All praise be to Allāh and may the peace and blessings be upon his messenger Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).
On the 17th of December 2015, the current UK Government finally announced the findings of the review into the work and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was commissioned in April 2014. The full report and its summary can be found on the Government’s official website: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/muslim-brotherhood-review-statement-by-the-prime-minister .
It is very shocking to see a report commissioned by the Government of Great Britain about a sensitive issue not only instigating sectarianism but also lacking the basic requirements and conditions for academic research and reporting.
What follows is a detailed exposition on the flaws and inconsistencies in the Muslim Brotherhood report findings and methodology.
Introduction to the flaws in the methodology of the report and major concerns about the report
Firstly, the report confirmed that the two primary individuals who prepared the report are a politician and someone from the security establishment. This raises a number of questions concerning neutrality observed when conducting the study. It is very surprising that the UK, which is known for having more than 150 universities and research centres, failed to commission this study to any of the universities or research centres in order to carry out independent and academically sound research over such a controversial issue.
Secondly, the report claimed that Sir John Jenkins, until recently HM Ambassador to Riyadh, visited twelve countries and met representatives of governments, political movements, religious leaders, academics and other independent commentators. Is this an academic statement to be made in a report concerning an important issue? What are those countries? Is Britain afraid of naming them? How many of those people where interviewed; academics, politicians or securocrats? What are the names of those individuals who were interviewed? Are they kept anonymous for security reasons? Furthermore, have the researchers referred to the Muslim Brotherhood literature? Is no part of any study of any movement to refer to its literature for a better understanding of the movement?
The report discusses the history of the MB in Points 8, 9, 10 and 15,among others. However, from where this information was obtained is not included. Considering there are hundreds of books and academic studies written by or about the members of MB, there should most certainly be some reference made to these books that speak about the history and ideology of MB.
Thirdly, the report fails to reveal the complete, necessary information for an informed and fair judgment concerning MB. This is a clear attempt at steering opinion towards a particular conclusion. This is most evident in the report’s mention of Interpal in Point 30.
And finally, the report uses stoutly sectarian language when referring to the MB; certain individuals and “Salafis”, disregarding the neutral and unbiased tone required in objective reporting.
A detailed analysis and response
The report says “It relied heavily on group solidarity and peer pressure to maintain discipline. This clandestine, centralised and hierarchical structure persists to this day.” The source of this is not mentioned. Similar statements are made throughout the report without a single reference to support such claims.
Points 9 and 10:
The report attests to the “clandestine” nature of MB. This is curious as, had MB been clandestine in nature, it would not form a political party whenever the legal opportunity to do so arose. Similarly, had they been working in the secretive and suspicious way the report suggests, they would not publish hundreds of books about themselves. We agree that some of the activities of MB are not public—which is entirely different to their being labelled as clandestine or secretive. Among these activities are the education and development of their members which has been openly declared by the members themselves. However, it is a natural attitude for any organisation not to disclose every single one of its activity as, other than requiring much time and effort, it might violate the privacy of many individuals.
Furthermore, there may be other reasons related to the climate in which they operate. Did the researcher, Sir John Jenkins, ask himself why it was that some of their activities were not made public? Did he mention that they were summarily tortured, prisoned and executed throughout their history?
Sir John Jenkins “concluded that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood did not do enough to demonstrate political moderation or a commitment to democratic values, had failed to convince Egyptians of their competence or good intentions, and had subsequently struggled to draw lessons for what its failure in Egypt meant for its future”.
This is a very loaded conclusion requiring evidence and investigation before it is declared publicly or used against the group that was in power. Firstly, is it enough, fair or even academic for a single individual to evaluate a movement that managed to survive and flourish in spite of a number of oppressive dictators, only to thereafter win the elections in one of the biggest Arab countries to emerge from one of the biggest revolutions in the world? Secondly, what is the evidence of failure “to convince Egyptians of their competence or good intentions”? Finally, the tone of language in Point 11 arguably reflects the perspective of the western elite when the report criticises the MB for not showing “commitment to democratic values”. What are those values? Are they the “judging criteria” used by the current UK Government to judge any movement? Did the Government use them when they welcomed two of the most criticised leaders in the world for their commitment to Human Rights and “democratic values”: the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jinping? What are the “democratic values” in question? Furthermore, does the Government believe that General Sisi, irrespective of classifying what he did as a military coup or not, is doing enough to demonstrate political moderation or a commitment to democratic values? Is he not accused with killing hundreds of protesters, imprisoning thousands of opponents and journalists, cracking down on freedom of speech?
