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07 December 2012


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The revolutionary forces in the Spanish Civil War were the so-called Nationalists under Franco who wanted to overthrow the democratically elected government of Spain in a military coup with assistance from the Italian and Portuguese Fascists and the German Nazis. The ultra-conservative catholic church in Spain sided with the "nationalist" revolutionaries who were keener and more organized about murdering people than the republican forces. Overall, a good argument for keeping religion and the military out of politics.

William R. Cumming

So can we conclude from your post that the facist MB will win and control Egypt for the indefinite future?

And Christians and Jews and others will be hanging like ripe fruit from poles?

So who exactly is responsible for the loss of Egypt, assuming it was ours to lose?



You seem to have missed the fact that I did not write the piece in Al-Ahram. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Oh yes, and the Republic was the Virgin that was eaten up by the bad bad wolf.

Franco - indeed the Spanish Army - was deliberately provoked by all manners of Left parties: Socialists, Communists, Anarcho-Syndicalists, Anarchists etc.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not believe that there are any Jews left in Egypt.

Clifford Kiracofe

Arab Winter has arrived in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and...

So just what is the MB?

Very little detailed reporting in the US media to provide "context".

The classic history: Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of Muslim Brothers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963; 1993 with Intro. by John Voll)

There is a certain reticence about the more esoteric aspects of the MB and the political background.

The roots in effect go to Lord Cromer and certain British circles. Al-Afghani was for rent and moved between the French and the British. Muhammad Abdu, an Afghani protege, and Rashid Rida both of whom influenced Hassan al-Banna, founder of the MB, were close to the British. Rarely are the lodge connections of the first three analyzed let alone mentioned. Mitchell is silent on this point. The MB are an esoteric society in the style of various 19th century European organizations but formatted to an Islamic mode.

Cromer pushed Abduh along and upwards. One reason was that strict Islamic circles had ruled against usury with implications for banking and finance. Cromer (a Baring) found Abduh of great utility in that Abduh rejected the strict Islamic injunction against usury, and so on. The Rothschilds, British and French, were of course among the main proponents for the seizure of Egypt by the British Empire in 1882. This was noticed in the US. MB leader Hassan al-Banna was on the payroll of the House of Saud.

For Abduh:

Today it is said the "business" faction of the MB is dominant. They reportedly were prominent in Morsi's visit to China, for example.

Any suggestions for data on the MB, its current structure, regional operations, operations in the US (they do have them here)?

William R. Cumming

Apologies PL! Also note that since you moderate any post has your attention if not approval.


Agreed. In many ways, Spanish Civil War, both in terms of the actual war and in the events preceding them, was a bitter and ugly fight between two utterly rotten and disagreeable factions, not unlike, I suppose, the Syrian Civil War today. Pretending that either side was somehow pure and idealistic (other than some foolish foot soldiers who wound up in their midst) would be a grave disservice to truth.

Clifford Kiracofe

The MB and its ideology should be examined.

For example, the relationship between Qutb, a leading MB ideologist, and French fascist scientist Alexis Carrel:

"Alexis Carrel was a French, Social Darwinist Philosopher (d. 1944CE) and in a number of his works, he spoke of the degeneration of (Western Christian) society, and described it as "barbarism". He proposed the betterment of this society through "following the guidance of an elite group of intellectuals, and by implementing a regime of enforced eugenics" (euthanasia, ending the lives of criminals).

In his PhD Thesis, "Man, Society, And Knowledge In The Islamist Discourse Of Sayyid Qutb" by Ahmed Bouzid (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, April 1998), Bouzid states the following (p.70-71):

A sustained target of his criticism in this "modern jaahiliyyah", and, in Qutb's eyes, one of its most articulate and intelligent spokesperson, is the French scientist and philosopher, Alexis Carrel (1873-1944)."

...."[Youssef] Choueiri also explicates one of those seemingly minor points that actually is very revealing (pp. 142-49). This is the extent to which Sayyid Qutb was influenced by Alexis Carrel (1873-1944). Carrel, a medical doctor, received the Nobel Prize in 1912, but his importance here was his later book, Man, the Unknown(a best-seller in the 1930s and 1940s) and his easily fitting as an official in the government of Vichy France. Carrel put himself forward as a social philosopher (if not, indeed, a prophet) deploring the presumed dehumanizing impact of modern Western materialism (especially capitalism). A social Darwinist elitist, he went all the way into advocating eugenics and euthanasia to breed the best and weed out the unfit. Qutb, Choueri argues, adapted Carrel's ideas (not, in fairness, eugenics and euthanasia) to come up with "a Third World version of fascism." Choueiri shrewdly suggests that what Carrel called modern Western "barbarism" could be transposed into Qutb's jahiliyya. An excellent insight, which also demonstrates that even Islamists most intent on rejecting the "other" in favor of a postulated cultural authenticity often rely on theories and ideologies advanced by outsiders."...

