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Muslim Brothers
Muslim Brotherhood
al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin
Jama'at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun
Hizb Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimoon
al-Ikhwan ("The Brothers")

"Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."óMuslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a 22-year-old elementary school teacher, as an Islamic revivalist movement following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent ban of the caliphate system of government that had united the Muslims for hundreds of years. Al-Banna based his ideas that Islam was not only a religious observance, but a comprehensive way of life, on the tenets of Wahhabism, better known today as "Islamism", and he supplemented the traditional Islamic education for the Society's male students with jihadia training.

The Brotherhood grew as a popular movement over the next 20 years, encompassing not only religion and education, but also politics, through the Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimoon. It blamed the Egyptian government for being passive against "Zionists" and joined the Palestinian side in the war against Israel; and started performing terrorist acts inside of Egypt, which led to a ban on the movement by the Egyptian government. A Muslim Brother assassinated the Prime Minister of Egypt, Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, on December 28, 1948. Al-Banna himself was killed by government agents in Cairo in February, 1949.

The Egyptian government legalized the Brotherhood again in 1948, but only as a religious organization; it was banned again in 1954 because it insisted that Egypt be governed under shari'a (Islamic law).

Abdul Munim Abdul Rauf, a Brotherhood activist, attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Nasser in 1954 and was executed, along with five other Brothers. Four thousand Brothers were also arrested, and thousands more fled to Syria, Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon.

In 1964, Nasser granted amnesty to the imprisoned Brothers, hoping that their release would weaken interest in the recently formed Arab Socialist Union party; the result was three more assassination attempts by the Brothers on Nasserís life. The top leaders of the Brotherhood were executed in 1966, and many others were imprisoned.

Nasser's successor, Anwar-as-Sadat, promised the Brothers that shari'a would be implemented as the Egyptian law and released all of the Brotherhood prisoners; however, the Brothers lost their trust in Sadat when he signed the peace agreement with Israel in 1979; four Brothers assassinated Sadat in September, 1981.

Although officially banned by the Egyptian government since 1954, the Muslim Brothers captured 17 seats in the Egyptian Parliament running as independents; they also hold important offices in professional organizations in Egypt.

Today, a very complex financial network connects the operations of over seventy branches of the Muslim Brothers worldwide. During the Muslim Brothers' seventy-plus years of existence, there have been cycles of growth, followed by divisions into factions, including clandestine financial networks, and violent jihad groups, such as al-Jihad and al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya in Egypt, HAMAS in Palestine and mujahideen groups in Afghanistan. 

 

Sources and Resources

  • Ikhwan Web, the official Muslim Brotherhood English language web site
  • El-Awaisi, Abd Al-Fattah M. "Jihadia Education and the Society of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers: 1928-49". Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2000):213-225.

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    http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/mb.htm
    Prepared by Julie Spears
    Maintained by Steven Aftergood
    Updated January 8, 2002