US Foreign Policy

Political Islamist Movements: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

in Program

Don’t leave your brothers alone in the square (photo)


Diaa Rashwan, an expert at
the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies examines the sociopolitical
movement of the Muslim Brotherhood in his 2009 chapter in
Islam and Politics: Renewal and
Resistance in the Muslim World

Political Islamist
Movements: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

In the last few years, it has become clear that there is
widespread interest in the relationship among political Islamist movements,
politics, and governance in countries of the Islamic world in general, and the
Arab world in particular. Interest has been spurred by developments in several
Muslim countries over the last six years: a number of Islamist parties have
contested general elections at the parliamentary and local levels, and some have
scored significant electoral victories. These events have generated interest in
trying to understand Islamists’ positions on issues related to politics and
governance, particularly since some Islamist parties have formed governments:
the Justice and Development Party in Turkey
and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in  Palestine.

Politics and governance can be used as
the criteria to define and categorize Islamist movements in general.
Traditional measures for classifying these movements, such as “moderate,” “fundamentalist,”
“extremist,” or “peaceful,” should be set aside. A better measure is the place
politics and governance occupy in the Islamists’ own world view. The term “Islamist
movement” refers generally to groups that defer to some aspect or  interpretation of Islam as their authoritative
framework, whether in defining their existence or their goals. Such groups may
employ differing means when implementing their vision of Islam in their communities, countries, or other areas of influence. The
theoretical underpinnings of these movements (in addition to other related
factors) play a pivotal role in distinguishing one group from another. Although
certain criteria differentiate the movements-such as social background,
political orientation, and approach to activism-the theoretical basis remains
the most reliable classification.

Islamist movements can be divided into two major
groupings, connected only by their affiliation to Islam. Otherwise they differ
profoundly in how they affiliate themselves with Islam and interpret their
religion. The first category includes sociopolitical groups that espouse a
program of Islamization, while the second includes puritanical religious groups. The political grouping refers to those groups
that maintain that their societies are already fully Muslim and that the only
thing missing is a reorganization of their politics with a program based on
Islamic law. In contrast, the religious Islamist groups-both jihadist and non-jihadist-are
primarily concerned with dogma. They maintain that their communities are not properly Islamic and must be persuaded to
“re-Islamize,” either by preaching or by the sword. For them, politics and
governance are merely means to an end but not goals in themselves…read more (pdf) >>


Other related Stimson

Iraq’s Transition in the Shadow of Egypt,  February 07, 2011

Tunisia’s Shot at Democracy: What Demographics and Recent
History Tell US
(The New Security Beat), January 25, 2011

Why Egypt Shut Down
the Internet
, February 02, 2011

The Arab World’s First Soft
January 14, 2011

Diaa Rashwan on the
Principal Challenges to Stability in the Middle East
, (Video) June 24, 2009

Cairo: The Perfect Storm? June 16, 2009

Apples and Oranges: Identity,
Ideology, and State in the Arab World
(a chapter By Rami G. Khouri in Transnational Trends: Middle
Eastern and Asian Views
, July 2008)


Photo Credit: “Don’t Leave Ur Brothers”  by Monasosh, February 2011[email protected]/5421144542/in/set-72157625987327382/




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