Carrel was deeply involved in esoteric Continental circles.

So what really is the MB? And its ideology? Islamic? A rather odd consensus/ijma...esoteric Eurofascism meets ibn-Taymiyyah and Maududi...a witches brew from Hell...yes? no? yes...just what then?

beaver, if this is of interest I would have some suggestions.


I'm not sure I understand why the author of this piece in Al-Ahram chose "The Decline and Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood" as a title. The only thing that seems to have fallen from the MB is the mask that hid the true intentions of its leader. The author is certainly spot on with his observation that "...post-revolution Egypt is little more than spoils ripe for the picking, its people hapless subjects to be conquered and subjugated."

I hope that the naivete of our leaders with respect to the MB leadership will end as quickly as the mask of 'democracy' has ended for the MB.

Babak Makkinejad

Carrel was not alone; Constantin Virgil Gheorghiu in his novel, "The 25-th Hour", identifies both the NATO states and the Warswa Pact states as 2 sides of the same civilization - a Godless one - with the Eastern wing being just more brutal.

And Godlessness, i.e. absence of the Light that Knowledge of Word of God brings, is the definition of jahiliyya - Darkness.

Rene Guenon, for this reason, converted to Islam and left to live in Egypt.

Clifford Kiracofe

Both Carrel and Guenon were deeply involved in esoteric circles. Guenon in particular wrote extensively on "Western" and "Eastern" occult and esoteric topics. Hardly "Islamic" IMO, although our host emphasizes that ijma is whatever anyone wants to make of it. When Guenon returned to France he founded a lodge and so on...

It would appear the MB flow out of 19th century European esotericism assimilated by Afghani (a Persian Shia?), Abduh, Ridah, and al-Banna.

As I noted on another thread, Abduh was moved along and upward by Lord Cromer: Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, Grand Master of the United Lodge of Egypt and the like. This is the milieu of the MB founder al-Banna, a protege of Abduh. This is the method of the opaque MB, yet another "lightbearer of Darkness".

Clifford Kiracofe

The article in al-Ahram is revealing in a number of ways.

"A Brotherhood in power that is happy to collaborate with the US and Israel in fighting terrorism in Sinai; speaks of strategic ties with Washington; signs a typically stringent loan deal with the IMF; shows astonishing ineptitude and lack of vision; fails to deliver on any of its own promises, let alone the promises of the revolution; and is hailed by the US and Europe for its role in “containing” Hamas and safeguarding Israel’s security is a Brotherhood that has lost whatever mystique it once had."

And then as to the internal dynamics:

"As Tammam shows, the organizational wing, with many of its chief representatives hailing from the group’s highly secretive and iron-disciplined “special organization”, has been the most regressive, conservative and close-minded section of the Gamaa. Made up as they are of “Qutbis” (in reference to the militant doctrine of Sayed Qutob) and Salafis, this powerful branch of the group had viewed their “political” counterparts as little more than window dressing, useful in jazzing up the image of the group before the outside world, but unrepresentative and irrelevant where its internal reality and deeply held beliefs were concerned."

Here the dominant group within the MB is identified as followers of Qutb and his militant ideology.

Hopefully more data will be forthcoming from Egypt as to the internal workings and influential personalities of the MB.

Babak Makkinejad

Guenon, speicifically his text; "The Fundamental Symbols of Sacred Science" is, in my opinion, consistent with Islamic Mysticism.

Muslim Orthodoxy - both Shia and Sunni - rejected Mysticism but failed - the poetry of Rumi is an interperetation of the Quran in the light of Muslim Mysticism.

The doctrine of Ijma does not and cannot apply to mysticism - Tariqat - only to the Law - Shariat.

Yes, "Al Afghani" actually was from Assad-abad - in Iran. But I do not think he was a practicioner of mysticism.

And I seriously doubt that you will find any mysticism among MB - but that is just my sense of it.

Clifford Kiracofe

Interesting points. Thank you.

That would also be my sense on Afghani and the MB. One point I am trying to make is that Afghani and the MB etal. are permeated with various strains of European esotericism. Afghani and Abduh and Rida and the like were pawns in the British imperial game of the day. Afghani also had links to the French. The esotericism involving secrecy was linked to political and operational action.

IMO, all this would have nothing to do with Rumi and authentic forms of mysticism in Islam.

Also, depending on how one defines matters, the European esotericism to which I refer has nothing to do with authentic traditional Christian mysticism.

Coming back to the topic on this thread, it is the ideology and organizational structure of the MB which interests me. Given the reported dominance of the Qutb-ist faction, it is necessary to examine Qutb and this in turn leads to a consideration of the influence of Carrel. This also, naturally, leads to a consideration of the relationship between the MB and al-Qaeda.

