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To Be A Muslim

Fathi Yakan

All praises to Allah, and blessings and peace to His Messenger.This book is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the characteristics that every single Muslim should portray in order to fulfill the conditions of being a Muslim in both belief and practice. Many people are Muslim by identity,because they were ”born Muslim” from Muslim parents. Theymay not know what Islam really means or its requirements, an dso may lead a very secular life. The purpose of this first partis to explain the responsibility of every Muslim to become aknowledgeable and true believer in Islam.The second part of this book discusses the responsibility to become an activist for Islam and participate in the Islamic Movement. It explains the nature of this movement and its goals, philosophy, strategy, and tactics, as well as the desirable characteristics of it members.The failure of various movements in the Islamic world, and especially in the Arab countries, result from a spiritual emptiness in these movements as well as in society generally. In sucha situation the principles and institutions of Islam are forgotten.The westernized leaders and movements collapse when they encounter serious challenges. These leaders and movements and the systems of government and economics they try to imposehave fallen because they lacked a solid base. They fell becausethey were artificial constructs copied from alien cultures anddid not represent the Muslim community. Therefore they wererejected by it. This situation is comparable to a kidney transplantin a human body. Although the body is able to tolerate it painfully for a short period of time, eventually the kidney willbe rejected and die.When the sickness of the Muslim Ummah became acute few Muslims thought of building a new society on Islamic principles.Instead many tried to import man made systems and principles, which looked good but really were grossly defectiveand so could be easily toppled and crushed.

THE RISE OF “MUSLIM DEMOCRACY

Vali Nasr

A specter is haunting the Muslim world. This particular specter is notthe malign and much-discussed spirit of fundamentalist extremism, nor yet the phantom hope known as liberal Islam. Instead, the specter that I have in mind is a third force, a hopeful if still somewhat ambiguoustrend that I call—in a conscious evocation of the political tradition associated with the Christian Democratic parties of Europe—“Muslim Democracy.”The emergence and unfolding of Muslim Democracy as a “fact on the ground” over the last fifteen years has been impressive. This is so even though all its exponents have thus far eschewed that label1 and even though the lion’s share of scholarly and political attention has gone to the question of how to promote religious reform within Islam as a prelude to democratization.2 Since the early 1990s, political openings in anumber of Muslim-majority countries—all, admittedly, outside the Arabworld—have seen Islamic-oriented (but non-Islamist) parties vying successfullyfor votes in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan (beforeits 1999 military coup), and Turkey.Unlike Islamists, with their visions of rule by shari‘a (Islamic law) oreven a restored caliphate, Muslim Democrats view political life with apragmatic eye. They reject or at least discount the classic Islamist claim that Islam commands the pursuit of a shari‘a state, and their main goaltends to be the more mundane one of crafting viable electoral platform sand stable governing coalitions to serve individual and collective interests—Islamic as well as secular—within a democratic arena whosebounds they respect, win or lose. Islamists view democracy not as something deeply legitimate, but at best as a tool or tactic that may be useful in gaining the power to build an Islamic state.

Parting the Veil

shadi hamid

America’s post-September 11 project to promote democracy in the Middle East has proven a spectacular failure. Today,Arab autocrats are as emboldened as ever. Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and others are backsliding on reform. Opposition forces are being crushed. Three of the most democratic polities in the region, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories,are being torn apart by violence and sectarian conflict.Not long ago, it seemed an entirely different outcome was in the offing. Asrecently as late 2005, observers were hailing the “Arab spring,” an “autumn forautocrats,” and other seasonal formulations. They had cause for such optimism.On January 31, 2005, the world stood in collective awe as Iraqis braved terroristthreats to cast their ballots for the first time. That February, Egyptian PresidentHosni Mubarak announced multi-candidate presidential elections, another first.And that same month, after former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri wasshadi hamid is director of research at the Project on Middle East Democracyand an associate of the Truman National Security Project.Parting the Veil Now is no time to give up supporting democracy in the Muslim world.But to do so, the United States must embrace Islamist moderates.shadi hamiddemocracyjournal.org 39killed, Lebanon erupted in grief and then anger as nearly one million Lebanesetook to the streets of their war-torn capital, demanding self-determination. Notlong afterward, 50,000 Bahrainis—one-eighth of the country’s population—ralliedfor constitutional reform. The opposition was finally coming alive.But when the Arab spring really did come, the American response provide dample evidence that while Arabs were ready for democracy, the United States most certainly was not. Looking back, the failure of the Bush Administration’s efforts should not have been so surprising. Since the early 1990s, U.S. policymakershave had two dueling and ultimately incompatible objectives in the Middle East: promoting Arab democracy on one hand, and curbing the power and appealof Islamist groups on the other. In his second inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared that in supporting Arab democracy, our “vital interests and our deepest beliefs” were now one. The reality was more complicated.When Islamist groups throughout the region began making impressive gains at the ballot box, particularly in Egypt and in the Palestinian territories, the Bush Administration stumbled. With Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza high on the agendaand a deteriorating situation in Iraq, American priorities began to shift. Friendly dictators once again became an invaluable resource for an administration that found itself increasingly embattled both at home and abroad.The reason for this divergence in policy revolves around a critical question:What should the United States do when Islamists come to power through free elections? In a region where Islamist parties represent the only viable oppositionto secular dictatorships, this is the crux of the matter. In the MiddleEastern context, the question of democracy and the question of political Islamare inseparable. Without a well-defined policy of engagement toward politicalIslam, the United States will fall victim to the same pitfalls of the past. In many ways, it already has.

