Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan

The Islamic movement in Jordan came to international attention in thewake of the April 1989 disturbances and the subsequent November 1989 parliamentary elections. These developments highlighted the movement’s political clout and raised the spectre in the West of an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in Jordan, fuelled by radical Islamic movements such as those of Egypt and the Maghrib. While various political trends competed for influence during the months prior to the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood had a clear advantage; its infrastructure in the mosques, the Qur’anicschools and the universities gave it a ready-made political base. The leftistand pro-regime groups, on the other hand, had to create de facto politicalparties—still legally banned—and to build their organizational base almostex nihilo, or to transform a clandestine infrastructure into an overt politicalone. There should have been very little surprise, therefore, when the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist candidates won a windfall of 32 of the 80seats in Parliament.Politicization of Islam is not new in Jordan.1 Since the foundation of the Emirate of Trans jordan by ‘Abdallah, Islam has served as one of the building blocks of regime legitimacy and of nation-building. The genealogy of the Hashemite family as scions of the Prophet’s tribe was an important source of legitimacy for its rule in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, as it had been inthe Hijaz. The ideology of the “Great Arab Revolt” was no less Islamic than it was Arab, and the control of Jerusalem after 1948 was interpretedby the regime as an Islamic responsibility and not only an Arab one.2King ‘Abdallah and his grandson Hussein, took care to present themselvesas believing Muslims, appearing at rituals and prayers, performing the pilgrimage to Mecca and embellishing their speeches with Islamic motifs.3The status of Islam in the Kingdom was also formalized in the Jordanian constitution (1952) by stipulating that Islam is the religion of the kingdom and that the king must be a Muslim and of Muslim parents. Islamic law(Shari‘a) is defined in the constitution as one of the pillars of legislation in the kingdom, while family law is in the exclusive hands of the Shari‘a courts.

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