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Written by Louay Safi   
Nov 19, 1995 at 07:00 PM

A Critical Reading of the Political Discourse and Actions of the Islamic Movement in Egypt

In over a century of discourse and action, the Islamic movement has grown and expanded markedly. The once elitist movement today commands the support of an increasing segment of society, yet important questions regarding the nature of the Islamic society and the correct strategy for achieving it are still unsettled. The dispute between reformists and traditionalists regarding the characteristics of the ideal Islamic society continues to be a source of sharp division between the two groups. The following discussion explores the major trends in the Islamic movement, and examines the main ideas and strategies advanced by its leaders.


For over a century now, Muslim intellectuals and activists have been attempting to revitalize Muslim society and establish Islamic rule. The century-long efforts have manifested themselves in a growing movement that aspires to replace the present sociopolitical system with a new one based on Islamic principles and ideals. Although the Islamic movement has so far not been able to achieve its goals, several indicators suggest that its popularity is on the rise. Does this mean that the movement is destined to attain the goal it set out to achieve? Considering the rate of growth, one is tempted to assume that the movement will be able to fulfill its aspirations at some point in the future. However a more accurate assessment requires a critical evaluation of the objectives of the movement and the types of strategies employed to achieve these objectives, as well as the nature of the problems and difficulties it faces.

In dealing with these questions, equal emphasis will be given to both the theoretical framework of the movement and its operational activities. Three stages in the evolution of the movement will be recognized and discussed. As will be argued later, these stages have been colored by the ideas and thoughts of three eminent thinkers. The first stage was shaped by the writings of Jamaluddin Afghani, the chief agent in the inception of the Islamic movement in modern times. The second stage was influenced by the ideas of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Ikhwan movement. Finally, the third stage carries the imprints of Sayyid Qutb’s revolutionary thoughts.

In discussing modern Islamic movement, the arguments will be confined primarily to the Islamic movement in Egypt. Egypt has been chosen because it is the country which has witnessed the creation and development of the first modern religio-political organization, which later became a model to be emulated by similar organizations elsewhere in the Muslim world; Egypt is also the country where a great deal of contemporary Islamic ideas have originated. As such, the Islamic movement in Egypt may be regarded as a microcosm of the modem Islamic movements.

The underlying premise of this paper is that while the theoretical framework of the modern Islamic movement is transcendental in its nature and intent, aiming at employing Islamic principles to construct a new reality, the operational activities of the movement have been the outcome of a dialectical process in which the transcendental ideas and views are confronted with, and compromised by, their antithetical traditionalist ideas. The latter aspire not to apply Islamic principles to a changing reality, but to recreate in all details historical models developed by early Muslims.

The term modern Islamic movement is used in this paper to denote the activities of intellectuals and political activists who take Islam as a reference point and basis to analyze social problems and provide remedies for them. The movement emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century in response to European colonial powers, which had by then already captured parts of the Muslim world, such as Tunisia and India, and were persistently expanding their hegemony into the Muslim heartland. Since its inception, the movement has had to deal with two principal problems: Western colonialism and the shock waves it created throughout the Muslim land, on the one hand, and the backwardness of the Muslim societies which created the pervasive sense of helplessness and defeat that overwhelmed the Muslim masses, on the other.

Initially, the Western impact caused strenuous shock and almost complete confusion. Gradually, however, Muslim intellectuals began to develop new ideas and strategies to meet what they considered a cultural invasion and ideological menace, threatening the very existence of Islam. The European triumph, Muslim intellectuals asserted, was the result of the gradual decline of Islamic values and practices. Therefore, independence and sovereignty, they proclaimed, could be achieved only when the Islamic spirit and ethos are restored to the Muslim community.

In addition to dealing with the effects of colonial rule, Muslim intellectuals have been concerned about the overwhelming sense of helplessness and defeat which permeated the Muslim world in modern times, and which was reflected in the passive and indifferent attitude of the average Muslim towards political participation, an attitude inherited from centuries of quietism. They stress that Muslim decline has resulted from the deficient doctrines and practices that prevailed during recent centuries. To deal with this problem, they provide a worldview that depicts history as a continuous struggle between Islamic and anti-Islamic forces, emphasizing the role of the believer in this struggle and the inevitability of the eventual triumph of Islam.

The ideological framework of the modern Islamic movement is for the most part revolutionary in its intent and approach. As does all revolutionary thought, it involves evaluation and assessment of the nature and conditions of the current society, a vision of a more promising one, and a strategy for the transformation of the former to the latter. Contemporary Islamic ideologies thus provide the Islamic movement with a goal and direction as well as a framework for analyzing and understanding state and society. The ideological framework as it stands today has been shaped for the most part by the ideas of three leading thinkers: Jamaluddin Afghani, Hasan al-Banna, and Sayyid Qutb. These three Muslim intellectuals are distinguished, in addition to their political activism, by the new vision and insight they brought to the movement. Furthermore, the life of each of them can be seen as a turning point, marking the beginning of a new stage in the development of the Islamic movement in Egypt.

The Intellectual Stage

Afghani, the chief agent in the inception of the modern Islamic movement in Egypt, was born in 1839 at Asadabad, in Afghanistan. He studied Islamic sciences in different parts of Afghanistan, Persia, and Iraq.[i] When eighteen years of age, he went to India, where he was

exposed to European sciences. Afghani led a highly active life traveling throughout the Muslim world and Europe, propagating his reformist ideas, and searching for fertile soil in which his ideas could flourish. He arrived in Cairo in March of 1871, where he stayed until his expulsion by Khedive Tawfiq in September 1879 because of his political activism. Despite the relatively short period of time Afghani spent in Egypt, he left a lasting impact, for his ideas were embraced and nurtured by Egypt’s leading figures, the most prominent of whom was Muhammad Abduh

Afghani, along with his eminent disciple Abduh endeavored to combat fatalism, which plagued the bulk of Muslim societies by the turn of the nineteenth century. It was widely accepted then that Muslim decadence was natural, as it reflected an advanced stage in the continuous moral decline since the time of the Prophet. It was also believed that this trend was inevitable and beyond human control.[ii] Afghani rejected this interpretation of history, advocated by traditionalists, insisting that Muslim decadence had been precipitated by moral and intellectual decline, and that the superiority of the West and its triumph over the Muslims, was a temporary stage in the continual struggle between the East and the West. He attributed Western military superiority to its scientific advancement, arguing that the French and English had been able to conquer Muslim lands not by virtue of being French or English, but because of their superior and more advanced scientific capabilities.[iii] Furthermore, a1-Afghani saw a positive aspect of the rivalry between the East and the West, contending that Western invasion of Muslim lands had a stimulating effect on the Muslims, and would eventually awaken them from the state of slumber that had dominated their lives for centuries.[iv]

Afghani recognized, however, that scientific development could not be achieved merely by training Muslims to use Western technology. Technology and scientific innovations are but artifacts, reflecting the ethos of a people and their philosophical outlook. What was needed for the Muslims to progress was a new spirit and direction.

