The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

In Translation: Salafis vs Ikhwan

We’ve discussed several times, on this blog, the rivalries between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood. If one goes by the results of the 2011–2012 parliamentary elections, the Salafis are the MB’s most potent political adversary, able to challenge them at the ballot box better than any other political movement. In terms of social outreach, the Salafis have a far more diverse and spread charitable movement than the MB’s, albeit one that is fragmented among any different organizations. And with regard to religious legitimacy, not only can the Salafis out-Islam pretty much everybody, they have a longstanding suspicion towards the MB’s secretive structure and the idolization of figures such as the movement’s founder, Hassan al-Banna (indeed, the former regime used to encourage Salafis to denounce Brothers as practitioners of shirk — basically polytheism or undermining the oneness of God — and hizbiyya, the prioritizing of the movement/party over pure adherence to Islamic values.

The article below is about video appearances by major Egyptian Salafi preachers in which they lambast the MB on religious ground. This is based on the usual roster of Salafi critiques honed by late 20th-century Saudi Wahhabi clerics such as Sheikh Bin Baz and Sheikh Rabee al-Madkhali — hence the references to “Madkhalis” in the article below to denote his followers. If you really want to know more, follow a site such as this one which goes on at length about Madkhali’s “exposure” of the MB, and especially al-Banna as a Sufi (the horror!) and Sayyid Qutb as a crypto-Leninist Ash’ari. There is a whole universe of anti-MB Salafi literature on the internet. Of course, this tension (which is not universal to all Salafis, of course) is one aspect of the uneasiness the Saudis feel towards the Muslim Brothers’ rise in Egypt and elsewhere. It appears it is bound to be a major feature of the post-uprisings Arab world for years to come, too.

Featuring translations from the Arabic press in Egypt and elsewhere is made possible with the support of Industry Arabic, a really good translation service specializing in Arabic. Reports, press articles, technical documents — you name it, they can do it. If you have professional Arabic translation needs, check these guys out.

Salafis Wage Video Warfare Against Muslim Brotherhood

Abdel Wahab Eissa, al-Tahrir, 16 September 2012

Political disagreement, or maybe even rupture, has come to characterize the relationship between Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood recently, as statements from both camps against each other have become more heated and full of invective, which indicates that the united front they seem to present is only against common enemies. Some of these statements have been compiled by the Madkhali Salafi Front in a single video that contains harsh commentary and criticism against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) by Sheikh Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini. It also includes grim, virulent attacks by Sheikh Yasser Burhami, and a fierce offensive waged by the premier Madkhali sheikh in Egypt, Sheikh Mohamed Said Raslan.

The website of supporters of the Salafi Da’wa, which is affiliated with Raslan’s Madkhali Front, posted a compilation video of these three Sheikhs of the Salafi Da’wa attacking the Muslim Brotherhood on YouTube and other websites. The first of these was Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini, who spoke about how the MB exploited his name in their electoral campaign by claiming that he had endorsed their candidacy for the People’s Assembly before the revolution. Expressing his outrage at this slur they made against him, he made a stern denial of this and stressed that it would be impossible to join ranks with the MB due to the differing beliefs of the Salafi and MB camp. In his view, the MB must correct their beliefs, since the corruption of their beliefs is behind every problem. The slogan of the Salafi Da’wa is “The word ‘monotheism’ before unification of the word,” and there is no use in succumbing to innovation until their creed is brought into line with that of the Pious Predecessors. He concluded by saying: “Therefore, I forbid all these existing coalitions. There is nothing good in them.”

Meanwhile, the video of Sheikh Yasser Burhami, the first deputy of the Salafi Da’wa, was extremely dangerous, as he spoke clearly and explicitly of his fear of the MB, and stated that if Egypt allowed them to, they would get rid of his Salafi Da’wa. In response to a question he was posed: “We’ve learned not to think ill of others, and yesterday we heard you say that the MB would get rid of the Salafi Da’wa if they were able to,” Sheikh Burhami spoke about the danger of leaving this matter up to the MB, and how to prevent them from gaining total power from the Egyptian state and to protect the Da’wa: “This is from experience of their way of dealing, from which we have suffered a lot. I was once kicked out of a mosque. They picked me up like this and threw me out. I haven’t forgotten that. Of course, they regret it now because it was a heated moment, and had an impact on me. They disagreed among themselves, but they said, ‘Kick him out of the mosque,’ and I went out, they kicked me out.” Someone behind him spoke, whose voice was not picked up by the microphone, and Burhami responded, “No, no, the situation has changed a lot now. God is the One from Whom we seek assistance.” Burhami added, “Knowledge is the correct path to a good relationship with the MB, it’s the powerful presence. In this case, the relationship would be great.” He repeated this phrase several times, “The powerful presence, then the relationship would be great.”

In this video, Burhami revealed his view of the relationship with the MB in the past and present, as well as his future plans for this relationship. The third video was of the Sheikh of Egyptian Madkhalis, Mohamed Said Raslan, and it also concerned his view of the MB. The makers of the video began this clip with a word stating how proud the Madkhalis were that the previous statements by Huwaini and Burhami on their vision of the MB had already been anticipated by their own sheikh, but they had not taken note. The compiler of the video wrote, “This is the essence of what was said by the Lion of the Sunnah, the Sheikh of the Tribulation Mohamed Said Raslan, but people believe what they want to believe, and do not seek the truth.” Then Sheikh Raslan spoke, delivering a grave warning against empowering the MB, but to be precise, he did not mention the MB by name, but rather the website confirmed the video in which he said, “You will soon be oppressed in the name of religion by those who degrade you. Indeed, a group of people is coming to take revenge, they are not coming for the sake of ‘There is no god but God’ – which they did not fight on behalf of for a single day – but rather they battled whoever fought on behalf of this affirmation, and they are enemies of the truth: these are not the Jews, the Christians, the secularists or the communists. These enemies of truth are Sunnis. Whoever considers their condition wherever the Sunnis have been in power – which is the best witness and greatest proof – only the Sunnis and those who preached the Sunnah have been a threat, they fought no one other than these people, and whenever they gained power in a land, they pursued them and killed them mercilessly, and the case of the Imam al-Albani Center is not far from people’s minds.” He was referring to when militias of Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, attacked the Imam al-Albani Center in Gaza, destroying it and seizing everything inside.

Raslan added: “They sow corruption on the earth in the name of religion, they cause people to deviate from the creed in the name of Islam. What do they offer to people? Delusions and superstitions, since they are ignorant of the truth of what was brought by Muhammad (PBUH).” Then Sheikh Raslan directed a message to the Egyptian people, saying: “You’re a nice, oblivious people that suffered great wrongs. You are about to receive the severest punishment in an age of corruption that claims to be transitory, even though it is more corrupt. Their marriage with the authorities will be like Christian marriage – without divorce. Those people, if they are able, will get into your pores and your minds, mingle with your blood, and take possession of the key posts of power in the country in such a way that they will only be able to be dislodged by spilling rivers of blood. The tribulation lies in that whoever opposes them is an infidel – this is what their sheikhs propagate now (and whoever opposes establishing sharia law, how should they be described?…and whoever battles against religion…how shall they be judged?). This is the greatest mistake, that the unfortunate people of this good country are exposed to the greatest deception in the name of religion that this good country has ever faced.”