Extremism Studies Unit
Factors that contributed to supporting and extending the Islamic revival
There are several factors that contributed to granting the revival and its current legitimacy to be an alternative to the ruling authorities, and they were:
The defeat of June 1967
All the advocates of political Islam of all kinds (MB, Salafism, Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc.) and to some extent Sufis and sons of a traditional school, blamed the Arab nationalist regimes for the historic defeat in the 1967 war and that had it not been for the regimes’ adoption of secularism and the exclusion of Islamic law from the reality in people’s lives, defeat would not have occurred.
In addition, all the previous groups, in different ways, saw that the only solution for the nation’s exit from this historical predicament was to return to the adoption of Islam as a way of life (Islam is the solution).
These propositions were embodied in the speeches and writings of prominent Islamic personalities, who were able to attract public opinion in Arab countries in the post-1967 period, especially after the release of Islamists at the beginning of the reign of Anwar Sadat in Egypt in the early seventies.
Among the most influential figures was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi with his two famous books, “The failure of imported solutions and how they hurt our nation” and “The Islamic Solution is an Obligation and Necessity”. Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, “The Battle of the Qur’an”, “The Book of Shells of Truth”, “The Secret of the Lateness of Arabs and Muslims”, “The Struggle of Religion” and “Darkness from the West”. As well as Saad Jumaa, the former Prime Minister of Jordan, on the setback and his books, “God or Destruction”, “The Conspiracy and the Battle of Destiny”, “The Society of Hate”.
The pamphlets of Sheikh Fathi Yakan also contributed to this. In Syria, Sheikh Saeed Hawwa’s books, including “Jund Allah, Culture and Ethics” had a tremendous impact on the thinking of all political Islam groups, including Jihadi Salafism. It is striking that the most important radical writings of Sheikh Saeed Hawwa, the Brotherhood’s theorist in Syria, came after the defeat of June 67.
Egyptian/Saudi Rapprochement 1971
During the era of Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, in 1971 Sadat released members of the MB movement from prison, “so the movement opened its headquarters and continued to operate, but without legal cover.”
This is what prompted them to migrate to Saudi Arabia for economic motives and political considerations, because the emergence of oil provided very exceptional job opportunities and the MB, which had established long relations before, was in a suitable position to exploit it.
The dominance of the MB over educational and cultural institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
In 1961, Since Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz established the Islamic University in Medina to compete with Al-Azhar University in Egypt, which Abdel Nasser wanted to become a propaganda device for his regime, Brotherhood leaders were able to control the Islamic University, as well as the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and its branch “Umm Al-Qura.” In Makkah Al-Mukarramah and Imam Muhammad bin Saud University in Riyadh.
The MB played a key role in religious awareness associations and revival incubators, and they were the direct teachers who assumed the task of political and ideological education in those associations and in those incubators. Likewise, emerged from the Egyptians, Muhammad Qutb, the brother of Sayyid Qutb, the author of the famous book “Fiqh of Sunnah”, Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali, Manna al-Qattan, Muhammad al-Rawi, Omar Abd al-Rahman, the Mufti of the assassination of Sadat in 1981 and the Palestinian Abdullah Azzam, theorist of jihad in Afghanistan, also emerged. Saudi Arabia also established the Muslim World League in 1962, where the MB became its pillar.
Khomeini Revolution 1979
The “Khomeini Revolution” represented a shock to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which felt that the matter directly threatened it, and that it was the beginning of a serious ideological war in the Middle East, putting two Islamic powers face to face in the region.
Khomeini presented his new regime as a representation of the oppressed Muslims worldwide since he came to power in Iran and affirmed his determination to export his revolution to the rest of the Muslim countries. The blatant hostility of Saudi Arabia in particular was evident in the ideology of the Khomeini revolution, not to mention its famous slogan that America is the “Great Satan.”
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979
The Soviet invasion and occupation (1979-1989) together with the Afghan resistance that followed inflamed feelings throughout the world of Islam, that the days of jihad had returned and the era of conquests had been resurrected. The super novel about the dignity of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, especially the narrative by Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989) in his book “The Verses of Rahman in the Afghan Jihad” was in the minds and hearts.