Babak Makkinejad

You may wish to distinguish between Natural Mysticisim and Religious one. The Manson Gang was practicioner of the first type while Meister Eckhardt that of the second one.

I find the proposition of Al Afghnai's thought being permeated with ideas of Europen esotericism revival unpersuasive; he was almost certainly been exposed to classical Persian poetry and imbued with its mystical doctrines. I cannot comment on Arab/Sunni mysticism since I am not familiar with Arab poetry in any depth.

I cannot comment about the role of the English on Al Afghani and others - I know the English were keen to preventing Russian influence but I do not know if Al Afghani was a pawn or not. This is something that one must determine by examining the de-classified records of the Foreign Office.

Guenon and other advocates of the Philosophia Prennis would not have made any distinction of subsatnce between esoteric doctrines of Islam and those Christianity; the "Cup of Wine" of Persian poetry was the same as the "Holy Grail" of the Medieval Europe as the "Sacred Heart of jesus".

Neo-salafis and their ilk, as far I can tell, reject the necessity of the need of interpretation of the Quran and its study in group; they impute the individual Muslim with the ability to read teh Quran in isolation and reach an understanding of the text.

In this, they resemble the Protestant Christians for every Catholic knows that prior tradition and group study are needed for Bible Study.

I do not know for certain but I do not think that MB holds the views that I have ascribed above to neo-Salafis.

That the new Egyptian Constituion recognizes a central role for Al Azhar indicates to me that the position of MB is closer to the position of the Catholic Church than that of neo-Salafis.

The interesting question would be the position of the Nour (Light) Party.


I think delving into the origins of the Brotherhood is necessary but it only takes us so far. My take on why their politics is so popular among people - and that of Jihadi Salafis - is entirely socially driven.

People, the working class in particular, across the Arab world have been denied access to power or to express their opinion through the media. In a quest for empowerment they found a social order that the state could not enter. Every young man can tell his sister how to dress, his mother how to behave, his wife her role. This is what the MB and modern Islamists have been able to tap in to. An enormous reservoir of frustration that allows the individual (man) to be freed once he starts ordering his women around and later the wider community in his local area.

From control over social behaviour to politics is but a small step of a generation of sustained pressure. The driving force behind the Syrian revolution now is dispossessed poor Sunnis. Same in southern Yemen. Same in eastern Libya.

Clifford Kiracofe

Following up the al-Ahram's articles point that the MB is today dominated by the faction composed of the "special apparatus" (which they call the "special organization") I located some further data but it is in Arabic, which I do not read. Are ther FBIS translations?

Ahmad 'Adil Kamal, The Muslim Brotherhood and The Special Apparatus (Cairo: Dar al Zahra lil 'Alam al-Araby, 1987)

Mahmud al-Sabah, The Truth About the Special Apparatus (Cairo: Dar al il'tisam, 1989)

'Abd al-'Azim Ramadan, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Special Apparatus (Cairo: Ruz al-Yusif, 1982)

What is the relationship between the MB Special Apparatus and al Qaeda and similar organizations?

Would anyone know of any Israeli open source studies in English (or Hebrew) on the MB "Special Apparatus"?

As US regional policy appears now to rely on an alliance with the MB this matter is of interest.


I read the piece a little differently. The author seems to want to say that the MB had earlier been a complex movement contributing to and working with national-revolutionary forces to overthrow Mubarak but quickly degenerated into the caricature its worst enemies had always made of it, ie the single-minded agent of trans-national Islamism. In Gibbon's terms this was a loss of civic virtue, or-- what amounts to the same thing-- corruption, and the cause was taking power ("the seductive kiss of power in post-revolution Egypt ... transformed them, vampire like, to that very caricature" which its enemies had reduced it to).

On this reading, betrayal of the nation is the writer's ultimate accusation. So I interpret "no pasaran" at the end as the cry of the nation's legitimate defenders, and intended to place the writer alongside Spanish Republicans who, it's taken for granted here, defended the legitimate nation against military usurpers.

It strikes me as a very romanticized way to talk about what's happened, and very secular-nationalist. Whether the author is right about the MB is something I couldn't know.

Clifford Kiracofe

I can suggest the writings, articles and biography by Prof. Nikki Keddie on the topic of al-Afghani as a good starting point.

I checked our library, yesterday and found over 800 scholarly articles on Afghani on one data base alone. There is extensive scholarship on Afghani to include the points I made.


I understand that interpretation of the writing, however, politically, I see a headline: "The Decline and Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood" and know some sharp pol outside of Egypt is going to wave the thing around and say the MB is in decline, no need to worry, status quo on the funding, etc. Which is precisely what the US Government is doing. How many of his constituents are going to read the whole thing anyway? How many reporters? I'd say not to many.

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