If a community did not have a philosophy, and all the individuals of that community were learned in the sciences with particular subjects, those sciences could not last in that community for a century... The Ottoman government and the Khedivate of Egypt have been opening schools for the teaching of the new sciences of a period of sixty years, and they are yet to receive any benefit from those sciences.[v]

Afghani ascribed the Muslim failure to catch up with the West in science and technology to their deficient outlook and faulty perspective, arguing that Islam had created in the early Muslims the desire to acquire knowledge. Thus, they quickly assumed a leading role in scientific research, first by appropriating the sciences of the Greeks, Persians, and Indians, and later by moving these sciences to new frontiers.[vi] He accused contemporary Muslim scholars (‘ulama) of wasting time and energy on trivial matters, instead of addressing the important questions and issues confronting the Muslim community (ummah). He therefore called the ‘ulama to probe into the causes of Muslim decline, instead of occupying their minds with minutiae and subtleties.[vii] Rather than providing strong leadership for the community, he proclaimed, the ‘u1ama have deprived the ummah of technology, allowing the West thereby to. surpass the Muslims in military capacity. “Ignorance has no alternative,” he wrote, “but to prostrate itself humbly before science and to acknowledge its submission.[viii]

Muhammad Abduh the most influential Egyptian scholar in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, joined his teacher in his attack on traditionalist ‘u1ama who depicted “European” sciences as perverted, and admonished Muslims to refrain from learning them. “The truth is where there is proof,” Abduh proclaimed, “and those who forbid science and knowledge to protect religion are really the enemies of religion.”[ix] Abduh agreed with Afghani that the decline of the Muslim community stemmed from its deficient educational system, which discouraged rational reasoning and suppressed intellectual curiosity. He emphasized that such an educational system was incompatible with Islamic teachings, which honor reason to the extent of giving it the authority to judge the validity and truth of religious claims.[x]

But if the ‘ulama were partly responsible for the decline of the ummah, the rulers also shared in this responsibility, for they had placed their self-interests before those of the ummah, and hence allowed the division of the Muslim world into small entities. It is incumbent upon Muslims by their faith, he asserted, to come together under one banner, and join forces to meet the challenge of imperialism. Afghani contended that the division of the Muslim world into small units defies the teachings of Islam, and thus should not be condoned by Muslims.[xi]

Actually, the schisms and divisions, which have occurred in Muslim states, originate only from the failure of rulers who deviate from the solid principles on which the Islamic faith is built and stray from the path followed by their early ancestors.[xii]

The division of the Muslim world into small states, he maintained, was artificial, induced by the struggle for power among various rulers. As such, this division did not reflect the real sentiments of the Muslim masses that had been, on the contrary, united from the very beginning only by the bonds of Islam, disregarding any other type of bonds such as race or ethnicity.[xiii]

The chief goal Afghani endeavored throughout his life to accomplish was the unification of the Muslim peoples under one Islamic government. Establishing a unified Islamic state, he thought, could be the first step towards reforming the decadent conditions of the Muslims. He believed that such a state could revitalize the Muslim Ummah and mobilize the masses to meet the European challenge. To achieve this goal, Afghani tried first to persuade the rulers of India, Persia, and Egypt, as well as Sultan Abdulhamid, the head of the Ottoman state (with whom he had a close personal relationship) to Islamicize the practices and the policies of their governments. He soon realized that Muslim rulers were neither receptive to his ideas nor interested in Islamic reform. Gradually, he began to address his reformist ideas to Muslim intellectuals in particular, and the public in general. In 1879, he established the first Egyptian political party, which was known as al-Hizb al-Watani al-Hurr (the National Liberal Party). Evidently, Afghani’s political activities invoked the wrath of Tawfiq, the Khedive of Egypt, who expelled Afghani from Egypt in the same year.[xiv] Leaving the country which provided him with his most receptive audience, Afghani spent two years in India before moving to Paris, where he was joined by Muhammad Abduh; together they established an Arabic newspaper called a1-‘Urwah al-Wuthqa (The Indissoluble Bond). The newspaper was distributed throughout the Muslim world, especially in Egypt and India. Apparently, a1-‘Urwah was also the name of a clandestine organization headed by Afghani himself. This organization helped in financing and distributing the newspaper, and was dedicated to two objectives: the struggle against imperialism and the unification of the Muslim community. The newspaper was forced to stop after publishing eighteen issues when the British authorities in Egypt and India enacted severe measures to prevent its distribution. The possession of one issue of the newspaper, for instance, was punishable in India by £100 and two years’ imprisonment.[xv]

The government Afghani advocated was based on, and limited by, Islamic law. Under such government, the ruler was obliged to consult the ummah and to work toward promoting the common good.[xvi] The ruler’s principal task was to safeguard the Islamic law.

. . . the ruler of the Muslims will be their religious, holy, and divine law that makes no distinction among people. This will also be the summary of the ideas of the nation. A Muslim ruler has no other privilege than that of being the most ardent of all in safeguarding the sacred law and defending it.[xvii]

Afghani’s concerns with political reform, notwithstanding his emphasis was primarily on educational reform as a prerequisite for any sociopolitical change. Ironically, however, most of those inspired by him were interested in political reform, and had thus paid little, if any, attention to reforming the ideas and practices underlying Muslim backwardness. Perhaps the only exception was Muhammad Abduh, who devoted the later years of his life to reforming religious ideas and practices, emphasizing education as the principal approach to social change.

The Popular Stage

The modern Islamic movement continued to be confined to intellectual circles up until the late 1920s, when Hasan al-Banna founded al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (the Muslim Brethren). Al-Banna was a charismatic leader who received both traditional Islamic and Western education. From an early age, al-Banna was alarmed by the deteriorating conditions of the Muslims in Egypt and elsewhere throughout the world. He attributed the backwardness of Egyptian society in particular, and Muslim societies in general, to the spiritual and moral decline of the Muslim individual. Al-­Banna, the chief ideologue of the Ikhwan, declared that the mission of his organization was to accomplish two objectives: the independence of the Muslim land from foreign domination, and the establishment of an Islamic sociopolitical system.[xviii] He believed that reviving and resurrecting the ummah must inevitably begin with the individual, stressing that those able to rebuild the Muslim community must have three qualities: spiritual strength manifested through the determination of the individual and his integrity and self-sacrifice, knowledge of the principles of Islam, and the ability to relate the Islamic principles to real life and apply them effectively to practical circumstances.[xix]

