Engagement and survival
However, such differences are not the primary focus. While the Deobandi and Taliban follow Hanafi beliefs, Hamas avoids engaging in similar debates due to the diversity of Islamic schools in its region, including the Shafi'i school in the Levant, Hanafi in Egypt, and Maliki in North Africa.
The more critical aspect is how each movement interprets and engages with their societies. And how determined they can be in surviving intense and sustained military moves against them.
After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, US and Western officials were vocal in saying that the Taliban had no future in Afghanistan. A full US military campaign later that year significantly weakened the Taliban, forcing the group out of power. It retreated into remote, mountainous regions near the Pakistani border.
There was a widespread belief that the US and its Western allies – including the Northern Alliance and figures like Hamid Karzai and other members of the Loya Jirga, or grand council – were making significant progress in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people and transforming the governance of the country from Kabul.
Retreat then resurgence
But the Taliban kept together and bided its time. And then came its resurgence, which took it all the way back to power. The group's return to Kabul was helped by several factors.
These included the failure of the US to establish a widely accepted state in Afghanistan, the limited popular support for the leaders it appointed, and the Taliban's ability to echo the desires of the Pashtun majority with a conservative agenda that opposed foreign political dominance.
Right now, there are voices confidently predicting the downfall of Hamas in Gaza. They echo the words which predicted the same for the Taliban. Both say more about the hopes of those uttering them than the realities among the people most directly affected.
Regardless of views on the Taliban and Hamas, whatever their actions and histories – from Mullah Omar's emergence from a humble religious school in Afghanistan to the founding of Hamas during the first Palestinian Intifada – one fact stands out.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban reclaimed power, after all it had faced. There was little resistance to it from the internal groups opposed to it, including the Northern Alliance. The US withdrawal was chaotic.
Those scenes in Kabul – and what led up to them – should be carefully remembered by those seeking the elimination and replacement of Hamas.