COMPARING THREE MUSLIM BROTHERHOODS: SYRIA, JORDAN, EGYPT

Barry Rubin

The banner of the Islamist revolution in the Middle East today has largely passed to groups sponsored by or derived from the Muslim Brotherhood. This article develops an introductory examination of three key Muslim Brotherhood groups and compares their politics, interrelations, and methods. Each, of course, is adapted to the conditions of a particular country.The banner of the Islamist revolution in the Middle East today has largely passed to groups sponsored by or derived from the Muslim Brotherhood. This article develops an introductory examination of three key Muslim Brotherhood groups and compares their politics, interrelations, and methods. Each, of course, is adapted to the conditions of a particular country.First, it is important to understand the Brotherhood’s policy toward and relations with both jihadist groups (al-Qa’ida, the Zarqawi network, and others such as Hizb al-Tahrir and Hamas) and theorists (such as Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi).The Brotherhoods do not have ongoing relationships with Hizb al-Tahrir—which is regarded by them as a small, cultish group of no importance. Other than in Jordan, they have had little contact with it at all.Regarding al-Qa’ida—both its theorists and its terrorist infrastructure—the Brotherhoods approve generally of its militancy, attacks on America, and ideology (or respect its ideologues), but view it as a rival.

Engaging Islamists and Promoting Democracy

Mona Yacoubian

Deeming democratic change to be a long-term antidote to Islamist extremism, the Bush administration coupled its military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq with intensified efforts to promote democracy in the Arab world, underscoring the need for free and fair elections. To date, parliamentary elections of varying openness have taken place across the region, from Morocco to Kuwait. The elections ushered in a wave of Islamist victories, dubbed by many as an “Islamist tsunami.” 1The Islamists’ successes stem from their effectiveness as vehicles for popular opposition. While liberal, secular opposition parties remain largely detached from much of the population, Islamists have developed vast and easily mobilized grassroots networks through charitable organizations and mosques. The leadership is often younger and more dynamic, with strong ties to the community, and the party organizations brim with energy and ideas, attracting those who are seeking change.The U.S. government has quietly engaged a number of moderate and legal Islamist parties across the region for several years, sometimes through normal diplomatic activity, sometimes through government-funded grants to U.S. organizations. This Special Report examines U.S.-funded engagement with legal, nonviolent Islamist parties through the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), which have the most extensive experience engaging with Islamists in the region, and focuses on Morocco, Jordan, and Yemen, because of their relative political openness and the strength and vibrancy of their Islamist political opposition.Successful Strategy. A successful Islamist engagement strategy both empowers individuals and strengthens institutions to yield greater transparency, more accountability, and shifts toward moderation. Training and empowering individuals cultivates moderates within the parties and enhances their political sophistication and influence. Meanwhile, as regimes in the Arab world resist or manipulate political reforms, strengthening democracy’s infrastructure is as important as supporting individuals. Independent electoral procedures and monitoring help to establish free and fair elections. Institution building ensures appropriate checks on executive power and a strong rule of law. Strengthening parliaments is especially crucial, as Islamists participate primarily in legislatures.In assessing whether Islamist parties have moderated in response to U.S. engagement, it is difficult if not impossible to quantify or measure shifts that may themselves be relative and subjective. Directly linking greater moderation to specific U.S. engagement activities is also highly problematic. At best, this engagement should be considered a contributing factor. Nevertheless, the tentative results in Morocco, Jordan, and Yemen are promising enough that continued engagement with moderate Islamists should be encouraged, albeit with greater emphasis on institution building and an eye on the broader context of the ideological battle in the Muslim world between extremism and moderation.

the 500 most influential muslims

John Esposito

Ibrahim Kalin

The publication you have in your hands is the first of what we hope will be anannual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslimworld. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, thatis, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the factthat they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the differentways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how peopleare living as Muslims today.Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influensmeaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like themoon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanitytoo. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over thelives of a large number of people on the earth. The 50 most influential figuresare profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they areunified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political,Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Women, Youth, Philanthropy, Development,Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Media, Radicals, International IslamicNetworks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds ofways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: InternationalIslamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnationalnetworks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whoseimportance is due to current issues affecting humanity.

Priorities of The Islamic Movement in The Coming Phase

Yusuf Al-Qardhawi

What Do We Mean By Islamic Movement?

ByIslamic Movement”, I mean that organized, collective work, undertaken by thepeople, to restore Islam to the leadership of society, and to the helm of life all walksof life.Before being anything else, the Islamic Movement is work: persistent, industriouswork, not just words to be said, speeches and lectures to be delivered, or books andarticles are indeed required, they are merely parts of a movement, not themovement itself (Allah the Almighty says, Work, and Allah, His Messenger and thebelievers will see your work} [Surat al-Tawba: 1 05].The Islamic Movement is a popular work performed for Allah’s sakeThe Islamic movement is a popular work based mainly on self-motivation andpersonal conviction. It is a work performed out of faith and for nothing other thanthe sake of Allah, in the hope of being rewarded by Him, not by humans.The core of this self-motivation is that unrest which a Muslim feels when theAwakening visits him and he feels a turmoil deep inside him, as a result of thecontradiction between his faith on the one hand and the actual state of affairs of hisnation on the other. It is then that he launches himself into action, driven by his lovefor his religion, his devotion to Allah, His Messenger, the Quran and the MuslimNation, and his feeling of his, and his people’s, neglect of their duty. In so doing, heis also stimulated by his keenness to discharge his duty, eliminate deficiencies,contribute to the revival of the neglected faridas [enjoined duties] of enforcing theSharia [Islamic Law] sent down by Allah; unifying the Muslim nation around the HolyQuran; supporting Allah’s friends and fighting Allah’s foes; liberating Muslimterritories from all aggression or non-Muslim control; reinstating the Islamiccaliphate system to the leadership anew as required by Sharia, and renewing theobligation to spread the call of Islam, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrongand strive in Allah’s cause by deed, by word or by heartthe latter being theweakest of beliefsso that the word of Allah may be exalted to the heights.

