When you study the history of the Syrian MB from the moment it was established until now, you will undoubtedly stop at the transformation that accompanied its history from being a political movement that believes in democracy, reaching the People’s Assembly, and accepting the other in the 1950s and 1960s. To a jihadist movement on the one hand and a deep and superficial sectarian movement on the other hand, during the 1980s, at the hands of what were known as the Fighting Vanguard.
The transition from belief in the democratic process, within the confines of the parliamentary process, to the adoption of violence, is the outcome of a long political journey, not only in the course of the MB, as we will talk later, but within the framework of the entire political system that existed at that time. A political journey that we can summarize in the case of the MB with two main figures in the path of the MB: Mustafa al-Sibai, the first guide of the MB in Syria, and Marwan Hadid, the founder of Syrian jihadism.
What are the objective reasons for this transformation?
Before beginning to study this deep transformation in the Syrian MB’s path, which was represented by the transition from the moderate thought of Mustafa al-Sibai to the jihadist and exclusionary thought of Marwan Hadid. It is necessary to first define the ideas of the two men and stations from their political history to know the extent of this transformation that occurred, and in what field it occurred then we return to the study of the causes of these transformations.
Mustafa al-Sibai was born into a traditional religious family in Homs, and studied Sharia in Cairo, where he met Hassan al-Banna and was influenced by him. Then he returned to Syria, contributed to the establishment of the Syrian MB, and was its first Supreme Guide.
Perhaps we can infer this moderation, if you will, through his positions on socialism, agrarian reform, and private property. In his book, “The Socialism of Islam” Al-Sibai legitimizes socialism as Islamic, and considers Islam to be socialist in its origin and agrees to agrarian reform. but at the same time, he stood in the Syrian People’s Assembly against nationalization the private property, moving away from that the radical parties have always been known for, which also began to appear on the scene in the same period.
As for Marwan Hadid, the man was born in the city of Hama to a socialist ideological family, where he was a member of Akram al-Hourani’s Socialist Party and was appointed as the party’s financial officer in his school Ibn Rushd. Then he later turned to the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Qutb, in turn, drew his last thoughts from Abu Al-Ala Mawdudi in India. Especially his concept of judgment for God, which says that there is no judgment except for God, and that God alone entrusts those who rule in his name. Thus, he disbelieves, not only non-religious governments, but also all Islamic currents that do not follow his approach
What are the reasons for the transformation?
First: the role of the educational environment in the lives of each of them?
Although individuals, however powerful, cannot play an exceptional role in history outside of what the historical circumstances themselves allow, their qualities and personalities play a more or less specific role.
Hence, the difference between Al-Sibai and Hadid is vast and great, both in terms of personal natures that make the former inclined to dialogue and not to clash with others, and from the latter problematic and acute, or in terms of the family and social context in which each of them grew up, which ultimately explains their respective personalities.
But the most influential reasons lie elsewhere, which we will continue to look into.
Second: The age of Al-Sibai and the age of Hadid?
Al-Sibai lived through the stage of liberation from colonialism and the building of the national state, whose men adopted parliamentary democracy as the political system of the state, where the democratic process was able to contain all political differences. This allowed Al-Sibai to resolve the issue of the 1950 constitution within the parliament itself.
While the matter was different in the Hadid era, where the features of dictatorship had been established since 1958, the year of unity, whose impact on the Hadid family was also obvious through the dismissal of his brother, an army officer, during the era of Abdel Nasser.
The dictatorship began to take shape slowly until democracy was unable to defend itself after Nasser’s departure, and no parliament was able to manage political conflicts within state institutions. This is what made Hadid and Hawa turn to the street, i.e. their transformations are a reaction to despotism in its direct violence against the people, where the semi-democratic atmosphere of the 1950s, in addition to the Arab nationalist extension, contributed to the creation of a social/intellectual environment suitable for the emergence of the “populist-socialist” MB to Al-Sibai.
Third: The transition from democratic life to despotism?
At a point branching out of the previous path, we can note that the Baath’s accession to power, the deepening of despotism and the nationalization of corruption after the nationalization processes of Syrian capitalism and the re-engineering of the religious field, In proportion to the interests of the new authority, and the increase in the population of Syria… All this led to profound changes in the structure of the Syrian economy and its capital on the one hand, and in the structure of the Syrian society on the other hand.
Fourth: Islamic transformation towards violence?
There is an explanation of jihadi Salafism that says: “Jihadi Salafism seems to be a response to the failure of political Islam.” This is relatively true, as the inability of political Islam to adapt to the requirements of the age and its permanent bias towards the old, its attempt to find modernist fabrications, and prove its belonging to the era instead adopting a true reformist approach, makes Islam a spiritual reference for the human.. This contributed, and within the framework of political transformations and the radicalization of despotism, to the transformation of the masses of political Islam towards jihadist Salafism.
Fifth: Syria from liberalism to authoritarianism
If Al-Sibai, as we talked about above, raised in the period of Syrian liberalism, Hadid grew up in a revolutionary authoritarian climate. However, this authoritarianism is the result of many factors that in turn generated “revolutionary” radicalism on the opposite side as well.
In general, this climate affected each political party according to its ideology. Accordingly, all parties witnessed splits, some of which ended in power, violence, or exile. The MB was not far from these transformations, which led to Marwan Hadid’s comrades taking up arms, while the leaders of the MB were exiled, and the two parties (the vanguard and the MB) began exchanging accusations, but without any party officially disowning each other, despite the great betrayal that we heard from parties here and there.
Therefore, there are social factors, historical changes and global policies that contributed to the presence of Mustafa Al-Sibai, who is subject to democratic opinion, and there is Marwan Hadid, the son of the revolutionary historical environment, which tends to violence as the most effective means of change. In addition to this, the MB/MB differences that allowed this transformation from the democratic method to the violent method.