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The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement

Carrie Rosefsky Wickham
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
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    The Muslim Brotherhood
    Book Description:

    The Muslim Brotherhood has achieved a level of influence nearly unimaginable before the Arab Spring. The Brotherhood was the resounding victor in Egypt's 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, and six months later, a leader of the group was elected president. Yet the implications of the Brotherhood's rising power for the future of democratic governance, peace, and stability in the region is open to dispute. Drawing on more than one hundred in-depth interviews as well as Arabic language sources not previously accessed by Western researchers, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham traces the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its founding in 1928 to the fall of Mubarak and the watershed elections of 2011-2012. Further, she compares the Brotherhood's trajectory with those of mainstream Islamist groups in Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco, revealing a wider pattern of change. Wickham highlights the internal divisions of such groups and explores the shifting balance of power among them. She shows that they are not proceeding along a linear path toward greater moderation. Rather, their course has been marked by profound tensions and contradictions, yielding hybrid agendas in which newly embraced themes of freedom and democracy coexist uneasily with illiberal concepts of Shari'a carried over from the past. Highlighting elements of movement continuity and change, and demonstrating that shifts in Islamist worldviews, goals, and strategies are not the result of a single strand of cause and effect, Wickham provides a systematic, fine-grained account of Islamist group evolution in Egypt and the wider Arab world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4666-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Conceptualizing Islamist Movement Change
    (pp. 1-19)

    On June 30, 2012, Muhammad Mursi, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, was sworn in as Egypt’s new president. To longtime observers of politics in the region, the event felt surreal. An Islamist organization that had spent most of its existence denied legal status and subject to the depredations of a hostile authoritarian state was now in charge of the very apparatus once used to repress it. And it had reached those heights not by way of coup or revolution but through the ballot box.

    Just eighteen months earlier, the idea of a Brotherhood president of Egypt was so far-fetched...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Brotherhood’s Early Years
    (pp. 20-45)

    Founded by Hasan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is the flagship organization of Sunni revivalist Islam and has been in existence longer than any other contemporary Islamist group in the Arab world. Today it is the most powerful nonstate actor in Egypt, with over eighty million people, the largest Arab country. It is also the “mother organization” of Brotherhood affiliates in Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and Bahrain and has served as a model and source of inspiration for Sunni revivalist groups in Arab North Africa as well.

    Aside from the Brotherhood’s obvious real-world importance, its...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Brotherhood’s Foray into Electoral Politics
    (pp. 46-75)

    Hosni Mubarak’s inauguration as Egypt’s president in 1981 set the stage for a new phase in the Brotherhood’s development. Beginning in the mid-1980s, the Brotherhood expanded its presence in various spheres of public life and quickly established itself as the leading edge of the opposition. From this point forward, we see a marked increase in the Brotherhood’s references to global norms of democracy and human rights. The Brotherhood invoked the language of democracy in part to challenge the conditions of its own exclusion. Yet this new emphasis also reflected the sensibilities of a cadre of Brotherhood activists who came to...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Wasat Party Initiative and the Brotherhood’s Response
    (pp. 76-95)

    In retrospect, the first decade of Mubarak’s rule can be seen as the high point of the Brotherhood’s participation within a system of authoritarian rule. During that time, the jamaʿa enjoyed a greater margin of freedom than at any time since 1952,¹ only to see it erode considerably in the years to come. The regime’s hands-off approach to the Brotherhood at the time did not signal its acceptance of the group as a legitimate political actor so much as its desire to avoid conflict and maintain the social peace. As Egyptian scholar Ahmed Abdalla observed:

    Deferring confrontation was an instinctual...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE The Brotherhood’s Seesaw between Self-Assertion and Self-Restraint
    (pp. 96-119)

    The paradoxical status of the Muslim Brotherhood on the eve of the Egyptian uprising is striking. It was the largest and best-organized sector of the political opposition—and an illegal group accused of seeking to undermine the public order and the state. During the last decade of the Mubarak era, the Brotherhood walked a fine line, seeking to avoid a collision with the regime while asserting its right to a leading role in public life. The arc of the Brotherhood’s strategy during this period can be likened to the swing of a pendulum, seesawing between moments of self-assertion and moments...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Repression and Retrenchment
    (pp. 120-153)

    From 2005 to 2010 the Mubarak regime took new steps to contain the Brotherhood, and in response the group ramped up its calls for constitutional and political reform. But heightened security pressure strengthened the hand of Brotherhood conservatives at the expense of those advocating fundamental change in the Brotherhood itself. Further, for all their complaints about the regime’s dictatorial practices, the Brotherhood’s senior leaders were unwilling to confront it head-on. Frustrated by the old guard’s excessive caution, some younger members of the group urged them to adopt a bolder stance against Mubarak. But until the outbreak of the Egyptian popular...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Brotherhood and the Egyptian Uprising
    (pp. 154-195)

    The massive popular uprising that erupted in Egypt on January 25, 2011, produced a sea change that no one could have predicted just a few weeks earlier. President Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled the country without any serious challenge for thirty years, resigned from his post after just eighteen days of protest. Yet the success of the uprising was not a function of “people power” alone; it hinged on the support of the Egyptian military, the only institution in the country capable of forcing Mubarak to step down. Though hailed as a “revolution” (thawra) in Egypt and in the global...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Egypt’s Islamist Movement in Comparative Perspective
    (pp. 196-246)

    To what extent does the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt reflect a wider pattern of Islamist movement change? This chapter places the Brotherhood in comparative perspective by considering the paths taken by its counterparts in Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco. My aim is not to offer a full account of the development of such groups. Rather, drawing on research I conducted in each country in the mid-2000s and building on the work of other scholars, I sketch the broad outlines of Islamist movement change in Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco, highlighting key parallels with—and divergences from—the Egyptian case....

  14. CHAPTER NINE The Muslim Brotherhood in (Egypt’s) Transition
    (pp. 247-288)

    What path has the Muslim Brotherhood taken in the wake of the Egyptian uprising, and what role will it play in shaping the country’s new political order? This chapter leads off with an effort to address these questions, focusing on the Brotherhood’s stunning victories in recent parliamentary and presidential elections and the pushback it has encountered from other forces in Egyptian society. As we will see, the Brotherhood’s actions exhibit the same uneasy mix of self-assertion and self-restraint that marked its behavior during the Mubarak era, albeit under a very different set of circumstances. Which of these impulses will prevail...

  15. Endnotes
    (pp. 289-326)
  16. List of Interviews
    (pp. 327-330)
  17. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 331-346)
  18. Index
    (pp. 347-360)