This paper presents a critical reading to the intellectual and educational aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric related to citizenship, along with demonstrating the citizenship's urgent need for revisions and renewals, in order to conform with the requirements of our modern age, aside from the Muslim's Brotherhood's inherited speeches and letters from Hasan al-Banna and others.

by Dr. Saber Malwai Ahmad
  • Publisher – STRATEGIECS
  • Release Date – Apr 5, 2022

This paper is part of the series: Political Islam in Focus

He who carefully and thoroughly reads the Muslim Brotherhood's rhetoric would clearly see that todays' Muslim Brotherhood are not different from the Muslim Brotherhood pf the past, as long as they insist on dealing with the same issues with the same methods. The letters of Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949), the man who is so-called an Imam, represented as one of the renovators in the history of Islam to the extent that he has the same effect of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), where the Prophet said "God sends to this nation, every hundred years, a mand who renovates its religion". It is noted that the Muslim Brotherhood are deeming their figures, from different countries, as renovators, introducing them this way, like: al-Turabi of Sudan, al-Raysuni of Tunisia, Abdesslam Yassine of Morocco, and Ghannouchi of Tunisia.

In fact, innovation is only believed via renewing the philosophy of understanding and consideration, in understanding reality, the past, and in looking to the future. In addition, renewing the methodologies of criticism and building different knowledge means going beyond the old and creativity, and renovate what is better than it in terms of value.

But unfortunately, in the name of renewal, al-Banna took the worst of the Islamic heritage. Among other things he took was the illusion of superiority and having an advantage over others, and even in the Muslim Brotherhood advantage over other Muslims. In such context, we recall Hasan al-Banna's statement "Our mission is to rule the world, guide all humanity to the good systems, and teachings of Islam, without which people cannot be pleased" [1].

The Limits of Understanding and Viewing Reality

When we look for the meaning of the good systems of Islam's teachings to the Muslim Brotherhood, from the past to the present, we find the result to be recalling all the perceptions, words, and opinions of the ancestors Thus, we can understand the Muslim Brotherhood to be in a constant migration to the past, and be in constant activity and vitality in order to rebuild the image of Islam as before. While civility and contemporary civilization are characterized by scientific and technological superiority despite the side effects of modernity -this is another topic- the Muslim Brotherhood is not directly or indirectly saying "We would prefer to stay on the limits of the intellectual and cognitive heritage methodology" rather than investing the contemporary knowledge methods to involve the process of renewal and religious reformation.

Both renewal and religious reformation are the important and main demand of our current time. But instead of directing the energies of youth towards being aware to the challenges of their presence and renewing their discourse, we find al-Bana is directing youth by saying "The whole world is confused and jumbled. All its systems have been unable to heal it. There is no medicine for it but Islam. So, advance in the name of God to save the world, as everyone is waiting for the savior, and the savior will be only the message of Islam, that you carry its torch and preach with" [2].

Such complex sticks to the Muslim Brotherhood so far. It is embodied in the claim to save the society. Nevertheless, history experiences, after Hasan al-Banna's died, have shown that youth, who are deemed to be affiliated to his group, whether attended his speeches or read to him, did not save the world, rather, they contributed to the destruction of their homelands from within, depending on his perceptions and guidance on Islam. This, later, became the perceptions of his group; i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, with the narration and vision cultivated by Hasan al-Banna about the "religious state".

Such vision was maintained by the Muslim Brotherhood even after they reached of office, after the so-called "the Arab Spring". In Egypt, it is normal that the Muslim Brotherhood, at the moment of Mohamed Morsi's presidency, were attracted towards the religious state in Iran, whether such attraction was openly or covertly expressed, where Iran was a model in the Muslim brotherhood's consciousness, that should be emulated and adopted. The same is a psychological issue in the consciousness of most groups of political Islam. Reconsidering the constitutional discourses that "the Brotherhood believes that the caliphate is the symbol of the Islamic unity, and the manifestation of the link between the nations of Islam, besides being an Islamic rite that Muslims should think about and pay attention to, as the caliph is entrusted with many rules in the religion of God... This is why the Muslim Brotherhood makes the idea of a caliphate, and work to bring it back to the top of their method, while believing that this needs many of the necessary prefaces, and that the direct step of restoring the caliphate must be preceded by steps" [3]. Those steps, as determined by Hasan al-Banna, "begin with the formation of the Muslim individual, then the Muslim family, then the Muslim people, the Muslim government, and then the great Islamic caliphate that brings together what has been torn apart by colonialism" [4].


