Muslim American Society Official Statement Concerning the Muslim Brotherhood as Approved by its Board of Trustees
MAS is an independent American organization that aims to move people to strive for God-consciousness, liberty and justice and to contribute to a virtuous and just American society. MAS has no affiliation with the Ikhwan al Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood or the Ikhwan) or with any other international organization.
Towards the beginning of the 20th century, the Muslim Brotherhood evolved in many Arab countries (in many different forms) as a grassroots Islamic movement for reform and revival. As dictatorial regimes came to power, the Muslim Brotherhood became the only substantive movement that often found itself in opposition to the authoritarian regimes. To this day, other opposition groups are either fairly small, or entirely secular (and hence unpopular), or extremist. Thus anyone who had an activist inclination and was motivated to get involved in grassroots efforts to improve the country in opposition to dictatorial regimes was highly likely to either join the Muslim Brotherhood, or be influenced by its wide-reaching programs.
Many of these activists who traveled to the United States as students and continued to have activist inclinations here, not surprisingly, played a role in establishing organizations here. Hence many immigrant organizations that were established early on would likely have had some founders who formerly had some involvement or even membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. The establishment and development of MAS was a declaration of an American Muslim agenda recognition that Muslims need an organization that is native to the US, whose agenda is to organize and integrate Muslims to be a contributing part of American society, to see themselves as Muslim Americans.
The Muslim Brotherhood are an influential part of post-colonial Muslim history, and have given rise to many prominent Muslim thinkers. This naturally resulted in the literature of those Islamic movements becoming the foundational texts for the intellectual component for Islamic work in America. We believe this had the advantage of protecting the majority of Muslims from extremist ideologies. With Muslims establishing themselves more and more as an integral part of American society, there was a need for an ongoing effort to re-evaluate the literature. This resulted in a re-examination of various authors and their contributions to the legacy. The outcome was the realization that the majority of what was written by Hassan al-Banna can be categorized as foundational thought (e.g. balanced understanding of Islam, societal reform, peaceful change, etc.) while a part of what he wrote may have been applicable to his time and place, but not to Muslims in America.
On the other hand, a great deal of literature written by other authors after Hassan al-Banna was primarily in reaction to situations and circumstances in Muslim countries, such as constant attacks and persecution by autocratic regimes. This includes particular ideas espoused in some works by authors like Syed Qutb. The critical evaluation of such literature resulted in identifying many areas where such literature was deemed irrelevant or unacceptable to Muslims in America and therefore should not be part of any foundational thought or curriculum, except within the context of understanding history and critiquing the literature.
This critical re-examination of the Muslim Brotherhood literature is by no means a contribution to the efforts to demonize them. Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood is a very broad, diverse movement, present in many countries, with various leanings that cannot be painted with one broad brush. Several notable academics and politicians presently advocate engaging in different ways with the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other potential proponents of peaceful, grassroots, popular opposition to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.
MAS will continue to review all literature that is applicable to our context in the United States for inclusion and adoption as part of MAS curricula, which aid our efforts to move people to strive for God-consciousness, liberty and justice and to contribute to a virtuous and just American society.
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