The future of Islam after 9/11

Mansoor Moaddel

There is no consensus among historians and Islamicists about the nature of theIslamic belief system and the experience of historical Islam, on which one couldbase a definitive judgment concerning Islam’s compatibility with modernity. Nonetheless,the availability of both historical and value survey data allow us to analyzethe future of Islam in light of the horrific event of 9/11. The key factor that woulddetermine the level of societal visibility necessary for predicting the future developmentof a culture is the nature and clarity of the ideological targets in relation towhich new cultural discourses are produced. Based on this premise, I shall try toilluminate the nature of such targets that are confronted by Muslim activists inIran, Egypt, and Jordan.

POLITICAL ISLAM and the West

JOHN L.ESPOSITO


At the dawn of the 21st centurypolitical Islam, ormore commonly Islamicfundamentalism, remainsa major presence in governments andoppositional politics from North Africato Southeast Asia. New Islamic republicshave emerged in Afghanistan,Iran, and Sudan. Islamists have beenelected to parliaments, served in cabinets,and been presidents, prime ministers,and deputy prime ministers innations as diverse as Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia,Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon,Malaysia, Pakistan, and Yemen. At thesame time opposition movements andradical extremist groups have sought todestabilize regimes in Muslim countriesand the West. Americans have witnessedattacks on their embassies fromKenya to Pakistan. Terrorism abroadhas been accompanied by strikes ondomestic targets such as the WorldTrade Center in New York. In recentyears, Saudi millionaire Osama binLaden has become emblematic of effortsto spread international violence

Building bridges not walls

Alex Glennie

Since the terror attacks of 11 September 2001 there has been an explosion of interest inpolitical Islamism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Until fairly recently,analysts have understandably focused on those actors that operate at the violent end of theIslamist spectrum, including Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, some of the sectarian parties in Iraq andpolitical groups with armed wings like Hamas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)and Hezbollah in Lebanon.However, this has obscured the fact that across the MENA region contemporary politics arebeing driven and shaped by a much more diverse collection of ‘mainstream’ Islamistmovements. We define these asgroups that engage or seek to engage in the legal political processes oftheir countries and that have publicly eschewed the use of violence tohelp realise their objectives at the national level, even where they arediscriminated against or repressed.This definition would encompass groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Party ofJustice and Development (PJD) in Morocco and the Islamic Action Front (IAF) in Jordan.These non-violent Islamist movements or parties often represent the best organised andmost popular element of the opposition to the existing regimes in each country, and as suchthere has been increasing interest on the part of western policymakers in the role that theymight play in democracy promotion in the region. Yet discussions on this issue appear tohave stalled on the question of whether it would be appropriate to engage with these groupson a more systematic and formal basis, rather than on the practicalities of actually doing so.This attitude is partly linked to a justifiable unwillingness to legitimise groups that mighthold anti-democratic views on women’s rights, political pluralism and a range of other issues.It also reflects pragmatic considerations about the strategic interests of western powers inthe MENA region that are perceived to be threatened by the rising popularity and influenceof Islamists. For their part, Islamist parties and movements have shown a clear reluctance toforge closer ties with those western powers whose policies in the region they stronglyoppose, not least for fear of how the repressive regimes they operate within might react.This project’s focus on non-violent political Islamist movements should not be misinterpretedas implicit support for their political agendas. Committing to a strategy of more deliberateengagement with mainstream Islamist parties would involve significant risks and tradeoffs forNorth American and European policymakers. However, we do take the position that thetendency of both sides to view engagement as a zero sum ‘all or nothing’ game has beenunhelpful, and needs to change if a more constructive dialogue around reform in the MiddleEast and North Africa is to emerge.

Commentary: Hollow ring for democracy

ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) — The White House’s crusade for democracy, as President Bush sees it, has produceda critical mass of events taking that (Middle Eastern) region in a hopeful new direction.And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just toured the area, making clear at every stop whenever the United States has a choice between stability and democracy, the new ideological remedy would sacrifice stability.

Veteran Mideast hands who have dealt with five regional wars and two intifadas over the past half century shuddered. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger first among them.

For the U.S. to crusade in every part of the world to spread democracy may be beyond our capacity,” he says. The U.S. system, he explains, “is the product of unique historical experiences, difficult to duplicate or to transplant into Muslim societies where secular democracy has seldom thrived.If ever.

If stability had been sacrificed for democracy, the former national security adviser and secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford could not have negotiated major Arab-Israeli disengagement agreements: Sinai I, Golan and Sinai II. Without the undemocratic, benign dictatorial figure of Anwar Sadat at the helm in Egypt, or without the late Syrian dictator and master terror-broker Hafez Assad, yet another page of war history would have been written.

With a democratic parliament in Egypt in 1974, presumably dominated by the popular Muslim Brotherhood, Sadat could not have made his spectacular, death-defying trip to Jerusalemand suddenly become the most popular leader in Israel. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and between Jordan and Israel were possible only because absolute rulersSadat and the late King Hussein, led both Arab countries.

Sadat knew his courageous act of statesmanship was tantamount to signing his own death warrant. It was carried out in 1981 — by Islamist extremistson worldwide television.

Rice proudly proclaims it is no longer a war against terrorism but a struggle for democracy. She is proud the Bush administration no longer pursues stability at the expense of democracy. But already the democracy crusade is not only encountering speed bumps, but also roadblocks on a road to nowhere.

The much-vaunted Palestinian elections scheduled for July have been postponed indefinitely.

In Lebanon, the ballot box has already been nullified by political machinations. Gen. Michael Aoun, a bright but aging prospect who came back from French exile to take on Syria’s underground machine, has already joined forces with Damascus. While denying any deal with Syria, the general’s henchmen concede he was compensated munificently for his retirement years in Paris from his post as army chief of staff and his time as premier. Aoun collected $22 million, which included compound interest.

In Egypt, Rice, presumably attempting to confer respectability on President Hosni Mubarak’s challengers, took time out to receive a known political charlatan who has over the years been exposed as someone who forged election results as he climbed the ladder of a number of political parties under a variety of labels.

