Muslim Brotherhood: “Christian or Woman can be President of Syria”

 Ali Sadraddin Bayanouni, the head of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood, has declared that the MB's embrace of democracy means that it will accept a woman or Christian becoming president of Syria if they are elected to the position. 

This is an important step forward for the Brotherhood.  

What is next? Will Bayanouni and the Muslim Brothers say that they recognize Alawites, Druze and Ismailis as People of the Book and ligitimate presidents?

Traditionally, these three minority communities have not been accepted as Muslim by Islamic scholars. Bayanouni has never said explicitly that he recognizes members of Syria's Shiite off-shoots to be Muslims. He has said that the Alawite dominated presidency is opposed by the MB for political reasons. Recently, he has also begun to claim that the Syrian regime is a "family" dominated regime and not an "Alawite" dominated regime, thus clarifying that the MB is anti Asad-family-rule and not anti-Alawite, per se.  

The problem with the minority sects from an Islamic point of view is that they do not embrace a revealed religion and are not part of the legitimate Abrahamic tradition, which makes them inferior to women or Christians. They are classified as pagans. In Syrian school texts on Islam, it is stated that anyone who does not embrace one of the Abrahamic religions "must convert to Islam or be killed." (9th Grade text on Islamic Religion, page 128.) See my article on Islamic Education in Syria.  


البيانوني: على الحركات الإسلامية في العالم العربي القبول بنتائج الديمقراطية حتى عندما تفرز سيدة رئيساً للجمهورية

موقع أخبار الشرق – الاثنين 29 تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر 2007

لندن – أخبار الشرق (خاص)

حث المحامي علي صدر الدين البيانوني المراقب العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين في سورية الحركات الإسلامية في العالم العربي على القبول بنتائج الانتخابات الديمقراطية في بلادها، حتى عندما تفرز امرأة أو مسيحياً رئيساً للجمهورية، ما دامت قد قبلت الدخول في اللعبة الديمقراطية.

Comments (17)

EHSANI2 said:

Dr. Landis,

Will the Bayanouni-led Moslem Brotherhood movement commit to changing the country’s constitution in this regard?

October 29th, 2007, 7:36 pm


norman said:

Ehsani ,
That will be interesting ,
I second that.

October 30th, 2007, 12:59 am


norman said:

Any politecal party in Syria should recognize that any Syrian no matter what his religion or ethnic background could become a president.
The party that does not should be banned.

October 30th, 2007, 1:07 am


mo said:

“In Syrian school texts on Islam, it is stated that anyone who does not embrace one of the Abrahamic religions “must convert to Islam or be killed.” (9th Grade text on Islamic Religion, page 128.) ”

if it is writen in text books, doesnt that say that the goverment doesnt recognize Alawites, Druze and Ismailis as People of the Book to?

October 30th, 2007, 1:09 am


trustquest said:

Let’s see, why the current secular authoritarian system and governing Baath party, during all these years of governing, did not include such a change to the constitution to allow for any religious background to become a president. It could give the current president a boost and legitimacy.

October 30th, 2007, 1:19 am


EHSANI2 said:


Indeed. WHY hasn’t he?

October 30th, 2007, 1:53 am


norman said:

Because he is scared of being called an INFIDLE.
Can’t you see that ,
By the way Syria consider Druz Ismali and Alawat as Muslims so they are not included with the people who are not in the Abraham religion .

October 30th, 2007, 2:12 am


norman said:

Ehsani , As long as you are here , can you tell me the variety of corporations available in the US as i have one an S corporation and i do not pay federal tax and very minimum state tax , I pay personal income tax , why can’t Syria has that , I employ 28 people, and pay for their health insurance and pension plan. why can’t Syrians do that , can you explain.

October 30th, 2007, 2:48 am


ugarit said:

” if they are elected to the position. ”

Assuming that the MB allows free elections.

October 30th, 2007, 3:55 am


Damascene George said:

How did the other minorities get in the discussion? Are we bargaining here? Should we have a constitution that lists all the officialy accepted sects?
i guess if we’re talking politics, we don’t need the MB to discuss their position regarding other non-sunni sects. They’re presenting themselves as a political party, so we only need em to accept the equality between all Syrians regardless of their religious, social or cultural views. Any more discussion is no more politics!

October 30th, 2007, 3:59 am


mo said:

i dont think thats what he meant…
should u focus on asking for free elections now?

October 30th, 2007, 5:27 am


Alex said:

The MB are changing. Some changes are real, others are nothing more than necessary statements that come out from US-based and British-based brotherhood leaders who meet with, and hear advice from, western officials and think tankers who are seeking to find popular alternatives to authoritarian leaders in Syria (And Egypt?) … popular, as opposed to the Farid Ghadry variety.

