Drawing parallels between Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim Brotherhood

Published: July 18, 2012
The leadership of the two parties met at the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo in June last year. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

The leadership of the two parties met at the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo in June last year. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD


The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) maintains close ties with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a religious party which has recently found its voice again in mainstream Egyptian politics, and a group that the JI claims it has a lot to learn from.

The leadership of the two parties met at the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo in June last year and decided to join hands to solve issues faced by Muslims all over the world and to promote the true image of Islam, according to a press release issued in the aftermath of the meeting.

In a sign of budding relations, when Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi was declared the first president of Egypt since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak, a special ceremony was held in Karachi by JI’s local chapter.

“Congratulations to Ikhwane Muslameen (Egyptian Brotherhood) on their glorious success. The sacrifices of the martyrs Imam Hasan al Banna, Syed Qutb and thousands of activists have borne fruit in the shape of the revolution in Egypt. God willing, an Islamic revolution is Pakistan’s destiny too,” said a JI leader at the event.

‘Brotherly relations’

When asked about the burgeoning relationship, senior JI leader Liaquat Baloch said, “It’s true that the politics and conditions of each country are different. However, as Muslims one enjoys a special brotherly bond with other Muslims and it is on this basis that we have maintained ties with the Brotherhood.”

The senior Jamaat leader said the relationship was based on a purely ideological level, adding that the JI would not be taking any dictation from the Brotherhood.  Baloch said his party’s recent visit to Cairo opened up a new chapter in relations, but emphasised that the ties had been maintained for decades.

“Their leaders too have visited Pakistan in the past and one of their central leaders had attended our convention last year,” Baloch said.

JI chief, Syed Munawar Hassan has also repeatedly said that the JI would struggle to unleash a revolution in the country, similar to the one in Egypt.

Sharing scholars

JI Karachi president Muhammad Hussain Mehanti said the Brotherhood has been a source of inspiration and it is in this spirit that the Idara-e Noor-e-Haq translates the works of their scholars Hasan al Banna and Syed Qutub in Pakistan. Baloch said the works of JI’s founder and revered scholar Maulana Maududi are also translated in Egypt.

“In Pakistan too there is an ongoing struggle to bring about an Islamic revolution. The real challenge we face here is to make the public responsible so that they too are able to make the correct use of their votes like the people of Egypt did,” Baloch said, adding that they had much to learn from the Brotherhood’s struggle in Egypt.

‘Drawing parallels’

Historian and author of ‘Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia’ Professor Ayesha Jalal said, “The Jamaat-i-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood have been historically linked ideologically and have also had comparable social bases of support.

“If you add to this some broad similarities of context, most notably state authoritarianism, then the links between the two organisations become even more understandable.  So it is hardly surprising to find them expressing admiration for each other.”

Meanwhile, international best-selling author Ahmed Rashid said the Jamaat-e-Islami branched out of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1929 by Hasan al Banna, who spearheaded a movement that spread across the Arab world.

JI remains backward

However, the JI’s path into mainstream politics won’t take place without a makeover, similar to the one the Brotherhood underwent.

The Brotherhood, which shaped the ideas of Islamists and particularly of groups such as al Qaeda, went through a transformation in recent years, according to the author of ‘A to Z of Pakistani Jehadi Organisations’ Amir Rana.

“During Anwar Saadat’s dictatorship in Egypt, thousands of Brotherhood activists were jailed and it was then the group rethought its strategy of using violence to achieve their goals,” said Rana.

The revised policy of the group openly denounced all terrorist acts. In fact, al Qaeda’s Ayman al Zawahiri issues statements condemning the organisation for ‘misdirecting political Islam.’

“The Muslim Brotherhood today has evolved into a modern Islamist organisation that promotes democratic ways and education for all,” said Rashid. “But the Jamaat-e-Islami remains backward and reactionary. Also, while the Brotherhood is putting up a fight with the military establishment, the JI here continues to be the bedfellow of the military in Pakistan,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Caramelized_Onion
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:28AM

    There is no comparison, end of story.


  • Nadeem
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:35AM

    Time has changes now and people all across the Globe are paying attention
    towards such islamic movements.

    The liberals in Pakistan have badly failed and demonstrated their poor ability of governance.
    The religious groups have acknowldege their work in form of relief , charity and education and was shown at time time earth quakes, floods and other calamities. Is their any point to
    choose again and again those elements responsible for devastating Pakistan?


  • Insider
    Jul 18, 2012 - 12:04PM

    Although a bit superficial piece but a lot clear from ET typical bias, safe for a couple of one-sided leading quotations..
    As an insider, I can say that JI did not have any idea that FJP will do that much. Neither do they have any ‘close ties’ with them, which are actually limited to the translation of century old books!
    In fact JI initially remained a bit cautious in welcoming Islamists victory in Tunisia, etc, and had skeptical views because of their liberal instances.
    This is true that BH denounced violence publicly which is why they lost so many of their hardline workers, some of them joined militant outfits. On the other hand JI – especially its present Amir Munawaar Hussan – could not denounce Taliban publicly who were always hostile to JI in the past. However, they both share same feelings about the militancy, imo, which is why they both want to ‘promote the true image of Islam’.
    FJP looks relatively closer to the US which also suggests that JI can go close to the US when there is a time for that.
    Furthermore, BH reached a wide section of the society, including liberals and Christians, which is apparent from the thin attendance in the recent liberal protests during Clinton visit. On the other hand, JI always found keeping a bitter distance with liberal forces somehow beneficial.


  • faraz
    Jul 18, 2012 - 12:10PM

    Brotherhood faced repression from the army, while JI has been sitting in the laps of generals since late Ayub era


  • ouch
    Jul 18, 2012 - 12:32PM

    the most important difference between MB and JI is the extensive social work at grass root level by MB, due to which they’ve earned praise from even liberal Egyptians. They’ve focused more on their local issues like healthcare, income support etc. rather than chanting/rallying “Go this/that” at every opportunity. This enabled them to show to Egyptians that they’re capable of delivering instead of mostly carrying our processions which atleast our media portrays JI to be doing. JI no doubt is a very organized party and highly active at social welfare too but their increased focus (probably due to media portrayal) on international issues leaves ordinary Pakistani alienated as in present economic circumstances he is more concerned about his own issues than Muslims around the world.


  • Siddiqui
    Jul 18, 2012 - 12:56PM

    What are Jamaties so upbeat didn’t they hear Mursiz first speech.
    He said “peole are supreme”. This is perfect antidote to tje poison which they call political islam unless Mursi is bluffing.


  • A J Khan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 1:17PM

    A party which failed to exercise Muslim Brotherhood in Pakistan.


  • anybodyagree
    Jul 18, 2012 - 2:21PM

    We as a Muslim need unity, which only result with the end of Sectarianism . . . .????


  • Insider
    Jul 18, 2012 - 2:34PM

    @anybodyagree: I agree. And this is one parallel between JI and MB that they do not belong to a particular sect…


  • RS
    Jul 18, 2012 - 3:19PM

    Well, in this case PTI recently (by joining hands with JI) may like to clarify its stand as well.


  • M@ni
    Jul 18, 2012 - 4:24PM

    At least one thing is good that sectarian diversity is not an issue for JI. Really a good thing at this point of time


  • Insider
    Jul 18, 2012 - 4:35PM

    @RS: did you really read the write-up!?


