Muslim brotherhood and civil society
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Muslim brotherhood and civil society Document Transcript

  • 1. MODERN SCIENCE & ARTS UNIVERSITY Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society MCOM 408| Media & Development Nehal Hesham Mansour Fall 2010
  • 2. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Abstract & History The Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al Moslmin) was formed in 1928, leaded by Hassan El-Banna, twenty-two years old Arabic Linguistics teacher. The brotherhood was first formed in Ismailia, Egypt then begun to spread throughout all the governorates in Egypt and throughout the Arab World. They first started with a group of six people who believe that: Islam has lost and will remain loosing its identity to the west. According to Sullivan, 1999 “El-Banna Argues that Egypt Islamic Culture and heritage had been supplanted by western traditions, Egypt should not import foreign political ideals because the Islamic state is more complete, more pure, more lofty and more exalted than anything that can be founded in utterances of westerners and the books of Europeans”1 (Sullivan & Abed- Kotob, 1999) The brotherhood objective was, to depend and follow the Islamic rules and regulations and maintain the Islamic and Egyptian identity. Al-Ikhwan knew that the society think of Islam as a boring religion, they knew that the Egyptian people believed that the people who pray are the elder people who are about to die. Al-Ikhwan knew that the society had the believe that being a Muslim is about praying and reading the Quran, this misconception have evolved and spread throughout time. El- Banna knew that in order to abolish this misconception he has to start by inner development; he and his followers had to be role-models and idols to the society. Islam is not only about praying and being strict; it’s about outstanding behavior and attitude in work, career and personal lives. Islam is about developing nation and maintaining the civil society, Islam is about being moderate. Are Al-Ikhwan what they claim they are? That is what will be carefully examined in the paper, stressing on their contributions towards creating a civil society in Egypt that is, if they did contribute. During the emerging of AL-Ikhwan till nowadays they managed to create a lot of enemies yet they still created a reputable image towards some people in the society. This paper will be divided into three sections; first section is an overview of Civil Society & Civil Society in Egypt in particular; Second section will be formulated opinions from scholars & public figures about civil society & Islam, third and last section will give a detailed overview of Al-Ikhwan moving from civil to political along with mentioning some of AL-Ikhwan achievements. Based on the above three aspects, the hypothesis about Muslim Brothers as contributors to the civil society will be proven or disproven. 1 Islam in contemporary Egypt: civil society vs. the state, By Denis Joseph Sullivan, Sana Abed-Kotob Page 2 of 14
  • 3. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Civil Society & its Evolution in Egypt Civil society is composed of the totality of voluntary civic and social organizations and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of the state political system and commercial institutions of the market. (Centre for Civil Society, 2004)According to Michael Edwards, 2008 civil society means “fundamentally reducing the role of politics in society by expanding free markets and individual liberty” Basically a civil society is a society that is formed by the people to benefit the people. The contributions of civil society practitioners are in terms of critical actors in the advancement of universal values around human rights, the environment, education, labor standards and anti-corruption. There are a lot of civil society practitioners and institutions; activist groups, charities, civic groups, clubs (sports, social, etc.), community organizations, cultural groups, NGOs, religious organizations and support groups. Civil society is based on a voluntary engagement in collective action for peaceful representation of interests. The existence of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Egypt can be traced back to 1821 with the established of the Hellenic Philanthropic Association in Alexandria, whose primary aim was to serve the Greek expatriate community. (Khallaf, 2010) Almost 40 years after, CSOs focused on serving the Egyptian people emerged all over the country, among the most notable, the Institut d’Egypte (1859), the Knowledge Association (1868) and the Geographic Association (1878). (Rahman, 2 2004) The documentation of civil society organizations also date back to the early 20th century with books covering the activities and achievements of the pioneer CSOs in the country published as early as early as the late 1950s. Despite the long history of civil society in Egypt, a surge in its activities started to take shape in the late 1980s and has continued to take center stage as the third pillar in the country’s development over the past 20 years. (Khallaf, 2010). 2 See Appendix for Type of CSO’s in Egypt Page 3 of 14
