This article focuses on how and why some Jordanian Muslim Brothers have engaged in relatively exclusive, Islamist ways of confronting the regime during the “Arab Spring,” while others adopted a more inclusive, national strategy in the same period. As such, this article not only contributes to our knowledge of divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, but also shows how this can impact Islamist-regime relations in the Arab world. It argues that the organization as a whole initially wanted to exploit the uprisings in the region through a relatively exclusive, Islamist approach to the regime, but that others within the organization disagreed with this method as the “Arab Spring” proved mostly unsuccessful. Aware of the dangers of provoking the state from a position of increased isolation, these members advocated a more inclusive attitude toward the regime and others. While both groups were ultimately unsuccessful, the latter at least survived as a legal entity, while the Muslim Brotherhood lost its official presence in the kingdom because the regime was able to exploit the existing divisions within the organization.
Abū Muḥammad al-Maqdisī (b. Barqā, West Bank, 1959), is one of the most influential radical Islamic ideologues alive. Considering his Palestinian origins, occasional references to Palestinian issues throughout his writings and the more recent focus in his work on radical groups in the Gaza Strip, some scholars and commentators assume that his Palestinian identity is an important factor in his ideology. I argue instead that while there is indeed some evidence pointing to a soft spot for Palestinian issues in al-Maqdisī’s work, he lacks a strong Palestinian identity and clearly favours the umma (the world-wide Muslim community) over Palestine in his writings. His more recent focus on events in the Gaza Strip as well as his earlier references to the Palestinian question should be seen in the broader context of his efforts to focus on areas where both daʿwa (calling people to Islam) and jihad can be legitimate, effective and fruitful.
This article examines the interpretation of “the enemies” in Sūrat al-Mumtahana (60) by the Jordanian ideologue Abū Muhammad al-Maqdisī, one of the most influential jihādī-Salafī theorists alive. Al-Maqdisī's reading of the sūra's text and his interpretation of its context turn this part of the Qur'ān, which seems to have been meant to warn the early Medinan Muslims of the dangers of befriending hostile Meccan idolaters, into the basis of a radical ideology. Special attention is paid to the far-reaching consequences of al-Maqdisī's political interpretation of the text, especially when combined with his views on kufr (unbelief) and al-walā' wa-l-barā' (loyalty and disavowal), which he adopts from Wahhābī scholars and bases mostly on this sūra. Al-Maqdisī's particular combination of the text and context of sūra 60 yields a definition of “the enemy” that is rooted in the Qur'ān and Sunna but differs greatly from its traditional interpretations as well as Wahhābī writings by evolving into a radical ideology to overthrow the political rulers of the Muslim world.