Even Mubarak’s enemies concede Ayman Nour fabricated and forged the signatures of as many as 1,187 citizens to conform to regulations to legalize his Ghad (Tomorrow) party. His career is dotted with phony academic credentials, plagiarism, a staged assassination attempt on himself, charges of embezzlement by his Saudi media employer, and scads of document forgeries.

Rice had canceled a previous trip to Egypt to protest the indictment and jailing of Nour pending trial. And before Rice’s most recent accolade, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had also gone out of her way to praise Egypt’s master political con man. Makes you wonder what kind of political reporting is coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

With this double-headed endorsement by the United States, Nour is losing what little favor he still has in Egypt. He is now seen as a U.S. stooge, to add to a long list of failings.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed but tolerated since it renounced terrorism, is more representative of Egyptian opinion than Nour. There is also the Kifaya (Enough) movement that groups Egypt’s leading intellectuals. But they declined to meet with Rice.

The United States is seen throughout the Arab world as synonymous with Israel. This automatically limits the Bush administration’s ability to win friends and influence people. Those making the most out of U.S. pressure to democratize are organizations listed by the United States asterrorist.Both Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon are now mining opportunities both above and underground. Islamic legislators in Jordan petitioned King Abdullah to allow Jordanian Hamas leaders, evicted six years ago, to come home. The king listened impassively.

It took Europe 500 years to reach the degree of political maturity witnessed by the recent collapse of the European Union’s plans for a common constitution. Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. But Churchill also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.This still applies in the souks of the Arab world, from Marrakech to Muscat.

The Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan and Jama’at-i-Islam of Pakistan

Neha Sahgal

The study of Islamist activism is new to social movement theory. Socialmovement scholarship has ignored Islamist movements because of their unique faithbasednature. More recently scholars have recognized that the processes of contentionconceptualized by social movement theory can be applied to Islamist activism to seektheoretical refinements in both areas of study.In this paper, I examine variations in the strategies followed by Islamistmovements in response to government policies. States have followed various policies inmanaging the tide of Islamist opposition to their power. Some states have chosen to userepressive means (Egypt, Jordan before 1989), while others, at different times in theirhistory have used accommodative policies (Jordan after 1989, Pakistan, Malaysia). Iexamine the effects of government accommodation on Islamist movement strategies.I argue that accommodation can have varying effects on Islamist movementstrategies depending on the nature of accommodative policies followed. Governmentshave employed two different types of accommodative policies in their tenuousrelationship with Islamist opposition – Islamization and liberalization. Islamizationattempts to co-opt the movements through greater religiosity in state and society.Liberalization allows the movements to conduct their activities at both the state and thesocietal level without necessarily increasing the religiosity of the state1. Islamizationdisempowers Islamists while liberalization empowers them by providing a sphere ofinfluence.

