A little thing I learned from the Muslim Brotherhood

The performance of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian political scene right now is one of the most controversial subjects I have personally experienced. Social media sites as well as formal newspapers and their internet sites mention the word Brotherhood more than anything else. Google trends shows a very interesting graphs when you compare words like ‘Egypt’ and ‘Brotherhood.’ You can spend 5 minutes in front of your own Facebook news feed and you will find everything: from extreme praise to frustrated criticism. But in general, the criticism is far more prominent and, intrinsically, louder.

I was thinking this morning about the feelings of those members of the Brotherhood. They have been suffering under the military rule more than anyone else. They have been attacked by not only local media but probably international media. After the revolution, nothing has changed. They may have gotten out of jail, yet, the media attacks continued to be the same, only in a much bigger magnitude. Just to make the reader focus on the main message behind this post, there may very well be a bad performance issue on behalf of the Brotherhood themselves. They may have to get better in many of what they do. They may have done severe political mistakes (and to some even moral mistakes). However, this is not the issue I want to talk about. I also do not want to talk about their critiques. They may very well have good points to make.

I was thinking this morning about the massive criticism these guys are going through especially after suffering years in jail, with their strong belief they are doing this for the sake of God, their people, their country, and the greater good. I asked myself, “What in it for these guys? Why do they have to go through all these things? Maybe people in this country do not deserve their effort? Maybe they should just retreat and go find something else to do?” I have to say that I sympathize a lot with them. I attribute most of what I know about Islam and about voluntarily work to their teachings, both from books and in person. I wouldn’t stand it if I was in their place. “I would have exploded” I said.

While in this frustrated situation, I recalled some of those Muslim Brotherhood people I interacted with when I was young. I remember, that is probably close to 20 years ago, when I was just a young graduate student making I3tikaf in one of the Masjids in my neighborhood when I met one of the well-known members of the Muslim Brotherhood (who is a member of the people’s council of Egypt). Sub7ana Allah, I asked him this question in a public lecture he was giving to the several dozens of people who were at the i3tikaf, “Why do you have to help this country? What is in it for you? This country bashed you, put you in jail, demoralized you, oppressed you, etc. etc. Why do you have to do that?”

I can’t forget his answer. It was quite obvious but it wasn’t obvious to me, at least at the time. He said, “When Youssuf (pbuh) was thrown in jail for a crime he never committed, and, when the very same people who threw him in jail came to him and asked him to help interpreting the dream of the king, he realized, by the knowledge given to him by God, that this dream foresees a huge disaster for the area, a famine that will harm not only Egypt but a whole region. [what a a long sentence!] Youssuf did not say, ‘you do not deserve my help.’ He did not say, ‘get me out of jail first and I will tell you.’ Not only did he warn them from the disaster but also suggested solutions of how to overcome it.”

It was only a little while enjoying Prophet Youssuf’s high quality character when he forgave those who committed injustice to him. It took me only a couple of seconds to say, “They, TOO, did not deserve help. It was out of Youssuf generosity to help them. I would have left them starving. They deserve it.”

The brother, with a little annoying* big brother smile on his face said, “What Youssuf did is not out of generosity. Rather, it was out of obligation towards the people, the people of Egypt and the people of the whole area.” He added, “The people of Egypt did not put Youssuf in jail. The people of Egypt did not put us in jail. Famine is going to harm innocent people who had nothing to do with harming Youssuf. We have an obligation towards our people and this obligation does not drop by an oppressive government putting us in jail. We do not do that out of generosity. We do that out of duty. Youssef had no choice but to help; and so do we.”

He finally shut me off by simply saying, “YOU had nothing to do with putting us in jail. Why shouldn’t we help you?”

Now as I see him on TV, getting the same criticism I remembered his last question, “YOU had nothing todo with putting us in jail. Why shouldn’t we help you?” I say to my self, “You sure did dear teacher! You sure did!”

Footnotes
* annoying to a young person who does not want to lose an argument especially by a person older than him. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “A little thing I learned from the Muslim Brotherhood

  1. Thank you akhi Wael for the insight. I’m feeling emotional right now because i know the road will be very long from hear onwards. The whole world is changing. My country, Somalia is at teh cross road in the coming few months. We are going to have a new constitution and electing a new President after 20 years of civil war. The will be an MB candidate running for Presidency. The MB in Somalia are called Islah and they are also forming a political party inshallah. I pray that Egypt succeeds because it played a major role in the history of Somalia in the early stages of independence and with Islamic education and inspiring a generation committed to the movement. Thanks once again.

