Fatah and Hamas: What do they mean?

June 13, 2006 at 1:49 am (Arabic, Islamism, Israel, Languages, Middle East, Palestinian Territories)

The name of the militia who is in political (and martial) opposition to Hamas is Fatah. It is an organization that is part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a secular political umbrella-group of parties, groups, and organizations dedicated to “liberating” the Palestinians. I will discuss where Fatah and Hamas each got its name from and what their names mean in Arabic.

The official name of Fatah is Harakat at-taHreer al-waTani al-filasTeenee” (pertinent initials with which acronyms would be made are bolded) which means “Palestinian National Liberation Movement.” The direct acronym would be something like “Hatwaf,” which is meaningless. Going backwards, one gets “Fawtah,” which is also meaningless. Removing the “w” yields “Fatah,” which, as “fataH”, is an Arabic word. It means opening, beginning, conquest, victory, triumph, commencement. As a beginning (of Palestinian freedom) and of victory (of Palestinians), “fataH” is a good word to use as a name.

Coincidently (or not), removing the “w” but going forward gives one “Hataf,” which means a violent death. So the choice of “Fatah” over “Hataf” is somewhat obvious.

Hamas has two names. One is “Harakat Hamaas” which means “Hamaas Movement” or the “Movement of Hamaas.” “Hamas” itself is an acronym of Harakat al-muqaawimah al-islaamiyyah” which means “Islamic Resistance Movement.” “Hamaas” is a word in Arabic: it means enthusiasm, fire, ardor, fervor, zeal, fanaticism. In Hebrew the word (pronounced as “khamas”) means theft, robbery, violence. Somewhat fitting in both senses.

And so that is how each group got its name and what each’s name means.

innaa naHnu-l-a’lam.


  1. Wickedpinto said,

    Anyone who appears at a “peace” negotiation, and a “referral” of peace, and a “demand” for equal action while carrying a fire arm, while SUPPOSEDLY wielding a white shield of “truce” is in fact. . . .

    A LIAR!

    PRAISE you UN for giving the ONLY KNOWN TERRORIST, ARMED allowance before the UN General council, and PRAISE YOU Carter, for believing that a man who said “while we are free you get the olive branch, without, you are begging for the sword” I MIGHT be working off of a bad translation, but that is DAMN NEAR TO WHAT THE TERRORIST ARRAFAT said before the UN.

    You are the chaimberlain of our generation.

    FUCK YOU CARTER! those of use who served, while waiting for a CHURCHILL of our generation believe.

  2. Muslihoon said,

    Excellent comment, Wicked.

    I still can’t believe that many in the West would condescend to dealing with a terrorist. My father says, of Arafat, “Once a terrorist, always a terrorist.” Unfortunately, they’re playing us like a violin. They know what strings to press and where to get the note they want.

    I believe Bush is sort of like a Churchill, especially when compared to anyone the DNC offers as a candidate. He could be sterner, though. And the State Department could also, like, support the US every now and then.

  3. Wickedpinto said,

    The US is too lazy to create a Churhill.

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