Muslim Brotherhood

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The Muslim Brotherhood, also called Muslim Brethren (Arabic: جميعة الإخوان المسلمين jamiat al-Ikhwan al-muslimin, literally "Society of Muslim Brothers"; often only الإخوان المسلمون, Ikhwan ul Muslimoon ("Muslim Brothers") or simply الإخوان Ikhwan ("the Brothers") is an Islamist organization with a political approach to Islam.



The Muslim Brotherhood opposes secular tendencies of Islamic nations and wants a return to the precepts of the Qur'an and the rejection of Western influences. They also reject extreme Sufism. They organize events from prayer meetings to sport clubs for socializing.

The organization's motto is as follows: Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

An article published in the Washington Post on September 11, 2004 states the group has fomented Islamic revolution in Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Sudan. Additionally, the Brotherhood was responsible for the creation of Hamas, "which has become known for its suicide bombings against Israel." Nevertheless, the Post reported that the group is a "sophisticated and diverse organization that appeals to many Muslims worldwide and sometimes advocates peaceful persuasion, not violent revolt. Some of its supporters went on to help found al Qaeda, while others launched one of the largest college student groups in the United States." However, its main representative in Algeria, the Movement for the Society of Peace, has in fact been notable for its support for the government against Islamist insurgents during the Algerian Civil War.


The Brotherhood has branches in 70 countries. They claim to have taken part in most pro-Islamic conflicts, from the Arab-Israeli Wars and the Algerian War of Independence to recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Currently, the Egyptian Brotherhood exists as a militant clandestine group, and has been connected to many underground political operations. In other countries, they have more prominent roles, including parliamentary seats. They have not supported movements like al-Jihad and al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya in Egypt and mujahedeen movement of Muslim communities in Europe and the United States.


Initially a youth organization aimed at spiritual, moral, and social reform, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al Banna and five like-minded followers, all of them in their early twenties. An Egyptian school teacher at the time, Hassan wrote that the Brotherhood was created after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and in consideration of the 1924 abolition of the caliphate by Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk and after much contemplation of "the sickness that has reduced the Ummah [the Muslim community] to its present state". Brotherhood members regarded Islam as a way of life.

During the 1930s, the Brotherhood grew at astonishing speed and many Syrian supporters founded their own branches in Syria, one of which was the Aleppo branch, founded in 1935. The Aleppo branch eventually became the Syrian headquarters of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood expanded its political involvement as the Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimoon.

The Muslim Brotherhood became more political in nature and an officially political group in 1939.

In 1942, during World War II, Hassan al Banna set up more Brotherhood branches in Transjordan and Palestine. After World War II, the Brotherhood had grown to approximately 500,000 members in Egypt alone and had many branches throughout the Middle East. Egyptian members took violent action against King Farouk's government. The Brotherhood was banned from Egypt and hundreds moved to Transjordan. The headquarters of the Syrian branch moved to Damascus in 1944. Many Muslim Brothers, including Hassan al Banna, participated in the Arab-Israeli War of 19481949, fighting against the State of Israel.

A Muslim Brother assassinated Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi on December 28, 1948. Hassan al Banna himself was assassinated by government agents in Cairo in February 1949.

In 1952, Egyptian King Farouk was deposed in a coup led by Gamal Abd an-Nasser. The Brotherhood initially supported Nasser's secular government and cooperated with it, but resisted left-wing influences.

On October 26, 1954, Muslim Brother Mahmoud Abd al Latif failed in an attempt to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser. At close range, Mahmoud shot eight times at Nasser as he was delivering a speech. All shots missed and Nasser continued speaking without pause, delivering a fiery and instantly legendary oration: "Let them kill Nasser. What is Nasser but one among many? My fellow countrymen, stay where you are. I am not dead, I am alive, and even if I die all of you is Gamal Abdel Nasser." Nasser outlawed the Brotherhood and over 4000 of its members were imprisoned, including Sayyid Qutb, who later became the most influential intellectual in the group and wrote highly influential books while in prison. More members moved to Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Jordanian members of the Muslim Brotherhood supported King Hussein of Jordan and against Egypt's Gamal Nasser's attempts to overthrow him. King Hussein banned all political parties in Jordan in 1957 with the exception of the Muslim Brotherhood.

When Syria joined Egypt in the United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958, the Muslim Brotherhood went underground; when Syria left the UAR in 1961, the Muslim Brotherhood won 10 seats in the following elections; the Ba'ath coup in 1963, however, forced them underground once more.

The organization opposed the alliance Egypt was developing with the USSR at the time, and opposed communist influence in Egypt, to the extent that it was reportedly supported by the CIA during the 1960s.

Nasser legalized the Brotherhood again in 1964, and released all prisoners. After claiming more assassination attempts against him, he had leaders executed in 1966 and imprisoned most others again.

Nasser's successor in Egypt, Anwar Sadat, promised reforms, and that he would implement Sharia. However, Sadat's peace treaty with Israel in 1979 angered the Brotherhood again and most of the Egyptian people, which led to his assassination in 1981.

In the 1950s, Jordanian members supported King Hussein of Jordan against political opposition and against Nasser's attempts to overthrow him. When the King banned political parties in Jordan in 1957, the Brotherhood was exempted.

