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Report #1 in a New Series “The Muslim Brotherhood”: “The Muslim Brotherhood Ideology” April 2011
Report #1 in a New NEFA Series: “The Muslim Brotherhood” “The Muslim Brotherhood Ideology” By NEFA Director of Analysis and Research Ronald Sandee April 2011 Recently a great deal has been said and written on the subject of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its officials; commentators and experts alike place many different labels on the organization. From comments made by Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who said the Muslim Brotherhood was ‘mainly secular’, which he retracted several hours later, 1 to those of Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council of Foreign Relations, who wrote: “It would be delusory to take the MBs democratic protestations at face value. Look at who their friends are – like Hamas.” 2 So what is the Muslim Brotherhood and what do they stand for? In this first paper in a series on the Muslim Brotherhood, we will examine certain relevant points of the ideology, or as they called it, fikra, of the Muslim Brotherhood. A Movement, Not a Political Party The Society of Muslim Brothers, also referred to as ‘”the Brotherhood” and “the Ikhwan,” is a movement not a political party. Their main goal is restore the Caliphate on the Umma. The Brotherhood wants to establish Islam as a total and global system. Islam includes, according to a message by MB founder Hasan al-Banna in 1936, ideology, economy, army, and health. 3 Two years later, in 1938, al-Banna added to that list, conveying to his followers that the MB is a collective ideology as it comprises many components: a Salafi movement, a prophetic attitude, a Sufi fact, a political body, even a sports group. 4 In 2007, the MB placed a paper on its website in which they state:
“…the Muslim Brotherhood considers that Islam presents general rule principles which can deal with the problems that the society faces, like unemployment, inflation, housing, price hikes, collapse of manners and drugs and other problems; the most prominent of these principles are: 1- Preparing and forming a Muslim individual who observes Muslim conscience and morals to be an effective element in building facilities.
Josh Gerstein, DNI Clapper retreats from ‘secular’ claim on Muslim Brotherhood, Politico, February 10, 2011; http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/0211/DNI_Clapper_Egypts_Muslim_Brotherhood_largely_sec ular.html 2 Leslie H. Gelb, Bear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, The Daily Beast, January 29, 20111; http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-01-29/beware-egypts-muslim-brotherhood/ 3 Hasan al-Banna, To the Light 1936, mentioned in Muhammad Shawqi Zaki, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Society, June 13, 2007; http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=806 4 Muhammad Shawqi Zaki, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Society, June 13, 2007; http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=806
The Brothers. Mitchell. We are an Islamic organization.php?id=818 6 Richard P. Islam deals with politics. a member of the General Guidance Bureau of the MB. It is our duty. Mitchell writes that al-Banna tried “…to combat this (disunity ed. and our experiences are the best evidence [of this]. part 2. 2011. 10 Richard P. http://www. economic. 218 www. belonged to no sect or school and they were tolerant of differences of opinion. The Prophet is our leader.ikhwanweb. on February 27. Rashad alBayoumi. 2011.org . and seen as one of the reformers within the movement. to put forward ideas. Founder Hasan alBanna himself was concerned “with the division of Muslims into competing and conflicting groups.) by preaching the essential unimportance of the differences which permissibly exist within the body of Islam. June 13. with social affairs.” 10 The Brothers. with regards to what was happening in the country. as-Sharq al-Awsat. believed to be necessary and even desirable for discourse within Islam.pbs. with solidarity of people. with all aspects of life. Islamic Unity: Sunnis and Shiites Another important point in the MB’s ideology is that the movement is inclusive. for at the parliamentary elections our slogan was "participation not combat.” 9 In The Society of the Muslim Brothers.nefafoundation.com/news. 7 PBS Frontline. Only two groups within Islam were not included in the 5 IkhwanWeb. Revolution in Egypt. further explained this notion in the Arab newspaper. Mitchell. Those who do not want to understand this perhaps failed to understand what was happening in Egypt. said in a PBS Frontline documentary. Qur'an is our law. with their education. Richard P. 244. 217.com/article. The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford 1993) p.NEFA Foundation – ©2011 http://www. Essam el-Erian. The Muslim Brotherhood champions Islamic unity. http://www.org 2. Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents.” 7 comprehensive religion and politics is part of general Islamic work. A talk with Muslim Brotherood’s Rashad al-Bayoumi. “We have not only a political group. February 22.nefafoundation. for Islam is a It is through these lenses the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood “Allah is our objective.asharq-e. according to al-Banna. The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford 1993) p. economics.Depending on Islamic reference as a basis. in that the Brotherhood does not see Shiite Muslims as apostates as more puritan sects within Islam see them. social and political perspectives. 3.org – info@nefafoundation. participate." 8 A member of the MB’s Executive Bureau and a deputy general guide.” 5 So it is logical to al-Banna’s that there is no separation between church and state: “Islam does not recognize the conflict which occurred in Europe between the spiritual and temporal [powers]…between the Church and the state…” 6 In February 2011. 2007. 2011: “Political work is an integral part of Islamic work.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/revolution-in-cairo/ 8 Shaaban Abdul Sattar.Reforming the country in media. Jihad is our way. As-Sharq al-Awsat. educational. and offer sacrifices. The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford 1993) p. http://www. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope” is understood. February 27. Mitchell.asp?section=3&id=24318 9 Richard P.