The report mentions a number of perfunctory statements about the MB with no clear purpose.
Sir John tracks the complex historical relationships between MB chapters and Governments in the Islamic world. In some Arab states, the MB is now a proscribed organisation. In others, it is legal and politically active. In Tunisia, a party originally inspired by the MB has played a positive role as part of an emerging democratic process.
It is not clear whether this point serves as praise or dispraise for the MB. In fact, it can be seen as a statement in favour of the MB as it represents it as a flexible, dynamic and non-violent organisation that is committed to taking part in civil society, including the democratic process.
The general claims about the relationship between Hamas and MB were made, yet again, with no evidence and no reference. I agree, it is plausible that there exist ties between Hamas and MB. However, this is also the case between Hamas and most other Arab and Muslim countries. Based on the links between Hamas and the Qatari Government, for example, can the current UK Government classify Qatar or other Arab countries as possible “extremist” countries? Rather, this is clearly a desperate attempt to demonise MB.
Points 16 and 17:
These bring to the fore the Muslim Brotherhood as regards violence and terrorism.
Despite the fact the report asserts that Sir John “found a complex and situational relationship, in a region where political violence was and is common”, the Government deemed the assessment of this complex situation appropriate for only a single person to perform, who, as it stands, is also an affiliate to the Government itself.
Promoting the doctrine of Takfirism:
They then mentioned a very loaded paragraph in which the report confirmed a connection between “Sayyid Qutb, the key Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, the Indo-Pakistani theorist, Abul Ala’a Mawdudi, the founder of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami,” and accused Sayyid Qutb of having the intent of promoting the doctrine of Takfirism.
As ever, there was no evidence or reference made for the multiple baseless and emotional, accusatory statements. Both Sayyid Qutb and Abul Ala’a Mawdudi are Muslim thinkers and scholars who have authored a number of books that are accessible to everyone. Where did they promote the notion of Takfirsim?
Concerning the issue of Takfir, the Government assumes itself expert in Islamic theology. Their statements, however, confirm that they either do not know anything of Islamic theology or they are emulating right-wing media protocol, whereby a simple “cut and paste” to tarnish the image of Islām or Muslims suffices. The Government could have quite easily consulted one of the UKs reputable universities about “the doctrine of takfirsim in Islām”. Alternatively, they could have referred to the two translations of the Qur’ān compiled by British authors, Sir Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall.
The report fails to give the basic definition of Takfir which is the basis of this allegation. Furthermore, the report condemns both Mawdudi and Qutub for promoting the notion of Takfirism. This demonstrates that the Government judges both of them according to a particular standard. The different patterns of the word “kāfir” are mentioned in the Qur’ān more than 500 times and hence there is something in Islamic theology that is deeply rooted in Qur’ān related to “kufr”. Without going into its details in this article, the Government report should have clarified the differences between the correct doctrine of Takfir and the wrong one as defined by the Qur’ān. A necessary question to pose here is whether the Government considers the Qur’ān as the source of the doctrine of Takfirsim.
The report confirms that the MB “are prepared to countenance violence – including, from time to time, terrorism – where gradualism is ineffective”.
Again, the report fails to offer sources to support these claims when it could have easily referred to the works of the Ikhwan leaders, starting from the founder, Hassan al-Banna, then Hasan Hudaubi and lastly Shiekh Qaradawi.
Al-Banna wrote his famous work al-Usūl al-Ishrīn, which is considered to be the ideological framework for the MB movement. In the last principle, he spoke about the issue of Takfir where he said “Never label as an unbeliever (kāfir) any Muslim who has confessed the two declarations (Shahādatayn) of belief, acts accordingly and performs the obligatory (fard) duties of Islām unless he clearly professes the word of unbelief, refuses to acknowledge a fundamental principle of Islām, or interprets the Qur’ān in a way that is completely contradictory to the Arabic language, or commits an evident act of unbelief.”
Hassan Hudaubi wrote his famous book Preachers And Not Judges wherein he clearly condemns the act of wanton Takfir outside of the strict parameters set in mainstream Islamic jurisprudence.
