Saturday, January 21, 2012

Egypt: Female former member of Muslim Brotherhood tells all

Jihad Watch

Surprise! It's a self-serving, dysfunctional organization. "In memoir, ex-Muslim Sister paints an unflattering picture," by Noha El Hennawy for Al Masry Al Youm, January 16 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

As the Muslim Brotherhood strives to project the image of a moderate and democratic political organization, a book featuring the angry account of a former member has hit the market.

"The Memoirs of a Former Sister: My Story with the Muslim Brotherhood" is the testimony of Intissar Abdel Moneim, an Alexandria-based novelist and author. With a compelling style and sharp language, the book takes the reader on a journey exploring the internal politics of the 83-year-old organization, placing special emphasis on discrimination against female members. Throughout her work, Abdel Moneim decries the sisters’ internalization of oppression as women are socialized in a way that compels them to accept male dominance within the organization — and the household.

Early in the book, Abdel Moneim condemns what could be interpreted as the Brotherhood’s exploitation of the permissibility of polygamy in Islam.

“One of the areas where the Brothers have exploited the idea of blind obedience and submission is polygamy,” she writes, adding that a brother would take second and third wives for no valid reason. “When the [first] wife complains, a session is held for her where other sisters would remind her of the importance of obedience, patience and submission to God’s will and to [the husband]’s will,” she writes.

To understand the roots of the subjugation of women, Abdel Moneim unpacks the writings of Hassan al-Banna, the group’s late founder. Here, the author summons her courage and puts forth a vehement critique of the group’s canonized leader, who is rarely questioned, even by the most vocal ex-brothers.

Banna's teachings sought to limit women to "catering to their husbands' desires and to reproduction," Abdel Moneim writes.

The book dismisses Banna's dictum that there is no need to invest heavily in girls' education and that women should be trained only to serve as housewives and mothers. Abdel Moneim feels that this sentiment is contradictory to true Islam.
“It is true that Islam says that a woman’s primary role is to raise children, but it does not say that this is her only role and that she should not do anything beyond it. Neither the Koran nor the Sunna [Prophet Mohamed’s sayings and deeds] nor the sayings of the prophet’s companions and successors barred her from learning any sciences. The matter has been left for her to decide, according to her needs and circumstances," writes Abdel Moneim.

Unfortunately, the situation does not need explicit statement in the Qur'an or Sunna for a critical mass of other parameters to make it the logical conclusion of certain attitudes and behaviors. For example, the obsession with control of women (Qur'an 4:34), and the paranoia in Muslim societies about purity and honor work against women's independence.

She goes on to criticize Banna's insistence that men and women should be separated. With a scathingly sarcastic tone, the author argues that Banna’s view portrays humans as if they are mere animals who have little control over their impulses.

“You cannot by any logic perceive all people as mere female and male sex organs that roam the streets looking for the moment of intercourse like cats," the book reads. Abdel Moneim attributes Banna’s rigid outlook to his rural background.

This outlook still shapes the group’s perception of women’s roles within the organization and in the society at large. It justifies why the Muslim Sisters' division cannot operate independently from the Brothers, why no woman is admitted into the group's highest bodies, namely the Shura Council and the Guidance Bureau, and why the group will not acknowledge a woman's right to rule, according to the book. [...]

... the author bashes the Brotherhood’s internal dynamics, arguing that it is based on nepotism rather than merit. To substantiate her claim, she refers to her personal experience recounting that she was not easily admitted into the group because she was not the daughter, the sister or the wife of one of the Muslim Brotherhood's heroic or wealthy figures. For both men and women, such family ties are required to facilitate one’s upward mobility within the organization, according to Abdel Moneim.

Meanwhile, the author coins the phrase “the Muslim Brotherhood’s classism” to describe the full submission of rank-and-file members to their leaders. She borrows the analogy put forward by a former Muslim Brotherhood leader who drew parallels between the organization and an electricity-providing company that needs lots of workers (rank-and-file members) and few engineers.

“It is illogical for a worker to bypass his master or demand that his position be improved even if he proves himself,” Abdel Moneim writes. “Otherwise, he will be violating the group’s charter and instilling divisions. This is probably the Muslim Brotherhood’s interpretation of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’” [...]
Yet the book has not failed to cause a stir. Earlier this month, the Muslim Brotherhood rushed to sue the privately owned Al-Fagr newspaper for running a sensational review of the book that accused the organization of abusing women sexually and politically....

1 comment:

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