  2. We were discussing this in my usrah last night, and my naqiba was saying how she hates when ppl use religion to promote an agenda…to win sympathizers, esp among simple ppl who see things as black or white. That this man is not sayedna Yusuf, and now people will associate him with the prophet and may subconsciously dislike Yusuf 3layhi al salam or dislike Islam as a whole because of him.
    I am not following Egyptian politics enough to be able to make a fair judgment, but I thought it was very interesting how two God-fearing, Egyptian Muslim MAS activists can have two totally different opinions on the same situation.
    Just thought I would share 🙂

    • Although my post is not political at all and focuses more on the concept of dutifulness to people despite oppression some may put on you, I feel obligated to reply to your comment. Saying that people use religion to promote an agenda to win sympathizer is an unfair statement for BOTH the politicians and their sympathizers. For the following reasons.

      1- Ikhwan’s agenda stems from religion. They declare that they want to build their nation’s civilization and renaissance using Islam. They HAVE TO promote an Islamic agenda. What else should they promote?

      2- People sure like people who promote Islam. There is nothing wrong about that in a country always known to be religious like Egypt and the whole middle east for that matter.

      3- There ARE other people who write tons of verses on their posters, they grow their beards, and they take pictures with Subha in their hands, and they even give in charity and show that in their campaign AND people do not elect them. This tells you it is not about religion. It is about convincing people that I represent what I call for.

      4- Two successful parties were able to (together) get 68% of the Egyptian vote. These are FJP and Al-Noor. Al-Noor which is more on the Salafi side displays a much more aggressive Islamic agenda. They look more Islamic and they are supported by very famous Salafi Sheikhs. On the other hand, FJP (Ikhwan) are more subtle and they do not look like “Islamists.” FJP get 47% of the votes while Al-Noor gets 20%. This tells you that the naive sympathizers are NOT ACTUALLY naive. Otherwise, they would have been tricked by the presentation. Rather, they choose the ones with more political history and more substance to offer

      5- The MASSIVE (and I mean massive) campaigns on almost ALL TV channels private and public are bashing Ikhwan, salafis, etc. for so many many days almost 24 hours. If people are that naive, they would have listened to the media which has far stronger effect on naive people than religion.

      6- In elections of university professors, professional unions, and student association, where people are far more educated than the normal public, the same people (ikhwan) win more votes. Are these people naive as well? 🙂

      7- Finally (which is a little spiritual), Allah in the Qur’an said, “Allah does not bless the work of the Mufsideen” If they are not truthful, they will fail and people will not elect them anymore. As long as they keep democracy on, no one can really accuse them. I always say, “Trust people’s choice”

      Now regarding calling their candidate “Youssuf” of the time. First of all, in campaigning people volunteer slogans like this. It was never his official slogan. His is “A project of renaissance.”

      However, this is JUST another nonsense people use against them. Someone who was in jail (for a political reason) and comes out after a revolution to run for presidency. If you call him “Mandela” of Egypt, can someone challenge that and say, “But Mandela was black and he is not.” They are using Youssuf’s as an analogy to show a similar example of getting out of jail to build an economic renaissance (not to compare him to a prophet). This is very acceptable. But the ones who challenge that look at prophets the way they look at angels (nothing to learn from, copy, etc.). Despite that, when the candidate was asked about it on TV, the candidate responded saying, “I do not accept to be compared to a noble messenger of Allah. I do not agree with this solgan”

      Anyway, opinions may differ but fairness and objectivity should be considered. I hope this creates substance for discussion in your next Usra and all my respect and understanding to your usra leader and every single one in your usra. I am a Celtics fan after all and these guys really made my day against the Heat yesterday 🙂

  3. JAK for the response, I will make sure to go through your points during usrah next week insha’Allah 🙂
    Actually I completely agree with you. Her point was that people can easily manipulate others in the name of religion. From what she was saying, it seems that in the poorer/less educated regions, people are told vote for so and so and you will go to hellfire, wallahu a3lam. Like I said I am not following the details of the politics, but I am familiar with the FJP and al Al-Nour (which I have very strong opinions about), Emad Abdel Ghafour, Abdel moneim AbulFutoh, Anwar al balkimy..and all the drama surrounding them lol. Politics aside, I actually felt al-Shatir’s response was so beautiful and full of wisdom- he could find a million excuses for not doing anything for his country- the first being imprisonment for 12 years…but he understands his duty towards the greater good and how to differentiate his oppressors from his people. When my usrah leader (whom I admire very much) was saying otherwise, it took me aback..as I would expect to hear this from a secularist, but then I reminded myself that we are all entitled to our own opinions..and that just because someone is practicing doesn’t automatically mean they follow a certain political ideology. SubhanAllah so many lessons learned from all of this!
    Haha glad to hear the Knicks have our back…the enemy of our enemy is our friend 😉

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