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...

  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.