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Fact-checking the Muslim Brotherhood
by Jared Israel
[Posted March 4, 2011]
In February 2011, the New York Times
two major opinion pieces ("op eds") by spokesmen for the leadership of
the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing that the Brotherhood is and always was
peaceful, tolerant, pluralistic, although with an Islamic orientation
to be sure. 
One way to determine if the Brotherhood's claims can be trusted is to test one important assertion whose truth can be easily evaluated. If that claim is true, the rest may be true. If that claim is false, how can one trust any of the rest?
Let us take a quote from "What the Muslim Brothers Want," the February 9, 2011 op ed by Essam El-Errian, a leading member of the Brotherhood's guidance council. El-Errian makes the claim, of decisive importance, that:
Brotherhood's principles were set down by Hassan Al-Banna, the
Brotherhood's founder, who led the organization from its founding in
1928 until his death in
1949. To test the veracity of the above assertion, I consulted
Hassan Al-Banna's treatise, "On Jihad." It is easily accessed in a
good translation on a Canadian Muslim youth website, at
Al-Banna's treatise is a polemic against Muslims who argue that the most important meaning of jihad is struggle against one's ego, with Al-Banna explicitly stating that the main and most important form of jihad is violence for Allah:
In Al-Banna's teaching, armed struggle for Allah represents the supreme achievement of earthly (and eternal!) life:
Lest you mistakenly conclude that this is simply rhetoric, with no effect in the real world, take a look at this video of clips from Palestinian Authority TV, which have the theme, echoing the words of Al-Banna, "Ask for death, the life will be given to you." (This quotation appears at 1:52 in the video.)
It is worth noting that Hamas is the official Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the Palestinian Authority is controlled by Fatah, organized by subordinates of Hajj Amin al Husseini, the late leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.
According to Al-Banna, jihad is not only the greatest possible achievement of individual Muslims, it is also the key to solving all problems of mankind because it is the way to institute universal Islamic rule, and Islam is what mankind needs:
In other words, war is justified until everyone in the world realizes the truth of the Qur'an, and indeed it is precisely through its victory in jihad that the Qur'an's alleged truth "becomes manifest to them." Islam is the destination and jihad is the motor force by which mankind approaches the destination.
Elsewhere in the text Al-Banna quotes various Islamic scholars, concluding that all agree that there are two types of jihad. There is jihad to spread the word of Allah, which is fard kifayah (an obligation which a community fulfils if some members engage in this jihad every year), and there is jihad to take back lands once but no longer ruled by Islam (Kashmir, Chechnya, Israel, but also one would imagine Spain, Portugal, Southern Italy, much of India, the Balkans, Hungary, African and Asian states that are not under proper Islamic control, and so on), or to defeat attempts to conquer Islamic lands, both of which are fard ‘ayn (an obligation in whose fulfillment all members of a Muslim community must participate in some way.)
Clearly, Al-Banna does not advocate "non-violence." And clearly, El-Errian is familiar with Al-Banna's works, which are required reading for all members of the Muslim Brotherhood, not to mention their top leaders.
Now, Muslim Brotherhood leader El-Errian could have written that the Brotherhood was founded and led (from 1928 until his death in 1949) by an Imam who not only saw holy war as acceptable, but who saw it as the most important aspect of Muslim life; that, yes, the Brotherhood had been teaching his treatise "On Jihad" for many decades, but that now the Brotherhood has rejected the Imam's teaching.
Then El-Errian could present a) evidence of the supposed rejection and b) explain why the Brothers now think Al-Banna was wrong. But since El-Errian does none of the above; since instead he tells the soothing lie that –
– then how can anyone trust his other claims about believing in democracy, not wishing to force Islamism on Egypt, and so on?
Indeed, how can we believe his claim, made at the outset of his op ed, that recent anti-government actions in Egypt have been the work of ordinary people, meaning people independent of the Brotherhood, with the Muslim Brotherhood being humbly:
Let us end with pictures, since they are worth so many words. Here is the image with which the New York Times chose to illustrate El-Errian's Brotherhood apologia:
Soothing, n'est-ce pas? The Brotherhood believes in soft jihad; swords into ploughshares, or, more accurately, into vegetation; etc.
Now here is the image as it actually appears, today, March 4, 2011, in the real world, that is on the official Arabic language home page of the Muslim Brotherhood, permanently posted as the Brotherhood's symbol, on the upper right of the page:
No cute bird. No New Agey vegetation. Crossed steel and a Koran. Allah's word, implemented via the two types of jihad.
In other words, the ideas of Hassan al-Banna.
It is perfectly obvious why El-Errian lies, is it not? When the U.S. government (not to mention the governments of Australia, the UK, Germany, and so on) are furiously pushing one into power, it is awkward to inform Western citizens that one believes in violence to establish universal Islamic rule. Does the butcher confide his plans to the meat cow?
But what explains the behavior of the New York Times?
-- Jared Israel
Footnotes and Further Reading
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