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Al-Dallal: ICM Reviews Muslim Brotherhood Legacy
Al-Dallal: ICM Reviews Muslim Brotherhood Legacy
Al-Dallal: I think there is no Brotherhood Int?l Org
The Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) was established in 1991 following its tensioned relation with the Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in the Arab and Muslim worlds, in which Kuwait ’s Brotherhood saw the Muslim Brotherhood’s overall stance of support to Iraqi aggression as contradictory to Islamic values and Law (Sharia). However, since then, the ICM played effective roles in reconciling its Islamic stances to issues reflecting Kuwaiti social and political reality in specific.
Tuesday, April 7,2009 03:54
by Rajab Al-Damanhouri* IkhwanWeb

The Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) was established in 1991 following its tensioned relation with the Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in the Arab and Muslim worlds, in which Kuwait "s Brotherhood saw the Muslim Brotherhood"s overall stance of support to Iraqi aggression as contradictory to Islamic values and Law (Sharia). However, since then, the ICM played effective roles in reconciling its Islamic stances to issues reflecting Kuwaiti social and political reality in specific.  

In this interview, Mohamed Al-Dallal, the deputy secretary-general of the Islamic Constitutional Movement tells IslamOnLine how ICM emerged and its effect on the Muslim Brotherhood"s attitude towards Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its following decision to be separated from Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in the world. Al-Dallal also speaks about ICM"s pledges and his response to some criticism against the movement in this level. He also addresses ICM"s political stances specially its relation with Kuwaiti government, a relation that moved from a stage of reconciliation and coalition to tension. Around all these issues and others, we had this interview with the deputy secretary-general of the Islamic Constitutional Movement.  




IslamOnLine: Some see that the emergence of ICM at early 1990s was a response to a specific regional and political reality in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, not the result of a well-studied view, how far do you agree with this analysis?  


Al-Dallal: Islamic political work in Kuwait dates back to early 20th century. Its beginning wasn"t tied to specific intellectual or political movements, but was rather related to Islamic-oriented figures like sheikh Youssef Al Eissa Al Qanaei , historian Abdul Aziz Al Rashid as well as others. These figures contributed to establishing the first Shura Council in 1921 which was mainly an advisory expressing views and giving advice to the ruler. Islamists from wide range affiliation took part in politics in 1938 when the legislative assembly was established in Kuwait . In turn, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood"s offshoot in Kuwait played a considerable political role through the activity of the Irshad Islamic society late 1940s and early 1950s. 


There are several Kuwaiti Islamic figures who had real influence on political activism in Kuwait,some of which became top Kuwaiti officials. They also maintained their political efforts and ran for elections of the constituent council, that issued 1962 constitution. The 1962 constitution is still enforced and marked with several positive aspects in terms of freedoms and human rights. 

During 1970s, The Social Reform Society (Muslim Brotherhood) was under the spotlights whether on political or unionist levels in Kuwait University.

It fielded candidates in the National Assembly elections in 1981, and was represented by both MPs Eissa Al Shahin- the former Secretary-General of ICM- and Hammoud Al-Roumi, the current chairman of Islamic Heritage Revival Society ( which is considered a salafist organization).  


However , in late 1980s ,the Kuwaiti government dissolved the parliament and suspended 1962 constitution , and accordingly, MB started adopting more inclusive policies , through which it engaged with other national, leftist, and popular movements, that shared MB their opposition to the government"s attitude and called for returning to constitutional life. 


In the post-Iraqi-invasion-of-Kuwait period, we needed  to represent ourselves and our discourse - concerning Islamic Sharia, state affairs, constitution, parliamentary and political life, government and public services and other issues- in the political scene, and at that time, the Kuwaiti  government perceived us as figures representing Islamic movement affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood"s ideology, while we were revising our relation to MB offshoots throughout the world, after their support for Saddam Hussein invasion of Kuwait, a decision that we didn’t agree to .  

It’s for these reasons, the Islamic Constitutional Movement saw light in March 1991,precisely defining itself as:

·     An active and vital movement in the political interactions in Kuwait.

·     A constitutional movements ; since it abides by the constitution of 1962 as a reference for political action, despite the need to introduce amendments according to constitutional mechanisms.

·     An Islamic movement; because we seek reconciling Islamic Sharia with currently applied laws under 1962 constitution.


