Brotherhood slogan under fire as Egypt takes to the polls

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As Egyptians head to the ballot boxes today to vote in parliamentary elections, and amid reports of a crackdown against leading opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood, Kate Goodin looks at the campaign trail debate in the Arab press, and particularly in Egypt, on the meaning of the controversial Brotherhood slogan "Islam is the Solution."

Controversy over the slogan opened up a broader discussion on the role of religion in society, the Muslim Brotherhood's history, and the right way to solve Egypt's problems.


Election Time by Flickr user Here's Kate

Mahmoud Ghazlan, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, defends the slogan on the organization's website, explaining that "Islam is the solution" means that Islam is the basis for remedying human rights abuses in Egypt, and enumerates Islamic foundations for the principles of public freedoms and human rights, such as freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Sami Al-Beheiry, however, takes the slogan as an insult to Egyptians' faith:

I would have understood the widespread of such slogan in a non-Muslim country, in order to invite its people to Islam. However, raising this slogan in a Muslim country means that whoever raised it does not consider this country Muslim.

:نت أفهم أن ينتشر هذا الشعار في بلد غير إسلامي لدعوة أهله إلي الإسلام ، ولكن أن يرتفع في بلد إسلامي فمعناه أن رافعي الشعار لا يعتبرون أن هذا البلد ليس إسلامياً

Zine El Abidine Al-Rekabi explains in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:

There is an abysmal gap between the "Islam is the Solution" slogan and "practical solutions" that would actually be able to solve the world's problems, and Muslim's problems for that matter.

زين العابدين الركابي يشرحى: ان الفجوة واسعة جدا بين شعار (الإسلام هو الحل) وبين (حلول عملية) ترقى إلى مرتبة حل مشكلات العالم، ومشكلات المسلمين قبل ذلك.

Amr al-Shobaki, writing in leading Egyptian independent paper Al-Masry Al-Youm, sees the motto as an example of the organization's stagnancy:

The Brotherhood has been using this motto since the 1987 elections and has failed to re-assess it since then. During this time, the political map of the world has changed, communism has collapsed, yet the Brotherhood--much like the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)--have remained stationary, using the same old political discourse and offering nothing new.

Egyptian intellectual Sayed Al-Qimni argues on his blog that this slogan is un-Islamic and bad for the country:

The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) practiced politics and military strategies with worldly logic. This teaches Muslims a great lesson; achieving worldy purposes cannot be done except through worldly methods. [...]This slogan is against science, because if, in our religion, there was the single solution for all the problems of the world, then this means that Muslims would focus solely on Islam and not investigate solutions and achievements made by other nations.

مارس نبي الإسلام (ص) السياسة و العسكريتاريا بمنطق الدنيا و أنظمتها ليترك للمسلمين قيمة عظيمة هي ...... أن تحقيق الأغراض الدنيوية لا يتحقق إلا بوسائل دنيويه. و هو شعار ضد العلم , لأنه لو كان هناك حل واحد لكل مشاكل الدنيا موجود في ديننا و هو الحل الوحيد , فمعنى ذلك أن على المسلمين تركيز النظر في الاسلام وحده و عدم البحث في الحلول و النماذج التي صنعتها الأمم ة

Bassem al-Khafagy, writing in the Egyptian paper Al-Wasat, criticises 'Islam is the solution' as a flawed idea poorly executed:

Some of those who say today that "Islam is the solution", merely use the slogan, but their political and humanistic practices do not indicate that they have chosen Islam as a solution for their own problems. I don't see how we can say something then do another thing completely, then mourn the fact that people do not believe us or sympathize with us.

بعض ممن يتحدثون اليوم عن أن "الإسلام هو الحل" .. يستخدمون الشعار فقط، ولكن ممارساتهم السياسية أو الإنسانية لا توحي أنهم قد اختاروا بحق الإسلام حلاً لمشكلاتهم هم، ولا أدري كيف نقول ما لا نفعل، ونحزن إن لم يصدقنا الناس أو يتعاطفوا معنا

Al-Khafagy summarizes Egyptian political thinking into four camps:

Some will raise the "Islam is the Solution" slogan, while others would say "Democracy is the Solution", and a third group would stress that "Stability is the Solution", but the majority would assert that "There is No Solution".

لبعض سيرفع شعار "الإسلام هو الحل" .. وآخرون سيقولون "الديمقراطية هي الحل" .. وفريق سيقول "الاستقرار هو الحل" .. وهناك فريق أكبر عدداً من كل هؤلاء يقول "لا يوجد حل"

Akram Al-Qassas
in the independent Egyptian newspaper Youm7:
The Muslim Brotherhood too has found the chance to stir controversy over their ambiguous slogan that says both nothing and everything. They know very well that religion is the one thing most Egyptians can agree upon. What they fail to acknowledge is that those standing for office are human beings - not angels and certainly not gods. Accordingly, it is humans - and not the faith - which stands to win or lose.

ب : جماعة الإخوان هى الأخرى وجدتها فرصة للجدل حول شعارها الغامض الذى لا يقول شيئا ويقول كل شىء وهم يعلمون أن الدين هو أكثر ما يتفق عليه المصريون، لكنهم يتجاهلون أن بشراً يترشحون وليس ملائكة ولا آلهة، وأن من ينجح إنسان ومن يخسر إنسان، والعقيدة لا تكسب ولا تخسر.

Hassan Nifaa writes in Al-Masry Al-Youm, that while he disagrees with the slogan, the ban is simply an attempt to crack down on opposition:

The slogan "Islam is the solution" may not be the solution, but it isn't the problem either. The real problem is that President Mubarak refuses to entertain the idea of change of power, insisting on remaining in charge until his "last breath," after which the top job will be bequeathed to Mubarak Jr. When the ruling elite accept the idea of alternation of power on principle, it will be a whole lot easier to adjust the relationship between religion and state!

شعار «الإسلام هو الحل» قد لا يكون هو الحل, لكنه ليس المشكلة أيضا. المشكلة الحقيقية تكمن فى رفض الرئيس مبارك فكرة تداول السلطة من الأساس وإصراره على الاستمرار فى الحكم إلى «آخر نفس» وعلى نقل السلطة لابنه من بعده. وحين تقبل النخبة الحاكمة فكرة تداول السلطة من حيث المبدأ فسوف يسهل جدا بعد ذلك إيجاد الحلول الكفيلة بضبط العلاقة بين الدين والدولةا!

The views in this post are taken from diverse sources and should not be taken as the views of Meedan. You can add your view in two languages on

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