Spoilt ballots

Marc Lynch

marc-akef

Moderate Islamist movements across the Arab world have made a decisive turn towards participation in democratic politics over the last 20 years. They have developed an elaborate ideological justification for contesting elections, which they have defended against intense criticism from more radical Islamist competitors. At the same time, they have demonstrated a commitment to internal democracy remarkable by the standards of the region, and have repeatedly proved their willingness to respect the results of elections even when they lose.
But rather than welcome this development, secular authoritarian regimes have responded with growing repression. Again and again, successful electoral participation by Islamists has triggered a backlash, often with the consent – if not the encouragement – of the United States. When Hamas prevailed in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, the response was boycott and political subversion. When the Egyptian government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after elections in 2005, few outsiders objected.
As the door to democracy is slammed in their faces, how have the Islamist groups that embraced participation responded? In some ways, they have passed the test with flying colours. They have remained committed to democratic participation even in the face of massive electoral fraud and harsh campaigns of repression. Their leaders have affirmed their democratic ideals, and have often spoken out to reiterate their ideological and strategic commitment to democracy. Indeed, they have often emerged as the leading advocates for public freedoms and democratic reform. And there is as yet little sign of any such organisation turning to violence as an alternative.
But in other ways, the toll of repression is beginning to show. Doubts about the value of democratic participation inside these movements are growing. Splits in the top ranks have roiled movements in Jordan and Egypt, among others. In many of the cases, a Brotherhood leadership which prefers a moderate, accommodationist approach to the regime has struggled to find a way to respond to the escalating pressures of repression and the closing down of the paths towards democratic participation. In Egypt, frustration over extended detentions of the most moderate leaders have tarnished the coin of those calling for political participation, with a rising trend calling for a retreat from politics and a renewed focus upon social activism and religious work. In Jordan, the influence of those seeking to abandon worthless domestic politics and to focus instead on supporting Hamas has grown.
Critics of the Brotherhood have pointed to these recent struggles as evidence that Islamists cannot be trusted with democracy. But this profoundly misreads the current trends. These crises in fact reflect a delayed response to the blocked promise of democratic participation. The Islamist debate today is not about the legitimacy of democracy – it is about how to respond to frustrated efforts to play the democratic game.
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I recently spent a week in Amman, talking to most of the senior leaders of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood as well as a cross-section of the country’s political and journalistic elite. The picture that emerged was one not simply of an Islamist movement in crisis, but also of a blocked and deteriorating political system. The government was in the process of declining to call the Parliament back into session in order to force through its desired legislation as temporary laws of dubious constitutionality. Stories of social conflict among the tribes and of crushing economic problems amid spiralling corruption filled daily conversation.
The Jordanian Brotherhood, established in 1946, is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted branches of the global Islamist organisation. Unlike in many other countries, where the Brotherhood worked in opposition to those in power, in Jordan it played a crucial role for decades in supporting the Hashemite throne against external and domestic challengers. In return, it enjoyed a privileged relationship with the Jordanian state, including control over key ministries, and good relations with King Hussein in spite of his friendly ties with Israel and the United States.
When Jordan lost the West Bank in the 1967 war, it struggled to maintain its role in the occupied territories. In 1988, however, as the Palestinian Intifada raged and threatened to spread to the East Bank, Jordan formally renounced its claims, severing its ties and concentrating on developing the East Bank and “Jordanising” the truncated state, a decision that was not accepted by the Brotherhood, which maintained ties with its West Bank counterparts.
When riots broke out throughout the country the next year, King Hussein responded with a remarkable democratic opening which revitalised the Kingdom’s political life. The Brotherhood participated fully in this process, and emerged in the 1989 elections as the dominant bloc in Parliament. The years that followed are fondly remembered in Jordan as the apex of political life, with an effective Parliament, a “national pact” establishing the ground rules of democracy and a vibrant emerging press.
In 1993, however, the Jordanian regime changed the electoral law in a way that served to limit Muslim Brotherhood success. As it moved rapidly towards a peace treaty with Israel, the state began to clamp down on the Brotherhood and on all other forms of political opposition. Its interventions in the political process grew so extreme that in 1997 the Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front, decided to boycott elections. After King Hussein’s death in 1999, the crown passed to his son Abdullah, who showed little interest in democratic reform, and in 2001 decided to suspend Parliament and rule by emergency law. While formal democracy returned in 2003, political reform efforts failed to gain traction. The extent of electoral fraud against the Brotherhood and other critics of the regime during the 2007 vote shocked even jaded observers.
The Jordanian crackdown has not reached the brutal levels of Syria or Tunisia (where the Islamist opposition was massacred or driven abroad). The Brotherhood continues to operate publicly, and the Islamic Action Front holds six seats in Parliament. But the gerrymandered electoral system and massive fraud has hamstrung Islamist political participation, to the degree that many believe that the Brotherhood is being dared to boycott.
Following the 2007 electoral debacle, the Brotherhood entered a period of intense internal unrest. It dissolved its Shura Council as penance for its fateful decision to participate in the election. The core issue was over how best to respond to the regime’s repression: through confrontation, or through a retreat and consolidation of the political strategy? In April 2008, the “hawkish” trend won the internal elections to the Shura Council by a single vote, and the pragmatic and domestically-orientated Salem Falahat was replaced by the fiery, Palestine-centric hawk Himmam Said. Said and the new head of the Islamic Action Front, Zaki Bani Arshid, steered the Islamist movement into more direct conflict with the regime, with little success. The reformist trend, led by the soft-spoken intellectual Ruheil Ghuraybeh, avoided open confrontation but advanced an ambitious programme to transform Jordan into a constitutional monarchy.
As the Brotherhood rank and file lost interest in a stalled domestic political process, they were simultaneously galvanised by the electoral success of Hamas and then by the visceral images of Israel’s war on Gaza. The growing interest in Palestinian issues at the expense of Jordanian politics worried not only the regime but also the traditional leadership of the Brotherhood. The leading Jordanian journalist Mohammed Abu Rumman argues that the issue of relations with Hamas has supplanted the traditional “hawk-dove” struggle within the organisation. While both trends support Hamas – “if you are not with Hamas, you are not with the Muslim Brotherhood”, explained one of the “dovish” leaders – they disagree over the appropriate organisational relationship. The “Hamasi” trend supports close ties and the prioritisation of Palestinian issues, and embraces a common Muslim identity over a narrowly Jordanian one. The “reformist” trend insists that Hamas, as the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, should have responsibility for Palestine while the Jordanian Brotherhood must be a national organisation focused upon domestic Jordanian issues.
This crisis came to a head over the issue of Hamas participation in the administrative structures of the Jordanian Brotherhood. Three leading reformists resigned from the Executive Office, triggering an as-yet-unresolved internal crisis that threatens one of the first serious internal splits in the history of the movement. The media has eagerly egged this conflict on; indeed, a number of Brotherhood leaders told me that what made the current crisis unique was not the issues at stake or the intensity of the disagreement, but the fact that for the first time it had become public.
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The story of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is many things, but certainly not a story of Islamists retreating from democracy. Similar dynamics can be seen in Egypt, where the Brotherhood’s leadership is similarly divided over how to respond to escalating repression. During multiple trips to Cairo in the last few years, I saw the growing frustration of a generation of reformists who found their every effort to embrace democracy met with force and rejection.
After “independent” Brotherhood candidates scored sweeping victories in the first of three rounds of the 2005 Parliamentary elections, government forces began to intervene to prevent further gains. Despite well-documented fraud and heavy-handed security interference in Brotherhood strongholds, the movement emerged as the largest opposition bloc with 88 seats. As Deputy Supreme Guide Mohammed Habib ruefully told me, their mistake was that they did too well – had they won 50 seats, perhaps they would not have triggered such harsh reprisals.
The subsequent crackdown matched the magnitude of the Brotherhood victory. A series of media campaigns aimed to scare mainstream Egyptians with alleged nefarious Brotherhood schemes (they were supposedly training an underground militia, conspiring with Hizbollah, and more). A wide range of leading Brotherhood figures, including noted moderates such as the financier Khairat el Shater and the intellectual Abd el Monem Abou el Fattouh, were detained indefinitely on trumped up charges.
For a while, the Egyptian Brotherhood held fast in the face of these provocations. They continued to try to participate in elections even as the fraud and overt manipulation mounted. Their Parliamentarians performed well as an opposition. They routinely expressed their ongoing commitment to democracy to every audience which would listen. And they imposed discipline on their own members to prevent the explosion of frustration into violence.
But over time, the pressure began to take its toll. The leadership reined in its freewheeling young bloggers, whose public airing of internal issues was being exploited by the organisation’s opponents. It adopted tougher rhetoric on foreign policy issues such as the Gaza war – attacking the Egyptian government’s enforcement of the blockade of Gaza – in part to rally its demoralised membership. Considerable evidence suggests that the cadres of the organisation were growing disenchanted with politics and preferred to return to the core social and religious mission. And growing voices from inside and outside the movement began to suggest retreating from politics until a more propitious time.
Earlier this month the conflicts inside the Egyptian Brotherhood leapt into the pages of local newspapers, which reported that the movement’s leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, had abruptly resigned his post in protest after conservatives refused to appoint the leading reformist Essam el Erian to an open leadership seat. Akef has denied the reports – but the portrait of a movement in turmoil is clear.
The Jordanian, Egyptian and American governments may see all this as something of a success story: the influence of the Islamists has been curbed, both in formal politics and in the social sector, and the restraint exercised by the Brotherhood leadership has meant the states have not faced a backlash. But this is dangerously short-sighted. The campaigns against Islamists weaken the foundations of democracy as a whole, not just the appeal of one movement, and have had a corrosive effect on public freedoms, transparency and accountability. Regardless of the fortunes of the movements themselves, the crackdown on the Islamists contributes to the wider corruption of public life. The growing frustration within moderate Islamist groups with democratic participation cannot help but affect their future ideological trajectory.
Sowing disenchantment with democratic politics in the ranks of the Brotherhood could forfeit one of the signal developments in Islamist political thinking of the last few decades. The failure of the movement’s democratic experiment could empower more radical Islamists, including not only terrorist groups but also doctrinaire salafists less inclined to pragmatic politics. The degradation of its organisational strengths could open up space for al Qa’eda and other radical competitors to move in. The alternative to Ismail Haniya might be Osama bin Laden rather than Abu Mazen, and the exclusion of Essam el-Erian may not produce an Ayman Nour.
Marc Lynch is associate professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He writes a blog on Arab politics and media for Foreign Policy.

