The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al Bana. Its goal was to establish an Islamic state in Egypt. By that, it was intended that Shariah law would govern every aspect of human interaction in that state, from matters of personal hygiene to banking regulations. At a time when colonialism was still the distinguishing characteristic in the land, the Muslim Brotherhood ingratiated itself with the Egyptian people through charitable and beneficent institutions, which continue to this day, and which have earned a better reputation than the government for providing jobs, homes, and food.
With the help of deserters and escaped former German officers of WWII, it trained men and armed them to kill Jews in 1948. (If you can find a copy, read the book Bedouin Doctor.)
The Brotherhood helped the Free Officers of the Egyptian Army overthrow the monarchy, but when it became clear that Gamal Abdul Nasser would not institute a Shariah state in Egypt, the Brotherhood set itself in opposition to him too. They tried to assassinate him in 1954, and instead made him more popular than ever. Five hundred of the Brothers found themselves in prison, and many more fled to other countries as a result. Saudi Arabia, which was badly in need of teachers and doctors at that time, became a new home for many of them. It is believed that some of Bin Laden’s teachers were Muslim Brothers.
Still other members found their way to America, where the Muslim Brotherhood has adapted itself amazingly well to our legal and political system, and has established a large number of lobbying and advocacy groups that are doing their best to bring Shariah law to the United States. Among these, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the most prominent. The Brotherhood even has several members serving as Congressional staffers. Through their work, avowed terrorists have lead Muslim prayer services in our own capital building. (Read Muslim Mafia.)
Sayyid Qutb, an author and literary critic, was one of those members who found himself in prison in Egypt. While in the care of the state, he wrote his manifesto, Milestones, which would earn him a permanent place in the pantheon of militant Islamists, and would provide justification for a generation of misfits seeking to work out their issues violently.
Because al Bana and Qutb considered that, in a true Islamic state, differences between Sunni and Shia would become inconsequential (a view that was shared by Ayatollah Khomeini) The Muslim Brotherhood, although its members are Sunni, has never had a problem working with the Shia. This is how the Brotherhood manages to be the bridge between Sunni militantism and Iranian-backed anti-Israel groups like Hizballah. Their common desire for the wholesale slaughter of Jews helps cement that bond.
After long imprisonment of many of its most influential members, the Muslim Brotherhood renounced its calls for the violent overthrow of the Egyptian government, but it has never given up its goal of instituting Shariah law in Egypt. Just as it is doing in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, the Brotherhood is still marching toward that goal in Egypt, but through mainly political means.
Since their party is banned in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood candidates run as Independents. Everyone, including the government, knows who they are. It is an open secret.
The Brothers don’t really try to conceal their identity anyway. They are often identifiable by their beards and short hair. They often cultivate a bruise in the center of their forehead as well, as an indicator of their devotion to prayer.
An important thing to remember is that whether Shariah law is brought about by politics or violent revolution makes little difference to those who find themselves enslaved by it. In order to understand the nature of this enslavement, one must realize that Islam is a legal system that includes laws about religion. It is not, as is commonly represented in the West, a religion that includes laws about other things. That view is 180 degrees out of phase with reality. There is a reason that the Arabic word “DIN,” we translate into the English word “religion” carries with it a host of meanings related to indebtedness and legal obligation. Islam is very much about submitting oneself to a system of laws, and incurring a legal indebtedness. It is not at all about a personal relationship with one’s God that is a matter of conscience.
Why don’t we know this? Islam is understood to have been revealed to Mohammed in stages. New revelations were not made available until the people were ready for them. Thus, early Quranic injunctions against killing Jews, Christians, and other “People of the Book” were abrogated by later instructions to make war on them wherever they could be found. If Allah revealed himself to Mohammed in stages, why would the Muslim Brotherhood, or any other Muslim, for that matter, not follow the same pattern, revealing only those components of Islam considered most palatable? To do otherwise would be to fail to emulate their own prophet. For this reason, most Westerners’ understanding of Islam is constricted to a very limited amount, most of which is designed to make Islam seem familiar and comfortable.
When it comes to Islam, the western press has failed to fulfill its role as a skeptic. In most cases when dealing with Islamic organizations or regimes in Muslim countries, the press has allowed those organizations or regimes to supply the narrative. You may recall how CNN buried stories of Saddam Hussein’s barbarity in order to keep their Baghdad office open and it is known, but never reported that in Yemen, Reuters’ bureau chief doubles as President Ali Saleh’s translator. Meanwhile, in the United States, organizations like CAIR have succeeded in dictating terms to the Society of Professional Journalists, dissuading them from using accurate, descriptive terms when reporting on Islamic terrorism.
So recent praise for the Brotherhood should be viewed with suspicion. The assurances that it can participate in a democratic system are based on incomplete understanding of, not only the Brotherhood, but of Shariah law as well. The are given to us by people who, as is pointed out here by professor Barry Rubin, have never read the Brotherhood's agenda, nor listened to its speeches. The bottom line is that to an organization whose raison d’etre is to institute a complete, comprehensive legal system based on what they consider the word of God, democratic institutions are a temporary aberration. It is blasphemy, after all, under Islamic law to consider that man (democratic institutions) can be a source of law, since Allah is the only legitmate law-giver. At best, democratic institutions are, to the Muslim Brotherhood, a disposable tool. They will never consider them ends to be desired in and of themselves.