Political Islam Trends

Expansion Project of the Brotherhood: Extent of its Decline and Future Prospects

05 Nov 2023

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IBAN: 978-9948-776-71-0

AED 15

The Muslim Brotherhood has received great attention from numerous specialized researchers and academics. This is attributed to the following factors: First, it could be argued that the Group that was established by Hassan Al-Banna in 1928 was behind the emergence of Political Islam in the Arab World and its further expansion in many other countries. Indeed, its mother group in Egypt either had representative branches in those countries or it was associated with other like-minded groups. Second, the Group has its “origin” like many other Islamist groups that have emerged, including violent and terrorist groups. Third, the Group has long sought to achieve its most sublime goal of establishing the “Caliphate State” within what it called the “Empowerment Project” according to the “World Mastery” concept. While it never gave up that goal, it found a conducive opportunity in the so-called Arab Spring, which it managed to employ to come to power in some Arab countries.

Many analysts agree that the Muslim Brotherhood was the greatest beneficiary of the so-called Arab Spring. On the one hand, the Group managed to rise to power in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco following long decades during which it was exposed to many setbacks, so it rushed to attain “empowerment” in preparation for establishing the “Caliphate State”. On the other hand, it became an important player in other countries that had been experiencing internal conflicts and crises because of the Group’s insistence on maintaining a presence in power. The Group also utilized its involvement, albeit late, in the movements on Arab streets to appear as the democratic ‘alternative” in Western eyes, which gave it a strong impetus vis-àvis Western decision-makers.

Yet the speed with which the Group fell from power in Egypt, the way it lost power in Tunisia, the bitter defeat it suffered in Morocco, and the subsequent collapse of its “empowerment” project and the “Cliphate State” dream, considering the Group’s present “distress”, which is completely different from anything it had seen in the past, raise an important question about the Brotherhood’s expansion project and the limits and consequences of its decline. This is what TRENDS’ Second Annual Political Islam Forum sought to answer. The Forum featured several research papers that dealt with some aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In his paper titled “The ideological foundations of the Muslim Brotherhood’s expansion”, Ziad Munson, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lehigh University, USA, attempts to provide a framework for thinking about the ideological dynamics of the Muslim Brotherhood that could extend to the different scholarly and press communities interested in the Group. To this end, the researcher provides a framework for thinking about the ideological dynamics of the Group. More specifically, Munson adopts three key dimensions whereby the Group’s ideology continues to shape its history: ideology as a means for framing political claims, ideology as an element for collective identity, and ideology as a mode of social organization. He also relies on Brubaker’s classification which he uses to analyze the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and its religiously oriented ideology. Munson concludes that the social movement theory and relevant developments in the scholarly and social study of the identity, religion and civil society can go a long way in helping to understand the ideological foundations of both current and future activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.