Mitchell.nefafoundation. the movement did not change its position on inclusiveness. war. 12 11 www.com/article. Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents. tolerance. 233. The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford 1993) p. Western Civilization From its inception.org – info@nefafoundation. “Internationalism. mainly because the founders of both groups believe themselves to be prophets. the Brotherhood had a mixed view on the West and especially Western Civilization as a whole. we believe. On Islamic unity it reads: “With the recurrent fuss about doctrinal differences between Sunnis and Shiites. June 13. Muhammad Ghazzali wrote “The West surely seeks to humiliate us. greedy. cooperating with the Iranian government or with Shiite organizations like Hizballah does not constitute anything out of the ordinary.” 12 Consequently. and they account for the great majority of the world’s Shiites. worship and manners. The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood was absolute in their conviction that all ideologies of the West must be resisted as they represented the vanguard of international corruption. nationalism. in the 2007 article published on the official Muslim Brotherhood website. 2007. Islam established for the world the system through which man can benefit from the good and avoid dangers and calamities. 14 Muhammad al-Ghazzali. 11 Again.php?id=818 13 Richard P. this also illustrates the flawed Western conception that Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims despise each other and will never cooperate. to occupy our lands and begin destroying Islam by annulling its laws and abolishing its traditions. and there is a consensus on principles of doctrine.org atmosphere of brotherly love. Many Western-conceived innovations were lauded and new inventions and techniques were in particular seen as useful. The Brothers saw the West as materialistic. capitalism. and tyrannical. according to the MB there is no need for foreign ideologies as Islam included them all and more.nefafoundation. the Ahmadiyya and the Baha'i. and whatever is related to these topics…which have occupied the leaders of nations and philosophers of society – all of these. 15. however. Muslims are instructed to depend on the grace of Allah and rid themselves of any Western influences.” It goes on “The Muslim Brotherhood mentioned that the Ja’fari Shiites are a group of Muslim communities. and if there is an amount of disagreement in ideology and opinions on a historical basis. and diversity. Islam has penetrated to the core. from the perspective of the Muslim Brotherhood. this does not bring them outside the framework of Islam. and hence they are brothers in the religion.” 14 Idem IkhwanWeb. bolshevism. the distribution of wealth.ikhwanweb. http://www. the Muslim Brotherhood considered that doctrinal differences in Islam don’t ban support on the basis that we are Muslims.” 13 The operations of Western countries in the Middle East were seen by the Brothers as imperialism and as an extension of the Crusader mentality.NEFA Foundation – ©2011 http://www. socialism. the relation between producers and consumers. Our beginning in wisdom (Washington 1953) p. Western thought and ambitions were regarded very negatively.org .
2007. So his work was consistent with the main MB ideology when Mohamed Akram Adlouni wrote Explanatory Memorandum in the early 1990s. born of the crusading spirit which is latent in the European mind. Without this level of understanding.php?id=818 16 15 www. which must be added to all other elements the Crusader spirit that runs in the blood of all Westerners. Sayyid Qutb wrote: “when we speak of the hatred of “The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. Social Justice in Islam (London 1970) p. and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack.S.org//file/FeaturedDocs/ExplMemoGenStratGoaltrial2.” 16 The main ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood believe the actions of the West in the Middle East were all an extension of the actions of the Europeans (and later their colonial offspring in North America) during the Middle Ages. But. An Explanatory Memorandum.nefafoundation. Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents. with Muslim (Brotherhood) organizations operating in the West. in the early 1990s. Adlouni returns to the basic Muslim Brotherhood view of the West when he writes: In his book. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes.com/article.org – info@nefafoundation. On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” 18 The earlier mentioned 2007 paper reads: “The Muslim Brotherhood thinks that the problem of the Western civilization lies in the fact that it includes aggressive anti-Islam elements proved in the imperial conduct of the Western countries during the 19th and 20th centuries. Social Justice in Islam (Islamic Publications International 2000) p.org Islam. we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. May 22. Through the increasing cooperation between left wing movements in Europe and the U.” 15 “…all these opinions overlook one vital element in the question.NEFA Foundation – ©2011 http://www. which contains evidence used in the case against the Holy Land Foundation.. 18 Mohamed Akram Adlouni. http://nefafoundation. the Western countries desire to dominate over other peoples revealed their aggressive nature. intolerance and hate. 1991. Social Justice in Islam. 235. and it was based on non-forgiveness. both the escalation of the Gaza Flotilla in May 2010 and what is transpiring in Egypt make more sense related to the overarching strategies. June 13.S. Sayyid Qutb. 270 17 Mohammed Akram Adlouni was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.pdf 19 IkhwanWeb. we must not let ourselves be deceived by appearances. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religions made victorious over all other religions. Now he is the Secretary General of the International al-Quds Institute in Lebanon an organization led by influential Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi. http://www. nor can we let their hypocrisy blind us to the fact that they deny to us any freedom of religion. Sayyid Qutb.nefafoundation.org . 17 In this paper. it is a civilization which is miles away from Christianity.” 19 A series of ideas and strategies aimed at fighting Western influences are laid out for the reader in Explanatory Memorandum. would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.ikhwanweb.