It is true that al-Banna gave his speeches and wrote his letters, within a certain political and cultural context, where there is nothing in everything that he wrote that may make him a man of renewal. This is because his time included many of the great figures of science and knowledge, in addition to the renaissance men before him, who launched an open horizon for the subject of reformation, a horizon that al-Banna minimized with his idea that to congregate the people around him. There is nothing that make him an imam, to be followed by the people. It is true that he has an ability to attract and polarize audience of people, but with no clear purpose or aim related to human freedom. This is the case with various ideologies around the world.

The Mentorship Complex in the Culture of Muslim Brotherhood

The complex of mentorship and having an advantage the Muslim Brotherhood has, is embodied in one aspect of the incomplete culture at their view of the other, which presents the goal of "controlling" over the goal of "dialogue and knowledge". Therefore, we find them dividing the world into Dar al-Islam "Land of Islam" and Dar al-Kufr "Land of Infidels". We find the Land of Islam "as the house where the laws of Islam prevail, and where Muslims are governed by Islam and its teachings, albeit the majority of the population of that country is non-Muslims. While the Land of Infidels is the home where Muslims do not rule, and there is no application of the teachings of Islam, or where Muslims are a non-ruling minority".

This issue was disputed among Muslim Fuqaha (jurists) regarding this division of the world. Although the majority accepted it as a fait accompli, a group of them assumed the existence of a third Land: Dar al-Sulh (Land of conciliation) or Dar al-Ahd (The House of the Covenant). According to this doctrine, Islam recognized non-Islamic peoples, who had concluded a treaty or a reconciliation with Muslims and paid the Jezya (the tribute). But other jurists have not accepted this, and never recognized a reconciliation, their argument is that once the inhabitants of the territory have concluded a peace treaty and paid the tribute, they are thus within the Land of Islam, and Islam should guarantee them protection. The Land of Islam was, in theory, in conflict with the Land of War (Dar al-Harb) because the final goal of Islam is that the whole world to would be under Muslims control" [5].

As the current relations between states and societies become more intertwined and complex, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to reduce the world, in their view to the other and to the homeland, within the limits of that understanding of the Land of Islam and the Land of Infidels. Here, we are not talking about the Islamists and their perceptions, and we do not stop at the individuals and their opinions, rather, we are talking about the references from which the Muslim Brotherhood began to build their political and social positions, to the extent that their reference ban them from engaging the aspects of their present time instead of engaging the time of others.

Islamic State Proposals

After bitter experiences, Dr. Ahmad Al-Raysuni; one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, tried to make the demand of the Islamic caliphate, or the Islamic State, as a secondary demand rather than being a necessary demand. To his estimation "The great mistake and the serious impasse, in which some Islamic movements fall in, is the preoccupation with the means rather than the goal, and the loss of the goal for the sake of the means. There are many of those who lost their lives, spent their lives, and exhausted their efforts on the path to establishing the State, without any features appearing for such State, may be the State, with their efforts, got nothing but being more far from being established, and faced more difficulties. So, neither the State was established by them, nor did the Nation benefited from them" [6].

The fact is that Raysuni's opinion is not based on a cognitive or an intellectual shift, that promises abandoning Hasan al-Banna's words. Rather, his opinion reflects some kind of Muslim Brotherhood's despair in reaching the Islamic State, which applies The Rule of God, especially if we recall its experience in Sudan's rule, and if we also view of what ISIS done, while announcing the establishment of the so-called "caliphate" in Iraq in 2014.

Rashid Ghannouchi, and those with him, made an effort to show Ennahda (Renascence) Party in Tunisia, to appear it had gone beyond Hassan al-Banna's perceptions, justifying that there is no longer an urgent need today for trans-state organizations, like how it is the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.[7]. Ghannouchi did not stop there, but he tried to present a vision of secularism, in order to exit the Islamic perception of secularism as a counter and opposite to Islam [8].

In fact, many of the differences among the Muslim Brotherhood's organizations inside countries, such as in Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, particularly in terms of discourse. However, despite all of this, what Ghannouchi and Ennahda Party done has not been enough to overcome the dilemma -the dilemma of sever the relation with the first version of the Muslim Brotherhood- and this is one of the reasons why Islamists in Egypt found themselves at the dead end. The Tunisians' perceptions regarding identity, religion, civilization, culture, and Islam are perceptions that are open to the spirit of the current age and civilization, while Ghannouchi's words and writings seem troubled and conflicting with itself, which is the self created by the Muslim Brotherhood and their early thinkers.


Citizenship in the Thought of the Muslim Brotherhood

The value of citizenship is one of the most important characteristics of the modern state, as citizenship is "the relationship between an individual and a state as defined by the law of that state; and the duties and rights that that relationship contains in that state" [9].

