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The Muslim Brotherhood and its Cousins - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As the people of the world are in the process of freeing themselves from the blending of religion and politics, adopting an equal political system that grants its citizens their rights and ensures their freedoms, securing them justice in return for loyalty to the nation, we find that the Middle East is still very much a prisoner to the concept of mixing religion and politics.

This is a concept that puts the whole region at risk from turbulence and upheavals that it can well do without. Israel launched its religious project by declaring its exclusive “Jewish” state which laid the foundation of how all its citizens that embrace other faiths like Islam, Christianity, as well as the Druze and Baha’i faiths are treated. This was an attitude that forced the international community to classify the Zionist movement – which was the driving force behind the establishment of the State of Israel- as a racist movement. Nevertheless Israel continued to follow the same approach, and expand upon this. In the Arab world the Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in secret and became a banned organization attempted to launch its political project, namely a religious republic ruled under the name of God, according to the group’s founder Hassan al-Banna who was influenced by the renowned Sheik Muhammad Rashid Rida.

The Muslim Brotherhood project is certainly a political extremist one that has introduced religion into the corridors of politics in order to propagate an “attractive” system that titillates the emotions and feelings, but in fact corroborates an extremist way of thinking, dividing society between the virtuous and the corrupt, the believers and the infidels. Nobody is entitled to use such devastating language for this is a blatant interference in God’s right to judge his people. This [mixing of religion and politics] is not a means to consolidate power or to politically dominate under the name of religion and on behalf of God. This is the same principle that allowed them to dare to call themselves “the Muslim Brotherhood” which seems to mean that if you are not a member of the group, you are neither a Brother nor a Muslim. This course has strongly encouraged several armed and ideological movements to use religion as a cloak [to hide behind], and so the “Jihad” and the “Takfir wal-Hijra” movements came about, until today we witness the crazed and violent Al Qaeda movement expanding all across the globe spreading terrorism and panic.

Islam is a monotheistic religion which aims to implement its [religious] observations amongst the people in order to eliminate injustice and spread goodness amongst them. It is not a methodological or political system to rule people and nations. Such an issue needs to be strongly resolved. The Muslim Brotherhood’s appetite for rule and the temptation they have shaped in the minds of the people throughout the years has opened the door for the emergence of movements outside of the Sunni trend, resulting in such political/religious movements. Hezbollah [in Arabic, the Party of God] chose such an attractive and convincing name in order to strengthen the brand image of the party, and achieve brand equity for the movement. Just as the Muslim Brotherhood has spread outside of Egypt, its country of origin, and now has a presence in many countries, Hezbollah also has a presence in more than one Arab country (despite Hezbollah’s occasional denial). This is not to mention the group’s spinal cord that is in charge of the management of Hezbollah, and course this is in Iran, which has become well known.

Europe witnessed terrible nightmares due to the mixing of religion and politics, the price of which in victims and ruin cannot be measured. Yet Europe awoke from this devastating slumber and decided logically that religion and politics must be separate, and they have benefited from this courageous and bold decision by securing a dignified life, effective plans for development, and resounding successes in various fields for generations to come.

The mixing of religion and politics – regardless of how sincere and honorable one’s intentions are – is like playing with fire, the consequences of which could be very serious and destructive. The call to religion is something that must remain limited to the worship of God, and away from the exploitation of religion in order to promote political projects that use violence and sow dissension amongst the people to the extent that it establishes and institutionalizes extremism. This problem has become well known and must be confronted, for if this issue is not firmly and courageously confronted these “new” projects and ideas that are all in the same direction [with regards to the mixing of religion and politics] will continue to be turned out one after another into the large testing laboratory known as the Middle East.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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