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Muslim Brotherhood

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

religious political organization that started in egypt in 1928 and subsequently spread throughout most muslim countries.

The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (Jamʿiyyat al-ikhwan al-muslimin, or the Society of Muslim Brothers) was Hasan al-Banna (19061949), the son of a modest but learned religious teacher, who received traditional as well as modern training at Dar al-Ulum in Cairo, where he was exposed to the prevailing Salafiyya ideology of Islamic revivalism preached in Egypt by Muhammad Abduh. It was in Ismaʿiliyya, a showcase of Egyptian poverty and European colonialist wealth and power where he was posted to teach Arabic in a primary school, that he founded the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1934 Banna moved back to Cairo, where his organization merged with the Society for Islamic Culture, which was headed by his brother, and the combined organization quickly became the largest grass-roots movement in Egypt. With more than half a million members drawn from the middle class as well as from labor groups, peasants, and the student population, and with an efficient structure, hundreds of mosques and clubs throughout the country, and a printing press, in the 1940s the Brotherhood became a powerful organization intent on affecting the govern-ment's social policies and ridding Egypt of British occupation. Partly because of its mass power, and partly in order to play it against the other political parties, the Egyptian government in turn compromised with and fought the organization, jailing Banna intermittently on various charges and releasing him for fear of mass insurrection.

From the start, the Muslim Brotherhood exhibited the dual characteristics of an internal reform movement operating within the context of foreign occupation. Banna's early and primary concern, which molded the movement and provided it with its lasting method and policy, had been to bring about a return to the pristine sources of the faith and away from the distortions of popular religion. In that, it was the continuation of the powerful reform movement that spread throughout the Muslim world in the eighteenth century and became known in Egypt as the Salafiyya movement, although unlike the latter (but similar to earlier reform movements), the Muslim Brotherhood showed Banna's strong attachment to Sufi spirituality. Consistent with the pattern of Islamic reform movements in history, its ideology was translated into a praxis that sought to establish shariʿa and to use Islam to combat corruption, moral laxity, economic exploitation, and oppression through the creation of a strong civil network centered around the mosque and providing for employment, education, welfare, clubs, health clinics, and other social services. In harmony with earlier reform movements and with orthodox Islamic doctrine, it advocated dialogue, preaching, and gradual reform rather than revolt.


But the Muslim Brotherhood was also operating in the context of Egypt's occupation by the British, who dictated government policy. Moving away from the Salafiyya, which had become concerned solely with a strict interpretation of the faith, the Brotherhood looked to fulfill popular aspirations such as Egyptian independence, and it used anti-imperialist rhetoric from the start. In order to keep its legal status and remain operational, the Brotherhood maintained a policy of nonconfrontation, but this was challenged by its followers. A major turning point came in 1936 with the eruption of riots in Palestine against the Zionist implantation. The Brotherhood, which already had offices in Palestine, helped to raise funds for the insurrection. In 1938 a meeting with the Palestinian mufti Muhammad Amin al-Husayni produced the decision that a military wing was needed to push back the territorial ambitions of the Zionists, and a secret order was created within the Brotherhood to repel Western colonialism. Thus, as part of the organization remained focused on reform and dialogue with a Muslim government, the other part took on jihad against the foreigners, and preachers and organizers were sent to Palestine to help in the Palestinian insurrection.

In 1939 Brotherhood members defected from the organization, claiming that its lack of action against British occupation was inconsistent with its stated ideology, and they started Shabab Sayyiduna Muhammad, the first of a number of radical Muslim political movements that advocated the use of force against a government that cooperates with Western occupation or with policies against the interests of the Muslim community. Banna had always opposed engaging in jihad against fellow Muslims. But to the military wing, largely formed in response to the defection of the disgruntled members, fighting the British occupation of Palestine was the same as fighting the occupation of Egypt. The partition of Palestine in 1948 led to uncontrollable riots and acts of violence against British and Jewish interests. The Muslim Brotherhood organized on the issue of partition, a major conference that was attended by foreign dignitaries and heads of state. This show of force led the Egyptian government to outlaw the Brotherhood, and to a wave of repression against its members. Although Banna tried to rein in his followers, some of them carried out assassinations of public figures, and as a result, Banna was assassinated by government officials in February 1949.


The Brotherhood after Banna

Under a new murshid amm ("supreme guide") and with the promise not to get involved in political activity, the Brotherhood was allowed to operate again in 1951. It had a large number of followers in the army, and it had even supplied arms to the stranded Egyptian soldiers in Palestine during the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. A liaison was established between the Brotherhood and the movement of the Free Officers who, in 1952, seized power in a coup that benefited from the mass support provided by the Brotherhood. As a result, the Brotherhood was the only organization not dissolved by the new regime dominated by Gamal Abdel Nasser, which quickly became a secular nationalist-socialist autocracy that banned any opposition to the state. An assassination attempt on Nasser in 1956 led to the dissolution of the movement, the jailing of hundreds of its members, and the execution of many of its leaders, including its chief ideologue, Sayyid Qutb.

