(EMPIRE in EGYPT and SUDAN, to 1929 – continued)

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EMPIRE in EGYPT and SUDAN, to 1929 (3 of 3)

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The Muslim Brotherhood


Some Muslims in Egypt remained annoyed with rule by Christians. This reinforced devotion to Islam. Some of Egypt's Muslims were alarmed by what they saw as British influences producing a deterioration of Muslim law and institutions. They disliked the growth in secularization of Egyptian schools. Also, they disliked the secular revolution they saw in Turkey – the land whose empire before 1920 had given unity to Islam in the Middle East. In 1928, a 22-year old schoolteacher, Hasan al-Banna, gathered together a few discontented Muslims whom he described as brothers in the service of Islam. His group became known as the Muslim Brotherhood, and he claimed that they had two loyalties. One was to their own nation and the other was to the spiritual nation – Islam.

Al-Banna believed in love of country, in patriotism and in defending one's homeland militarily. He also believed in a sense of community among Arabic speaking people. He saw Islam as a self-sufficient alternative to the capitalism in Western societies. He looked forward to a revival of the caliphate – Muhammad's successor as head of a united Islam. He was interested in science and technological progress. He complained that the West did not have exclusive possession of these, and he denounced the West's cultural penetration into Islamic societies.

One of the Brotherhood's programs was education, and al-Banna spoke of working for the public good, peace and the betterment of all people. About non-Muslims he quoted from the Koran where it said that Muslims should get along with people who live alongside them in peace. And he quoted from the Koran's Sura 60, Verse 9, which states,

God enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are wrongdoers.

The year that the Brotherhood was founded, 1929, was the year that bloodshed erupted between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood sided with their fellow Muslims there, but Egypt's government suppressed this support. Printing anti-Jewish or anti-Zionist articles was forbidden. Police patrols were sent to protect Jewish neighborhoods in Cairo and Alexandria. Egypt's ruling elite, including King Fuad, were interested in getting along with their British overlords, with Jews and with people in general.


The Middle East, Past and Present, by Yahya Armajania, Prentice-Hall Incll, 1970.

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