Monday, May 7, 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood

Flag of the Muslim Brotherhood

            The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic group that is labeled as a terrorist group. It is centered in Egypt, but has influence throughout the Islamic World. Having its origins as a secret society it is now a worldly known group and has even brought their movement to the cyberworld of the internet.

Foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood And the Early Years
Hassan al-Banna
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt March 1928 by Hassan al-Banna and was originally a religious social organization. Most of the original members were Egyptian laborers from the city if Isma’iliya[1]. The Muslim Brotherhood grew at a rapid rate to the point that al-Banna saw that for the Muslim Brotherhood to further grow and have some influence that it needed to be moved to Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood gained a foot hold in Cairo in 1932 after absorbing a group headed my al-Banna’s brother. Shortly after being established in Cairo the Muslim Brotherhood began to publish a weekly newsletter. It was estimated that by 1938 there was an estimated three hundred branches of the Muslim Brotherhood and a membership count of 50,000 to 150,000 members (Munson).
            In the early years of the Muslim Brotherhood they focused mostly on recruitment and forming a group based around religious reform and mutual aid to society. The Muslim Brotherhood did not truly take a political interest till the late 1930s. The political interest was brought upon by an Arab strike in Palestine.  The strike itself acted like a catalyst and began to bring the Brotherhoods focus on the unfair British rule that was currently active in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood began to openly voice out their dislike of the British rule.  During the 1941 Parliamentary election the Muslim Brotherhood entered members as a candidates and held rallies openly, calling out for social reform and for the British to leave Egypt.  The British government saw the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat and sent the military to remove al-Banna from Cairo in May 1941, he was later arrested in October along with other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Shortly after the British banned the Muslim Brotherhood forever meeting.
            During World War II, with the government distracted by the war, the Muslim Brotherhood us that as a time to meet once again and plan ways to get rid of the British government completely from Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood saw that the only way they were going to get rid of the British was to start doing more than protesting and putting members up for elections.  With a membership of 300,000 to 600,000 members the Brotherhood was able to cause a lot of turmoil in Egypt. The Brotherhood has started to resort to violence and explosions to make their point. Many members were arrested for hiding large caches of weapons or explosives, but it seemed that nothing was going to stop them.
President Gama 'Abd al-Nasser
            Nothing was really done about the Brotherhood till after a Brotherhood member tried to assassinate Egyptian President Gama ‘Abd al- Nasser on October 27, 1954. After the assassination attempt on al-Nesser there was a large round up of Muslim Brotherhood members.  Members were imprisoned and tortured while six of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders were executed. Ones would think this would put an end to the Muslim Brotherhood, but it did not.

Beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood

The credo of the Muslim Brotherhood was “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations”. The Muslim Brotherhood fallows the teaching of the Hanbali School of Islamic thought (Munson). As it is clear in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood stated above, a main focus of the group is the fact that the Egyptian government is being ruled by the British government. The Muslim Brotherhood also fallows the belief that every Islamic individual has the divine responsibility to stand with them to get rid of the British government and also fight against all Western influence.  Their leader Hassasn Al-Banna believed that there was an Islamic Manifest destiny that gave all Muslim the divine right to push the Western influence completely out of the area that stretched from Spain to Indonesia.
            The Muslim Brotherhood also attacked the lifestyles of all Muslims that were not involved with the Muslim Brotherhood. They said that other Muslims had fallen away from the right life and needed to come back before being completely lost.

Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood
            The Muslim Brotherhood is essentially split into three groups. The groups are the general Organizational Conference, the Shura Council and the General Masul. The General Organization Conference is the general population of the Brotherhood. They are the average member of the group and make up the largest part of the Muslim brotherhood. The Shura Council is a group of leaders that have the duty of planning events, creating the general polices and making the programs that will help the group obtain the goals. In a sense the Shura Council could be seen as the tractions of the Muslim Brotherhood. The General Masul, meaning General Guide, are the leaders and members that fallow up and guide the activities of the general organization. In a sense each group of the Muslim Brotherhood builds of one another and do not work well without the others. The organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is well balanced and allows it to be a well-balanced and well working machine. 

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

            The Muslim Brotherhood is based in Egypt and has a strong effect in Egypt since its reemergence after is banning. The Muslim Brotherhood reemerged in the 1970s[2]. The Muslim Brotherhood no longer held back from using violence and formally declared Jihad on the Western Society. The Muslim Brotherhood continued to us violence but seemed to slow down after a 2005 Parliamentary election where Muslim Brotherhood members won 88 seats of Parliament. The 88 seats accounted for 20% of Parliament[3].
            Since gaining the seats in Parliament the Muslim Brotherhood has switched to a more administrative role for Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood even after the successful removal of the British rule continues to try and enforce a pure Islamic government and still says that many citizens of Egypt have fallen from the way of Islam and need to return to the ways or get punished.


            The Muslim Brotherhood went from a soft spoken origination to an organization that used force to get their point across. They were banned from the country they loved, but they did not let that stop them from trying to free their country of British rule. They can be seen as a key figure for Egypt’s Modern history. They are a group that has some governmental power and a group that will not easily go away or give up.

            Aly, Abd Al-Said, and Manfred W. Wenner. "Modern Islamic Reform Movements: The Muslim Brotherhood in Contemporary Egypt." Middle East Journal 36.5 (1982): 336+. JStore. Web. 26 Apr. 2012. 

            Leiken, Robert S., and Steven Brooke. "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood." Foreign Affairs 86.2  (2007):  107+. JStore. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.

             Munson, Ziad. "Islamic Mobilization: Social Movement Theory and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood." The Sociological Quarterly 42.4 (2001): 487-510. JStore. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.

             Shehata, Samer, and Joshua Stacher. "The Brotherhood Goes to Parliament." Middle East Report 240 (2006): 32-39. JStore. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.

Zahid, Mohammed, and Michael Medley. "Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt & Sudan." Review of African Political Economy 33.110 (2006): 693+. JStore. Web. 26 Apr. 2012

[1] Ziad Munson “Islamic Mobilization: Social Movement Theory and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood
[2] Mohammed Zahid and Michael Melody “Muslim Brotherhood & Sudan”

[3] Samer Shehata and Joshua Stacher “The Brotherhood goes to Parliament”

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