by: Rev. Cheryl Hauer, International Development Director
The Brotherhood was founded in Ismailia, Egypt, in 1928, by an Islamic educator named Hassan al-Banna, a man of great compassion, who was very concerned about poverty and the unfavorable working conditions that plagued many Muslims. He believed, however, that contemporary Islam had lost its way, with many Muslims being corrupted by Western influence, causing Islam to lose its social dominance. This new organization would promote a return to the original Islam of the prophet as stated in its credo: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”
Claiming a desire to protect workers against foreign companies and Western abuses, the Brotherhood grew very quickly. It raised money for hospitals, pharmacies, schools, and other social institutions, using them to promote religious education and their views. It is estimated that by the late 1940s, the Brotherhood already had 2 million members, spreading into Lebanon, Syria, and what was then Transjordan.
Declassified documents from British, American, and German government sources have indicated that a much less benign Brotherhood emerged just prior to World War II. The chapter established in British Mandate Palestine in 1935 was headed by Haj Amin el-Husseini and was linked to Nazi Germany. It was involved in attacks on the British, on Jewish immigration, espionage, and sabotage. The group was clearly in support of terrorist activities perpetrated by el-Husseini and actively disseminated Arabic translations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion(a fraudulent anti-Semitic description of a Jewish plan to achieve global domination that came out of Russia in 1903) and Hitler’s Mein Kampf throughout the Arab world. Promoting hostile views of Jews and Israel, as well as Western societies in general, became a major goal of the organization.
Today, known as the Society of the Muslim Brothers, the organization defines itself as an Islamic transnational movement whose goal is to instill the Quran and Sunnah (the sayings and living habits of Muhammad)as the sole reference point for ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community, and state. It is now recognized as the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political group, forming the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It is the world’s most influential Islamist movement and has as its slogan: Islam is the solution.
At the heart of Brotherhood theology, in addition to the Quran, is the necessity for Islam to reclaim its manifest destiny, that of an empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia and eventually enveloping the entire world. Western civilization is on the decline, they believe, not due to economic or military losses, but because of a loss of “life-giving values.” Europe and the United States have lost the ability to provide mankind with high ideals and values that would promote a way of life that is positive, constructive, and pleasing to “Allah.” Only Islam possesses these values and this way of life, the Brotherhood teaches, and it is incumbent on all Muslims to work toward bringing the Western system to an end and replacing it with Islam.
Central to that global Islamic ideal is the restoration of the Caliphate. The first system of government established in Islam shortly after the death of the Muhammad, this republic ruled the Muslim world until the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Through this renewed system, a world leader, called the Caliph, and his advisors will dictate to the people according to the laws of Islam. The fractured Muslim world will become, at last, one nation unified under Allah, subscribing to Sharia law, and “evangelizing” the infidel in every corner of the world.
In the United States, Brotherhood materials stress the importance of establishing a stable Islamic movement led by the Brotherhood within Western countries. Working socially and politically to destabilize these nations from within, though very slow, is, in their own words, a “civilization-jihadist process.”
Today, the Brotherhood is represented in virtually every Muslim country throughout the world. As some of these nations(though not democracies) have been ruled by pro-Western Arab leaders, the Brotherhood has been banned and forced underground, which has only served to increase their popularity. Many in the West are hoping that the current unrest will lead to the emergence of a new Middle East based on democracy and freedom.
However, the Brotherhood stands ready to co-opt every demonstration and capitalize on the momentum of change to establish Islamist governments, the only freedom being from Western influence. Praising Hamas and declaring the necessity of destroying Israel, the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood has declared that protests and unrest will continue until every pro-Western, pro-Israel Arab leader has been deposed.
At that point, concerted efforts to reestablish the Caliphate can begin. As one Muslim Brotherhood adherent put it, “We will be quiet at first, as we strengthen internally. Then we will offer the opportunity for other nations to accept Islam.” But what if other nations would rather not? “A jihad that will terrify the world will be our last resort to spread the spirit and rule of Islam. It is our responsibility, after all, to bring the world out of darkness and into light.”
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