In less than twenty years, the Ikhwan organization grew from a small association, in the city of Isma’iliyah, to a major political power with numerous branches scattered throughout Egypt. Al-Banna employed an elaborate structure to organize the Ikhwan. The various Ikhwan branches in each province were headed by an Administrative Board (maktab idari) composed of the members of the Executive Council (majlis idari) of the central branch in a province, as well as representatives of all branches in that province. Administration Boards were in turn connected together through the Ikhwan headquarters (al-markaz al-‘amm), located in Cairo. The headquarters was divided into a number of specialized committees and departments: General Committee, Education Committee, Department of Labor, Department of Scouting, Department of Propaganda, Department of Phalanxes, Department of Families, Department of Social Services, Department of Communication with the Muslim World, and Department of Muslim Sisters. The leadership of the Ikhwan was divided among three bodies: the Founding Assembly (al-hay'a/i al-ta'sisiyah) composed of one hundred members representing the various provinces and branches, (the Assembly was the policy-making body which set the general policy, of the movement); the executive power was assigned to the Executive Office (al-maktab al-tanfidhi), which was composed of twelve members and headed by the Supreme Guide (al-murshid al­‘amm); the members of the Executive Office were selected by a special committee, which was known as the Membership Committee (maktab ‘udwiyah). The committee was also responsible for investigating all charges made against the members of the Founding Assembly, and if need be disciplining them.[xx]

To achieve the Ikhwan’s goals, al-Banna called for a gradualistic approach in which the desired reform could be attained through three stages. First is the stage of communication and propagation, aimed at exposing the Egyptian society to the true Islamic principles. Second is the stage of mobilization and organization in which the movement would select and train its active members. Finally comes the stage of executing and implementing the Islamic rules and principles in which a society is completely transformed into an Islamic one.[xxi] Although al-Banna did not explicitly spell out the characteristics of each of these stages, or when and how each of them begins and ends, he stressed time and again that the Ikhwan had a long way to go before they could achieve Islamic reform, and that they were not interested in any revolutionary tactics. He also warned those among the Ikhwan who were looking for fast results that they would either have to learn to be patient and persevering or leave the movement.

O ye Muslim Brethren, especially those of you who are impatient. Listen to these clear and blunt words I address to you from this platform in this spectacular conference of yours. Your plan has been determined step by step. I will not modify this plan after I have become quite convinced that it is the safest plan to follow. Yes, it might take a longer time (to execute), but it is the only (effective) plan. Clearly, manliness manifests itself through patience, persistence, diligence, and hard work. So let those of you who are in a hurry to reap the fruits before they are ripe, or snatch the roses before they are fully grown, (know that) I do not agree with them in this respect, and that it is better for them to leave this movement and look for another (suitable to them).[xxii]

Indeed, during its early years, the Ikhwan movement, rejecting violence, adopted a peaceful approach aimed at the gradual reform of society through two types of measures. First, by propagating the Islamic message, and raising the consciousness of the people about current social and public issues; and by offering better solutions and alternatives. The Ikhwan therefore placed a great deal of importance on publication and issued a number of newspapers, magazines, and periodicals. The second type of measures employed by the Ikhwan for achieving reform included sponsoring social welfare projects, such as hospitals, schools, charities, clubs, and the like.[xxiii] But within one decade the reformist tone of the Ikhwan was gradually replaced by a militant one. This was reflected in the statements of al-Banna and in the establishment of a paramilitary wing as well. In an editorial published in May 1938 in the first issue of al-Nadhir, a new weekly magazine of the Ikhwan, al-Banna stated:

Till now you have not confronted a political party or organization. You did not join them, either ... Your position was passive in the past. But today, in this new stage, it will not be that way. You will strongly oppose all of those, whether they are in power or not ... if they do not respond to you by accepting the teachings of Islam as their program for action... [The choice] is either loyalty or animosity... It’s not our fault that politics is part of religion.[xxiv]

In another statement delivered before the Fifth General Conference of the Ikhwan, al-Banna made similar assertions.

... the time when you will have, O ye Muslim Brethren, ... three hundred phalanxes, each one of them equipped spiritually with faith and principles, mentally with science and culture, and physically with training and exercise; at that time ask me to plunge with you into the depth of the seas, to rend the skies with you, and to attack every tyrant; then God willing, I will do it.[xxv]

The Ikhwan’s increasing militancy was also reflected in the establishment in 1940 of a paramilitary wing known as the Special Organization, sometimes referred to as the Secret Apparatus. A1-Banna named Saleh al-‘Ashmawi as the first director of the special Organization, and instructed him to recruit and train its members so they could carry out paramilitary operations in defense of the Ikhwan movement when they were called upon.[xxvi] However the Special Organization was later to become a source of problems and devastation, rather than safety and security.

In January 1948, the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al­-Nuqrashi, under pressure from the British government, which was alarmed by the rising anti-British sentiments and activities on the part of the Ikhwan, cracked down on the Ikhwan, closing their offices and publications and confiscating their properties. Twenty days later, al­-Nuqrashi was assassinated by members of the Ikhwan. In a communiqué issued right after al-Nuqrashi’s assassination, al-Banna strongly condemned the assassins and their act, proclaiming that they were neither Ikhwan nor Muslim. Yet two days after the Ikhwan leadership issued their communiqué, another Ikhwan member was apprehended while attempting to place explosives in the building housing the Court of Appeal. Henceforth, Ikhwan members were involved in a number of paramilitary operations including an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the new prime minister, Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Hadi (who escaped the attempt), the assassination of a senior judge in the criminal court of Cairo, and other violent acts.[xxvii]

Apparently, these paramilitary operations were carried out by the Special Organization of the Ikhwan without the knowledge and approval of al-Banna, or any of the executive officers for that matter. In his memoir, Mahmoud Abd al-Halim, one of the early members of the Ikhwan and a close aide of al-Banna, narrated that Hassan al-Hudaybi, al­-Banna’s successor, once called him to complain about the Special Organization, and to ask him to intervene with their leaders. Addressing Abd al-Halim, al-Hudaybi said:

I do not care about those Ikhwan who like to show off, nor those who are vocal and outspoken, nor those who are fervent and zealous. You may know that I first declined the Supreme Guide post because of these people ... I have learned later about the rebellion of the Special Organization against the movement. I also learned that a number of attempts to persuade them and curb their uncontrolled behavior have failed .1 was about to resume my old stand (of refusing to be the Supreme Guide)— for I do not wish to be the head of a movement controlled by shadowy figures, threatening to destroy and shatter it apart... had it not been for those who told me: give us time to call for a brother who is admired and respected by the members of the (Special) Organization ... then he added: ... (al-Banna) told me about the conversation between yourself and those Brethren, and how they eventually succumbed and ended their rebellion.[xxviii]

It is clear from this passage that the formal organization of the Ikhwan had lost control over the Special Organization since it was headed by al-­Banna, and that the latter continued to work independently during the time of al-Hudaybi. This situation continued to be a source of frustration for al-Hudaybi until he finally resigned from his post as the Supreme Guide of the Ikhwan, after the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Nasser in 1954, which was again blamed on the Special Organization. Reflecting on the sequence of events initiated by the assassination of al-Nuqrashi, one may conclude that the Special Organization was committed to a campaign of violence aimed at dismantling the old regime in spite of the strong objection of al-Banna. Abdul Halim described the reaction of al-­Banna to one of the paramilitary operations carried out by Ikhwan members against the ruling regime; the operation was seemingly in retaliation for the government’s harsh measures against the Muslim Brethren. According to this account, al-Banna is said to have compared the loyalty of these people to their movement to the loyalty of a bear to his trainer; to relieve the trainer from fly that landed on his face while he was sleeping, the bear threw a rock that missed the fly but killed the trainer.[xxix]

The bloody confrontation between the monarchists and the Ikhwan finally culminated in the assassination of Hasan al-Banna by the Egyptian secret police in 1949.[xxx] Shortly before his assassination, al-Banna expressed his desire to withdraw the Ikhwan movement from the political arena and confine its operation to religious, educational, and economic activities, while allowing a number of outstanding members to engage in politics using the platforms of other political parties.

