What is an Islamist group?
According to Slatest.com Islamist is defined as “An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam.” (1) Some characteristics of Islamists include:
• Seeking to bring all elements of social, economic,and political life into harmony with what its adherents believe is “true Islam.”
• Calling for the application of Sharia law, but not all Islamists groups have the same interpretation and have different thoughts on how to apply it.
• Each Islamist group is specific, some sit on the liberal side of the spectrum acknowledging the existence of nation-states and participating in democratic processes, to the more radicalized end in seizing power violently and denouncing both formal democracy and the nation-state as illegitimate, with much in-between hence the fear of the term Islamist as it has a variety of connotations. (2)
Islamism in Egypt
Egypt has experienced the huge impact that Islamist movements have in forming social customs, uniting the population, and even affecting the government structure as many Islamist groups have been a part of its history. These Islamic social movements often provide social and civil services, in lieu of the government who cannot. In previous blog’s Egypt’s recent inconsistent politics has led to the strengthening of Islamist groups within the country, especially that of the Muslim brotherhood, one of the most famous Islamist groups in the world.
In 1928, Hasan al-Banna founded the Society of Muslim Brothers, commonly known as the Muslim Brotherhood which laid the foundation for modern, radical Islamic social moments. (1) The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most established Islamisit groups in the region and has branches in a variety of other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Mulsim Brotherhood originally came about in protest to the British and colonial influence in Egypt. Where each colonial or imperialistic power has invaded in an attempt to claim a space as its own, an opposing power has risen to fight back. In Egypt, that was the Muslim Brotherhood.Although the Muslim Brotherhood believes that societies should move away from secularism and move more into incorporating Islam and the Qur’an into for helping guide everyday life, they do not believe in violence as means to enforce this goal.
“The Brotherhood is the oldest and largest opposition group in Egypt. It has had widespread support among Egypt’s middle classes, and its members control many of the country’s professional organizations.” (4) The Brotherhood has consistently built and solidified its support up by attending meetings and protests, holding seats in the government, and providing support to a population in need. Why is this group so important?
Islamists in the Government
(2) Richards, Alan, John Waterbury, Ishac Diwan, and Melani Cammett. A Political Economy of the Middle East. Boulder: Westview, 2015. Print
(3) Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Print. pg. 22.