Since their entry into political and social life in the Arab and Islamic worlds, Islamic political parties insist on using religion and the concepts of freedom, justice and equality, among others, to promote “the Islamic project.”
They portray their system as the inevitable and fair alternative to governments’ existing projects.
These parties have been trying to deploy this project since the inception of the largest group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which represents the first intellectual tributary to most Islamic political groups and parties that emerged after it in several Arab countries.
These groups mainly focus on ordinary people as they are easier to attract in terms of submission, influence and recruitment. They are able to advance their message and goals by using influential religious slogans such as “Islam is the answer” and similar lines that have accompanied the emergence of Islamic political parties since their inception.
Perhaps the most important tool these parties toy with is the conscience of normal, working-class people. They fill their political speeches with dichotomies, such as freedom and tyranny, justice and injustice, and Islam and secularism, claiming that their ideologies represent the positive side of these oppositions, while the ruling regimes represent their negative aspect.
In their speeches, these groups are keen to describe their project as a mission of freedom that opposes tyranny at a time when these groups practice the most violent behaviors of intellectual, political and religious tyranny towards others who do not share their beliefs.
The most significant proof of this behavior came in a speech by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who played a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in recent years. Al-Qaradawi issued his anomalous fatwa authorizing the so-called Arab Spring away from the group of the nation’s trustworthy scholars. These scholars confronted the sedition of that Arab spring since its first spark and tried to bring back the Arab peoples who were deceived by these groups to the right path and asked them not to listen to such evil activists.
The late Al-Qaradawi, and all the sheikhs before him who were linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, used the method of piety. This method obscures what this thought implies when it comes to leniency in killing and calling for violence and verbal and material strictness.
We find proof of piety in Al-Qaradawi’s fatwas on singing and music. He demonstrates flexible, liberal moral teaching through these fatwas, while his fatwas on bloodshed and the permissibility of rebellion against rulers and allowing protests, violence, and leniency in killing reveal the utmost forms of extremism and violence.
If there is anything that explains why the Muslim Brotherhood’s sheikhs Mohammed Al-Ghazali and Al-Qaradawi have succeeded since Hassan Al-Banna, the group’s founder, in influencing and recruiting ordinary people, it is that they all adopt speeches that promises salvation from poverty, social oppression and all the evils of societies through their mission.
They shield it with attractive slogans, such as the previously mentioned “Islam is the answer,” and whose significance accuses the ruling regimes in Islamic countries — through a hidden party — of not governing according to Islam.
One of the political scholars in the modern era said: “Religion is the opium of the people.” This sentence explains how the ideological discourse, when laced with a religious idea, succeeds in seizing the public’s conscience and shaping their minds and tendencies, not to mention polarizing them.
In his speech, Al-Qaradawi is an example of the stagnation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s thoughts and its reliance on the major systemic statements shaped by Al-Banna, the group’s founder. Those mottos, most of which meet with the expediency of Niccolò Machiavelli, represented in his famous principle “the end justifies the means,” as Al-Qaradawi kept defending and justifying the Arab Spring.
Yet, it resulted in a severe economic deterioration in several countries where it took place, as well as the weakening of their security, not to mention the devastation and destruction that affected entire countries as a result of that fateful spring.
One of the most dangerous means that Al-Qaradawi uses to influence people is stating through televised interviews that he prioritizes freedom over the application of Islamic law, a risky statement of which the repercussions are well known by scholars.
The question remains, will the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology die with the death of the group’s leaders? The answer is that such ideologies may weaken, but they continue to attract commoners and the simple-minded, for they present ideas that lure them in while shielded by religion.
- Fares Al-Ghannami is a Saudi writer and intellectual interested in political affairs. Twitter: @farescom200