The thought which occurred to me is that our organization should take upon itself the task of raising the standards of the community, religiously, socially and economically—neglecting the political aspects—and to permit outstanding members of the association to present themselves for the elections under the auspices of whatever political parties they see fit to join; provided that they do not join any one party and provided they undertake the spreading of the mission of the association within these parties.[xxxi]

Generally speaking, although the Ikhwan’s approach appeared to be for the most part peaceful and gradualistic, it was potentially violent. While Article IV, section 2 of the Ikhwan’s 1945 basic regulations stated that “the Brethren will always prefer gradual advancement and development ...“ several statements by the Ikhwan’s leadership showed that they were inclined to resort to violence in such circumstances as those which transpired under al-Nuqrashi Pasha’s government. Al-Banna, for example, clearly asserted that he would not hesitate to use violence if he were forced to do so, or when the Ikhwan were ready to seize power: “The Brethren will use practical force whenever there is no other way and whenever they are sure the implement of faith and unity is ready.”[xxxii] The ambivalent stance of the Ikhwan leadership gave confusing signals to the rank and file, leading some to take it upon themselves to carry out a series of violent attacks against the ruling regime, and perhaps believing that the monarchists’ crackdown on their organization had left them with no other choice but to literally fight back.

Despite the Ikhwan’s active involvement in Egyptian politics, al-Banna did not see his organization as a political party, but as a prototype of an Islamic society. Nor did he consider the Ikhwan’s political participation within the context of sharing power with other parties. Rather, he believed that it was imperative that the Ikhwan movement grew until it encompassed the entire Egyptian society. In this sense, al-Banna regarded his political activities as a struggle against those forces which were working to hinder the growth and development of the Islamic movement.[xxxiii] In fact, al-Banna looked with contempt and disdain on all political parties in Egypt, accusing them of corrupting social and political life. He repeatedly condemned political parties, charging them with being interested only in increasing the wealth and power of their members, failing thereby to offer any meaningful platforms or programs geared toward promoting the wellbeing of Egyptian society.[xxxiv] In a speech delivered before the Ikhwan Fifth Conference, al-Banna called upon the king to dissolve all political parties, arguing that a representative system could survive without parties.

[The Muslim Brethren] believe . . . that in a representative, and even a parliamentary, system there is no need for a party system (especially if it is) like the one that exists today in Egypt. [This is true because] otherwise coalition governments in democratic countries could not survive. Therefore, the notion that a parliamentary government could only exist with a party system is unwarranted; for many constitutional and parliamentary countries are based on a one-party system, and that is possible... [the Muslim Brethren] have also asked His Majesty to dissolve all the existing (political) parties, so that they could be consolidated altogether into one popular assembly, which will work for the common good of the ummah in accordance with the principles of Islam.[xxxv]

Al-Banna strongly believed that political parties had become a real menace, hindering the development of Egyptian society. He was thus convinced that by dissolving these parties, Egypt would stand a better chance to grow and advance. What al-Banna, and other Ikhwan leaders, failed to see was that by giving the state the right to prohibit party activities, he would enable it to use the same right against any other groups actively involved in public affairs, including the Ikhwan themselves. Indeed, when Nasser came to power in 1952, he immediately dissolved all political parties, sparing the Ikhwan organization. Nasser’s measure against political parties was hailed by the Ikhwan leadership, who thought that Nasser was going to grant the Ikhwan a greater role in running the country. But in less that two years, the Ikhwan themselves were added to the list, after Nasser consolidated his power and purged the army of all officers who were sympathetic to the Ikhwan, or unreceptive to his views.

The death of al-Banna was tragic for the Ikhwan movement, for he was the central figure in the movement, and a respected Egyptian leader who was able through his charisma and leadership skills to elicit the sympathy and support of many influential people. Shortly after al­-Banna’s assassination, the Executive Office of the Ikhwan selected Hasan al-Hudaybi, a well-known and respected judge, to lead the movement. Apparently, the selection of al-Hudaybi, who was not a member of the movement, was influenced by the Ikhwan leadership’s desire to find a person with high credibility and a good reputation. Being an outsider, however, al-Hudaybi could not control the movement, especially the paramilitary wing of the Ikhwan, the Special Organization.[xxxvi] In October 1954, al-Hudaybi submitted his resignation to Abd al-Qadir Awda the Ikhwan deputy, shortly after the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Nasser.

The attempt to assassinate Nasser on October 26, 1954, marked the beginning of a devastating period in the history of the Ikhwan that characterized most of Nasser’s rule until his death in 1970. The attempt was immediately blamed on the Ikhwan, and the government authorities

moved quickly to arrest two members of the Special Organization, Hindawi Duwayri and Muhammad Abd al-Latif, charging them with an attempt to assassinate the president, and charging the Ikhwan organization with an attempt to overthrow the government. Without wasting time the government cracked down on the Ikhwan organization, arresting its members and closing its branches. By the end of 1954, the formal organization of the Ikhwan was completely liquidated. Thousands of Ikhwan members were sent to concentration camps, while four high-ranking leaders, as well as the two members implicated in the assassination attempt, were executed.[xxxvii] Most Ikhwan writers maintain that the alleged assassination attempt was invented by Nasser, who used the incident as a pretext to liquidate the Ikhwan and consolidate his power. Sa1ih al-‘Ashmawi, the spokesman of the Supreme Guide during al-­Hudaybi’s tenure, for instance, narrated in his memoir that Yusuf Tal'at, the head of the Special Organization and one of the five Ikhwan leaders who were executed by Nasser’s government in 1954, assured him in a private meeting that the Special Organization had nothing to do with the attempt to assassinate Nasser.[xxxviii] Yet al-‘Ashmawi himself had his suspicions concerning the Special Organization’s involvement, character­izing the Ikhwan’s situation during that period as chaotic, if not in complete disarray.[xxxix]

The Revolutionary Stag 

Among the Ikhwan imprisoned during this period was Sayyid Qutb. Qutb joined the Ikhwan in the late 1940s after an active career as a writer and journalist. He was arrested in 1954 and sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment, but was freed in 1964 after serving ten years of his sentence. While in prison, Qutb was appointed as the head of the Ikhwan and continued to serve in this capacity until he was executed with other Ikhwan leaders in 1966, after being charged with the attempt to assassinate Nasser and overthrow the government.[xl]

Unlike his predecessors who for the most part spoke softly, Sayyid Qutb gave the modern Islamic movement a revolutionary tone. Despite the fact that many of the ideas presented by Qutb were borrowed from al-Afghan?, al-Banna, Mawdudi, and other Muslim writers, he was able to develop these ideas into more refined concepts, and linked them together in a systematic way to create a more or less comprehensive ideology. The political ideology presented by Sayyid Qutb was built around three core concepts: The concept of jahi1i society, the concept of Islamic society, and the concept of movement as a mechanism for

transforming the former into the latter.