Moderate Islamist movements across the Arab world have made a decisive turn towards participation in democratic politics over the last 20 years. They have developed an elaborate ideological justification for contesting elections, which they have defended against intense criticism from more radical Islamist competitors. At the same time, they have demonstrated a commitment to internal democracy remarkable by the standards of the region, and have repeatedly proved their willingness to respect the results of elections even when they lose.

But rather than welcome this development, secular authoritarian regimes have responded with growing repression. Again and again, successful electoral participation by Islamists has triggered a backlash, often with the consent – if not the encouragement – of the United States. When Hamas prevailed in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, the response was boycott and political subversion. When the Egyptian government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after elections in 2005, few outsiders objected.

As the door to democracy is slammed in their faces, how have the Islamist groups that embraced participation responded? In some ways, they have passed the test with flying colours. They have remained committed to democratic participation even in the face of massive electoral fraud and harsh campaigns of repression. Their leaders have affirmed their democratic ideals, and have often spoken out to reiterate their ideological and strategic commitment to democracy. Indeed, they have often emerged as the leading advocates for public freedoms and democratic reform. And there is as yet little sign of any such organisation turning to violence as an alternative.

But in other ways, the toll of repression is beginning to show. Doubts about the value of democratic participation inside these movements are growing. Splits in the top ranks have roiled movements in Jordan and Egypt, among others. In many of the cases, a Brotherhood leadership which prefers a moderate, accommodationist approach to the regime has struggled to find a way to respond to the escalating pressures of repression and the closing down of the paths towards democratic participation. In Egypt, frustration over extended detentions of the most moderate leaders have tarnished the coin of those calling for political participation, with a rising trend calling for a retreat from politics and a renewed focus upon social activism and religious work. In Jordan, the influence of those seeking to abandon worthless domestic politics and to focus instead on supporting Hamas has grown.

Critics of the Brotherhood have pointed to these recent struggles as evidence that Islamists cannot be trusted with democracy. But this profoundly misreads the current trends. These crises in fact reflect a delayed response to the blocked promise of democratic participation. The Islamist debate today is not about the legitimacy of democracy – it is about how to respond to frustrated efforts to play the democratic game.

********************************

I recently spent a week in Amman, talking to most of the senior leaders of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood as well as a cross-section of the country’s political and journalistic elite. The picture that emerged was one not simply of an Islamist movement in crisis, but also of a blocked and deteriorating political system. The government was in the process of declining to call the Parliament back into session in order to force through its desired legislation as temporary laws of dubious constitutionality. Stories of social conflict among the tribes and of crushing economic problems amid spiralling corruption filled daily conversation.

The Jordanian Brotherhood, established in 1946, is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted branches of the global Islamist organisation. Unlike in many other countries, where the Brotherhood worked in opposition to those in power, in Jordan it played a crucial role for decades in supporting the Hashemite throne against external and domestic challengers. In return, it enjoyed a privileged relationship with the Jordanian state, including control over key ministries, and good relations with King Hussein in spite of his friendly ties with Israel and the United States.

When Jordan lost the West Bank in the 1967 war, it struggled to maintain its role in the occupied territories. In 1988, however, as the Palestinian Intifada raged and threatened to spread to the East Bank, Jordan formally renounced its claims, severing its ties and concentrating on developing the East Bank and “Jordanising” the truncated state, a decision that was not accepted by the Brotherhood, which maintained ties with its West Bank counterparts.

When riots broke out throughout the country the next year, King Hussein responded with a remarkable democratic opening which revitalised the Kingdom’s political life. The Brotherhood participated fully in this process, and emerged in the 1989 elections as the dominant bloc in Parliament. The years that followed are fondly remembered in Jordan as the apex of political life, with an effective Parliament, a “national pact” establishing the ground rules of democracy and a vibrant emerging press.

In 1993, however, the Jordanian regime changed the electoral law in a way that served to limit Muslim Brotherhood success. As it moved rapidly towards a peace treaty with Israel, the state began to clamp down on the Brotherhood and on all other forms of political opposition. Its interventions in the political process grew so extreme that in 1997 the Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front, decided to boycott elections. After King Hussein’s death in 1999, the crown passed to his son Abdullah, who showed little interest in democratic reform, and in 2001 decided to suspend Parliament and rule by emergency law. While formal democracy returned in 2003, political reform efforts failed to gain traction. The extent of electoral fraud against the Brotherhood and other critics of the regime during the 2007 vote shocked even jaded observers.

