Framing a Modern Umma

The Muslim Brothers’ Evolving Project of Da‘wa

In: Sociology of Islam
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  • 1 Haifa University, Israel

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This article’s point of departure is that da‘wa – the preaching or call to Islam – rather than jihad constitutes the backbone of modern organized Islamic action. The Society of the Muslim Brothers made it the essence of its mission since its foundation in 1928, turning its main thrust inwards, toward the Muslims themselves. Focusing on its processes of framing within the social movement theory approach, the essay analyzes three generations of Muslim Brothers and related Islamist thinkers in three concentric geographical circles: Banna, the Egyptian founding father, who strove to re-Islamize society of Christian missionary and Western secular materialism; his moderate successors such as Sa‘id Hawwa and Fathi Yakan, who struggled to overcome the double challenge of the ordeal they suffered by the Arab authoritarian regimes and of Sayyid Qutb’s radical response; and the contemporary Islamic thinkers Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tariq Ramadan, who seek to remold it as a dialogue and example in the Western and global environments. I argue that this resilience of the Muslim Brotherhood’s da‘wa is an important key to its survival and to the viability of its ongoing project of framing the modern umma.

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    Arnold’s (1913) seminal study of the subject hardly mentions the concept of da‘wa, attributing the phenomenal spread of Islam rather to the shortcomings of Christianity and other religions. A similar omission is apparent in the most comprehensive volume on the pre-modern spread of Islam: Levtzion (1979).

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