Qutb developed the concept of jahiliyah, or jahiIi society, to analyze modern society and expose its ills and deficiencies. The term jahi1tyah was first introduced by the Qur’an with reference to the faithlessness of the pre-Islamic society and its ignorance of God’s commandments. Sayyid Qutb, however, was the first to give the term its contemporary definition. According to Qutb, the jahili society is one that has been established on rules, principles, and customs which have been founded by men without regard to, or in ignorance of, divine guidance.[xli] In such a society, Qutb argues, man’s unrestrained greed and self-aggrandize­ment become the overwhelming forces that dominate social, economic, and political relationships among its members, leading to injustice and exploitation of some persons, classes, races, or nations by others.

[Jahiliyah’s] roots are in human desires, which do not let people come out of their ignorance and self-importance, or in the interests of some persons or some classes or some nations or some races, whose interests prevail over the demand for justice, truth, and goodness.[xlii]

Qutb concludes that all contemporary societies are jahili. Communist societies which deny the existence of God and his revealed commandment, as well as Jewish and Christian societies because they have distorted their original teachings. Even contemporary Muslim societies are jahili because their social practices and legal principles are not founded on, but are in contradiction to, the teaching of Islam.[xliii] Qutb also criticizes modern society on the ground that it has been based on racial, ethnic, or national foundations. The criteria which are used to differentiate modern nation-states from one another emphasize the animal, rather than the human, aspects of man: his physical attributes. While the means of subsistence, territories, and boundaries might be an appropriate basis to bring animal stocks together, Qutb argues, human associations must be based on moral values and beliefs, and the free choice of a people. In a word, human societies should be founded on shared ideology and outlook, rather than nationalistic and ethnocentric bonds.”[xliv]

Islamic society, on the other hand, is based on the harmony of God and man, and the unity of religious and sociopolitical principles, of man’s duty to his fellow man and his duty to God. Quit defines Islamic society as one in which the Islamic law (Shari'ah) rules, and where Qur’anic and prophetic injunctions are observed and practiced; he clearly stresses that Islamic norms have ceased to be the governing principles in contemporary Muslim societies.

The Muslim community does not denote the name of a land in which Islam resides, nor is it a people whose forefathers lived under the Islamic system at some earlier time. It is the name of a group of people whose manners, ideas and concepts, rules and regulations, values and criteria, are all derived from the Islamic source.[xlv]

Like many other Muslim intellectuals, Qutb was concerned about the overwhelming sense of helplessness and defeat which permeated the Muslim world in modern times, and which was-reflected in the passive and indifferent attitude of the average Muslim toward political participation, an attitude which had been inherited from centuries of political quietism. To deal with this problem, he provided a worldview which depicted history as a continuous struggle between jahiliyah and Islam, emphasizing the role of the believer in this struggle and the inevitability of the eventual triumph of Islam over jahiliyah. For Qutb, historical changes occur not as a result of contradiction between traditional and modern forces as modernization theory states, nor between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat as Marxist theory insists. Rather changes occur because of the contradiction between faith (iman) and infidelity (kufr), justice and injustice, Islam and jahiliyah.[xlvi] Islamists perceive the current struggle in the Muslim countries as one between the Islamic forces and those of the imperialists and their agents or client regimes.[xlvii] Most Muslim writers agree that Westernization is a major threat to Muslim countries, and blame imperialism for the backwardness and economic dependency of the Muslim world;[xlviii] all of them see Islam as the only viable alternative for independence and development.[xlix]

The transformation of a jahili society to an Islamic one is not a natural process that takes place apart from human efforts, Qutb stresses; nor is it a supernatural process carried out directly by divine power in isolation of human agency. Rather, changing the prevailing conditions from jahili to Islamic is a long and tedious process that requires the struggle of the Muslim masses. To convince the Muslim masses, who have come to believe that they have no role in shaping history, Qutb points to the struggle of the first generation of Muslims under the leadership of the Prophet, stressing that the triumph of the early Islamic movement against jahiliyah was the result of human endeavor.[l] The struggle to establish an Islamic society, Qutb contends, should be initiated and led by a vanguard. The vanguard must confront the jahili society on two fronts: theoretically, by refuting the arguments of jahiliyah and exposing its corruption; and practically, through a well-organized movement, equipped with all the strength it can acquire to combat a powerful jahiliyah.

When jahiliyah takes the form, not of a ‘theory’ but of an active movement in this fashion, then any attempt to abolish this jahiliyah and to bring people back to God which presents Islam merely as a theory will be undesirable, rather useless. Jahiliyah controls the practical world, and for its support there is a living and active organization. In this situation, mere theoretical efforts to fight it cannot even be equal, much less superior, to it.[li]

Qutb also stresses the intimate relationship between one’s values and beliefs and his attitude and behavior, emphasizing that the latter stems from, and depends on, the former. Islamic values must manifest themselves through tangible actions. For only by acting upon Islamic principles, can one begin to appreciate the meaning and value of these principles.[lii] Islam therefore is not a set of ideals that a Muslim admires or identifies with, but rather a sober commitment to a system of life that requires complete devotion. Furthermore, because of the all-encompassing nature of the Islamic commitment, the struggle for the establishment of an Islamic society, Qutb advises, must be carried out on two levels. First, on the collective level by joining the Islamic movement and strengthening its forces. Second, on the individual level by purifying oneself through practicing Islamic morality and adhering to the ordinances of the Shari'ah.[liii]

By reinterpreting Islam as an all-encompassing system where religion and politics intermingle, and by depicting history as the outcome of the struggle between the forces of Islam and those of jahiliyah, Qutb was able to portray the ‘Muslim as an active political agent who is religiously obliged to get involved in the sociopolitical activities of his community. It is incumbent on the Muslim, he stresses, as part of his covenant with God, to enjoin the good and forbid evil (al-amr bi a1-ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar), and to struggle for the establishment of Islamic rule even at the expense of life itself. To die in the cause of Islam, Qutb proclaims, is considered martyrdom (shahadah), which the Qur’an recognizes as the ultimate honor for the believer in this life, leading to paradise in the hereafter.[liv]

Despite his revolutionary ideas and sharp criticism of the prevailing sociopolitical system, Qutb rejects the use of violence to change it. He insists that a truly Islamic state can only be established among people who are properly educated in the teachings of Islam, and who are self-motivated to implement these teachings in their daily life. Any attempt to use violent tactics to overthrow the ruling elite and install an Islamic elite in its stead, he contends, would be a grave strategic mistake. First, because Islam is a belief system in the first place, and a sociopolitical system afterward. Second, such an approach would inevitably violate the tenets of the Islamic ideology.