As for Sheikh Qaradawi, his website is openly accessibly as is his TV programme in which he expresses the importance of being extremely careful about labelling anyone with the term kufr. He warns against unjustified Takfirism. If anything, he was accused of being too lenient towards sects that may have committed real acts of kufr! Furthermore, I have not seen any of the Takfiri groups quoting his fatwas concerning Takfir. It is the opposite, in fact, as many extreme groups accused him of kufr because he approves of democracy and is tolerant of other Muslim sects such as Shīʿa.
The report states that the doctrine of Takfirism “has consistently been understood as a doctrine permitting the stigmatisation of other Muslims as infidel or apostate, and of existing states as un-Islamic, and the use of extreme violence in the pursuit of the perfect Islamic society”. It is not clear whether the report is referring to Takfirism in general or to what Mawdudi, Qutub or MB promote. It seems the report makes use of the same tactics employed by the right-wing media in which certain trigger words are used alongside the name they want to tarnish. I challenge the entire Government to prove that either Mawdudi, Qutub or MB have ever called for “the use of extreme violence in the pursuit of the perfect Islamic society.”
The report, once again, enters into another theological and critical issue when it condemns MB, Mawdudi or Qutub for believing that “Jihad was neither solely spiritual nor defensive”. Had the report managed to reference this claim we could explain the views of MB, Mawdudi or Qutub and compare them to what Islām says about Jihā
It is not a something unknown that Jihād is part of Islā We do not want to explain the details of Jihād here but it is known that it takes various forms, from spiritual struggle to physical combat. The physical one also takes different forms based on time, place and context, including states going to war with other states when necessary. This is a very complex matter that should not be discussed so flippantly, rather it is a topic for advanced academic circles. What is enough to be said here if this topic is understood correctly is that Jihād in Islām will not lead to mischief, the killing of innocent people or the spreading of injustice. This is the kind of Jihād MB, Mawdudi, Qutub and any mainstream Muslim scholar believes in. They have never promoted killing innocent people, causing destruction of property, instigating chaos or other such behaviour. I call upon the authors of the report to present any evidence to contradict this.
Furthermore, for the report to prove that MB, Mawdudi or Qutub believed in the corrupted understanding of Jihād such as the one used by ISIS (which the report’s authors seem to share), it should quote how those groups implemented these beliefs. In other words, the Jihād they believe in, irrespective of its name: defensive or offensive, does not lead to the killing of innocent people nor does it lead to injustice. Therefore, it should not be condemned before its reality is understood.
In a following sub-point, the report claims the views of Sayyid Qutb where not institutionally disowned by MB. It further states that his views “led to a resurgence of takfiri ideology, and has inspired many terrorist organisations, including the assassins of Sadat, Al Qaida and its offshoots”. Again, neither explanation nor proof were presented to support this claim or “conclusion”. Furthermore, if there are groups who used his views as an excuse for their incorrect practices, then it is not too much to expect of any sane adult to recognise and appreciate the difference between such after-the-fact justifications and actual motivations. Is it not the case that perpetrators of any crime use any excuse to justify their actions? This conclusion is mandatory if the scholars in question have themselves condemned prolifically the killing of innocent people.
The report later confirms that MB disowned violence. The report should have disclosed what type of violence it disowned. The MB never endorsed illegal violence and they are known for their condemnation of the illegitimate killing of civilians. The report may have referred to Jihād, which is part of Islām and, thus, cannot be disowned.
In the next sub-point, the report condemns MB for having “repeatedly defended Hamas attacks against Israel, including the use of suicide bombers and the killing of civilians”. The way this attempted critique is framed would suggest that the UK Government by default “officially” supports the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and denies the right for the Palestinians to defend themselves. The least that can be said about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians – and Hamas forms part of them – is to say that it is a controversial issue and the UK has its own viewpoint in support of Israel. The question is: can a just judge use a controversial issue as a criterion for judging others especially when there is a conflict of interest?
The report claims that “senior Muslim Brotherhood figures and associates have justified attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan” with, once more, no evidence or reference Furthermore, a weighty report should be more concerned with presenting concrete information, including the exact dates of incidents mentioned in the claim, in order to allow for a genuine scrutiny of the claim.
In the final sub-point, the report confirms some members of the MB condemned al-Qaida, yet the report went to say “But leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood have claimed that the attacks on 09/11 were fabricated by the US, and that the so called ‘war on terrorism’ is a pretext to attack Muslims”. What is the point here? Does the British Government want to force every single human being to agree with its worldview? What about the swathes of non-Muslim conspiracy theorists?
