Politics of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood is the world’s largest Islamist movement, yet it is often poorly understood due to its secrecy and dissimulation. All branches and front organizations worldwide of the Muslim Brotherhood support the restoration of a sharia-based Caliphate that would span the entire Islamdom and eventually the entire world. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood recognizes that the long path towards the restoration of the Caliphate runs through pragmatic political engagement. The Caliphate was abolished by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

Modern 20th century Islamism emerged as a synthesis of pre-modern political Islam with aspects of Nazism and Communism. One feature that the Muslim Brotherhood shares with the former NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) is its reliance and emphasis on populist popular support. The Muslim Brotherhood places as much political emphasisis on popular Islamization of society as it does on introduction of Islamist sharia law as state law. While branches of the Muslim Brotherhood run the governments of both Turkey and the Gaza strip, neither the the AKP nor Hamas has yet introduced Islamist sharia as the law of the land. The contemporary gradualist political strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood in the politics of Turkey, Gaza, Israel, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia and elsewhere are intended to build popular support, gain political influence and promote popular Islamization of society as a prelude to much later introduction of Islamist sharia law as state law and the restoration of the Caliphate.

Turkey’s AK party (the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) understands that it would it would not win elections were it to openly promote introduction of Islamist sharia law as law of the land. This does not mean that the AKP has given up on its ambition to introduce an Islamist version of sharia as law of the land but rather that the AKP emphasises the importance of gradually building popular support for eventual introduction of Islamist sharia law. Hamas recognizes that they would lose much support among the Palestinian public were they to prematurely push for introduction of Islamist sharia law as law of the land.

The Muslim Brotherhood is sometimes mischaracterized as so called  “moderate Islamists”, while a more correct description would be pragmatic Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood is influenced by Trotskyist political tactics of using front organizations in countries where Muslims are a minority. Non-Muslims are often confused by Islamist prolific political lying which may involve saying almost anything that is deemed as promoting the cause of political Islam. Hence many in the Western media are confused by the Afghan Taliban’s professed sudden rhetorical “religious moderation” in Afghanistan of 2021 while this rhetoric as solely expressed by the regime’s English-language spokesman is solely geared towards gaining international recognition for the restored Islamist Taliban regime. This Islamist practice of prolific lying is almost entirely prohibited under non-Islamist Sunni sharia and practitioners are known as munafiqun (Arabic for “hypocrites”) who are deemed non-Muslims by non-Islamist Sunni sharia law. Shia sharia however permits the practice of taqiyya (Islamic religious dissimulation) whereby lying about oneself being Shia is permitted for self-protection against anti-Shia persecution. 

In Israel does the southern wing of the Islamic Movement (the Israeli branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) reason that they will gain popular support from and influence with Israeli Muslims by participating in Israel’s government in ways that will economically and otherwise benefit the Palestinian Israeli minority in Israel. Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) is currently supported by a majority of Palestinians in Gaza and Judea and Samaria and Hamas correctly recognizes that they would endanger that very substantial political popular support were they to prematurely push for introduction of Islamist sharia law as law of the land in the Gaza Strip. In Tunisia have Ennahda (the Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) reasoned that they would gain growing popular support by presenting themselves as “Islamic democrats”. Ennahda controls only a minority of seats in the Tunisian parliament and thus have no way near the political clout needed to introduce Islamist sharia law as law of the land. In Morocco is the Justice and Development Party (JDP, the Moroccan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) similarly a minority in parliament and ultimate political authority rests with King Mohammed VI. The JDP leads the Moroccan government and presents itself as promoting “Islamic democracy”. The strategy is as in Turkey to promote Islamization of society and put off introduction of Islamist Sharia law as law of the land until later. 

It should however not be overlooked that contemporary Sunni Jihadism ideologically emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideology of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood senior intellectual Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) and the Islamist-Jihadist ideology also known as Qutbism which advocates terrorism as a means of restoring the Caliphate under Islamist sharia law. The Muslim Brotherhood is not pacificist and does not reject violence in principle but considers its own Islamization strategy more effective than resorting to terrorism although the Anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood fully supports the terrorism of its Palestinian branch, the Hamas.

The NSDAP took power through popular mass mobilization and did not implement the Holocaust until it had achieved comprehensive Nazification of German society with full popular support in Germany. The German National Socialist leadership placed great emphasis on building popular support for its policies despite running a totalitarian dictatorship. The contemporary Muslim Brotherhood strategy is clearly fundamentally inspired by that of the NSDAP in the 1920s and 1930s. Hitler’s propaganda apologists abroad in the 1930s also described Hitler as a “moderate” and Aryanization was simply supplanted with Islamization for the Muslim Brotherhood as a means to ostensibly “purify” society from “impure influences”.

Islamism is the contemporary major reincarnation of modern totalitarianism and constitutes a major threat to open society around the world. It is essential not to put belief in Islamist propaganda of ostensible “moderation” and other tropes of dissimulation of Islamist propaganda and not unnecessarily lend political legitimacy to branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Islamdom as well as front organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood in the surrounding world.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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