Such definition of our movements doesn’t necessarily mean that the others are not constitutional or Islamic.In stead, we respect the other and we appreciate all efforts that consolidate the path of development in the country.    

Backpedaling on Open-up


IslamOnLine: The literature on establishing ICM shows that the movement was based- upon established- on an open thought that allows others joining to it, but this did not happen and the movement remained confined to those loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood"s ideology, can you account for this retreat? 


Al-Dallal: It is true that the constituent rules stipulated that the movement"s membership is available for all members of the general Islamic movement and the conservative trend as well.

Though it was a progressive idea, the political environment is yet unprepared for full engagement of ordinary public into Islamic movements,

From one side , and from the other side, the founders should have laid out mechanisms and regulations that organize participation of others, especially considering their hesitation to join politically informal movements.


This stance applies also for public figures who share the same ideas of the Islamic Movements but unwilling to take part but in a legal, formal, political party, which would help opening up the movements to other views and cadres. 


However, considering the obstacles of forming an Islamic political party, the movement didn’t hang on this issue, but instead , it played important roles in  government decision making, ideas, methods and principles. At the same time, the Kuwaitis have been enthusiast to join political movements after the movements well known Islamic initiatives, roles and attitudes. For example, In 2001 which was the 10th anniversary of  the  ICM establishment ,it finally adopted the idea of forming a political party, for better interaction with other political actors and regulation of its political work.  


Severing ties with the organization, reviewing legacy


IslamOnLine: After ICM emerged, it was clear in the rhetoric of its top figures that the Kuwait"s Muslim Brotherhood became independent from other worldwide offshoots, does this independence mean a break-up with the Muslim Brotherhood legacy or is it a tactical attitude to exceed fallout of a specific political stage?  


Al-Dallal: Kuwait "s Muslim Brotherhood took a clear attitude in this issue. Its decision was to break up because the practical attitude of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoots was in contradiction with clear- cut Sharia rules and principles concerning the issues of aggression. The MB offshoots committed a big mistake toward their Kuwaiti brothers and Kuwaiti people in general. I think the decision of organizational break-up was right. 


As for the Muslim Brotherhood"s legacy, Although the Muslim Brotherhood"s thought is comprehensive, renewed and progressive and that Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna was a pioneer of Ijtihad in the nation, we think that there is a problem in the Muslim Brotherhood"s methodology regarding this issue - “Ijtihad” - , since at last, other than Prophet Mohammed, everyone"s views could to be adopted or rejected  equally according to their relevance to current circumstances and interests. 


Relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood


IslamOnLine: Point out your relation with the Muslim Brotherhood amid the reported reconciliation between both sides specially against the backdrop of the Zionist aggression on Gaza ? 


Al-Dallal: There are two levels regarding this issue: On the intellectual level, yes we share similar views towards Muslim world’s causes like Palestinian and Iraqi nations’ cause, and its humanitarian dimensions .Cooperation and coordination is based on Qura’n and Prophet’s-PBUH- Sunnah ,as well as the basis of comprehensive understanding of Islam , however, this  doesn’t take place within the MB organizational framework, accordingly, our movements doesn’t receive directions from any other MB offshoots on the organizational level - I call it offshoots not international organization because I do not believe that there is an international organization on the practical level, There are rather Muslim Brotherhood offshoots which were formed in specific historical circumstances. Every offshoot has its own views and attitudes on how to handle domestic issues of their peoples.  


Missionary and political aspects


IslamOnLine: Reading papers of founding ICM and observing its activities shows that the movement is practicing a merely political activity. How has it managed to separate between the political, missionary, social and charity aspects?   


Al-Dallal: One of the chronic problems facing unionist and political work is confusing political and missionary aspects under one organizational entity, which later rises claims of exploiting different social, charity and educational activities to political gains.


In this regard, we believe that missionary work must have its own men who work for guiding people and contributing to the formation of good Muslim figures, the same for educational and charity activities. And the prominent example for such specialization is the Islamists in Morocco who pioneered in dealing with political affairs. Because at the end, the very nature of political work requires institutional and legal framework that doesn’t necessarily apply for other activities.  


IslamOnLine: But what about ICM"s experience in this field?


Al-Dallal: We care so much for developing our movement to be legally approved as a political party, which is transparent in its decisions, leadership, and  budget, and we would seek better interactions with other movements in the political arenas. 


