The Muslim Brotherhood Issues a New Covenant that Gives Hope

The Muslim Brotherhood has issued new Covenant. It is being praised widely on the Gulf TV stations by Christians such as Michel Kilo and others. They say that the Muslim Brotherhood has now embraced the notion that political authority emanates from the people and not from God. Human law should be the arbiter of human affairs and not divine law. Sharia is finished for the Muslim Brothers, who state that they embrace equality of all citizens without distinction between religions or gender. Although they neglect to state it outright, they leave open the possibility that a Christian, Alawi, or Druze could have the constitutional right to be president of Syria.

A dirty “Google translation” of the most important paragraphs of the new charter give this:

This iCovenant and Charter has a national vision, and common denominators, adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and provides the basis for a new social contract, establishes the relationship between national contemporary and safe, among the components of the Syrian society, with all its religious, sectarian, ethnic, and intellectual trends and political rights. Adhere to the Muslim Brotherhood to work to be Syria’s future:

1 – A modern civil state, based on a civil constitution, emanating from the will of the people of the Syrian people, based on national consensus, established by a constituent assembly which must be freely and fairly elected, and protect the fundamental rights of individuals and groups from any abuse or excesses, and to ensure equitable representation of all components of society.

2 – State of deliberative democracy, pluralism, according to the highest conclusion reached by the modern human thought, with a republican parliamentary system of government, which the people choose their representatives and governed, through the ballot box, in the elections free, fair and transparent.

3 – State of citizenship and equality, where all citizens are equal, with different ethnic backgrounds and religions, sects and attitudes, based on the principle which shall be the basis of citizenship rights and duties, any citizen access to the highest positions, based on the bases of the election or efficiency. As even where men and women, human dignity and to be eligible, and enjoy the full women’s rights. …

7. A state that respects the institutions, based on the separation of powers, legislative, judicial and executive branches, the officials in the service of the people. ….

9. State of justice and the rule of law, no place for hatred, where there is no room for revenge or retaliation .. Even those who contaminated their hands with the blood of the people, of any class they are, it is entitled to fair trials before impartial judiciary free and independent. …

There are only a few phrases that raise some concern. One is the statement, that the new state will be “committed to human rights – as endorsed by heavenly religions and international conventions – of dignity, equality, and freedom of thought and expression…. equal opportunities, social justice, and to provide basic needs to live decently. …”

Here the covenant defines human rights to be “as endorsed by ‘heavenly religions”  — كما أقرتها الشرائع السماوية والمواثيق الدولية – – The definition of human rights provided by the “heavenly religions” is a bit problematic. The “heavenly” religions are the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Their divine books were revealed from the heavens by God. The other religions of the world are defined by Islam to be “non-heavenly.” See my article:

“Islamic Education in Syria: Undoing Secularism,” by Joshua Landis in Eleanor Doumato and Gregory Starrett, Eds., Teaching Islam: Textbooks and Religion in the Middle East, London & Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007, pp. 177–196.

Here is a quote from the section of my article that deals with the “non-heavenly” religions of the world as they are defined in Syria’s school texts that are used to instruct all Syrian Muslims in the principles of religion.

Atheists and Pagans

At the very bottom of the hierarchy beneath the revealed religions of the “people of the book,” are the belief systems of the rest of humanity, who are categorized as “Atheists and Pagans.” Only one paragraph is devoted to them in the twelve years of Syrian schooling and it is tucked away in the ninth grade religion text under the subtitle, “Islam Fights Paganism and Atheism.” It explains that “pagans are those who worship something other than God, and atheists are those who deny the existence of God.” Islam must fight these two belief systems because they “are an assault to both instinct and truth.” We are told that these belief systems “contradict the principle of freedom of belief.” This is because “Islam gives freedom of belief only within the limits of the divine path,” which “means a religion descended from heaven.” Because pagan religions were not revealed by God, they are considered an “inferior” form of belief that reflects an “animal consciousness.” How should Muslims deal with these peoples who comprise half of humanity? Students are instructed that “Islam accepts only two choices for Pagans: that they convert to Islam or be killed (9:128).” The Islam of Syrian texts does not have a happy formula for dealing with non-believers. Perhaps in recognition of this failing, the ministry of education has buried a mere six sentences on the subject into the middle of its ninth grade text.

But the new Muslim Brotherhood covenant does not define human rights only by reference to the revealed religions, it also references “international conventions.” If the MB is serious about accepting humans to be the source of national government and laws and not God or Sharia law, this is very important. The Syrian opposition is struggling to come up with a “national” agenda that all Syrians can sign on to. The weakness of Syria’s sense of national political community has been its greatest shortcoming. Maybe Syria is becoming a nation?

Only a few months ago on December 4, 2011 Zuhayr Salim, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood denounced Syria’s borders and argued that no such state should as it is a “colonial” creation that defies the reality of the Islamic Umma. Here is the interview

“To hell with Syrian [identity]! We do not recognize Syria”
Interview: Zuhayr Salim, Speaker of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria:

KURDWATCH, December 4, 2011—Zuhayr Salim (b. 1947) ….

Zuhayr Salim: We are seeking a state under the rule of law. Every person who lives in Syria or was born there must enjoy the same rights, regardless of whether he is an Arab, Kurd, Muslim, Christian, Sunni or Alawi. This stance will not change. Everyone must be convinced that he is equal. So, for example, an Alawi cannot think that he has more rights than a Sunni. And an Arab cannot think that he has more rights than a Kurd. And vice versa. That is a patriotic approach. ……

Zuhayr Salim: To be Arab is not an expression of citizenship, but rather an expression of identity.

KurdWatch: Why don’t we forgo the label »Arab« and speak only of Syrian identity?

Zuhayr Salim: No, no. To hell with Syrian [identity]! We do not recognize Syria. Who created Syria? Sykes-Picot. Is that true or not?

KurdWatch: Yes, that’s true.

Zuhayr Salim: You and I do not recognize Sykes-Picot. You [Kurds] feel that you have been treated unjustly by Sykes-Picot. We also feel that we have been treated unjustly by Sykes-Picot. Syria is a temporary phenomenon, a state that exists only temporarily. Our goal is the creation of a state for the entire umma. A Kurd will be ruler in this state, for he will be supported by a people that numbers anywhere from thirty-five to forty million.

KurdWatch: Are you talking now about an independent Kurdish state?

Zuhayr Salim: No, about an Islamic state for everyone. Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Circassians, and all others will live there……

The Muslim Brotherhood’s new covenant is an important document that should help make past statements by the Brotherhood about the Umma, Sharia Law, and God’s rule on earth outmoded.

Comments (64)

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51. irritated said:

#46 JNA

Accepting officially the UN Annan plan is a humiliating defeat for the SNC and for Turkey.
That’s probably why they are adding their own “Seventh” point: the resignation of Bashar Al Assad.
Unfortunately for them, Annan has declared that this is an issue the Syrian must decide, not the UN or the AL.

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March 27th, 2012, 1:03 pm


52. Juergen said:

Bashar was a brave man today, he went to Bab Amr, or at least it look like Bab Amr. Could also be that he just was in an army camp nearby.

I wonder does he have lookalikes like Saddam had?

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March 27th, 2012, 1:07 pm


53. Juergen said:

i found that there are still folks out there who claim that Iskanderun belongs to Syria, how about parts of Jordan, and Lebanon. Isnt all Syria just an Syces Picot fiction?

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March 27th, 2012, 1:10 pm


54. Amnesia said:

It is interesting that no one cared to comment on the actual post above, except for the criticism of their “two swords and Quran”.

The Muslim Brotherhood is made up of a lot of decent, honest, hardworking people, even when they are misguided. Members and sympathizers from Syria have had to endure decades of being unable to return home, or returned to find themselves forced to cut deals or perish, or forced to remain quiet. It has been many years since the organization publicly renounced violence, but despite this mere membership is a capital offense in Syria to this day. In a pluralistic society of laws, human rights, and equality, it is time to accept them. They have suffered more than any other group, and they have a lot to offer Syria in the future.

Regardless of whether you like the above, I have only stated the truth.

The MB can be trusted to help tackle corruption. If their policies and election platforms please voters, they can be voted in. If not, they can also be voted out!

Thank you Dr. Landis for the commentary. I agree that the textbooks need to be reworked, and we both know there are many good Syrian Islamic scholars that can help.

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March 30th, 2012, 6:53 am


55. Amnesia said:

I speak from personal experience. Personal experience does not dictate that “pigs can fly”.