Citizenship, in its general concept, remains the framework that unites and connects all citizens, on the basis of equal rights and duties, independently of their religious, cultural, and ethnic affiliations.

While the Muslim Brotherhood separated the concept of citizenship from the relationship of the individual to the state, because the state system, in their perception, is related to the system of the "caliphate" state, as it is with the Ottoman Empire the states before. It is a system in which the ruler represents the sovereignty of Islam and Muslims in some way, and obtains its legitimacy in ruling from a belief basis. So, the ruler is, primarily, concerned with the order and status of share him the same doctrine. Therefore, citizenship to the Muslim Brotherhood has no limits. Hasan al-Banna has been clear about this by saying "The point of disagreement between us and them is that we consider the limits of patriotism to the doctrine, while they consider it by the earthly and geographical boundaries. Every spot, where a Muslim says "No God but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God" is a homeland, for which we have sanctity, holiness, love, and devotion, and jihad for its good, and for the good of all Muslims in these geographical countries, who are our people and brothers that we care about them, share their emotions, and feel what they feel". [10].

The problem that resulted from this understanding, which related patriotism to belief, is a problem of the individual's loyalty, affiliation, and obedience; will that be for the homeland, the rule of order, and state institutions, besides to consider the supreme interests of the nation to be above all consideration! Or would that be to the doctrine, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, its decisions, and its leader! Here, the individual either of two options: either to respond to the state's positions and perceptions, or to be loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood organization to which he belongs. This is a dilemma in which the Muslim Brotherhood holds the two sides of. On the one hand, they support the loyalty to their homelands, and on the other hand, they are supporting the loyalty to Islam and Muslims everywhere. This is made via presenting the concept of the "Islamic Nation" as a national concept, separating it from its civilizational and cultural concept. In the context of the Islamic Nation concept, many religious and sectarian minorities coexisted, starting with the Madinah Document, which Prophet Mohammad made the basis for citizenship, after his migration to Madinah.

He who may follow the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood's experience of governing Egypt, as an example, will recognize the nature of confusion and muddle they have, between the loyalty to the state's institutions and the loyalty to the Group's decisions and perceptions. In fact, this problem gets some of its aspects from some narrow understandings to the subject of loyalty and disloyalty, Muslims are loyal to each other while disloyal to infidels. That is an understanding that is not consistent with the philosophy of the Qur'an, and its guidance which direct the human deeds.

The idea of loyalty and disloyalty, in the sense of Muslim loyalty to Muslims and disloyalty to infidels everywhere, undermines the idea of citizenship in the first place. For instance: for someone who believes in this idea, while residing in a European country as a citizen, having the nationality of that country, with full rights and duties in it, what if a dispute would erupt between that country (i.e. his country) and a state whose people's religion is Islam. Under the idea of loyalty to Muslims, he will give up his homeland and take sides with the position of that state, which people thereof are Muslims, if the latter is unjust. He will renegade the people of his homeland because they are "infidels" in his consciousness and awareness.

Paper References

[1] Hasan al-Banna, Letter "To What We Call People to"

[2] Hasan al-Banna, Letter to The youth, the Martyr Imam's Letter Collection, Alexandria, Dar al-Dawa, 1992.

[3] Hasan al-Banna, A Letter of The Fifth Conference (1938), the Martyr Imam's Letter Collection , Alexandria, Dar al-Dawa, 1992, p. 144.

[4] Hssan al-Banna (A Letter to the youth) ibid, p. 177.

[5] See: Dar al-Islam Researched the Concept, Abdullah Ibrahim, al-Tasamoh Journal, The Publication of The Waqf and Religious Affairs, Oman, now published as the "al-Tafahom" journal, issue, 17, 2007.

[6] See: Official Website of Professor Ahmed Al-Raysuni/ The Future of Islam Between Peoples and Rulers/ March 18, 2019

[7] Rashid Ghannouchi, footnote to the Book of Public Freedoms in the Islamic State (Damascus: Dar al-Buraq, 2001), p. 170-171.

[8] Rashid Ghannouchi, Approaches to Secularism and Civil Society (Al-Mujahid Publishing and Distribution House, Tunisia, 2011), p. 196.

[9] See: Britannica Encyclopedia.

[10] Hasan al-Banna's Collection of Letters, M.S. P. 21.


The opinions expressed in this study are those of the author. Strategiecs shall bear no responsibility for the views and/or opinion of its author on security, economic, social, and other issues, as they do not necessarily represent the views of the Think Tank.

Dr. Saber Malwai Ahmad

Moroccan writer and researcher specialized in intellectual and Quranic studies.