Membership, Community, Diversity

What is the Muslim Brotherhood we hear of often in news reports these days?

Hasan al-Banna (1906-49), generally acknowledged as the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (1927), was a well-educated man from a religiously conservative Egyptian family who believed that Muslims should be more active in promoting the broader societal implications of the Islamic faith. His theoretical works on “politicizing” Islam have been widely influential in the growth of a wide variety of contemporary activist Muslim organizations, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Political activist organizations related to the Brotherhood include, for example, Hamas.

Though the Brotherhood began and developed largely in Egypt, it has gained political footing in other Middle East nations by running for office and having members elected to national assemblies. In countries such as Jordan, independent branches of the Brotherhood have arisen. More recently, the Brotherhood has exerted considerable influence in the aftermath of early 2011 “revolutionary” events that resulted in the ouster of long-time dictator Husni Mubarak. Banna himself did not advocate violent means, and his contemporary disciples generally strive to bring about their goal of integrating society under religious values—acknowledging religious pluralism and rights of non-Muslims—through political activism and reform. Some other organizations indirectly influenced by Brotherhood values have, however, embraced the use of violence as necessary for overthrowing non-Islamic rule. This includes such groups as Al-Qaeda and its spinoffs, the Taliban, and a host of Islamic “jihadist” organizations based in various states from North Africa through the Middle East and into Central and South Asia.


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