  • Ali
    Jul 18, 2012 - 5:41PM

    JI has again and again been a neo-fascist organization, openly supporting draconian despotic regimes, they have always entered the parliament in the lap of a general, they openly support fascist elements, Al Qaeda, Afghan Jihadi’s, Sippah Sahaba etc. Secondly, Muslim Brotherhood’s role has been quite negative as well, they have came to power, but having power and having an alternate, a solution to the problems of the masses is another thing altogether, they will be exposed much more quickly than Mubarik. With the Egyptian economy in tatters and the masses already having high hopes in improving there life styles. MB is going to face a lot of reactions very soon, specially after the Hillary Clinton Saga, and the fact that they have maintained all previous contracts intact. Right wing is an obsoleted phenomena. The only requirement is a serious left alternative, which if present is going to dissolve the clay feet of these seeming god’s with a blink of an eye. Recommend

  • Bader
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:25PM

    Both parties are same. I have been with BH in Egypt and JI in Pakistan. However, there are minor differences. BH faced stiff resistance from the army because Egypt army was very secular and against any type Islamism. Whereas, Pakistan army has never been against the idea of Islamic state, that is why JI did not face any type of resistance from this institution.


  • F K
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:47PM

    There’s one difference that matters – JI has not won any elections thus has no mandate to do anything in Pakistan.


  • umer abbas
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:52PM

    i think main factor of this is political situation of this region.American interference in this region since 1980. jamat was much focused on pakistan till 1980. but since then all the situation in Afghanistan and then kasmir distort jamat attention. since 9/11 again situation of the region affected. but i think in earth quake in 2005 and in flood 2010 jamat proves that it has best abilities to lead the country and it is only party who can take out pakistan from this situation.people of pakistan will trust on jamat and jamat will perform much better in next election.Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:58PM

    Sir , you do not understand Egyptian drama. Egyptian islamists know how to save their skin and how to instigate trouble in other countries. When Egyptian army had to remove Sadat , who dirtied his hands in a pact with Israel, and win legitimacy for the rulers, Brotherhood was ready to take up the job. The pact with Israel outlived Sadat. When Mubarak , the army man took reins, they patiently waited their turn , happy with Mubaraks little games with religion.
    Once again they are active as B team of the army. Their links may stretch to Israel for all the noise they make. How about JI ?


  • ouch
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:20PM

    @umer abbas:
    You are right but Egyptians have been tempted by the “one muslim ummah” notion since 1947/48 as they have had a lot of international meddling going on in their region… they were crushed, learnt their lesson, prepared their ground and look where they are now… probably unthinkable (even in long-term) for JI given their current political strategies…


  • Insider
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:08PM

    @ouch: could you predict a couple of years back what is happening in Egypt now?


  • Sab
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:08PM

    The JI’s make over is already in the play. Why do you think JI and others like them are on Imran Khan band wagon? IK will be the face of Islamist driven cnoservative politics if enough people are hoodwinked by latest PTI and vote for them in coming elections.


  • Jul 18, 2012 - 9:46PM

    The real thing is ideology, for those who are saying that there is a very much difference the answer is that both the parties hold the same ideology which is “Islamic Revolution in Pakistan and all over the world”. Pakistan and Egypt have different political scenario yet the welfare work done by both the parties has been done in maximum extent. Please correct Army don’t supports JI, but they are not against us, because of the patriotic attitude of the JI. While all other parties has always work for the outisders!


  • Syed Shah
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:42PM

    But there is one big difference. JI actively supports terrorism while MB doesn’t. It never condemns a crime however heinous or a bomb blast. They are the political spokesmen of the devils hence the womenfolk of JIs themselves are dismayed and have moved away from them. Their concern is religion and not Muslim and Pakistan matters. If they distance themselves from terror they may stand a chance.


