Darwish was born Kafr Qasim in 1948. After completing his religious studies in Nablus, he returned to Kafr Qasim and began advocating a return to Islam and Islamic tradition, and subsequently established the Islamic Movement in Israel in 1971.
In 1979, Darwish established an underground organization called Usrat al-Jihad ("The Family of Jihad"), whose goal was to establish "an Arab Islamic state in Palestine." Two years later, he was arrested together with several accomplices, and convicted of membership in a terrorist organization. He remained in prison until 1985, when he was freed as part of the Jibril Agreement between the government of Israel and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.
Following his 1985 release, Sheikh Darwish became publicly active and began to express opposition to Israeli Arabs taking part in violent behavior. In 1992, he explicitly condemned the killing of three Israeli soldiers by an Israeli Arab group.
In later life, he continued as the spiritual leader of the Southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. He served as the chairman of an organization which arranges for interfaith dialogue between Muslims, Jews and Christians. He expressed a commitment to the rule of law, and to integration into the State of Israel and its institutions. In a 2001 Israeli newspaper interview, he said:
Whoever establishes a movement that is based on violation of the law, does not represent us. However, in the West Bank and Gaza there is no rule of law, there is an occupation which must be eliminated, and not a state which must be respected. Therefore, I understand the Palestinians or the Lebanese, which are rising up in any way they can... If I were being occupied, I too would rise up, but the moment I decided that I am a part of the state as long as I am within the borders of the Green Line, I obey the law, together with my representatives in the Knesset, and this is proof that I do recognize the State of Israel. This despite the fact that I too feel as though I am under mental occupation, but the world does not see that.
Following the death of his brother in 2005, Darwish made a religious ruling allowing Muslims to donate organs for medical purposes.
Darwish died on 14 May 2017, aged 69.