  • 4. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Civil Society & Islam Civil society is viewed as a catalyst or engine for democratization, democratization can be achieved by many societal aspects, whether they are political, economical or religious. Islam is been seen as an aspect in flourishing the civil society, yet the relationship between Islam, including Islamist movements, and civil society has been the subject of extensive academic debate, with some scholars under the impression that Islam and civil society remain essentially incompatible. If Islam was properly implemented it will be a major change agent in the flourishing civil societies. Certain Western orientalists and Arab secularist thinkers join forces to argue that the Islamic religious establishment has always constituted a serious barrier to the development of a truly civil society in the Middle East. Established orientalist scholars like Bernard Lewis and Eli Kedouri suggest, for instance, that Islamic law is inherently totalitarian and, thus, prevents the emergence of strong societal institutions able to check the tyranny of rulers. (Harmsen, 2008) According to Harmsen 2008, Some other scholars like Ernest Gellner and John Hall argue that Islamic law reflects the view of an ethnic society that is, by definition, aggressive towards established state authority. This opposition prevents the emergence of stable states in the region and thereby also precludes the development of stable democracies and civil societies. Muslims have been seen by Arabs and westerns as an extreme belief that can’t volunteer as a change agent in the forming of civil society. Muslim Brotherhood, with & Against Muslims are not extremists that is what El-Banna wanted to deliver, El-Banna and his followers started by spreading the message on a very small scale which is preaching people at social clubs, universities, and coffee-shops. El-Banna was a bright man that outranked his generation and had a vivid view of the future; El-Banna was the first to know the importance of media and he knew that this was the best way to reach mass audience so he can deliver the message to as much people and cultures as possible. El-Banna believed that Islam should be a system of life even in the political factors, but yet he and Al-Ikhwan were still categorized against the Egyptian government as political extremist. Page 4 of 14
  • 5. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 According to Al-Ikhwan Time Line 3 they were moved from civil to political when they were first viewed as a threat to the Egyptian government and political regime that was in 1948 Brothers join the Palestinian side in the war against the Zionists of Palestine. Many Egyptian officers feel the war puts them in touch with their ideology. The brothers blame the Egyptian government for passivity in the war against the Zionists, due to that the Muslim Brotherhood was banned by the authorities. AL- Ikhwan believes that they are not reforming the government nor interfering with its political regime, as till that point Al-Ikhwan is not a legalized party, but it is a group with political beliefs as part of their ideology. The Brotherhood's ideology is based on a fundamentalist approach to Islam - a return to its pure sources in the Holy Qur'an and the tradition and teachings of the Prophet Mohamed. The group views Islam not only as a religion but as a system which deals with all aspects of life. (Howeidy, 1995) Still the government and the society believe that the Brotherhood rejects the secularist approach of confining Islam to a relationship between man and his creator. It became a political movement because it demanded a reform of the government and a reconsideration of the relationship of the Umma (Muslim nation) with other nations. Due to that the government still banns them from having any political movements and having any societal activities and authorities in the society, which eventually will limit their contributions towards civil society. What others don’t know is that the Ikhwan still run in the parliament as independent figures not under a political party. The Muslim Brotherhood has been formally banned in Egypt since 1954, but in reality, the Egyptian government has allowed it to operate within limits since the 1970s, keeping it in check with frequent arrests and crackdowns. A more open political atmosphere in 2005, due to both domestic and international pressure, led the government to grant the Brotherhood unprecedented freedom to campaign before this year's (2008) parliamentary vote. While the group's 150 candidates officially ran as independents, there was nothing secret about their Brotherhood affiliation. Candidates held rallies, hung posters with the Brotherhood's name, and used its slogan, "Islam is the Solution." (Otterman, 2009) 3 See Appendix for Time Line Page 5 of 14