Sir John concludes that it was not possible to reconcile these views with the claims made by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that “the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently adhered to peaceful means of opposition, renouncing all forms of violence throughout its existence”. And here lies yet another glaring methodological error. The ability to reconcile evidence in real life with a manufactured straw man, says more about the reconciler’s competence and intentions than anything else. Why was Sir John used as a judge instead of a panel or a team of independent judges, let alone experts?
Points 19-23 and 26-27:
Some information about MB was provided which could be considered as praise, such as:
- – The decision MB took to become more engaged with political activism which is a requirement in a democratic society.
- – Their role in dealing with the Muslim community and “militant Salafists who had returned to the UK after fighting in Afghanistan” (Point 22).
- – The role of some MB members in solving the problem of Finsbury Park Masjid and not siding with the ‘Abu Hamza group’ (Point 23).
The use of the term ‘militant Salafists’ highlights the sectarian language in the report.
The report claims that, “in 2009 the then government suspended dialogue with the MCB after an office holder signed a public document which appeared to condone violence against any country supporting an arms blockade against Gaza. There has been no substantive dialogue since then between any part of the Brotherhood in the UK and Government”.
This is such a disturbed statement evidently made by a person desperately wishing to prove baseless claims. It says that the Government suspended dialogue with the Muslim Council of Britain, which it asserts is linked to MB, and just two lines later the report said that “there has been no substantive dialogue since then between any part of the Brotherhood in the UK and Government”.
No source is cited in support of this point and the Muslim Council of Britain has henceforth challenged this claim as untrue, supporting their challenge with
Furthermore, the report never said that this “office holder signed the document” in his capacity or as an office holder of MCB. What does the document say? Is there any copy of it?
The report mentions that “the military wing of Hamas was proscribed in the UK as a terrorist organisation in 2001 but Hamas has been active here for over ten years. The EU has had in place an asset freeze on the whole of Hamas (both its political and military wings)”. This is true, yet the report should have added that the UN, the biggest international organisation, never classified Hamas as a terrorist organis
The report describes Interpal, the famous UK registered charity that “was founded in 1994 to provide humanitarian and development aid to Palestinians in need in Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan”. It lists a number of actions taken by the UK Charity Commission and the US Government against Interpal, which the report claims has links with MB. This point is more than enough to discredit this report. Apart from lack of professionalism, it fails to reveal the truth and it demonstrates the level of bias permeating this report. It is true that there were allegations made by the US Government which led to an investigation by the UK Charity Commission. But what was the result of this investigation? Why does the report omit its mention? Perhaps, the outcome of the investigation is embarrassing for the UK Government:
“The commission for the third time found insufficient evidence to support the claims. However it found that the charity needed to be more rigorous when it came to choosing and monitoring local partners”.
“In 2012 the commission published a report, saying it was satisfied Interpal had complied with its statutory orders following its inquiry”.
The report confirms that MB either founded or helped in establishing a number of organisations across Europe. The report concludes that the European Council for Fatwa and Research, another pan-European Muslim Brotherhood body, intended to provide religious and social guidance to Muslims living in Europe. To anyone not consumed with an irrational xenophobia this should clearly be a point of praise rather than dispraise.
The report states that “the public narrative of the Muslim Brotherhood focused more on the task of Islamising the individual and community than the state.” Yet again, this would be considered praiseworthy by those in the Government who do not fanatically dislike Islam.
This section of the report, written by a person with links to the government, mentions that “there is some evidence that MAB have tried to do so in specific areas of the country”. The use of the words “some evidence” is telling. However, the report goes on: “Literature in the Muslim Brotherhood movement in this country continues to reflect some of the concerns of the foundational Muslim Brotherhood ideology, notably that western society is inherently hostile to Muslim faith and interests and that Muslims must respond by maintaining their distance and autonomy”. Again, no evidence was presented and we do not know the actual context of this claim.
Following this, the report states, “The UK based chairman of Interpal has written openly in support of the death penalty for homosexuality and stoning to death of married men and women found guilty of adultery”. This point raises many questions about how the current UK Government views Muslims in the UK. First, no person of Islamic knowledge supports the death penalty for what is commonly known as ‘homosexuality’ as it is not the prescribed Islamic punishment for it. However, the threat of “stoning to death of married men and women found guilty of adultery” is a well-established Islamic punishment that is mentioned in the books of Islamic jurisprudence read by Britons for hundreds of years. What does the current UK Government want? Do they want Muslims to change their beliefs? Why did the UK Government, who was aware of this Islamic belief through the very many orientalists who translated many Islamic books, accept Muslims as citizens in the first place? Does the current UK Government believe that the very many Muslim countries who believe in this punishment—who happen to be in the UN—are extreme countries and should thus cut all ties with them? Does this show that the current Government have no semblance of rationality in discussing this?
