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The Untold Story of the Muslim Brotherhood


Saturday, December 15, 2007

BY: Salah Al-Nasrawi
As the political conflict between President Hosni Mubarak's secular government and its arch rival, the Muslim Brotherhood, goes on to dominate politics in Egypt, there is more interest than ever in the eighty-year-old group which has always see in itself the sole representative of Islamic renaissance in Egypt.
Rarely a day passes without the outlawed group is not in the national and world news, either for its activists being rounded up or its leaders appear in courts or its lawmakers caught in debates with the speaker of the Peoples Assembly or parliamentary leaders of Mubaraks ruling National Democratic Party. While the group struggles to establish itself as legitimate political force, the government relentless tries to keep it inside the cage as a banned organization.
On the national political divide the fundamentalist movement has come to be respected or loathed, depending on how each sector of the society perceives its declared goal of imposing Islamic Sharia. As many devout Muslims support its agenda of moderate Islamization, seculars and Copts caution that the group is only pretending to be moderate while harboring intentions to build an Iranian, or some even say, a Taliban-style regime.
Khalil Al-Anani, an Egyptian analysts and political writer, has spent two years working on a book to try to fathom the ideology and practice of the group, which was established in 1928 by Hassan Al-Banna to establish an Islamic system that applies the rule of God on earth. The result is a truly remarkable piece of research and reconstruction that will provide the Arab leaders with a richly detailed account of the group which never stops offering itself as an alternative.

In his book Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, An Aging Movement in Fight with Time which so far is published only in his home country Al-Anani provides a thorough look at the strategy, ideology and organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has studied hundreds of documents and interviewed dozens of the MB members, including prominent leaders, at length, to try to trace in great detail the group which is known to be secretive and rarely opens up even to well-intended researchers.

In the process he sheds considerable light on more than a three quarters century of the Brotherhoods difficult history. It is a fascinating investigative account of what went wrong and right in the movements ceaseless endeavor to trigger an Islamic awakening as it claims it, and grab power as its enemies charge.


One of the book's most important themes is how disconnected the Brotherhood is from Egypts current reality, or as Al Anani putd it, its superficiality, shallowness and confusion in renewing its political and religious discourse. To the contrary, he asserts, the Brotherhood has alienated itself to a corner of isolation, stagnation and disharmony with reality.

Although, Al-Anani tries hard to be fair, for example, by accrediting the group for being the mother of all political forces in Egypt for its deeply rooted support among Egyptians, he, nevertheless concludes, as his book's title suggests, that the Brotherhood is destined to reach its twilight if it fails to reform its discourse and structure.

The book is by far the best critique of the Muslim Brotherhood and indeed of political Islam as a whole. It is a wonderfully clinical dissection of the groups eighty years efforts to convince Egyptians to take political Islam as the only solution for their political, economic and social ills. It is a book recommended to all those who look for deep insight beyond the usual clichs about the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypts largest and most powerful opposition movement.

Published at Daily News Egypt 12/15/2007

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