The Cold War and its Role in Supporting the Revival
The Islamic revival cannot be separated from the cold war chapters of the last century. Religion was one of the main weapons used by the “free world” in its struggle with the communists and the religious strategy of the Cold War had a special focus on the so-called “Islamic world”. Usually, in this context, reference is made to the role of the US and Britain in alliance with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in supporting the Afghan Mujahideen. This support had reached clearest direct expression in the visit of Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, to the Pakistani/Afghan border in 1981 and her confirmation for the Mujahideen, saying that “the heart of the free world is with you,” in presence of Muhammad Zia al-Haq, the Pakistani President.
The planning for the penetration of Hassan Al-Banna’s organization in Europe is credited to the administration of US President Dwight Eisenhower, and that was from the moment he met Saeed Ramadan, husband of Hassan Al-Banna’s youngest daughter, in Washington in 1953, according to secret documents released by US intelligence, on the use of the American Islamic Revival in the Cold War. Whoever visits the library of President Eisenhower in the state of Kansas will see documents related to Eisenhower’s meeting with Saeed Ramadan, who was described by the same documents as “the foreign minister of the Brotherhood.”
The relationship between the Brotherhood and the US Intelligence will facilitate for Saeed Ramadan the process of establishing what will later be called the “international organization” of the Brotherhood, as a functional group, whose plan was to achieve US goals in the Arab region and Islamic countries, but rather in Europe, Russia, and then China later. In addition, a part of the documents which were published by Robert Dreyfus, revealed how America helped the Brotherhood to spread and gain members and funding in order to stand up to the Soviet Union at that time.
The second Gulf War 1991
The “revival people” challenged the political and religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, represented by the Council of Senior Scholars and entered into a conflict with them, after they adopted positions on the regime’s policies, publicly criticizing the presence of foreign forces in Saudi Arabia and their country’s cooperation with the US in the second Gulf War in 1991.
The end of the Islamic revival era; Causes and repercussions
During the nearly five decades of the revival, the Arab countries lived in a state centered around religion. The national dreams of the post-independence countries receded and were replaced by dreams of a religious “utopia,”, the slogans of progress, modernization and democracy were replaced by slogans of returning to religion and implementing Sharia. Despite all that, the Islamic revival today has become as if it is on its way to extinction, as if it is an expression of a crisis, and of a political, social and cultural/religious circumstance – outside the scope of historical action, which suggests its final defeat, and its exit from the scene soon.
So what are the causes of revival’s death and then fading away?
Law of history motion
Law of history motion may have worked in the era of Revival, for correct introductions lead to correct results, and vice versa. The Islamic Revival has exhausted its great opportunities, as a result of its narrow-mindedness towards the culture of partnership with the outside and its belief that it possesses the absolute correctness, and that it is of divine origins, so it closed in on itself and did not benefit from the surrounding circumstances.
The subjective factor is the basis for the demise of most of these movements. The profound transformations that led to the prosperity of the awakening in the past and the factors that contributed to its rise receded or turned into the opposite. They became factors that contribute to its decline, or curb it.
For example, the general area of ignorance, in which the revival invested a lot, is fading out relatively against a state of consciousness, began to wonder where the politics of these movements would take us?
Objective reasons were linked to its involvement in armed conflicts, some of which were on behalf of supportive regional regimes and governments. Which left the most important duty it has undertaken throughout its history, which is to follow developments through intellectual production that explains them, defines Islam’s position on them, and directs the general Muslims.
As it seems to the observer and those interested in the issue of revival, that the public’s fascination with some religious leaders has greatly diminished. However, the complete collapse of the project of this revival remains contingent on the decline of the Turkish and the Iranian experience, as they are both present in the conscience of the revival’s remnants! Nor can we talk about the collapse of the “Revival” movement after its defeat, despite indications of its defeat, as long as the reasons for its emergence remain, as one of the drivers of conflict in the region, represented in the escalation of sectarian conflicts. Perhaps this society will push for the resurgence of an Islamic political current, the collapsed “Revival” in comparison with it will be more merciful and less extremist. This is what happened with the resurgence of ISIS.