S. and to be on to rise to support the oppressed.php?id=818 21 PBS Frontline. 2011. economic and social internal reform.NEFA Foundation – ©2011 http://www. organizations close to.” 21 Muslim Brotherhood considers that the awakening of Islamists. or a resistance In the 2007 paper published on their site. a new era according to your Islamic believes. part 2. and clarify the truth of our fair causes. domination” as it is stated above. The Brothers. In 2004. 6 – Achieving political. and also boycotting their cultural production. February 22. the position of the MB is as follows: “The IkhwanWeb. http://www. the awakening of this Nation is not just a rejection of an injustice afflicting it. Revolution in Egypt.ikhwanweb. and removing the deformed image about Islam and Muslims. Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents. the Muslim brotherhood thinks that fighting dominations requires adopting several factors.org “To confront the Western and US domination. anti-globalist organizations and with human rights organizations started at the World Social Forum (WSF) after 9/11.com/article. Thus. 5 – Activating the economic boycott against imperialist states.org – info@nefafoundation. and that year. Essam al-Erian also stated: “our goal. and removing the food and technological gaps with imperialist states. and incite to fighting it. 3 – Supporting (the) Hamas government with all spiritual and material and with experience. and sowing the spirit of resistance. June 13. 2007. the Muslim Brotherhood attended the meeting and were able to create a bond with the “popular movements in Europe and South America opposing U. and persons associated with. the WSF was held in Mumbai. with other related meetings held all over the world. 4 – Forming an international relation and public opinion that fights injustice and seeks establishing rights. to spare the Palestinian people’s need for Western countries which are biased against its freedom and interests.org . The World Social Forum is an annual meeting based in Brazil.nefafoundation.nefafoundation. Islamic Revival In his earlier mentioned interview on PBS Frontline. 8 – Spreading popular movements in Europe and South America opposing US domination.pbs. based on a comprehensive cultural view of Islam and its moderate method. our most important mission is to have an Islamic Revival in the society…” he goes on to say that the MB wants to let people know that “…you can build a new country. 2 – Reviving the will of liberation and independence in the peoples.” 20 The practice of working together with left wing. justice and peace in the world. http://www. 7 – Working on correcting the image of Islam among Westerners.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/revolution-in-cairo/ 20 www. are one of the sources of strength to face the Western project that aims to attack the Nation. Including: 1 – Spreading Islamic concepts that reject submission to humiliation.
Jihad is our way. Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents. The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford 1993) p. 233 www. with conservative claims of up to 600.org – info@nefafoundation.” What is clear is the fact that the ideas developed by Hasan al-Banna. our truly ‘social and existential independence’…Islam can give a nation that is being reborn all that it needs. http://www. not on others. All Muslim Brothers agree that the Western influence (especially that of the United States) is oppressing and destructive to them. Mitchell. Qur'an is our law.NEFA Foundation – ©2011 http://www. June 13. as with our political independence. we are asserting.000 paying members.php?id=818 23 22 Richard P. and is consistent with its identity. In an organization as large as the Muslim Brotherhood.’’ 23 Their need for an Islamic Awakening has never left the consciousness or the plans of the Muslim Brotherhood and is still seen as the first and most important step to bringing not only Egypt. it is sufficient in itself for the renaissance of the nation: ‘Its history has testified to its fitness and has exhibited to humanity as a whole…one of the strongest.org to a flagrant aggression against it. and blessed of nations’.org . and Sayyid Qutb are as vibrant now as they were when they were first conceptualized and written down.com/article. and to a large degree they are correct. All strictly adhere to the slogan of the Muslim Brothers: “Allah is our objective. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. 2007. All Muslim Brothers agree an Islamic Revival is needed. Muhammad al-Ghazzali.” 22 The current Islamic Revival thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood is still in line with remarks they made roughly 70-80 years ago: “Islam the includes all the virtues of other systems. it is not uncommon for individuals to have their own ideas and beliefs. Concluding Remarks Many observers claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a monolith. but they all agree on the general ideology and principles of the organization. but it is that it possesses its project which is based on its religion. most merciful.nefafoundation. but the entire Islamic Nation (Umma) closer to a real Islamic Society. In building our lives on our own principles.ikhwanweb. The Prophet is our leader. virtuous. IkhwanWeb. noblest.nefafoundation.
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