Writing in Asharq Alawsat, Abdullah Al-Otaibi comments on the blurred line that stands between ‘political Islam’ and ‘militant Islam’. Much like the way the N. Irish political party Sinn Féin provided a political cover for the actions of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), he argues, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups provide political cover for violent groups, even within the “Arab Spring” movement.
Militant Islam and Political Islam
Militant Islam is a term used to cover those groups, currents, symbols, and individuals who use Islam as a pretext for armament, fighting, and violence. It is a term that covers various methods and styles, ranging from radical theorizing and the issuance of provocative fatwas, to planned and organized operations, to simple cold-blooded murder.
According to some today, there is a vast difference between militant and political Islam, yet history tells us that this is not an accurate reading. From the beginning, the Muslim Brotherhood—the oldest and most prominent representatives of political Islam—have cultivated militant Islam from within through secret organizations and specialist groups. It is well known that the Brotherhood carried out many bombings, assassinations, and acts of violence under the eyes of their founder, Hassan Al-Banna. The group also sought to incite revolutions, as happened in Yemen in 1948. During the era of the second Brotherhood General Guide Hassan Al-Hudaybi, this violent trend continued. At the time, illustrious Brotherhood member Yusuf Al-Qaradawi conveyed his consent, as did Zaynab Al-Ghazali. The trail can also be traced back to Sayyid Qutb, who was executed following a state crackdown on the Brotherhood in the 1960s. Indeed, we can assert that the violent religious organizations of the 1970s emerged from the womb of Qutb’s rhetoric.