One of the greatest beneficiaries of the unrest in Egypt has been the Muslim Brotherhood.
Banned but tolerated for decades by successive Egyptian regimes, the Islamist movement is now emerging as a central player in the country’s resurgent opposition.
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On Tuesday, two Brotherhood representatives participated in an opposition delegation that met with Vice President Omar Suleiman for the first set of talks over implementing political reforms.
Pundits have portrayed the Brotherhood as uncompromising zealots or beneficent providers of social services that long-deprived Egyptians desperately need.
But a translation released Tuesday of a 1995 book by the movement’s fifth official leader sheds light on just how Egypt’s Brotherhood views itself and its mission. Jihad is the Way is the last of a five-volume work, The Laws of Da’wa by Mustafa Mashhur, who headed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002.
The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday saw excerpts of the text, compiled by Palestinian Media Watch founder Itamar Marcus and analyst Nan Jacques Zilberdik.
They detail the Brotherhood’s objectives of advancing the global conquest of Islam and reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate, the public and private duties of jihad and the struggle Muslims must wage against Israel.
The full text, translated by PMW, will be posted Wednesday on the organization’s website, Palwatch.org.
“The Islamic ummah,” it says, referring to the supranational community of Muslims, “can regain its power and be liberated and assume its rightful position which was intended by Allah, as the most exalted nation among men, as the leaders of humanity.”
Elsewhere, it exhorts Muslims, “Know your status, and believe firmly that you are the masters of the world, even if your enemies desire your degradation.”
Marcus spoke to the Post
about what he views as the danger of
downplaying the Brotherhood’s ideology, or expecting it to moderate its
objectives after being allowed into the political process. The movement
differs from international terror groups like Al-Qaida, he said, only in
tactics, not in its goals.
Marcus cited passages in the text that urge Muslims to wage jihad only when circumstances are ripe.
“The Brotherhood is not rushed by youth’s enthusiasm into immature and
unplanned action which will not alter the bad reality and may even harm
the Islamic activity, and will benefit the people of falsehood,” Mashhur
“One should know that it is not necessary that the Muslims repel every
attack or damage caused by the enemies of Allah immediately, but [only]
when ability and the circumstances are fit to it.”
Jihad is the Way explicitly endorses the reinstatement of a worldwide Islamic regime.
“It should be known that jihad and preparation towards jihad are not
only for the purpose of fending off assaults and attacks of Allah’s
enemies from Muslims, but are also for the purpose of realizing the
great task of establishing an Islamic state and strengthening the
religion and spreading it around the world.”
“Jihad for Allah,” Mashhur wrote, “is not limited to the specific region
of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not
divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its
parts, and shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until
every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, and the State of
Hassan al-Banna, the movement’s founder, “felt the grave danger
overshadowing the Muslims and the urgent need and obligation which Islam
places on every Muslim, man and woman, to act in order to restore the
Islamic Caliphate and to reestablish the Islamic state on strong
Despite its universal message, the book attaches particular significance to the Holy Land.
“Honorable brothers have achieved shahada [martyrdom] on the soil of
beloved Palestine, during the years ’47 and ’48, in their jihad against
the criminal, thieving, gangs of Zion,” it says.
“Still today, memory of them horrifies the Jews and the name of the Muslim Brotherhood terrifies them.”
Elsewhere, Mushhar wrote, “The imam and shahid Hassan Al-Banna is
considered as a martyr of Palestine, even if he was not killed on its
soil ... in all his writings and conversations, he always urged towards
jihad and aroused the desire for seeking martyrdom ... he did not
content himself only with speech and writing, and when the opportunity
arrived for jihad in Palestine, he hurried and seized it.”
Wielding a broader brush, Mashhur wrote, “The problems of the Islamic
world – such as in Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea or the
Philippines – are not issues of territories and nations, but of faith
They are the problems of Islam and all Muslims, and their resolution
cannot be negotiated and bargained by recognizing the enemy’s right to
the Islamic land he stole, and therefore there is no other option but
jihad for Allah, and this is why jihad is the way.”