  • 6. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Muslim Brotherhood is now viewed as a change agent to the emerging of the civil society in Egypt. Despite the limitation they had and the problems they faced they still managed to contribute. According to Yglesias, 2007 the Muslim Brotherhood just isn't a violent terrorist organization, and certainly doesn't commit acts of violence against the western counties. It's an extremely traditionalist multinational civil society organization. It's true that a lot of violent types used to be in the Brotherhood and now they're in terrorist groups, but used to be is the key phrase here; they left the Brotherhood because the Brotherhood wouldn't sign on for their agenda.” (Yglesias, 2007). People had the right to oppose Al-Ikhwan only when they formed the secret group that was committing “terrorist attacks” yet they have to be praised for all their contributions towards creating a flourishing society. In recent years Egypt’s civil society has been undergoing rapid and far-reaching changes. Egypt’s civil society seems to have transcended its limits and advanced its boundaries to include new members and areas of work, different from the limits and boundaries it previously held (Dhar, 2008) Did Al-Ikhwan had a role in contributing in the change of civil society that has been increasing in the recent years, as Dahr mentioned? Reviewing & analyzing some of their establishments and contributions, since their emergence till nowadays will answer the question. The first establishment of Al-Ikhwan was a Moral Refinement School called “Tahdeeb”, which El- Banna set its Curricula for the group that attended he was interested in having Islam’s moral and civilized manners mark the conduct of the graduates of that school. The goal mentioned for the school was obtained, and the graduates were honored for their morals and high standards in many situations. This was illustrated in several concrete attitudes, including: 1. workers who showed more dynamism in performing their jobs and increasing production, 2. outstanding personal traits that were developed among Muslim Brothers, including honesty, altruism, continence and other qualities. (IkhwanWeb, 2007) Page 6 of 14
  • 7. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 The first method Al-Ikhwan used for communication was the exchange of letters but Muslim Brothers became certain that letters were not enough to spread the message and decided to issue a weekly magazine called The Muslim Brothers’ Journal The objectives of the magazine included the following:  To propagate general culture and to acquaint non-Muslim Brothers with the latter’s message and methods;  To help wake up the feelings of Islamic attachment and to strengthen the spirit of modern Islamic revival  To use the magazine as the MB’s courier to all Muslim countries, honestly speaking for them with all transparency. (IkhwanWeb, 2007) Al-Ikhwan knew the importance of women in the society and they knew that the Quran values women and her role in the society, and they knew that women have a huge influence on their kids and husbands. Al- Ikhwan have called for doing her justice, treating her with respect and for the abolition of forms of unfairness and repression towards her so that she can have her rightful access to learning, work, responsibility and choice in marriage. “Islam, the mercy of Allah, is for all of mankind and makes no preference to sex. Men and women have a calling and a place in nature. Neither has a greater value, nor is one of greater importance. Both are subject to Divine Retribution which is equal for the capacity of each. The Quran expounds upon this in multiple verses and exists as an illuminating miracle for those who reflect” (Qaradawy, 2000) In 1934 an Islamic division was opened for Muslim sisters called “Muslim Sisters Group”, the most significant objective of which was to stick to Islamic manners and to promote virtue, continence and modesty, as well as to explain the harmful effects of superstitions and rumors among female Muslims. Page 7 of 14
  • 8. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Ikhwan Utilizing Social Media In the last few years, the internet has become the primary incubator of democratic political conversation. The state has never had this role, civil society in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood has moved online, using the information infrastructure of digital media as the place for difficult political conversations about regime change, gender and political life, and Islamic identity. The Ikhwan have launched a new website–a wiki, an online encyclopedia pages where interested individuals can register, create and edit content. The wiki documents Ikhwan history from the Brotherhood’s perspective. Unlike less practical Islamic groups, the Brotherhood has a history of engaging with and using the media since the group’s formation under Hassan el-Banna in 1928, whether this is through talking to the press or producing their own publications. The Brotherhood uses its own website as a news gateway featuring the group’s latest news, publishing their press releases and announcements as well as op-eds. by some of the group’s most prominent personalities. The wiki, which is still in its early stages with a little over 1700 accessible articles, provides