Islam & Democracy The Case of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt -By Abdifatah Abdi HARED and Md. Nazmul ISLAM


Over the past four years, a great deal of both scholarly work as well as academicians student thesis project and political analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist movements in the world has been produced, focusing in particular the question of the compatibility of Islam with democracy in Middle Eastern. Given attention to the recent political events in the Middle East and in Egypt in particular it would be useful to examine “Is Islam and democracy compatible with each other from Muslim Brotherhood’s point of view”   Because of its importance in Egypt and in the Arab world, the intensity of the current political turmoil in Egypt and the long standing existence of Muslim Brotherhood and other political Islamist parties who have a strong Islamist ideology, having loyal from above 50% of the Egyptian population is also an important issue about why the researcher is writing this paper. So the main emphasis of this paper is to find out the compatibility of Islam with democracy from Muslim Brotherhood’s point of view.

Furthermore, to answer that question mentioned above this article will look the history, objectives and principles of Muslim brotherhood, and the different arguments about the questions. The brotherhood has a very rich history and ideologies however, this article will look some of them and then it will discuss the concept of democracy and its essential elements and finally, the article clarify the Muslim brotherhood activities and the question of the compatibility with Democracy.
Historical Background of MB:

The history of the Muslim Brotherhood was begun in Egypt which still serves as something of a paradigm and standard. Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), the son of a mosque imam and Sheikh of the Hanbali School of law, founded the Muslim Brotherhood in March 1928 at Islamailia. Hassan incorporated Sufi views during the establishment of brotherhood, which tends to be more moderate and which teaches, among other things, practicality and patience. According to Muslim brotherhood`s historical profile there is one think that the brotherhood advocates which is a returning to the Qur`an, the Sunnah and Hadith in Egyptian context and even some scholars argue that Muslim brotherhood want to advocate Islamic ethics and sharia throughout the world and many western states have suspect that the brotherhood can spread western context in one day”. Therefore, the spread in the world of Brotherhood secured to be the most important Islamic organization in the world and most successful Islamist group ever seen in Egypt and the world2. The Brotherhood gained supporters all the world, Asia and spread rapidly throughout the Arab world and east Africa. Many scholars argue that the Muslim Brotherhood was the first modern Islamist group to be formed, and in many places, it is a large and influential organization. Today the Brotherhood claims branches in over 80 countries in the world.

Since the establishment, of Muslim Brotherhood has remained highly central in influencing the political context of the Middle Eastern region especially Egyptian context. The Movement of brotherhood has been regarded as the mother of Islamist organization that has become a subsequent showpiece for various Islamic movements which later aroused in the Middle East and South Asia like, Islamic Jihad, Jama’at-e-Islami.

The Muslim Brotherhood has turned into the largest and most-organized “political Islamist” movement which advocated the establishment of a new social and political order under the guidance of Islamic ethics and Sharia law”.   It’s important to note that the Muslim Brotherhood launched as a charitable youth organization which purely focused on social services like educating and health services through well-organized educational, social programs and religious reforms to form a new generation of loyal believers who have adopted the true Islamic way of thinking after serving this ideology Brotherhood moved in to political activity, struggling the regime latter movement moved to political zone.

Considering the current General leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Badie, has demonstrated adherence to Hassan Al-Banna’s ideology by reiterating its principles in a series of recent sermons. In early 2010 sermon he reasserted that the Qur’an should be the constitution of the state, and declared it the duty of Muslims to enact Islamic law and sharia and Qur`an should be their constitutions.4 in his argument we can see the Brotherhood`s commitment towards the constitution of Egypt which Brotherhood want to be Qur’an and Sunnah.

Goals, Objectives of MB:
To examine weather Islam and Democracy compatible from the Muslim brotherhood`s point of view it’s important to explore goals, objectives and the principles of Muslim Brotherhood and democracy principles so that we can see the compatibility between the two. Since Muslim Brotherhood has both social and political agenda. This paper focuses on Political agenda and democracy. Discussing the ultimate goal of the Muslim Brotherhood or What Muslim brotherhood stands for? We need to consider the Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan as it states: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations”. The Muslim Brotherhood’s ultimate goal is to eliminate all Western influence in the region and to create an Islamist state in Egypt and, in the world. That is what Muslim brotherhood seeks for.
In relation to democracy what does the term democracy mean, after all?  “Democracy” as many academicians concluded democracy is system of government where the people have a power to make a follow up to the government and the government is representing different social interests in a pluralist framework. Furthermore, there is no universally accepted definition of democracy, in The Third Wave; Samuel P. Huntington argues compellingly that any definition of democracy should be discussed in terms of “the nature of democratic institutions.”  Huntington “defines democracy a twentieth-century political system as democratic to the extent that it’s most powerful collective decision makers are selected though fair, honest, and periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes and in which virtually all the adult population is eligible to vote.” Moreover, in On Democracy, Robert A. Dahl provides a fairly simple and eloquent list of criteria that further defines the democratic process.
Defining democracy’s key principle is that there is a separation of the different branches of the state, and there is a system of checks and balances exists between the people and the state were also citizen participation in government, Control of abuse of power and rule of law is respected. The term goes narrow according to Tareq Al-Suwaidan argues that today the only organ that we can see significantly  when it comes to democracy is just election other principles are gone to examine whether democracy exists or not .

Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy:
There are many questions surrounding the Muslim brotherhood and democracy but considering the acceptance of brotherhood in multi-party system declared its belief in democracy as a means of managing the challenge among various political forces, it remained a firm believer in combining religious preaching and political action. I argues that Islam and Democracy is compatible from the Muslim brotherhood`s point of view since brotherhood accepted multi part system and to participate the elections in Egypt. These elections Muslim Brotherhood fielded candidates in the 1984 and 1987 elections and did rather well democracy and political improvement. Members also succeeded, through democratic means, in taking control of more than one professional union in late 1980s.

Taking in to account in 21 century elections that took place in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood secured 17 seats in the 2000 parliamentary elections and 88 seats in the 2005 elections. Throughout this period, the brotherhood was haunted by the need to reconcile its interpretation of holy texts with the requisites of social and political reality. Members of brotherhood ran for parliament more than once in alliance with other parties in Egypt. For example in 1984, they forged an alliance with their historical nemesis, the Wafd Party. In 1987, they were at the centre of what was generally called the Islamist Alliance. They run as independents in the 2000, 2005 and 2010 elections as mentioned above. Although there are other scholars who argue that Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s did not completely subscribe to democratic concepts and political pluralism, but, its members generally accepted the methods and practices of democracy and they give up the linkage between religious and political premises.

We argue that Muslim brotherhood completely subscribed to democratic concepts since its establishment when the movement focused mainly on social activities and the propagation of religious and moral uprightness. The brotherhood also adopted democratic principles and pluralism with accordance Islamic reference. On the other hand Islam and Democracy Scholars like Hamed Abdel-Samad argues that Islam is Not Compatible with Democracy from his point of view Muslim brotherhood adopts Islamic ethics therefore their political involvement in Egypt being referenced by Islamic sharia not democratic principles. However Asef Bayat argues that when it comes to Islam and Democracy the real question is not whether Islam is or is not compatible with democracy or by extension modernity (however understood), but rather under what conditions Muslims can make them compatible. In short, the compatibility or incompatibility of Islam, and democracy is not a matter of discussing in this paper but rather the paper tries to look Muslim brotherhood`s real attitude towards democracy since brotherhood is Islamic Movement the paper discuses the brotherhood`s ideological concepts and Islamic sharia whether they compatible with democracy or not.

Analyzing literature & Conclusion:

Based on the understanding gained from the reviewed literature, we argues that there is a significance relationship between democracy and Muslim brotherhood`s point of view. This article analyzed the historical background of Muslim Brotherhood and brotherhood`s principles, objectives and political agenda, also it analyzed the democracy and its principles to discuss the compatibility between the two. Therefore, we find out that Muslim brotherhood and democracy is compatible with each other.

According to Muslim Brotherhood`s recent activities against the regime in Egypt leaded Egyptian people to have democratic election first time in the history. These elections brotherhood had won on three occasions in parliamentary elections and presidential elections that took place in Egypt in 2012; which marks Musri the Leader of Muslim brotherhood and Ex. President of Egypt the only democratically elected president ever seen in Egyptian history Muslim Brotherhood has secured 47.2% of Egyptian vote and their support. These events made brotherhood a movement which respects both democratic principles and ethics of Islam.

Finally, some have argued that the MB has embraced democracy because the brotherhood participates in elections inside Egypt and, on occasion, its leaders sound like they’ve embraced democracy. As with its decision to abstain from violence in Egypt, however, the MB’s participation in elections is an important sign for democratic path.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s senior leadership has denounced true democracy. More importantly, the MB’s leaders repeatedly said that they wish to implement Sharia law. Because of implanting sharia law many people consider brotherhood a movement against democracy.  To summarize, there is no inherent reason for the Muslim Brotherhood to fail to embrace democracy in Egypt and all countries that brotherhood is officially are working. But democracy will present the movement with new challenges, which it cannot meet unless it works in a democratic environment. Meaning Muslim brotherhood and democracy are compatible and it has seen now practically, but the problem is the Egyptian environment where democracy is not working. But the success of the compatibility of Islam and Democracy will depend on the Egyptian ability to ‘build democracy first’.
Scholars like Eric argue that Egypt represents an important test case for democracy’s survival in the Middle Eastern Regions. Without the support of Islamists, specifically Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist group’s democracy do not stand a chance and will be quickly supplant by authoritarian regimes. So the importance of Muslim Brotherhood is that its obstacle to regime and the Brotherhood is the only movement who represents people and makes their voice to be heard. MB Supports people in relation to social service and speaks about the voices of Egyptian and some Muslim countries. Therefore, supporting Muslim brotherhood and considering a democratic movement will lead an extended democratic election and trust between the Egyptian people and Middle Eastern political environment.

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