During his interrogation in 1964—in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Nasser, and to overthrow the incumbent government— Qutb told his interrogators that “establishing an Islamic system requires a prolonged effort of education and propagation, and could not be done through a coup d’etat.” Qutb went on to say that “the overthrowing of the established regime does not bring about Islamic rule. Clearly, the obstacles that stand before the establishment of an Islamic system are big enough to require a long time, and elaborate preparations which might take one or several generations.”[lv]

Qutb strongly believed in a gradualistic approach in which the Islamic movement would struggle to expand its power base and gain support of the masses through communication and mobilization. He further advised the Islamists not to become impatient and rush their efforts to bring about a revolution before the sociopolitical conditions warrant such a move, warning that any premature attempt to overthrow the ruling power could lead to bloodshed, and would eventually culminate in a disaster.[lvi]Yet, by using certain conceptions and categories, such as mufasalah (distinction), jahiliyah (ignorance), kufr (blasphemy), and dar al-harb (territory of war), Qutb unwittingly paved the way for radical groups, providing them with a terminology which they could use to justify an all-out war against current society. He argued, for instance, that the Islamic movement must distinguish itself from the surrounding j2hilt society. Such a distinction, he maintained, was necessary so that the Islamists could become independent from the prevailing jahiliyah, channeling their energies to build the growing Islamic movement, rather than support the jahili regime.[lvii] Although Qutb tried elsewhere to shed more light on how a distinction could be maintained between the two, his statements remained equivocal, lacking a clear and practical expression.

This [replacing jahiliyah with Islam] cannot come about by going along a few steps with jahiliyah, nor by now severing relations with it and removing ourselves to a separate corner, never. The correct procedure is to mix with discretion, give and take with dignity, speak the truth with love, and show the superiority of the Faith with humility.[lviii]

Likewise, by stripping the Islamic identity from modern Muslim societies, and by subsuming them under peculiar categories, such as “jahili society,” and “dar al-harb” (territory of war), Qutb helped Muslim radicals to use classical solutions, initially designed to tackle different circumstances, to deal with a society that can be classified an un-Islamic, and a state that could be called a territory of war. In fact, some of the passages of Qutb’s last book, Milestones, could easily be interpreted as an open invitation to use violence against current Muslim society, especially if they are read apart from the few passages in which Qutb emphasizes a gradual approach and a long-term strategy.

Any country which fights the Muslim because of his belief and prevents him from practicing his religion, and in which the Shari‘ah is suspended, is dar al-harb (territory of war), even though his family and his relatives or his people live in it.[lix]

The 1970s brought about a new development, namely, the proliferation of Islamic organizations and groups. During the Sadat administration which succeeded Nasser’s upon the latter’s death in 1970, the Ikhwan movement re-emerged as one of the major political forces in Egypt. Evidently, the new Ikhwan organization under the leadership of Umar al-Tilmisani, and most recently that of Muhammad Hamid Abul al-Nasr, renounced the old revolutionary tactics, once employed by the Special Organization, adopting a gradualistic approach. However, a number of Muslim radical groups, known collectively as the Jama’at, entered the political scene; the most influential of which were: Shabab Muhammad, Jama‘at al-Muslimun, and the Jihad organization.[lx] Unlike the neo-Ikhwan who advocates peaceful and gradualistic approach, the Jama’at call for revolutionary tactics and the use of violence against the state.

Although the bulk of Ikhwan activists shun the revolutionary tactics of radical groups, the latter have been able to appropriate the theoretical framework of the movement, putting the former on the defensive. The reformist Ikhwan, deprived of the benefit of an ideology which would explain and justify their strategy, could only invoke pragmatic arguments in support of their gradualism. In contrast, radical groups, by appropriating the ideology advanced by Qutb, are able to project themselves as the legitimate heirs of the Islamic movement. It is for this reason that we turn now to briefly outline the strategy of radical groups, and discuss their basic views. Such a discussion is essential for assessing the post-Qutb trends within the Islamist forces.

Islamic Radicalism

The principle of revolution adopted by the Jam'at finds its roots in the writings of Qutb, who reinterpreted Islam as a revolutionary ideology and forcefully emphasized that the Islamic movement cannot afford to make compromises with the jahili society and yet remain faithful after that to the Islamic principles.[lxi] Indeed, radical Muslim groups maintain many of the core concepts of the Ikhwan’s ideology—their reading of history, their ultimate goals, and their worldview.[lxii] They sharply disagree, however, with the Ikhwan on the question of identifying the best and most effective method to transform the present society from jahiliyah to Islam.

Jama‘at al-Muslimin (the Muslims’ Group) was established in the early 1970s by Shukri Mustafa, a veteran of the Ikhwan who served several years in prison during Nasser’s rule because of his political activism. The group described modern society as jahil4 suffering from corruption and injustice. Their manifesto al-Khilafah (the Caliphate) divided the group’s mission into three stages. In the first stage, the group was to involve itself in communication activities aimed at educating the public about the true Islamic principles and beliefs. The second stage is distinguished by concentration on organization and mobilization activities, the purpose of which is to prepare the group to the third and final stage, the jihad stage.[lxiii] The group was charged with kidnapping and murdering Shaykh Husayn al-Dhahabi, former Minister of Awqaf (religious affairs). Consequently, the group’s leadership as well as 400 of its members were arrested after a bloody confrontation with government forces. On March 19, 1979, Shukri Mustafa, along with other members, was executed.[lxiv]

Shabab Muhammad (Muhammad’s Youth) was also established in the early 1970s by Saleh Sariyah, a Palestinian by birth who was a member of a Jordanian-based organization known as the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami). Unlike the Jama’at al-Muslimin which viewed both the state and society as an integral whole, Shabab Muhammad differentiated between the two, condemning the former while regarding the latter as a victim of cruel and godless rulers. The group was short-lived, for it quickly came into major military confrontation with the government when it carried out an unsuccessful attack on the Military Technical College in Cairo. Saleh Sariyah and a number of the Shabab’s leaders were executed on November 10, 1976, while other members were imprisoned. The remaining members of the group formed a new group known as al-Jihad which was responsible for the assassination of Sadat in 1981.[lxv] Al-Jihad’s ideology and strategy were expressed in the organization’s manifesto, al-Faridah al-gha’ibah (the neglected duty), written by al-Jihad’s ideologue, Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj (1954-1982).

In The Neglected Duty, Faraj dismisses propaganda (da‘wa) as an ineffective means for the transformation of the current Egyptian jahili society into Islamic, and insists that armed struggle should be the paramount method for this transformation. To prove his point, Faraj quotes a verse from the Qur’an stating that a small band may conquer a large band.”[lxvi] Faraj concludes from this Qur’anic verse that “Islam does not triumph by the majority.”[lxvii] He cites also the struggle of the Prophet and early Muslims, emphasizing that it was a struggle of a righteous minority over a corrupt majority.

