The Muslim Brotherhood’s Winning Argument

December 17, 2012 11:47 pm 1 comment

Muslim brotherhood women. Photo: Gainor Barton.

In the ongoing conflict between those Egyptians who strongly oppose a Sharia-based constitution—moderates, secularists, non-Muslim minorities—and those who are strongly pushing for it, Islamists are currently evoking the one argument that has always, from the very beginnings of Islam, empowered Islamists over moderates in the Muslim world.

Examples are many. According to a December 1 report from El Fagr, Gamal Sabr, former campaign coordinator for the anti-freedom Salafi presidential candidate Abu Ismail, made the division clear during an Al Jazeera interview, where he said that “whoever disagrees with him, disagrees with Islam itself,” and that many Egyptians “are fighting Islam in the picture of President Muhammad Morsi and in the picture of the Islamists,” clearly implying that the latter are one with Islam, and to fight them is to fight Islam.

The logic is simple: Sabr, as well as those millions of Egyptians who want Sharia, only want what Allah wants—that Egypt be governed according to Sharia law. According to this position, any and all Muslims who disagree, who do not want to be governed by Sharia, whatever their arguments and rationale, are ultimately showing that they are at odds with Islam itself.

Sabr is hardly the only Egyptian Muslim making use of this age-old argument. A Dostor report, also appearing on December 1, quotes Tarek Zomar making the same point. A leader of the infamous Gam’a Islamiyya (Islamic Group), who was formerly imprisoned for his role in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, released with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, and is now a member of the Shura Council of Egypt’s Parliament, Zomor asserts that whoever votes against the Sharia-based constitution that Morsi is trying to enforce “is an infidel”—an apostate enemy to be slain in the cause of Allah.

Others like Sheikh Abdullah Badr—who earlier said that anyone who opposes or rejects the Sharia will have their tongues cut out—after describing protesters as “mischief makers” said they would be “hung on trees,” a distinct allusion to Islamic crucifixion, as proclaimed in Quran 5:33: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this: that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off…”

Even Ahmed Morsi, President Muhammad Morsi’s son, accused the many demonstrators in Tahrir Square who object to his father’s attempts to impose Sharia on them of belonging to the “former regime”—code for secularist-minded people, who are opposed to the totality of Sharia law. Writing on his Facebook account, he asserted that “all the people in Tahrir Square are remnants of the old regime,” adding that “my father will eliminate them soon.”

Such is the difficulty encountered by moderate Muslims, past and present: how can they justify their rejection of Islamic teachings, as captured in the Quran, hadith—teachings and doings of Muslim prophet Muhammad—and the words of the Islamic scholars throughout the ages, all of which constitute the “Sharia” of Islam, a word that simply means the “way” of Islam?

History offers insightful parallels and patterns. A few decades after the Islamic prophet Muhammad died, during the First Fitna—whence the Sunni-Shia split emerged—a group of extremely fanatical Muslims, known as the Kharajites, based on a word that literally means “those who go out” (of the Islamic fold), rejected both Sunni and Shia leadership claims and deemed themselves the “truest” Muslims. Accordingly, they engaged in takfir, that is, randomly accusing any Muslim not upholding the totality of Islam’s teachings of being infidels, often killing them.

Today’s radicals and Islamists are similar; in fact, that is the primary way more moderate Muslims portray them, as “Takfiris” who themselves sin by judging fellow Muslims, when that is Allah’s prerogative alone.

Due to the impossibly high standards the Kharajites set—to sin even once was to be deemed an apostate and executed—mainstream Islam eventually rejected their approach, to the point that merely saying the Islamic profession, orshehada—”there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah”—is usually enough to safeguard someone as a Muslim.

Yet it is not that simple today. The Kharajites of the 7th century were truly extreme—ritually slaying even Muslim women and children for not being Islamic enough—whereas the Islamists of today are merely insisting that Sharia law be enshrined in the constitution and enforced in Egypt. From a historical point of view, this is not an “extreme” position and only seems so to those “globalized” Muslims who espouse enlightened and rationalistic principles.

Hence why these secular, moderate, or liberal Muslims—so long as they define themselves as Muslims—are destined to lose the debate with their more radical brethren, who will always say, “True Muslims support Sharia: if you reject this, then you are no Muslim, you are an apostate, an infidel, and thus an enemy.”

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

1 Comment

  • Argument wasn’t the only tactic.

    there was also a substantial presence by the moslembrotherhood near ballot places

    how much this resulted in coercion and intimidation is difficult to tell but there clearly was some

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.