the Ikhwan perspective of their own history and events in which they were involved or believe to be closely tied to their Islamic or political cause–a mini Ikhwan library for those who don’t have access to the Brotherhood’s literature or to writings by their thinkers that are available in some Islamic bookstores. (Amer, 2010) Not giving up on social media as a new factor of developing the civil society, the Muslim Brotherhood, announced it planned to launch its own social media network. The new service will reportedly have similar features to popular social networks like Facebook and My Space. However, a spokesman for the group said the purpose of the site was not solely to make friends but also to “promote moderate Islam and clarify who we are.”Ikhwanbook.com4 which is the new service is designed for Muslims around the world who are apparently uncomfortable with the more liberal content rules on non-Islamic social networks. Muslim Brotherhood officials say the content guidelines on their new site will be stricter, as will privacy rules to protect its users. 4 See Appendix for Print screen Page 8 of 14
  • 9. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Concluding the Muslim Brotherhood is developing the society in many aspects; they are concentrating on many attributes like, education, media, arts, and literature and women rights. The have a high concentration of Education and their realization of media importance, correspondingly they are utilizing the media in delivering “Life Educational” messages. Yet they didn’t fail to realize new trends and new media, as they are wonderfully utilizing the internet as a way to develop culture, society and prosper the image of Islam. Their focus on social media shows their ability to contribute to the civil society, as online groups and blogs are the next big thing in formulating opinions and creating observant cultures. Page 9 of 14
  • 10. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Appendix Types of Civil Society Organizations in Egypt - Non-governmental Non-profit Organizations:  These focus on charity work and are  Funded by private donations from individuals  Private sector entities or international donors.  Law 84 of 2002 regulates the existence of this type. Professional Associations:  These are organizations that represent the interests of a specific profession.  They aim to uphold and upgrade the standards of the profession as well as take sides on issues of national concern.  This type depends financially on membership fees; their membership base is normally huge. Examples of this type the Physicians’ Association, the Journalists’ Association, and Association of Engineers.  These professional associations are governed by law 100 of 1993. Labor Unions:  This type of organization represents the interests of workers.  Labor unions depend financially on membership fees of their huge base of members.  They are hierarchical in structure and also governed by law 100 of 1993 Business Associations  This is a more recent type of civil society organization in Egypt.  Nevertheless, it is an influential type because it represents the interests of well-organized, well-connected and financially well-off business communities.  Since the beginning of economic liberalization in the 1970s, these organizations have been gaining importance with respect to representing the interests of private investors, especially as the government has shifted its economic strategy away from central planning and public sector domination.  This type of civil society organization is also  governed by law 84 of 2002. Page 10 of 14
  • 11. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Muslim Brotherhood History Time Line 1928: Founded by Hassan al-Banna as a youth club. 1936: The Muslim Brotherhood takes a pro-Arab position following the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and the start of the Palestinian uprising against Zionist settlements in Palestine. 1939: The Muslim Brotherhood defines itself as a political organization based on the Koran and the Hadith, a system applicable to modern society. 1940: The Brotherhood realizes 500 branches, each with its own centre, mosque, school and club. 1940-45: During World War 2, the Brotherhood experiences fast growth, and is joined by individuals from the lower and middle strata of society. 1946: The Brotherhood claims to have more than 5,000 branches, over 500,000 members and even more sympathizers. 1948: Brothers join the Palestinian side in the war against the Zionists of Palestine. Many Egyptian officers feel the war puts them in touch with their ideology. — The brothers blame the Egyptian government for passivity in the war against the Zionists. They initiate terrorist attacks within Egypt. — December: The Muslim Brotherhood is banned by the authorities. — December 28: Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi is assassinated by a brother. This leads to even more repression from the government. 1949 February: Hassan al-Banna is killed by secret agents in Cairo. 1950: The Brotherhood is legalized again, but only as a religious body. 1951: Hassan Islam al-Hudaibi, a moderate, is elected leader of the Brotherhood. 1952 January: The Brotherhood is active during the anti-British riots in Cairo. — July: Unlike political parties, the Brotherhood is not banned following the coup by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). This happens because the Brotherhood in in cooperation with the revolutionaries. 1954 February: Due to differences about the appropriate governmental system, whether Sharia or secular law, the Brotherhood is banned again. — October 23: A Brotherhood activist, Abdul Munim Abdul Rauf, tries to assassinate president Nasser, but fails. Following this, he and 5 other brothers are executed, 4,000 members are arrested. Thousands flee to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. Page 11 of 14