Some of them [the Muslim gradualists] say that the right road to the establishment of an [Islamic] state is (nonviolent) propaganda (da‘wa) only, and the creation of a broad base. This, however, does not bring about the foundation of an [Islamic] state. Nevertheless, some people make this point the basis for their withdrawal from (true) jihad. The truth is that an (Islamic) state can only be founded by a believing minority.... Those who follow the straight path that is in accordance with the command of God and the example of the Apostle of God—may God’s peace be upon him—are always the minority.[lxviii]

Faraj also rejects the neo-Ikhwan’s strategy to work through other political parties on the grounds that it produces the opposite of what is desired, “since it means building the pagan state and collaborating with it.[lxix]

Muslim radical groups, who tend to have a simplistic outlook and dichotomous world views, have failed to appreciate the complexity of modern society. The simplicity of their thought stems from their failure to distinguish the Islamic norms and values from their historical applications. What the Muslim radicals attempt to achieve is not a modern society based on the principles of Islam or a society that embodies Islamic values, but rather a society which is an exact image of the first Islamic society and which literally imitates the first society in all aspects of life.[lxx]


Over a century ago, Jamaluddin Afghani set in motion a new Islamic trend and movement. The basic mission of this movement, Afghani envisaged, was to revitalize and reform the backward conditions of the Muslim community (ummah). Afghani strongly believed that Muslim decadence was precipitated by faulty interpretations of Islam and the misperception of the meanings and intents of Islamic principles. He therefore insisted that the Muslim decline was intrinsically intellectual in nature, reflecting the failure of Muslim scholars to apply the principles and teachings of Islam to an ever-changing reality. The military defeat of the Muslims at the hands of Europe was only the symptom of the spiritual and intellectual decline of the Ummah, and never its cause. Although Afghani, and later Muhammad Abduh emphasized proper Islamic education as the ultimate means for the revitalization of Muslim conditions, he believed that establishing a united Islamic state was the best and shortest approach to achieving the desired reform. Toward this end, Afghani tried unsuccessfully to employ his influence and personal relationships with Muslim rulers to convince them to adopt his reformist ideas. While his endeavor to bring about change through rulers bore no fruit, he was able to inspire Muslim intellectuals and public opinion leaders, sowing the seeds of revolt among them; his agitation resulted in the rebellion of the Egyptian army in 1882 against Khedive Tawfiq. The rebellion was, however, quickly suppressed by the British forces that intervened to keep Khedive Tawfiq in power.

The Islamic movement initiated and cultivated by Afghani was throughout his life an elitist movement unable to attract the support of the Egyptian masses. The failure of the Islamic movement to attract popular support during Afghani’s time, and to a lesser extent during the time of al-Banna and Qutb, could be attributed to two interrelated factors. The first factor was the revolutionary nature of Afghani’s message. He had led an all-out war against traditionalist ideas and thoughts, describing them as perverted and decadent, and blaming them for the Muslim inability to face modern challenges. He further blamed the ‘ulama for the deteriorating conditions of the ummah, and called upon them to rethink and re-evaluate a great deal of their doctrines. Immediately his call was met with strong opposition from the 'ulama who labeled him an “innovator.” Traditionalist ‘ulama who believed that Islamic thought had reached its full expansion and refinement long ago, saw Afghani’s reformist ideas as a threat to the integrity of Islam. Second, Afghani had to deal with a community suffering from chronic illiteracy and fatalism and a long history of political quietism. Afghani’s message, with its emphasis on political activism and scientific development, was therefore incomprehensible to the Egyptian masses.

It was not until the establishment of the Ikhwan by Hasan al-Banna in 1927 that the Islamic movement assumed a more popular stance, embarking on the support of the common individual. Al-Banna strongly believed that moral and intellectual reform must precede any meaningful sociopolitical change. Although al-Banna intended that the Ikhwan movement should be a prototype for an Islamic society, and should therefore engage itself in all aspects of social life including politics, he repeatedly emphasized that the Ikhwan must concentrate their efforts on social reform. Nevertheless, the Ikhwan were gradually driven (probably by their rapidly growing power) into the political arena, and became actively involved in Egyptian politics, thereby compromising their own strategy. Moreover, the contradiction between the declared strategy and practical activities of the Ikhwan was further complicated by the creation of the Special Organization, the paramilitary wing of the Ikhwan which was established to protect the formal organization but became instead a nightmare for the Ikhwan when it rebelled against the formal leadership and adopted its own agenda. The campaign of violence that was launched by the Special Organization put the Ikhwan face to face with the state. The state responded with an “iron fist” policy, first during the monarchist rule, and later during Nasser’s, resulting in the almost complete dismantling of the Ikhwan movement.

The ideological framework developed by Qutb provided the movement with a powerful tool for analyzing modern society and a comprehensive strategy for dismantling the dominant political regime and replacing it with an Islamic one. Ironically, Qutb’s sharp criticism and uncompro­mising approach were adopted by groups who, overlooking the solutions suggested by Qutb himself, employed classical solutions to address modern situations. The result was a variety of extremist groups who saw violence as the only effective method to bring out change.

In the one hundred years that elapsed since Afghani called for reform, the Islamic movement has grown and expanded markedly. The once elitist movement commands today the support of an increasing segment of Egyptian society. Yet the ultimate question which Afghani set out to tackle, later addressed by many writers including al-Banna and Qutb, remains today unresolved. The question of the nature of Islamic society and the relationship between society and the Shari‘ah is still unsettled. The dispute between the reformist Afghani and traditionalist ‘u1ama regarding the characteristics of the ideal Islamic society continues to be a source of sharp division and schism among Islamists. Although traditionalists acknowledge today that the conditions of the Muslim community need profound change, they differ with the reformists about the nature of this change. Contemporary traditionalists perceive change in terms of renovating modern society so as to resemble the early Muslim society. They demand therefore that the early society be emulated in almost every detail. Reformists, on the other hand, though professing that the early Muslim society provides an excellent moral model, insist that the social and political practices of that society were but the outcome of the interaction between Islamic principles and historical circumstances. They conclude, therefore, that contemporary Muslims must use Islamic principles to shape their reality, rather than resuscitating historical situations. 

The contemporary Islamic movement in Egypt today faces two major challenges. First, a political culture that fosters elitist politics. The average Egyptian citizen has been conditioned after almost ten centuries of quietism, to refrain from political involvement, and has been led to believe that political life is unpredictable, uncontrollable, and out of reach. Second, the dominance of traditionalist ideas and symbols have prevented the members of the Islamic movement and its followers from fully understanding and comprehending the ideas of the movement’s reformist leaders, including eminent leaders such as Afghani, al-­Banna, and Qutb. The future of the movement therefore could well be determined by its ability to cope and deal with these two great challenges.



[i] Jamaluddin Afghani, al-A‘mal al-Kamilah, ed. Muhammad Imara (Beirut: al-Mu’asasah al-Arabiyah lil-Dirasat wa al-Nashr, 1979) 20, 29. The birthplace and sectarian origin of al-Afghani have been the subject of fierce debate. While many Sunni writers insist that he was born at Asadabad near Kabul in Afghanistan, Shi‘i sources have maintained that he was born at As‘adabad in Iran. Nikki Keddie, in her biographical work on al-Afghani, has made a persuasive argument in support of the latter version. See her work, Sayyid Jamaluddin “Afghani”: A Political Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), and An Islamic Response to Imperialism: Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jamaluddin “al-Afghani” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); also the collection of a1-Afghani’s works, al-A‘mal al-Kamilah, edited by Muhammad Imara.