Anwar al-Sadat became Egypt's president in 1970. Hoping to defuse the power of the followers of Nasser who opposed his policies of reconciliation with Israel, Sadat released from jail Umar al-Tilimsani, the leader of the Brotherhood, and allowed the Brotherhood to operate again (though without a legal status). The loss of the charismatic leadership of Nasser and the failure of the government's socialist policies helped the Brotherhood to regain its membership. Sadat promised to restore legal status to the Brotherhood if it supported his policy toward Israel, but it refused, and the leadership and hundreds of members were again thrown in jail. After the assassination of Sadat in 1981 by a member of one of the radical Muslim movements, the new president, Husni Mubarak, granted more freedom to the Brotherhood, which saw its membership soar. Because it had no legal status, it could not participate in political elections, so its members ran for parliamentary election by forming an alliance with the Wafd Party in 1984, and they won the majority of opposition seats. The same success was achieved in 1987, when the Brotherhood allied itself with the Socialist Labor Party and the Liberal Party, and included Coptic representatives. The Brotherhood's victories led to a massive crackdown by the government of Mubarak during the 1990s and an attempt to counter its ideology with strong government propaganda. But the Brotherhood retained its power, and in the parliamentary elections of November 2000, a majority of members of the Brotherhood were independently elected to parliament, thus making the Brotherhood, though officially banned, the largest holder of opposition seats in the parliament. The sixth leader of the Brotherhood, Maʾmun al-Hudaybi, who had assumed the leadership in 2002, died in January 2004, and Muhammad Mahdi Akif was elected the new guide-general for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood has offices throughout the Arab world, and a number of organizations emulating it have emerged in almost all Muslim countries. Its membership tends to be middle-class professionals and university graduates for whom the main goals are to oppose Western policies in the Muslim world in general and in Palestine in particular, and to bring about a social, economic, and political order in line with Islamic ideals. By avoiding theological discussion on the nature of law and state that could lead to divisiveness, taking a progressive stand on the rights of women (as demonstrated in the writings of Muhammad al-Ghazali), focusing on eliminating Western secular influences and ideologies (though accepting Western advances in technology, science, and education), and providing badly needed civic institutions, the Brotherhood has become the most important representative of the Egyptian masses.

see also banna, hasan al-; free officers, egypt; ghazali, muhammad al-; mubarak, husni; nasser, gamal abdel; qutb, sayyid; sadat, anwar al-; salafiyya movement.

Bibliography


Lia, Brynjar. The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. Reading, PA: Ithaca Press, 1998.

Mitchell, Robert P. The Society of the Muslim Street Brothers. London: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Wickham, Carrie R. Mobilizing Islam; Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

maysam j. al faruqi

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Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood, officially Jamiat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun [Arab.,=Society of Muslim Brothers], religious and political organization founded (1928) in Egypt by Hasan al-Banna. Early opposed to secular tendencies in Islamic nations and also anti-British and anti-Zionist, the organization has sought to foster a return to the original precepts of the Qur'an. It grew rapidly, establishing an educational, economic, military, and political infrastructure. Threatened by the group's popularity and its bombings and other politically motivated violence, Egypt's government twice banned (1948, 1954) the organization. It has since existed largely as a clandestine but often militant group, marked by its rejection of Western influences. The Muslim Brotherhood remains strong in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, and other Arab countries, and has organizations in most Islamic nations.

The group was permitted to operate openly in Egypt in the late 1980s and early 90s after disavowing violence in the 1970s, but the government again moved against the group beginning in the mid-1990s. Members have been elected to Egypt's parliament as independents, and in 2005 candidates linked to the group won a fifth of the seats in parliament, a record. Egypt subsequently mounted a new crackdown on the group, beginning in late 2006, and in 2007 the nation's constitution was amended to ban religious-based political parties.

Candidates linked to the group won almost no seats in 2010 amid government efforts to exclude them from the parliament. The group joined in the 2011 protests that led to President Mubarak's ouster. It subsequently established the Freedom and Justice party (FJP), which aligned itself with other opposition groups. The FJP won the largest bloc of parliamentary seats in the 2011–12 elections, but the parliament was dissolved by the supreme court for election violations in mid-2012. Mohamed Morsi, the FJP presidential candidate, won the June, 2012, runoff election, becoming Egypt's first democratically elected president. He was overthrown a year later amid increasing unrest. The Brotherhood was again banned and then declared a terrorist group, and the FJP was later ordered dissolved by the courts. Many of its leaders and supporters were arrested, and later (2014–15) some of those were sentenced to death or life imprisonment in mass trials. Hundreds of its supporters also were killed (Aug., 2013) when protests were crushed.

The Syrian branch of the group sought to drive Hafez al-Assad from power through a terror campaign and insurgency in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which culminated in the government's 1982 massacre in Hama. In Jordan the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Islamic Action Front, is an important opposition party. The Muslim Brotherhood also has given rise to a number of more militant and violent organizations, such as Hamas, Gama'a al-Islamiya, and Islamic Jihad.

See studies by B. Rubin (2010) and C. R. Wickham (2013).

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"Muslim Brotherhood." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/muslim-brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood: see AL-IKHWĀN AL-MUSLIMŪN; ḤASAN AL-BANNĀʾ.

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"Muslim Brotherhood." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Muslim Brotherhood." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/muslim-brotherhood

"Muslim Brotherhood." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/muslim-brotherhood