Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Can Banna the Younger right the wrongs of Banna the Elder?

What do an 88-year old Egyptian writer living in Cairo and a teenage American girl living in Florida have in common?

Answer: the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad and “honour killings”.

Here are the dots….

Gamal al-Banna is the 88-year old Egyptian writer, the younger brother of the late Hassan al-Banna.
Banna the Elder established the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. 
The Muslim Brotherhood’s influence was greatly expanded by Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s (that's Qutb pictured here).
Qutb was mentor to Osama bin Laden and to Ayman Zawahiri, a “theoretician” of al-Qaeda.  Much of the terror rhetoric of al-Qaeda draws directly from the Muslim Brotherhood.  In the US, the Muslim Brotherhood has said that it is engaged, in its own words:
"... in a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
The Muslim Brotherhood motto:
"Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
The Muslim Brotherhood platform demands strict implementation of Sharia law, which calls for death for apostasy, including killing one’s children:
“When a person … apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed”  (Manual of Islamic Jurisprudence, Reliance of the Traveller,  o.8.1).  And:
“The following are not subject to retaliation: …  a father or mother for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring” (o.1.2)
This is not just Islamic legal theory.  It is also fact. People are killed, tortured, raped or threatened with death all the time for apostasy from Islam [Ref 4].
“You get the picture?  Oh yes, we see….
Hassan and Sayyid,
the leaders of the pack…”
Banna the Younger writes for a more moderate Islam: he’s against the wearing of the veil, against female genital mutilation, in favour of women leading prayer.
The teenage American girl is Rifqa Bary, the 17-year old from Ohio who converted from Islam to Christianity in 2005, and about whom I wrote here .   When her father found out she had become an apostate from Islam, she says he beat her and threatened to kill her.  She fled to Florida in July, in fear for her life.
The Muslim Brotherhood connection?  The lawyers for Ms Bary have issued to the media an “Investigation and Intelligence Memorandum” [3] which provides evidence from the US Justice Department of connections between the Noor Mosque in Ohio attended by the Bary family and the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, and Jihadi terrorism.
Since (a) the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organisation calling for for strict adherence to Sharia, which mandates death for apostates, since (b) the Noor Mosque has clear connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and since (c) Mr. Bary was a devoted attendee at the Noor Mosque, there is at least clear a priori evidence to keep Ms Bary away from her father.
You would think that the “moderate Muslims” we hear so much about would tackle this issue: try to get the death penalty for apostasy provisions changed.  But the problem is, they can’t.  There can be no change in Islam and Islamic law: Ijtihad (Koranic and Hadithian exegesis) closed its door centuries ago.
So all they can do is try to deny that death provisions exist (in which they are plain wrong), and try to shift the focus from the threat on the young girl’s life, by instead raising fears for their own safety!  Robert Spencer:
“This is, of course, how Islamic groups in the U.S. have reacted to every act of violence and every threat that any Muslim has issued in recent years: they've raised fears of a non-existent "backlash" and claimed they're being persecuted, rather than address the root causes of the violence and brutality within their own community. And the bemused, befuddled multiculturalists in the mainstream media go along with it happily, every time.” (ref)
In his latest article in favour of some flexibility [2] in Islam Banna the Younger has said that belly dancers ought not to be criticized. 
Would it not be nice if this old Lion of Moderation were able to address the Rifqa Bary case direct? A nice kind of squaring of the circle.  To denounce honour killings, flat out, no if’s no buts.  And denounce, while he’s about it, the poisonous legacy of his brother’s most famous creation the Muslim Brotherhood.
BTW: I’ve read Sayyid Qutb: his Milestones and Social Justice in Islam.  They’re pretty dreary, illogical, circular in argumentation, frequently self-contradictory, and otherwise a farrago of sophistry.  I thought them rather like reading Mao Tse-tung in the seventies, when I had to do it at the Peking Language Institute: writing that was like fairy floss, fluffy and insubstantial, superficially pretty, but squashing down to nothing, sickly sweet glob.   Both writers, Qutb and Mao, have caused rather a lot of trouble,  though, thereby proving Orwell right: that we have to watch out for bad writing, as it can have baleful effects.  In particular we need to watch Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood; unlike Mao, they continue to pursue their aims for a worse world.
   1.   A voice for 'new understanding' of Islam -  Michael Slackman discusses Gamal al-Banna, IHT 20 Oct 2006,
   2.   Hints of Pluralism in Egyptian Religious Debates, Michael Slackman on Gamal al-Banna, IHT, 1 September 2009
   3.    Investigation and Intelligence Memorandum,  Issued in Rifqa Bary case, 30th August 2009
   4.   Murders, torture, rape or death threats for apostasy from Islam in: Australia, Bangladesh,  Britain, Britain again, Egypt, Egypt again, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia