Ordered Liberty

The Islamization of Knowledge in the New Egypt

Well, when you’ve got totalitarian ambitions, and you’ve already started locking up dissenting journalists, what’s the next logical step? If you’re the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, newly minted president of Egypt, it is obvious: start banning books.

Morsi’s government has reportedly banned importation of A History of the Modern Middle East, a well-known textbook by William L. Cleveland (who died in 2006) and Martin P. Bunton. The Egyptian daily, Al-Ahram, says no reason was given for the ban. The reason, however, is patent to anyone familiar with the Muslim Brotherhood.

One of the highest Brotherhood priorities is the “Islamization of knowledge.” That, as I’ve noted elsewhere, is the explicit purpose of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a think-tank in Virginia that the Brotherhood founded in the early 1980s. IIIT’s mission is to forge “a new synthesis of all knowledge in an Islamic epistemological framework” — to borrow the fitting description found in an important 2009 study, “The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” written by Steven Merley for the Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World.

When your ultimate goal is the Islamization of societies, nothing is more important than acculturating people to the way Islamic supremacists perceive the world — which, Islamists well know, is very different from how Westerners perceive it.

Understand that, as Patrick Poole recently recounted at the Tatler, Mohamed Morsi became immersed in Brotherhood ideology in the late seventies as a member of the Muslim Students Association when he was an engineering student in California. I described the MSA and its history in The Grand Jihad. Started in the 1960s, it is the foundation of the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure. It now has hundreds of chapters at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. The MSA’s purpose is to indoctrinate young Muslims in the thought of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, among other Islamist luminaries. Banna, who was an Egyptian educator, designed a plan for ground-up revolution that depends mightily on inculcating in the young the Brotherhood’s interpretation of history. The idea is to train them to see current events as part of an Islamist narrative. (By the way, did I mention that Huma Abedin, Secretary of State Clinton’s top aide, was an officer of the Muslim Students Association when she attended George Washington University and worked at the Clinton White House? See Walid Shoebat’s latest post here. Soon, there will soon be more to say about Walid’s remarkable investigation of the Abedin family’s Brotherhood roots.)

Clearly, it is a lot easier to pull off the Islamization of knowledge when you are in charge of the government of a Muslim country, as Morsi now is. You use the power of the state to keep out the Western influences and replace them with Islamist influences. But the idea is exactly the same as what outfits like IIIT and MSA are trying to accomplish with the much smaller — but growing — American Muslim population.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)