ORIGINS OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN SYRIA
Syrian Islamist organization started by Syrian students returning from studies in Egypt in the 1930's, where they were confronted with the ideology of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the original Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. So, the Syria branch of Muslim Brotherhood’s roots based on students of the shari’ah (Islamic law). Firstly, association’s name was “ Muhammad’s Youth”, after it became the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Most of the society’s devotees in Syria stemmed from religionist families in the earliest time of society.
Mustafa as-Siba'i, the first superintendent general of the society in Syria from 1945 to 1961, had a family which had for long provided the khatibs [preachers] of the Grand Mosque of Horns. His successor, 'Isam al-'Attar, who guided the entire organization from 1961 rift in its to 1980 to inspire only its Horns, Dayr az-Zur, and Damascus branches, also sprang from 'ulama' of intermediate social standing and was himself the imam [prayer leader] at the mosque of Damascus University.' Abd-ul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, who led the seceding elements in 1972 and had set up the Aleppo branch in 1935, descended from a family of artisans and began life as a weaver but subsequently became a mudarris [teacher] of the shari'ah.
In 1935, the Brotherhood branch of Aleppo was established and it became the headquarter of organization. After that, in 1944 the headquarter of the Brotherhood was moved to Damascus.
At first, the aim of the Brotherhood was limited, and sought to end the French mandate and to work for socio-political reform in Syria according to the principles of Islam. But when the French left in 1946, and the state of Israel was founded 2 years later, the Brotherhood was politicized and radicalized, and gained many new members.
DEVELOPMENTS IN SYRIA
After Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was banned by Government of Kral Faruk, members of Muslim Brotherhood left the country and moved Palestine, Jordan and especially Syria. So, this strengthened the Brothers in Syria, but also they became more radical.
While the Egyptian Brotherhood rejected democracy as an import from the West, the Syrian branch participated in Syria’s sporadic interludes of democratic political life in the 1950s, establishing itself as a leading opposition bloc in parliament. The movement was banned in 1958 when Syria joined with Egypt in the United Arab Republic (UAR), but quickly returned to politics after the dissolution of the UAR in 1961, winning ten seats in parliamentary elections.
After seizing power in a 1963 coup, the Arab nationalist Baath Party banned the brotherhood and tightened state control over religious institutions to weaken its influence, while launching major nationalization and land reform programs to weaken the power of Sunni notables. In 1964, the brotherhood network in Hama took up arms in defiance of the new "apostate regime," but government forces quickly overran the poorly trained and equipped rebels. The Hama Rebellion was an early indicator of the rise of “Jihadi movement” within the Brotherhood, inconsistent with their political, peaceful and democratic theses. This movement, carrying the name “Battalion (Kata’b) of Mohammed, is the same group later known as “ Militant Vanguard” who embarked upon the tragic events in Hama in 1982.
After this event, Muslim Brotherhood leader Issam al-Attar was exiled, and other leaders who organized this had to go underground, and they started to organize jihad against the Alawites. Wealthy Syrian expatriates in Europe and the Arab Gulf provided financing for the underground, while Jordan and Iraq provided safe havens and specialized paramilitary training. In 1967, after the Arab defeat against Israel in the Six Day War, the Brotherhood split into moderates and radicals. Radical side declared jihad on the Ba’th party leadership. On...
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