The Jordanian crackdown has not reached the brutal levels of Syria or Tunisia (where the Islamist opposition was massacred or driven abroad). The Brotherhood continues to operate publicly, and the Islamic Action Front holds six seats in Parliament. But the gerrymandered electoral system and massive fraud has hamstrung Islamist political participation, to the degree that many believe that the Brotherhood is being dared to boycott.

Following the 2007 electoral debacle, the Brotherhood entered a period of intense internal unrest. It dissolved its Shura Council as penance for its fateful decision to participate in the election. The core issue was over how best to respond to the regime’s repression: through confrontation, or through a retreat and consolidation of the political strategy? In April 2008, the “hawkish” trend won the internal elections to the Shura Council by a single vote, and the pragmatic and domestically-orientated Salem Falahat was replaced by the fiery, Palestine-centric hawk Himmam Said. Said and the new head of the Islamic Action Front, Zaki Bani Arshid, steered the Islamist movement into more direct conflict with the regime, with little success. The reformist trend, led by the soft-spoken intellectual Ruheil Ghuraybeh, avoided open confrontation but advanced an ambitious programme to transform Jordan into a constitutional monarchy.

As the Brotherhood rank and file lost interest in a stalled domestic political process, they were simultaneously galvanised by the electoral success of Hamas and then by the visceral images of Israel’s war on Gaza. The growing interest in Palestinian issues at the expense of Jordanian politics worried not only the regime but also the traditional leadership of the Brotherhood. The leading Jordanian journalist Mohammed Abu Rumman argues that the issue of relations with Hamas has supplanted the traditional “hawk-dove” struggle within the organisation. While both trends support Hamas – “if you are not with Hamas, you are not with the Muslim Brotherhood”, explained one of the “dovish” leaders – they disagree over the appropriate organisational relationship. The “Hamasi” trend supports close ties and the prioritisation of Palestinian issues, and embraces a common Muslim identity over a narrowly Jordanian one. The “reformist” trend insists that Hamas, as the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, should have responsibility for Palestine while the Jordanian Brotherhood must be a national organisation focused upon domestic Jordanian issues.

This crisis came to a head over the issue of Hamas participation in the administrative structures of the Jordanian Brotherhood. Three leading reformists resigned from the Executive Office, triggering an as-yet-unresolved internal crisis that threatens one of the first serious internal splits in the history of the movement. The media has eagerly egged this conflict on; indeed, a number of Brotherhood leaders told me that what made the current crisis unique was not the issues at stake or the intensity of the disagreement, but the fact that for the first time it had become public.

********************************

The story of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is many things, but certainly not a story of Islamists retreating from democracy. Similar dynamics can be seen in Egypt, where the Brotherhood’s leadership is similarly divided over how to respond to escalating repression. During multiple trips to Cairo in the last few years, I saw the growing frustration of a generation of reformists who found their every effort to embrace democracy met with force and rejection.

After “independent” Brotherhood candidates scored sweeping victories in the first of three rounds of the 2005 Parliamentary elections, government forces began to intervene to prevent further gains. Despite well-documented fraud and heavy-handed security interference in Brotherhood strongholds, the movement emerged as the largest opposition bloc with 88 seats. As Deputy Supreme Guide Mohammed Habib ruefully told me, their mistake was that they did too well – had they won 50 seats, perhaps they would not have triggered such harsh reprisals.

The subsequent crackdown matched the magnitude of the Brotherhood victory. A series of media campaigns aimed to scare mainstream Egyptians with alleged nefarious Brotherhood schemes (they were supposedly training an underground militia, conspiring with Hizbollah, and more). A wide range of leading Brotherhood figures, including noted moderates such as the financier Khairat el Shater and the intellectual Abd el Monem Abou el Fattouh, were detained indefinitely on trumped up charges.

For a while, the Egyptian Brotherhood held fast in the face of these provocations. They continued to try to participate in elections even as the fraud and overt manipulation mounted. Their Parliamentarians performed well as an opposition. They routinely expressed their ongoing commitment to democracy to every audience which would listen. And they imposed discipline on their own members to prevent the explosion of frustration into violence.

But over time, the pressure began to take its toll. The leadership reined in its freewheeling young bloggers, whose public airing of internal issues was being exploited by the organisation’s opponents. It adopted tougher rhetoric on foreign policy issues such as the Gaza war – attacking the Egyptian government’s enforcement of the blockade of Gaza – in part to rally its demoralised membership. Considerable evidence suggests that the cadres of the organisation were growing disenchanted with politics and preferred to return to the core social and religious mission. And growing voices from inside and outside the movement began to suggest retreating from politics until a more propitious time.

Earlier this month the conflicts inside the Egyptian Brotherhood leapt into the pages of local newspapers, which reported that the movement’s leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, had abruptly resigned his post in protest after conservatives refused to appoint the leading reformist Essam el Erian to an open leadership seat. Akef has denied the reports – but the portrait of a movement in turmoil is clear.

The Jordanian, Egyptian and American governments may see all this as something of a success story: the influence of the Islamists has been curbed, both in formal politics and in the social sector, and the restraint exercised by the Brotherhood leadership has meant the states have not faced a backlash. But this is dangerously short-sighted. The campaigns against Islamists weaken the foundations of democracy as a whole, not just the appeal of one movement, and have had a corrosive effect on public freedoms, transparency and accountability. Regardless of the fortunes of the movements themselves, the crackdown on the Islamists contributes to the wider corruption of public life. The growing frustration within moderate Islamist groups with democratic participation cannot help but affect their future ideological trajectory.

