The Muslim American Society is, once again, becoming more open about its Muslim Brotherhood agenda and roots, despite its curious concurrent embrace of modish self-development ideas.
The D.C. chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS) recently announced its new Tarbiya Director: Tamer Ammar, a fervent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAS-D.C. describes the Tarbiya department as its "member development arm," defining 'tarbiya' as a "continuous positive influence that leads to growth in all aspects."
According to a brief from federal prosecutors, MAS "was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in America." Today, MAS branches still affirm adherence to "the balanced understanding and application of Islam ... as revived in the understanding and the methodology of Imam Hassan Al Banna [the founder of the MB]."
And yet, for an organization ideologically close to the MB, other MAS statements resemble more self-development advice than they do Islamist texts. Its national branch recently shared a new logo, in the shape of a tree and the "result of months of high-level discussions", claiming that MAS is "in the business of spiritual development that leads to empowerment and ability to make real-world impact."
But a glance at Tamer Ammar's personal posts shows that he is closer to the organization's roots. In a Facebook post, he expressed nostalgia for a mosque "where we found pure love and the warmth of the brothers and where we recited the verses and studied the Quran and where we got to know [Sayeed] Qutb, [Hassan] al-Banna, [Abdullah] Azzam and [Sa'id] Hawwa." Al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Qutb was one of its most famous ideologues who inspired Ayman Al-Zawahiri, current leader of Al-Qaeda; Azzam was a mentor of Bin Laden and a fervent advocate for jihad; and Hawwa, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, believed that "Islamists are ordained by God to be in government, whatever the way to achieve it" which could, under certain circumstances, include violence.
In another post, Ammar affirmed that "despite all the mistakes that happened, the Brotherhood remains the most patriotic Egyptian group which will always be more keen on the interest of the homeland."
Critics often argue that the Muslim Brotherhood was in fact most keen on the interest of Islamists. Mohamed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood member and president of Egypt from 2012 to 2013, attempted to grant "himself broad powers above any court." Under his leadership, members of designated terrorist organizations such as Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad were released from prison. Morsi even appointed a member of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya to the governorship of Luxor, the very city where Gamaa members murdered 59 tourists in 1997.
Given Ammar's views, what will he teach MAS members as he encourages their "growth in all aspects"?