[ii] Muhammad Abduh, al-Islam din wa hadarah, ed. Tahir al-Tinaji (Cairo: al- Hilal, n.d.), p. 148.

[iii] Jamaluddin al-Afghani, “Lecture on Teaching and Learning,” in An Islamic

Response to Imperialism, ed. Nikki R. Keddie (Berkeley, Ca: University of

California Press, 1968), p. 17.

[iv] Afghani, al-A‘mal al-Kamilah, 334-9.

[v] Afghani, “Lecture on Teaching and Learning,” 17.

[vi] Ibid., 18.

[vii] Afghani, “The Benefit of Philosophy,” in An Islamic Response to

Imperialism, 120-21.

[viii] Afghani, “Lecture on Teaching and Learning,” 17.

[ix] Afghani, “Islamic Solidarity,” in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives,

eds. John J. Donohue and John L. Esposito, (New York: Oxford University

Press, 1982) 19.

[x] Ibid., 24; and Afghani, “Commentary on the Commentator,” in An

Islamic Response to Imperialism, 123.

[xi] Afghani, al-A‘mal al-Kamilah, 28-33.

[xii] Afghani, “Islamic Solidarity,” 23.

[xiii] Afghani, al-A‘mal al-Kamilah, 35.

[xiv] Charles C. Adams, Islam and Modernism in Egypt (New York: Russell &

Russell, 1968) 7.

[xv] Afghani, al-A‘mal al-Kamilah, 16.

[xvi] Ibid., 329.

[xvii] Afghani, “Islamic Solidarity,” 21.

[xviii] Hasan a1-Banna, Mabadi’ wa usul fi mu‘tamarat khassah (Cairo: al-Mu’ssasah al-Islamiyah 1i1-Tiba‘ah wa al-Nashr, 1979) 90; also Hasan a1-Banna, Majmu‘at Rasa‘il al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna (Cairo: Darul Hadarah al-Islamia, n.d) 225.

[xix] Asaf Hussain, Islamic Movements in Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran: An Annotated Bibliography (London: Mansell Publishing Limited, 1983) 6-7.

[xx] Mahmoud Abd al-Halim, al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun: Ahdath Sana‘at al-Tarikh

vol. 2 (Alexandria, Egypt: Dar al-Da'wah, 1981) 221, 224.

[xxi] Al-Banna, Mabadi’ wa usul, 47-8, 57-8.

[xxii] Ibid., 49.

[xxiii] Tariq Y. Ismael and Jacqualine S. Ismael, Government and Politics in Islam

(London: Frances Pinter, 1985) 60-65.

[xxiv] Quoted in Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 61.

[xxv] Ibid., 61-2; See also al-Banna, Mabadi’ wa usul, 50.

[xxvi] Abd al-Halim, al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, Vol. 2, pp. 258-9.

[xxvii] Ibid., v. 2, 71, 211, 213.

[xxviii] Ibid., v. 2, 493-4

[xxix] Ibid., v. 2, 203.

[xxx] Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 70-6.

[xxxi] Ibid., 65; See also Abd al-Halim, al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, v. 2, 122.

[xxxii] Quoted in Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 65.

[xxxiii] Al-Banna, Mabadi’ wa Usul. 91 and 104.

[xxxiv] Al-Banna, Majmu‘at al-Rasa‘il, 374.

[xxxv] Al-Banna, Mabadi’ wa Usul. 69..

[xxxvi] Saleh al-Ashmawi, al-Ikhwan wa al-thawrah (Cairo: al-Maktab al-Misri al-Hadith, 1977) 69.

[xxxvii] Jabir Rizq, Madhabih al-Ikhwan fi Sujun Nasir (Cairo: Dar al-Nasir lil

Tiba‘ah al-Islamiyah, 1987) 21.

[xxxviii] A1-Ashmawi, al-Ikhwan wa al-thawrah, 74.

[xxxix] Ibid., 69 and 76.

[xl] Rizq, Madhabih al-Ikhwan, 145.

[xli] Alexander S. Cudsi and Au E. Hillal Dessouki, eds., Islam and Power (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University, 1981) 7; Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 110.

[xlii] Quoted in Hussain, Islamic Movement, 10.

[xliii] Ibid.

[xliv] Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Unity Publishing Co., n.d.) 95-6; Sayyid Qutb, Hadha al-din, 2nd. ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Qalam, n.d.) 85; and Sayyid Qutb, al-Mustaqbal li-hadha al-din (Kuwait: al-Ittihad al-Islami al-Alami lil Munazzamat al-Tullabiyyah, 1988) 9.

[xlv] Qutb, Milestones, 9.

[xlvi] Cudsi and Dessouki, Islam and Power, 8; also Hussain, Islamic Movements, 95-6.

[xlvii] Unlike Marxists, Islamists define imperialism in light of the concept of jahiliyah, rather than in connection to capitalism.

[xlviii] John L. Esposito, Islam and Politics (NewYork: Syracuse University Press, 1984) 137.

[xlix] Ibid., 13; Rudi Matthee, “The Egyptian Opposition on the Iranian Revolt.” in Shi ‘ism and Social Protest, ed. Juan R. Cole and Nikki R. Keddie (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986) 225.

[l] Qutb, Hadha al-din, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Qalam, n.d.) 3, 51.

[li] Qutb, Milestones, 46.

[lii] Qutb, Hadha al-din, 13.

[liii] Ibid., 7.

[liv] Hussain, Islamic Movements, 95.

[lv] Rizq, Madhabih al-Ikhwan, 146.

[lvi] Qutb, Hadha al-din, 35.

[lvii] Qutb, Milestones, 47.

[lviii] Ibid., 140.

[lix] Ibid., 125.

[lx] Ibid.

[lxi] Matthee, “The Egyptian Opposition,” 249; Saad Eddin Ibrahim, “Islamic Militancy as a Social Movement: The Case of Two Groups in Egypt.” In Islamic Resurgence in the Arab World, ed. Ali E. Hillal Dessouki (New York: Praeger Publisher, 1982) 18; and Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 109.

[lxii] Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 109-10.

[lxiii] Ibid., 117.

[lxiv] Hussain, Islamic Movements, 14.

[lxv] Ibid., Ismael and Ismael, Government and Politics, 119.

[lxvi] “How oft, by God’s will, has a small force vanquished a big one.” (Qur’an 2:249).

[lxvii] Johnnes J. G. Jansen, The Neglected Duly: The Creed of Sadat’s Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986) 186.

[lxviii] Quoted in Jansen, The Neglected Duty, 184.

[lxix] Ibid., 185.

[lxx] Cudsi and Dessouki, Islam and Power, 19.

Intellectual Discourse 1995, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 23-49.

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The Qur'anic Narrative

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