The Syrian branch was the next to be banned when Syria joined Egypt in the United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958. The Brotherhood went underground. When Syria left the UAR 1961, the Brotherhood won 10 seats in the next elections. However, the Ba’th coup in 1963 forced them underground once more, alongside all the other political groups.

The appointment of Hafez al-Assad, an Alawite Muslim, as the Syrian president in 1971 angered the Brotherhood even more because the majority of Muslims do not consider Alawites true Muslims at all. Assad initially tried to placate them, but made very little progress. Assad’s support of Maronites in the Lebanese Civil War made the Brotherhood re-declare its jihad. They began a campaign of strikes and terrorist actions. In 1979, they killed 83 Alawite cadets in the Aleppo artillery school. Assad’s attempts to calm them by changing officials and releasing political prisoners did not help. Eventually the army was used to restore order by force.

An assassination attempt against Assad on June 25, 1980 was the last straw. Assad made the Syrian parliament declare Brotherhood membership a capital offense and sent the army against them. In the operation, which lasted until February 1982, the Syrian army practically wiped out the Brotherhood, killing an unknown but large number of people in the Hama Massacre. The Syrian branch disappeared, and the survivors fled to join Islamic organizations in other countries.

The Saudi Arabian branch convinced King Ibn Saud to let them start the Islamic University in Medina in 1961. After the Six-Day War in 1967, the movement as a whole split into moderates and radicals. The latter faction in Syria declared jihad against the Ba'ath party leaders. King Hussein allowed the Jordanian branch to give military training to Brotherhood rebels in Jordan.

In 1973, the Israeli government allowed local leader Ahmad Yassin to run social, religious and welfare institutions among Palestinian Muslims. In 1983, he was arrested for illegal possession of firearms and sentenced to prison. When he was released 1985, he became more popular than ever. When the first Intifada begun in 1987, he became one of the founders of Hamas.

In 1984, the Muslim Brotherhood was partially reaccepted in Egypt as a religious organization, but was placed under heavy scrutiny by security forces. It remains a source of friction.

In 1989, the Jordanian Brotherhood's political wing, the Islamic Action Front, won 23 out of 80 seats in Jordan's parliament. King Hussein tried to limit their influence by changing the election laws, but in the 1993 elections, they became the largest group in the parliament. They strongly opposed the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1994.

In the early days of the Soviet-Afghan war, the Muslim Brotherhood was seen as a constituent part of the Afghan anti-communist opposition.

The resistance movement in Afghanistan formed in opposition to the leftist policies of King Zahir Shah. The movement had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Russian government alleges that the Muslim Brotherhood is a key force in the ongoing Chechen revolt. Russian officials accused the Muslim Brotherhood of planning the December 27, 2002 suicide car bombing of the headquarters of the Russian-backed government in Grozny, Chechnya.

Today, the Muslim Brotherhood is viewed by some people as a more moderate group than other Islamist organizations operation in the Middle East, such as al-Qaida. Others point out their continued ideological and personal participation in terrorism, however, and see the Ikhwan as both al-Qaida's progenitor and a key ongoing enabler in the Muslim ummah.

In countries where they are permited to stand for office, the Brotherhood has competed in and supported free elections.

Others disagree with the assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate group. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, a professor of political science at the University of Kuwait has recently criticized the U.S. for failing to put the organization on its list of terrorist organizations. He also critized the UN for doing the same thing.

In comments translated by the Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI) on January 7, 2005, Al-Baghdadi asserted that the Middle East "has no future" as long as organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood exist and called for the political and economic destruction of it and other groups like it.

"The day will come when the only solution for this will be confrontation, and it is better that this be now and not later. The solution is simple: to put [these organizations] on the international terrorist list and to force all the countries that have contacts with these organizations to dismantle them and to confiscate their funds. There is no other solution," Al-Baghdadi said.

2005 The Muslim Brotherhood is a leading force in the democracy movement in Egypt.

Prominent Muslim Brothers

Prominent Muslim Brothers include Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the late Sayyid Qutb, the late Hasan al-Banna, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. In Algeria, their ideology was most notably espoused by Mahfoud Nahnah.

See also


Fraternal groups and personalities

Groups also mentioned in relation

Islam-related topics



  • [1] ( "In Search of Friends Among the Foes" by John Mintz and Douglas Farah. The Washington Post, September 11, 2004, page A01
  • [2] ( "Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 1)" by Marc Erikson. Asia Times Online, November 5, 2002.
  • [3] ( "Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2)" by Marc Erikson. Asia Times Online, November 8, 2002.
  • [4] ( "Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 3)" by Marc Erikson. Asia Times Online, December 4, 2002.
  • [5] ( "Russia Links Arab Millitants to Bombing in Chechnya" by Michael Wines. The New York Times, December 28, 2002
  • [6] ( "Reactions to Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's Fatwa Calling for the Abduction and Killing of American Civilians in Iraq" by the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project. The Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch Series - No. 794, October 6, 2004
  • [7] (

External links


bg:Мюсюлманско братство de:Muslimbrder es:Hermandad musulmana fr:Frres musulmans it:Fratelli musulmani he:האחים המוסלמים pl:Bracia Muzułmańscy


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