The only governments in the world that labeled them “terrorists” were those of dictatorships, or in support of dictatorships. The MB renounced violence, and waited very patiently for any signs of the regime doing the same.

If voted into power, they can be trusted to follow through with ruling by law. If they are voted out, they can be trusted to step down.

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March 30th, 2012, 7:10 am


56. chris said:

amnesia alert please see a doctor u r brainwashed. a group that demands sharia law is hardly democratic.

THEIR symbol says it all follow the quran or we will use the sword

yes we can trust a group who want sharia

know islam, know violence
no islam, no violence

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March 30th, 2012, 7:25 am


57. Amnesia said:

Chris, you refer others to Wikipedia without even reading its content. From Wikipedia:

“In November 1979, a [Syrian] Brotherhood leaflet stated: We reject all forms of despotism, out of respect for the very principles of Islam, and we don’t demand the fall of Pharaoh so that another one can take his place. Religion is not imposed by force….[8]”

The MB was originally an anti-colonialist organization, which used arms to achieve their objectives. After colonization ended, they eventually reformed. Even while fighting Hafez, they did so mainly because he was a dictator.

Your last statement is very offensive, and shows that you probably are not capable of coexisting anywhere on Earth. Take your hate elsewhere.

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March 30th, 2012, 7:36 am


58. chris said:

i coexisted in syria for 25years quite peacefully! but there was always a fear something would errupt again. our fear was that bashar would go. this rings in fear. i and my muslim, some sunni, alawi and christian friends loved the fact we could drive go to uni dress how we saw fit even if exposing some flesh. in the last few years my kids were able to cuddle n snuggle up in public without being jailed.

well thats all gone now! like i said we knew we had it good n now its going to end up like the rest of the mid east

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March 30th, 2012, 7:43 am


59. Amnesia said:

You said:
“know islam, know violence
no islam, no violence”

The above is offensive and shows a lacking of tolerance for the majority of Syrians. Am I clear?

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March 30th, 2012, 8:02 am


60. chris said:

yes loud n clear but its my belief and i have a right to it when my great grandparents were told to embrace islam or die, they beheaded my dads grandfather, sorry is that offensive?

its also my personal experience. we want freedom right well freedom comes at a price. its funny how people can dish out but cant take the feedback!
‘Ethnic Cleansing of Christians’ in Syria; 50,000 flee

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March 30th, 2012, 8:14 am


61. Amnesia said:

I can apologize about your great-grandfather, though that must have been decades ago, at least. When did it happen? Who is “they”? You should be more specific when speaking of such things.

Freedom cannot be expected from brutal dictatorships. You are correct that the price is high, but incorrect as to what price is required.

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March 30th, 2012, 8:25 am


62. chris said:

i am talking about people who yelled allah u akbar. my family dont talk about it much but i know it was around when i was born in the 70s and they were in lebanon at the time. i really dont talk about it much but i went back with my family to live in syria for many years and only left this year. i am upset i cat take everyone who doesn’t want anything with this war to a safe place no matter who they pray to. i truly am not biased on religion i am just trul upset this can happen in syria and if the rest of the world want syria to change, just like libya and iraq, they should be allowing people to peacefully exit and those who want to fight can do so. this would be cheaper for the us and other west countries than the billions they have spent the last ten years supporting ruining these countries.
but we all know its not about how much they spend but about how much weapons they can sell

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March 30th, 2012, 8:51 am


63. Mina said:

From the Angry Arab

Syrian regime: secret police threats

It is clear. Syrian regime mukhabarat (secret police) has infiltrated all ranks of the Syrian opposition. They have aired footage of pictures and videos of the secret covert camera men of Aljazeera in Syria. It then ominously said: you are all being watched. This is the most unreported story of the Syrian uprising: the extent to which Syrian regime infiltrated the ranks of their enemies.

(Ya Jad, any link?)

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March 30th, 2012, 9:08 am


64. Amnesia said:

“i am talking about people who yelled allah u akbar.” That’s who killed him, huh?

So, people that yell that God is great are the same as those that killed your great grandfather? One and a half billion Muslims in the world are the same as those that killed your great grandfather? Every Muslim says that God is great, everyone who believes in God for that matter.

“i truly am not biased on religion”

You truly are. Stop telling others to get their head checked.

“they should be allowing people to peacefully exit”

Bashar and his gang are allowed to peacefully exit.

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March 30th, 2012, 9:36 am


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