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Muslim Brotherhood between imitation and modernization
The issue of modernization and imitation rises from time to time. This issue is often put forth as a form of criticism for MB on the grounds that the group refuses modernization. In some analyses, some MB cadres are looked at as symbols of political modernization within the group and those who hold this view believe that such cadres do not represent the MB. Actually, this view, circulat
Thursday, July 6,2006 00:00
by Rafik Habib, Ikhwanweb

The issue of modernization and imitation rises from time to time. This issue is often put forth as a form of criticism for MB on the grounds that the group refuses modernization.

In some analyses, some MB cadres are looked at as symbols of political modernization within the group and those who hold this view believe that such cadres do not represent the MB. Actually, this view, circulating among critics, does not present the reality, but rather a means of attacking MB.  

 Away from the way in which mass media show MB, the group has its own methodology of intellectual modernization. This methodology depends basically on the nature of the group which is a very dynamic movement.

 We really misunderstand MB when looking at it as an intellectual movement, a group of intellectuals or as a political theorization group. In fact, this conception is wrong, for the group depends on dynamism as a central methodology. When we criticize the group for not having theorists among its members, actually this criticism needs rephrasing because the MB does not practice theorization as one of its activities; therefore theorists do not find it a good opportunity.

 

But how does the dynamic group formulate thought?

The reality shows that the MB does not set thought but rather a fiqh that is deep understanding. This understanding is realized by matching text against reality. Thus the real essence of Muslim Brotherhood message and mission, since its first origin at the hand of Imam Hasan Al-Banna, is a translation of the all-encompassing message of Islam. Consequently, we find the MB thought expressing the manner by which texts can be matched against reality; hence the theoretical formulation becomes the result of this matching.

 

In the dynamic movement, experience and thought are found integrated and experience originates from thought. That means the theoretical formulation relies on matching reality against basic thought. Through this matching the practical and intellectual stances are defined in a complementary way that makes thought express practice and practice stress on this thought.

 

When we fully understand this methodology, we can ask about the relationship between imitation and modernization inside the Muslim Brotherhood.

But first of all, we have to define imitation and modernization. Imitation simply means to follow and adopt the opinions of predecessors, while modernization is to come up with new vision. In that sense, the imitative stance of MB will be any stance depending on the previous adopted visions and views, while the modernized stance will be the one depending on fresh vision. 

Here we have to emphasize that a lot of views-especially those connected with essentials- cannot be open for modernization. Moreover, to stick to these views does not come under imitation. As for stances that require modernization, they are those connected with an unprecedented situation which requires a new vision consistent with its actual reality.

Based on the above mentioned, we can conclude that MB reacts with developments and situations in a positive way that is misunderstood by many observers. The MB usually reaches its final stance concerning a certain situation when it has to deal with it in reality. It does not declare its stance concerning any speculative situation and delays that till its time comes.    

This emphasizes the dynamic nature of this group which does not adopt mere theorization as a methodology. Rather, it resorts to theorization with present situations only and decides on its stance when it has to deal with the situation.

The relationship between modernization and imitation depends on the nature of current phase. When the MB cadres put forth new visions, a process of examination and study starts depending on the accumulated experiences of the group at the dynamic level. The group may take long time examining this new vision to the extent that some people consider that a refusal of modernization, but actually it is an investigation of the new vision. 

We find the group adopting new stances in many issues especially in terms of political issues; these new stances become a part of MB history when it is gradually circulated among various sections of the group. Such new stances take a strict sense among some of MB leaders until a moment comes necessitating the declaration of  stance; at this moment we find a clear vision which turns into a dynamic and intellectual stance for MB.

By understanding this, we can fully comprehend any new vision developed by the group leaders. Such visions become a subject for study that may be generally accepted or not. In all cases, the dynamic experience of the group plays an essential role in developing the dialogue within the group itself and reaching final decision concerning the new vision.

Here we can recognize some distinguished features of Muslim Brotherhood and the wonderful balance between the dynamic gradualness and intellectual one. By the means of intellectual dynamic modernization and intellectual dynamic gradualness, MB achieves an internal balance that enables it to survive all difficulties.

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