The report said, “In 2010 a television documentary showed members of the Islamic Forum for Europe privately advocating sharia law in Tower Hamlets and actively seeking influence in the Council.” I cease not to be amazed at the lack of professionalism and integrity of this report. Is an impressively imaginative interpretation of a statement stripped of all context and nuance from an infamous, hatchet-job of a “documentary” enough evidence for such an important issue as the one at hand? As can be expected, the official response for IFE is not mentioned at all.
The report returns to the topic of Hamas and “that Muslim Brotherhood-related organisations and individuals in the UK have openly supported the activities of Hamas”. The question is, does this make MB an organisation linked to terrorism? Does it not mean the MB does not see Hamas as a terrorist organisation, like the majority of the world?
The report again accuses Sayyid Qutb’s work of inspiring “people (including in this country) to engage in terrorism,” as though repeating such an unfounded proposition would give it more credence. I challenge Mr Farr and the current UK Government with presenting a single proof to rationally support this claim.
The report makes another huge claim with no proof or reference. “MAB (like the MCB) have consistently opposed programmes by successive Governments to prevent terrorism.” It seems the report treats any organisation which opposes Government strategy in allegedly combating terrorism as an organisation that supports terrorism. This is the same strategy used by Mr Bush when he declared his war on “terror”: “If you disagree with us, then you are with the terrorists”. That those “programmes by successive Governments to prevent terrorism” have been empirically shown by peer-reviewed academia, to be in fact contributing to the actual causes of terrorism, I suspect is too inconvenient a fact for the report to consider.
The report concludes that “the Muslim Brotherhood have promoted radical, transformative politics, at odds with a millennium of Islamic jurisprudence and statecraft, in which the reconstruction of individual identity is the first step towards a revolutionary challenge to established states and a secularised if socially conservative order”. This is a laughable conclusion. The Government is not just assuming the role of theologian but also as Muslim Judge with expertise in Islamic jurisprudence. Furthermore, the report fails to reference a number or even a single, independent, Muslim academic who agrees with them on this conclusion.
In the following sub-points, the report concludes with a number of statements such as: The MB “have also selectively used violence and sometimes terror in pursuit of their institutional goals” and “by mid-2014 statements from Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-linked media platforms seem to have deliberately incited violence”. Neither ambiguous accusation is substantiated by any evidence presented in the whole report.
In the final sub-point of the conclusion the report surmises that “aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security”; a highly loaded conclusion that the entirety of the report fails to prove.
The report instigates a new form of sectarianism and lacks the basic requirement of professionalism and academic approach in the following ways:
- It is written by two individuals only. Furthermore, these individuals are non-independent with an apparent conflict of interest.
- The report fails to reference most of its claims and provides no evidence for most.
- The report fails to refer to primary sources in substantiating most of its claims.
- The report fails to be neutral by considering the view-point of the MB themselves either through an accurate representation of their senior members or through their literature.
- The report deliberately uses the technique of ‘guilt by association’ to forge links between MB and terrorism and “extremism”, demonstrating a desperate attempt to force a particular conclusion about the subject matter.
- The report does not acknowledge the good work achieved by the MB and its affiliates throughout the many decades of peaceful and productive existence in the UK and Europe.
- The report conflates mainstream Islām with “extremism”.
Brothers and sisters involved in the MB should, I believe, pursue legal means to sue the current UK Government for defamation, hiding the truth, twisting information and promoting sectarianism. They should not feel internally victimised nor subjugated; rather take as a positive sign that those who wished to smear them were unable to find anything of substance to tarnish their reputation.
And Allāh knows best.
 Henceforth identified as MB
 There are many reports that accused them of doing so. Cf.
 The Teachings, the Twentieth principle
http://www.ikhwanwiki.com/images/1/14/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%AD_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%86_%D9%81%D9%8A_%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%AD_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%84_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%86.pdf page 370
 https://www.islam21c.com/politics/new-study-extremism-does-not-cause-terrorism-2/ contains a link to a review of decades of peer-reviewed research on the actual causes of terrorism by Prof Arun Kundnani.
Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom’s Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari’ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.