Sowing disenchantment with democratic politics in the ranks of the Brotherhood could forfeit one of the signal developments in Islamist political thinking of the last few decades. The failure of the movement’s democratic experiment could empower more radical Islamists, including not only terrorist groups but also doctrinaire salafists less inclined to pragmatic politics. The degradation of its organisational strengths could open up space for al Qa’eda and other radical competitors to move in. The alternative to Ismail Haniya might be Osama bin Laden rather than Abu Mazen, and the exclusion of Essam el-Erian may not produce an Ayman Nour.

Marc Lynch is associate professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He writes a blog on Arab politics and media for Foreign Policy.

From the National

Published on October 30, 2009

The Internet and Islamist Politics in Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.

The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first saw a
dissemination of the Internet as a center of communication, information, entertainment and
commerce. The spread of the Internet reached all four corners of the globe, connecting the
researcher in Antarctica with the farmer in Guatemala and the newscaster in Moscow to the
Bedouin in Egypt. Through the Internet, the flow of information and real-time news reaches
across continents, and the voices of subalternity have the potential to project their previously
silenced voices through blogs, websites and social networking sites. Political organizations
across the left-right continuum have targeted the Internet as the political mobilizer of the future,
and governments now provide access to historical documents, party platforms, and
administrative papers through their sites. Similarly, religious groups display their beliefs online
through official sites, and forums allow members from across the globe to debate issues of
eschatology, orthopraxy and any number of nuanced theological issues. Fusing the two, Islamist
political organizations have made their presence known through sophisticated websites detailing
their political platforms, relevant news stories, and religiously oriented material discussing their
theological views. This paper will specifically examine this nexus – the use of the Internet by
Islamist political organizations in the Middle East in the countries of Jordan, Morocco and
Egypt.
Although a wide range of Islamist political organizations utilize the Internet as a forum to
publicize their views and create a national or international reputation, the methods and intentions
of these groups vary greatly and depend on the nature of the organization. This paper will
examine the use of the Internet by three ‘moderate’ Islamist parties: the Islamic Action Front in
2
Jordan, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
As these three parties have increased their political sophistication and reputation, both at home
and abroad, they have increasingly utilized the Internet for a variety of purposes. First, Islamist
organizations have used the Internet as a contemporary extension of the public sphere, a sphere
through which parties frame, communicate and institutionalize ideas to a broader public.
Secondly, the Internet provides Islamist organizations an unfiltered forum through which
officials may promote and advertise their positions and views, as well as circumvent local media
restrictions imposed by the state. Finally, the Internet allows Islamist organizations to present a
counterhegemonic discourse in opposition to the ruling regime or monarchy or on display to an
international audience. This third motivation applies most specifically to the Muslim
Brotherhood, which presents a sophisticated English language website designed in a Western
style and tailored to reach a selective audience of scholars, politicians and journalists. The MB
has excelled in this so-called “bridgeblogging” 1 and has set the standard for Islamist parties
attempting to influence international perceptions of their positions and work. The content varies
between the Arabic and English versions of the site, and will be examined further in the section
on the Muslim Brotherhood. These three goals overlap significantly in both their intentions and
desired outcomes; however, each goal targets a different actor: the public, the media, and the
regime. Following an analysis of these three areas, this paper will proceed into a case study
analysis of the websites of the IAF, the PJD and the Muslim Brotherhood.
1

Andrew Helms

Ikhwanweb

The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first saw a dissemination of the Internet as a center of communication, information, entertainment and commerce.

The spread of the Internet reached all four corners of the globe, connecting the researcher in Antarctica with the farmer in Guatemala and the newscaster in Moscow to the Bedouin in Egypt.

Through the Internet, the flow of information and real-time news reaches across continents, and the voices of subalternity have the potential to project their previously silenced voices through blogs, websites and social networking sites.

Political organizations across the left-right continuum have targeted the Internet as the political mobilizer of the future, and governments now provide access to historical documents, party platforms, and administrative papers through their sites. Similarly, religious groups display their beliefs online through official sites, and forums allow members from across the globe to debate issues of eschatology, orthopraxy and any number of nuanced theological issues.

Fusing the two, Islamist political organizations have made their presence known through sophisticated websites detailing their political platforms, relevant news stories, and religiously oriented material discussing their theological views. This paper will specifically examine this nexus – the use of the Internet by Islamist political organizations in the Middle East in the countries of Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.

Although a wide range of Islamist political organizations utilize the Internet as a forum to publicize their views and create a national or international reputation, the methods and intentions of these groups vary greatly and depend on the nature of the organization.

This paper will examine the use of the Internet by three ‘moderate’ Islamist parties: the Islamic Action Front in Jordan, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As these three parties have increased their political sophistication and reputation, both at home and abroad, they have increasingly utilized the Internet for a variety of purposes.

First, Islamist organizations have used the Internet as a contemporary extension of the public sphere, a sphere through which parties frame, communicate and institutionalize ideas to a broader public.

Secondly, the Internet provides Islamist organizations an unfiltered forum through which officials may promote and advertise their positions and views, as well as circumvent local media restrictions imposed by the state.

Finally, the Internet allows Islamist organizations to present a counterhegemonic discourse in opposition to the ruling regime or monarchy or on display to an international audience. This third motivation applies most specifically to the Muslim Brotherhood, which presents a sophisticated English language website designed in a Western style and tailored to reach a selective audience of scholars, politicians and journalists.

The MB has excelled in this so-called “bridgeblogging” 1 and has set the standard for Islamist parties attempting to influence international perceptions of their positions and work. The content varies between the Arabic and English versions of the site, and will be examined further in the section on the Muslim Brotherhood.

These three goals overlap significantly in both their intentions and desired outcomes; however, each goal targets a different actor: the public, the media, and the regime. Following an analysis of these three areas, this paper will proceed into a case study analysis of the websites of the IAF, the PJD and the Muslim Brotherhood.