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