Societal challenges to the state
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Societal challenges to the state. Part I: Islamic Organizations in Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood. Important points. Diversity of Islamic “scene” Some accommodationist (Muslim Brotherhood), some radical (Jama’a al-Islamiyyah)

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Societal challenges to the state

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Societal challenges to the state

Part I: Islamic Organizations in Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood


Important points

  • Diversity of Islamic “scene”

    • Some accommodationist (Muslim Brotherhood), some radical (Jama’a al-Islamiyyah)

    • Estimated 45 militant Islamic organizations in Egypt that call for the overthrow of the Egyptian state

  • “neofundamentalist”?

    • look to the sources of Islam not simply to replicate the past but to respond to a new age…


Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt)

  • one of original and most important Islamic activist organizations in the Muslim world

  • worldwide spiritual movement

    • main goal is to “build Islamic individuals” who will then build an Islamic state

    • Organizational and ideological model for both moderate and radical Islamic organizations today


Origins

  • Founded 1928 by Hasan al Banna (1906-1949)

    • school teacher

  • Popular reaction against foreign-inspired parliamentary regime.

  • Grew dramatically in 1930s; by 1940 had more than 500 branches throughout Egypt and tens of thousands of members. Supported across classes.

Hasan al-Banna


Program: traditional and innovative

social and political regeneration of Egypt tied to restoration of Islam as guiding force in national life

anti-imperialist

West as political, economic, cultural threat

Hostile to westernization but NOT modernization

used modern institution building, promoted health, used technology and modern communication to promote message.

Re-implementation (and re-interpretation) of Sharia and Quran

More radical interpretations of Jihad

Merging of Quranic definitions of fighting (qital) and the inner spiritual struggle against evil (jihad)

call to engage in holy war against infidels, Christians, and Jews.

Advocated social welfare programs and land reform. Strong supporters of social reform and social responsibility

What: MB Program


In this Tradition, there is a clear indication of the obligation to fight the People of the Book, and of the fact that God doubles the reward of those who fight them. Jihad is not against polytheists alone, but against all who do not embrace Islam...

Today the Muslims, as you know, are compelled to humble themselves before non-Muslims, and are ruled by unbelievers. Their lands have been trampled over, and their honor besmirched. Their adversaries are in charge of their affairs, and the rites of their religion have fallen into abeyance within their own domains, to say nothing of their impotence to broadcast the summons [to embrace Islam].

Hence it has become an individual obligation, which there is no evading, on every Muslim to prepare his equipment, to make up his mind to engage in jihad, and to get ready for it until the opportunity is ripe and God decrees a matter which is sure to be accomplished...

Know then that death is inevitable, and that it can only happen once. If you suffer it in the way of God, it will be your profit in this world, and your reward in the next.

- Hasan al-Banna, “On Jihad,” in Five Tracts of Hasan al-Banna, trans. by Charles Wendell (Berkeley, 1978)


How: Three Phases

Phase One—1928-1939

  • Membership: mostly youth organization

  • Methods: Charitable works, education, information and propaganda

  • State-Society relationship: adversarial but legal

    Phase Two —1939-1960s

  • Membership: broad-based

  • Methods: political party, violent action, assassinations, social welfare (continues)

  • State-Society relationship

    • 1948-1954: cooperated with the Young Officers and Nasserist revolutionaries

    • 1954-1971: illegal, massive suppression by Nasser


Phase 2 cont.

  • New Inspiration: Sayyid Qutb

    • Qutb: societies of God and societies of Satan (no one in middle)

    • Urged creation of a "vanguard" (Tali'ah) of believers who would lead the way in the war on jahiliyya (pagan ignorance of divine guidance)

    • Argued that because of authoritarian nature of most Muslim regimes, armed struggle necessary.


Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966)

“Mankind today is on the brink of a precipice, not because of the danger of complete annihilation which is hanging over its head - this being just a symptom and not the real disease - but because humanity is devoid of those vital values which are necessary not only for its healthy development but also for its real progress.

Even the Western world realizes that Western civilization is unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind. It knows that it does not possess anything which will satisfy its own conscience and justify its existence...

It is essential for mankind to have a new leadership...

It is necessary for the new leadership to preserve and develop the material fruits of the creative genius of Europe, and also to provide mankind with such high ideals and values as have so far remained undiscovered by mankind, and which will also acquaint humanity with a way of life which is harmonious with human nature, which positive and constructive, and which is practicable.

Islam is the only system which possesses these values and this way of life.

- From Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Beirut: 1980)


How (cont): Phase Three

  • Phase 3 – 1971 to present

    • Membership

      • Leadership- educated upper middle class

      • Membership- diverse, mass support

        • Stronger opposition party in Egypt

    • Methods: commitment to nonviolence and Islamist reformism

      • Political activism

      • Huge network of charitable institutions and social welfare programs, dominance of professional syndicates

    • State-Society Relations: dualism

      • Accommodation (MB illegal as a political party but tolerated, incorporated into political system)

      • Persecution (leaders detained, etc.)


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