Organization type: Transnational non-governmental Islamic organization with political affiliations
Key members: Hassan al-Banna, founder; Mohamed Badie, Supreme Guide; Mahmoud Ezzat, interim General Guide
The International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella organization that includes Muslim Brotherhood branches around the world.
It is currently building new international alliances with diverse currents of political Islam under an umbrella organization called the Islamic Council. The council is intended to serve to empower Islamic groups internationally but also as a source of authority for individuals and grassroots organizations.
The Brotherhood’s stated goal is “to promote development, progress and advancement based on Islamic references,” according to the Egyptian Brotherhood’s official website, Ikhwan Web. The success of the organization’s growth and influence, according to the website, is its principles and ideologies.
Founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, the organization began by preaching, teaching literacy, and opening hospitals. Banna envisioned the organization as borderless, much like Islam itself, and Brotherhood affiliations sprung up across the region, in Lebanon in 1936, in Syria in 1937, and in Jordan in the 1940s, where it was invited to join the government and recognized as a charity.
As it rose in political and social influence, governments began suppressing or outlawing Brotherhood organizations in the late 1950s and 1960s. Members sought refuge abroad, and centers were developed in Europe in 1960, in the U.S. in 1963, and in the Gulf in the late 1960s.
This period also saw the group’s greatest ideological shift, particularly with the publication of Sayyid Qutb’s “Milestones” in 1964, whose international distribution influenced Islamic organizations across the globe.
Since then, political back-and-forths have continued between Brotherhood organizations and state governments over political authority and influence. Over the past three decades, parties affiliated with the Brotherhood have formed and been banned in Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Egypt.
With the Arab Spring, the Brotherhood gained a renewed sense of political legitimacy, as Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement and Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party won presidential and congressional positions with victories in democratic elections. However, with popular protests in Egypt seeing the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi as well as growing discontent in Tunisia against Ennahda, the future of the organization’s political influence is unclear.
On Dec.25, 2013 the Egyptian government declared the Brotherhood to be a terrorist group following a Dec.24 car bombing outside the Dakahlia Security Directorate, which left 16 persons dead and more than a hundred others wounded, for which the government considered the group responsible.