  • Aqua28
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:27PM

    There are many factors why Muslim Brotherhood (MB) got successful and JI did not. Its all about the difference of culture, political arena, political agendas etc between the both. Egypt has Husni mubarak for a long time and the public got sick of this regime now, in parallel MB worked silently. 62K members of MB were jailed and Imam Hasan-ul-Banna & Syed Qutub started their movement peacefully. Even when the Pakistan came into part in 1947, Imam Hasan-Ul-Banna congrats Quaid-E-Azam as this was the only country which was established on the basis of Muslim majority. Now, Husni Mubarak gone, so MB got chance to show their strength but behind this success, there was much of ground work by MB. As far as JI is concerned, so no doubt that they are doing excellent welfare in the society with a brand name of Khidmat-E-Khalq (NGO) but on political end, they are not much successful till now. A major factor behind this is, that the kind of election campaigns and system we are into, an MPA even required millions to invest during election but JI is self supporting organization which is being run by funding of its own people. Secondly, if we analyse ourself as a nation, we are not much inclined towards Islam and its political system, that’s why we do not vote for these guys. Even I believe that we suffered a lot by the liberals who are currently in Govt and whom we already tried, all were corrupt and they sold all country assets while if we go for JI MNA’s/MPA’s, probability of being corrupt is less but we never tried them. On political front, at least we should give chance to new parties now like PTI & JI etc as we are already stuck in bad situation.


  • PakShock
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:52PM

    No Comparison at all, Period!

    It’s wishful thinking by JI and so a disgrace for MB to be compared to an Army Favorite & Deal Maker Party/Clan.


  • umerabbas
    Jul 19, 2012 - 12:58AM

    there many factors due to which Jamat is not able to bring change in Pakistan as MB did in Egypt.one main thing is literacy rate. in Pakistan due to low literacy rate Jamat is not able to attract people as Jamat dawat is based on literature. we saw in big cities where literacy rate is higer Jamat did well in elections e.g.Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. also in educational institutes Jamait won union election many times. 2nd main factor is divide in our society on sectarian, language, provincial, and cast base which is very low in intensity in Egypt as compared to Pakistan.


  • RS
    Jul 19, 2012 - 1:49AM

    “JI is self supporting organization which is being run by fundings of it’s own people”. – hellooo surely you are not serious right? Please, just study how one of it’s branch “Al Khadmat Foundation” accumulate funds by selling pradise to old childless, sick n lonely dieing old people, let alone JI cells collecting foreign funds.


  • ouch
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:27AM

    but even back then everyone you met from Egypt praised MB for their social work and presence at every nook and corner of the country. and this was one entity across all Egypt, unlike Pakistan where you have a different favorite everywhere depending on sect, ethnicity etc. etc. plus JI is not as well liked as MB was back then (and still is)…


  • Insider
    Jul 19, 2012 - 8:58AM

    @ouch Agreed. What I meant to say is that one cannot predict when the situation changes. And if there happens some development against the status quo in Pakistan, then JI would be best positioned to show its potential. And this is the fear shared by both the inept liberals and the corrupt establishment of the country. This is why we see Raza Rabbani and Rehman Malik on the same platform!
    And if some development happens, JI would need to be very careful not to be used again by the military. Interestingly, there had been a discourse internally in JI for past many centuries about the past failure of MB. This might be one reason why JI did not take direct confrontation with the Army (but who did?) safe for the brouhaha against Musharraf. But this is for sure that the military always used JI against the mainstream parties which JI failed to recognize. However, imo, JI has its intrinsic strengths based on its revolutionary ideology and its disciplined workforce (same as that of MB) which shall not be used for the vested interest of the good-for-nothing generals and their puppets.
    Imo, JI also needs to come clear on Taliban issue and should also reach out to the true liberal forces in Pakistan to find a solution to the ongoing crisis in the country.


  • Hassan Farooqi
    Jul 28, 2012 - 12:48AM

    I am sorry but no comparison. MB was a religious party that had to take part in power politics to fill in the democratic vaccum created by prolonged dictatorship. JI is a political party that has been trying to grab power using the name of Islam. MB history is that of martrys like Hassan Al-Banna and Syed Qutub, whereas JI history is that of US servants like Syed Maududi. The only thing common is the title Syed in the name of their leaders. End of story.


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