ICM... and Machiavellianism


IslamOnLine: Some accuse ICM of practicing politics according to the traditional rules of the political game in Machiavellian, pragmatic and opportunist methods at the expense of Sharia principles specially concerning the relation with government, respond to these accusations.  


Al-Dallal: It is easy to pile up accusations against others but we always say "On the plaintiff rests the proof ". Accusations of exploiting politics to personal interests is hard to prove. However,we understand that criticizing the movements may result from its efforts to reconcile Islamic Shari’a with civil laws, and considering an ever open area for “Ijtihad”. 


As for our relation with the Kuwaiti government over the past three years, we have been taking part in the development process, to an extent that people used to perceive us as government partners. However, When we found that the government can"t offer tangible achievements, we joined the opposition - three monthes ago- and though it may seems like a sort of Machiavellianism, , in fact, we worked on imposing reforms on the government, and raised the ceiling of opposition to the extent of tabling an interrogation to the Prime Minister related to financial and administrative corruption, obstructing development projects and violating the constitution.  


Relation with government


IslamOnLine: On the occasion of mentioning ICM participation in government, some observers see that the movement has recently moved from a nearly Catholic marriage with the government to reach an irrevocable divorce and sharp opposition that led to government resignation, dissolving parliament, moving from one extreme to the other. What is the cause of such a sharp shift?  


Al-Dallal: Our relation with the government has never been a Catholic marriage. Since 1980s, ICM has never been in the arms of the government. We interrogated the Minister of Justice in 1986, the former Minister of Information sheikh Saud Al Nasser and the former Minister of Health Ahmed Al Abd Allah, both of them are members of the royal family. We also participated in interrogating the former Minister of Finance Youssef Al Ibrahim. Observers may notice that the Kuwaiti government includes a minister from every movement, however there is no coalition in the full sense of the word. We may agree in some points and we may differ in others. We have participated in the government - as we mentioned above - and we submitted many initiatives and reformist projects in many fields to speed up development. But when we realized that the government is not serious in reform we refused to participate further, and we used our constitutional right in interrogating it. However, it ended in its resignation and dissolving the House.  


ICM Reviews


IslamOnLine: The Islamic Constitutional Movement has repeatedly declared holding reviews for its political attitudes and performance especially in the wake of any political or parliamentary setback, but it results in changing some faces and changing positions of others, what is your comment?


Al-Dallal: The Islamic movement is continuously growing but it hasn"t reached the required maturity. This movement has passed through several stages. In the 1970s, Islamists got engaged in the political work. In 1980s, we took a jump in this field. In 1990s, we established a movement and we declared its regulations and platform and In 2001, we took more steps towards establishing parties and calling for establishing a "popular government", i.e. that the Prime Minister is from people not from the royalty. In 2004, the movement called for views related to cooperating with other movements and organizations and we called for the organization of political life. The movement has even leant to adopting a strong opposition after it was leaning towards leniency.  


However, we are a part of the current political reality and we undertake political work according to the current circumstances. Because we are not a political party, our policy is based on submitting our reformist views and initiatives to the government. We have also developed our Islamic general reformist and political methodology thought offering specific views in the field of development.   

Women"s rights


IslamOnLine: ICM"s view is still more or less confused as much as its attitude towards women"s political rights is concerned?  


Al-Dallal- it’s yet a disputable issue in the Islamic movement in Kuwait . I think that the attitude towards women"s political rights is still  confused. Personally speaking, I was a supporter of giving women the right to vote and to allow them to run for elections because giving them their rights will be within framework of Shari’a, traditions and privacy of our society. Since its establishment, the ICM adopts women"s right to vote but is reserved on its right to run due to Sharia considerations. In 2005, it adopted a moderate view in dealing with this issue, by saying: This is a widely interpreted issue and the movement respects all supporting and opposing views, but it objects to women"s right to run for elections due to social reasons. I think this isn"t right as we should give women voting and candidacy rights specially that these claimed corruptions don"t have such a big impact on the society. Also, taking the side of caution and the fear of the spread of corruptions is an attitude that needs a reconsideration because we face problems of the society to apply Islamic Sharia and to interact with the society in service and development issues including the women"s issue, specially the biography of the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him and his Companions offered pioneer female role models in interacting with the society.


*Kuwait-based Egyptian researcher and journalist  


Posted in Activites , Other Issues , Islamic Movements , MB Understanding  
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