophet Muhammad reportedly invaded their territories, exiled, and killed some of them.[10] In a subsequent publication in November 2023, the author underscored the impossibility of acknowledging a scenario in which non-believers inhabit territories historically significant to the Muslim faith, notably in Palestine and Jerusalem.[11]

In this particular context, it is pertinent to note that al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya has not ardently endorsed Hamas and vociferously censures it, primarily attributable to its association with Iran, the implementation of oppressive policies toward its compatriots in Gaza, and its affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is not favored by al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya and is also at odds with the Egyptian regime. Nevertheless, it has been unequivocally expressed on numerous occasions in the past, notwithstanding the disparities in viewpoints with Hamas, that al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya is willing to align with Hamas during confrontations with Israel, particularly when the well-being of the Palestinian populace is the focal point of concern.[12]

  1. Israel‘s Unwillingness to Abandon the Dream of the Entirety of the Land of Israel

According to the leadership of al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya, the Camp David Agreements failed to alter the Jewish conception of the entirety of the Land of Israel, which is perceived to encompass the area extending from the Euphrates and the Tigris to the Nile. For instance, Burhami asserted that the Israeli military engagements in Gaza, such as Operation Protective Edge (2014), were indicative of Israel’s desire to expand its territorial boundaries. In his view, the alteration of Israel’s national flag serves as evidence that Israel remains committed to its ideological aspirations. The inclusion of the Star of David in the flag, as he interpreted it, was a symbol of the Kingdom of Israel, while the two blue stripes are purported to represent the two rivers in Iraq. Consequently, Burhami questions the consistency of Israel’s convictions, positing, “why are they asking us to change our belief that the land of Palestine deserves the land of Islam?” Burhami contends that Egyptian support for the Palestinian cause has the potential to bolster Egypt’s national security by acting as a countermeasure against Israel’s pursuit of realizing the vision of a comprehensive, Greater Israel.[13]


The Peace Agreement Is Essential to the State’s National Interest

Despite the prevailing sense of unease and critique surrounding the Camp David agreements, Al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya expounds that its objective is not to contravene the stipulations but rather to uphold the peace agreement in the pursuit of safeguarding the well-being and prosperity of the Muslim community, or simply adhering to the principle of maslaha, the interest of the Muslims.

In a religious decree issued by Burhami in November 2023, he stated that Egyptian citizens are prohibited from engaging in jihad against Israel for two primary reasons. First, it was emphasized that the Palestinian mujahideen are self-sufficient and have achieved significant progress. Drawing a parallel to the Taliban’s successful establishment of an Islamic state in Afghanistan following their defeat of the United States, it was suggested that Hamas possesses the capacity to similarly challenge and overcome Israel. Second, it was underscored that Egypt’s existing peace agreement with Israel remains in force. Moreover, during the Islamic governance of Muhammad Mursi, there was a unanimous agreement among all Islamic factions that this accord must be upheld.[14], Burhami emphasized the parallel between Prophet Muhammad‘s observance of the Treaty of al-Hudaybiya with the Quraysh tribe, despite their status as infidels and their desecration of a mosque that had greater sanctity than the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the expectation for the Egyptian people to honor the peace agreement.[15] In December 2023, Burhami issued a ruling asserting that the exertion of pressure on the political leadership in Egypt to terminate relations with Israel in response to the Gaza campaign should be avoided. This was justified on the basis that the advantages of maintaining these relations outweigh the disadvantages of severing ties. In support of this stance, he highlighted specific benefits such as the ability of the Egyptian regime to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza under the terms of the peace agreement, engage in negotiations between Israel and Hamas regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners, and other significant considerations.[16]


In conclusion, al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya perceives the peace agreement with Israel as a pernicious threat to Islamic identity, categorizing it as an “evil scourge.” Nonetheless, the organization advocates for its containment in the pursuit of interest or maslaha, that the Egyptian regime deems it appropriate to uphold. This perspective, marked by the vilification of Israel and the Jewish population, fosters an ideological environment characterized by reduced tolerance and heightened radicalism. Moreover, the religious validation from the Egyptian regime affords al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya the means to persist and propagate extensive da‘wa activities, thereby paving the way for a more religious and Islamic Egypt in the forthcoming decades.

[1] The association between the Muslim Brotherhood and members of al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya was marked by notable tensions that occasionally escalated into violent clashes involving their respective student followers at various educational institutions within Egypt. However, it is noteworthy that the longstanding animosity between the two factions did not impede their collaboration at the political level following the Arab Spring, as they sought to bring about significant transformations in Egypt and fortify its Islamic orientation. Regrettably, this cooperative endeavor was short-lived, primarily due to a growing sense of suspicion and mistrust that developed between them, ultimately leading to its dissolution. For further details on the relations between them see:  Michael Barak, “The Salafist Al-Nour Party and the Muslim Brotherhood: The End of the Affair?”, Tel Aviv Notes, April 25, 2013.

[2] For more about his biography, see Ahmad Zaghloul Shalata, The Salafi Da’wa of Alexandria: Paths of Organizations and Outcomes of Politics (in Arabic), Beirut: Markaz al-Dirasat al-Wahda al-‘Arabiyya, 2016, pp.181–183.

[3] Muhammad Isma‘il al-Muqaddam, “The Islamic Identity (1)” (Arabic Audio), Islam Web, 2001 (?),

[4] Yasser Burhami, “Abraham’s Religion Between Truth and Deception (1)” (in Arabic), Sawt al-Salaf, January 9, 2021,

[5] Muhammad Shahata, “The Comprehensive Story of the Abraham Religion . . and al-Azhar Stance Defending the Muslims’ Minds from Lies” (in Arabic), al-Balad, March 18, 2023.

[6] Yasser Burhami, “Why Do We Call for Leaving the Normalization (1)?” (in Arabic), al-Fath, November 21, 2023,

[7] Muhammad Isma‘il al-Muqaddam, “Gaza-Jericho.. Where is Jerusalem?” (in Arabic audio), Islam Way, January 1, 2001 (?),غزة-أريحا-أين-القدس

[8] Al-Muqaddam, “Gaza-Jericho.”

[9] Burhami, “Why Do We Call for Leaving the Normalization (1)?”

[10] Yasser Burhami, “The Sharia Rule regarding the Acknowledgment of the Solution of Two States Between Palestine to the Entity of Occupation” (in Arabic), Sawt al-Salaf, November 11, 2023,

[11] Yasser Burhami, “Why Do We Call for Leaving the Normalization (2)?” (in Arabic), al-Fath, November 28, 2023,لماذا-ندعو-إلى-ترك-التطبيع-2

[12] See, for example, Yasser Burhami, “The Position of al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya on the Jewish Aggression against ‘Gaza’” (in Arabic), Ana al-Salafi, August 6, 2014.

[13] Burhami, “Why Do We call for Leaving the Normalization (1)?”

[14] Yasser Burhami, “Is it Permissible for Muslims whose Country Has an Accord With the Jews to Travel To Palestine to Fight Them?” Sawt al-Salaf, November 28, 2023,

[15] Ali Mansur, “We, al-Aqsa and the Jews.. al-Da‘wa al-Salafiyya Responds to the Deceptions of the Jews,” al-Fath, October 15, 2023,

[16] Yasser Burhami, “Should the Islamic Countries Be Forced to Sever all Ties with the Zionist Entity in Order to Help the Palestinian Issue,” Sawt al-Salaf, December 12, 2023,