RECOMMENDED READING: "The Brotherhood and the Shiite Question"


Israel academic Israel Altman has written an article discussing the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Shiite Islam. From the introduction:

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a transnational movement that shares a common Ikhwani doctrine of Islamic reform and revival that was originally formulated by the movement’s founder, Shaykh Hasan al-Banna. Despite this common doctrine, however, the Brotherhood’s assorted local organizations and affiliated offshoots have interacted with the specific socio-political conditions of their respective arenas. As a consequence of this, the Brotherhood’s branches have pursued a range of strategies for acquiring power and establishing an Islamic state that has, over time and from place to place, helped create a considerable diversity of political agendas and perspectives within the movement as a whole. One area in which this intra-Ikwhani diversity is clearly visible today is in the different Brotherhood perspectives of and positions toward what might be broadly called the “Shiite question.” That question has been at the forefront of Sunni Arab religious and political ideology and debate, and especially in recent years due to the growing power and prestige of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the region. This, in turn, has led to Shiism’s increasing influence throughout the Middle East in general, and it has also intensified the ongoing clash between some streams of Sunnism and Shiism. The Sunni world has been deeply divided over how to react to these new regional dynamics caused by Iran’s and Shiism’s political and religious resurgence. Likewise, the Brotherhood movement is internally divided over the Shiite question, with some of them supporting and championing Shiism’s new religious and political influence, and other elements of the movement wary of and even hostile to Shiite power.

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