  • 12. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 1964: A general amnesty is granted to imprisoned brothers. Nasser wants them to join the newly formed government party, the Arab Socialist Union, to ward off the threat of communism. This conditional cooperation policy does not succeed, and Nasser is exposed to 3 more assassination attempts. 1966: The top leaders of the Brotherhood are executed, and many other members imprisoned. 1968 April: Around 1,000 brothers are released from prison by president Nasser. 1970: With the death of Nasser, the new president, Anwar as-Sadat, promises the brothers that Sharia shall be implemented as the law of Egypt. All Brotherhood prisoners are released. 1976: The Muslim Brotherhood is not allowed to participate in the general elections, so many brothers run as independent candidates or as members of the ruling Arab Socialist Party. Altogether they gain 15 seats. 1979: The Brotherhood opposes strongly the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. 1981 September: About 2,000 dissidents are arrested, of which a majority are brothers. — October 6: President Sadat is assassinated by 4 brothers. 1984: The Muslim Brotherhood cooperates with the Neo-Wafd Party in the general elections. The brothers win 8 seats. 1987: The Brotherhood cooperates with the Socialist Labour Party and the Liberal Socialist Party to form the Labour Islamic Alliance. The alliance wins 60 seats, of which 37 are held by brothers. 1990: The Brotherhood boycotts the elections, protesting government controls at the polls. 2005 The Muslim Brotherhood is prevented from running for parliamentary elections as a political party. But their candidates, running as independents, manage to win 88 seats out of a total 454, making them by far the largest opposition group (other parties win 14 seats). Page 12 of 14
  • 13. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 Muslim Brotherhood Ideology  Islam most dominate and not be dominated.  Restoration of the lost caliphate - i'adat al Khalifa al Mafqudah - is the chief immediate political goal of the Islamist movement.  Islam is currently inferior to the West because it deserted its roots. It will triumph by returning to its pristine form.  Social revolution and anti-colonial struggle are an integral and major part of the mission of the Islamic revival.  Violent Jihad is a central tenet of Islam and martyrdom in the cause of Allah is highly valued. Violent Jihad is the greater Jihad, while inner struggle for moral purity is the lesser Jihad.  Islam must aim to take over the entire world and assert its superiority through violent Jihad,  Western civilization is doomed by its decadence and Jewish influence.  Ideas such as democracy and human rights are products of Jewish influence and Western decadence. Society must be ruled by God and not men.  The Jews are particularly vile enemies of Islam. Israel is to be opposed because it is a foreign western implant. Page 13 of 14
  • 14. Muslim Brotherhood Developing Civil Society Fall 2010 References Amer, P. (2010). Muslim Brotherhood use new media to document history. Al-Masry Al Yom , English . Centre for Civil Society, L. S. (2004, 3 1). What is Civil Society . Retrieved 2009, from Dhar, S. (2008). Egypt's Changing Civil Society: The Muslim Brotherhood and New Media. All Academic| Research . Harmsen, E. (2008). Islam, Civil Societ & Social Work . Amesterdam : Amestredam University Press. Howeidy, A. (1995, November 22). Politics in God's Name. Al-Ahram Weekly Online . IkhwanWeb. (2007, June 10). About MB > Profiles| Establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood . Retrieved from The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website : Khallaf, M. (2010). Civil Society in Egypt: A litreture Review . Cairo : Foundation for the Future . Otterman, S. (2009). Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's Parliamentary Elections. Council on Foregin Relations . Qaradawy, D. A. (2000). The Statues of Women in Islam . Rahman, M. A. (2004). Civil Society Exposed: The Politics of NGOs in Egypt. Cairo. Sullivan, D., & Abed-Kotob, S. (1999). The Muslim Brother Hood| Chapter 3. In D. Sullivan, & S. Abed-Kotob, Islam in contemporary Egypt: civil society vs. the state (pp. 41-65). Colorado,USA: Lynne Rienner. Yglesias, M. (2007). Romney Versus The Muslim Brotherhood. The Atlantic Co. Page 14 of 14