So we have much more refined statements and positions, compared to the positions held by the same people few years ago.

Can they really, really change that dramatically? .. once they are in power .. will their westernized leaders have the last decision? are the ikhwan (the brotherhood) defined by their leaders or are they “democratic” … if it is the later, then did their followers also change? … do they accept to be led by a woman? a Christian?

Here is a sample of current Arab public opinion on the question of accepting to be ruled by a woman. From BBC online.

I find this discussion of the role of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt very useful in seeing the contradictions … a very secular columnist (Mona Eltahawy) having to support the Muslim Brotherhood as they are the last man standing against the Mubarak dynasty. Her opinion piece was published in the Jewish Forward.

THEN … a young brotherhood journalist wrote to the Jewish American publication asking them if they would accept publishing the brotherhood’s reply to Mona Eltahawy’s article!

They did publish it.

Although last week, the murshid (leader) of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood insisted in an interview with Alhayat newspaper that he is “the decider” … let the young “moderate” ikhwanis debate as much as they want…. HE does not accept any of those westernized ideas. Although he tolerated “democratic debates”.

Finally, the editor of the Jewish Forward wrote his impression on the same issue.

My opinion: The interaction between opposition movements, many secular, many religious fundamentalist, and with American “democracy promoters” is causing the two sides to come closer together. Secular opposition figures are more and more accepting the role of the Muslim Brotherhood since it enjoys a genuine popularity … as opposed to those secular leaders who do not have the necessary numbers back home (In Syria and in Egypt).

On the other hand, some of the brotherhood figures are adopting the minimum required reforms in order to make them acceptable to the Americans and to their secular opposition partners, or potential partners.

Although this interaction has had a finite positive effect on bringing the two extremes together towards the center, a real and meaningful change in mentality did not take place yet… definitely not back home among the members and supporters of the Brotherhood.

For now it is all transient … Few more years of interaction might make those changes more permanent.

October 30th, 2007, 10:58 am


Joshua said:

Dear MO, As Norman writes, according to Syrian law and practice in Syria today, Alawites, Ismailis and Druze are recognized as Muslims.

The problem is not with current law. It is with popular belief and Islamic tradition. According to Shari’a law and Islamic theology, these three groups are not Muslim; they are ghuluw.

The Ottomans defined them as Millet e-dalla, or lost communities because they had strayed from Islam. Ottoman Imams regularly advised Ottoman Sultans that although the infidels should be killed according to Islamic law, because the Sultan needed peace among his people and was munificent and forgiving, he should be lenient toward them. In essence, the Ottomans practiced a “don’t-ask, don’t-tell,” policy. The minority groups did the same, elaborating on their notions of “taqiyya.” All the same, Islamic minorities were not allowed to give testimony in Islamic courts, as they were believed not to have faith in God, and thus were untrustworthy.

Christians and women could give testimony, which was worth only a portion of a Muslim’s.

The problem with the Muslim Brotherhood is that traditionally they have recognized traditional Islamic injunctions toward the minorities and not actually Syrian law. The call to institute shari’a law threatened Syria’s non-Muslims as it implied that they would once again be relegated to the status of “unbelievers,” which, of course, is not a very desirable status.

For the MB to say that women and Christians can lead politically is important – it goes against tradition.

To say that the “ghuluw” sects can legitimately rule in a Muslim society would be….

October 30th, 2007, 4:03 pm


Bashmann said:


Excellent post. Thanks too for the two articles in the JF, true meaningful and frank conversations between the two sides can bring the best for both.

Still looking forward to your call.


October 30th, 2007, 9:11 pm


mo said:

thanks for explaining, i did not know that

October 31st, 2007, 9:24 am


kingcrane jr said:

Another example of how desperate the MB “leadership” is getting. They have no control over more militant Moslims, and harboring Khaddam has not brought to them any “secular” Sunni sympathisers.

So, what do they say after the President and his wife visit Turkey on the invitation of the “moderate Moslims” governing that country?

They start talking nonsense. Nonsense fed by regime change con artists, the neocons who control Sanyura, Ghadri, and other treators.

As a Christian Arab, I am in favor of change that may allow an Arab Christian to become President, but the MB should be more serious; being a parrot handled by Westerners who hate Syrians and who are themselves the puppets of the zionists is not honorable.

So here is my epistle to the regime change obsessed groups, including the MB:


I hope that you are taking into consideration the interest of the peoples of Syria, of ALL the peoples of the land. Please consider that Arabs in the Levant do not want to bother with futile pursuits to further the goals of land-grabbers, market-grabbers, and culture-grabbers. What we have lost of the physical land may not come back without a serious fight. Losing more of our sacred land, allowing some foreign companies market share (as the price for regime change), or accepting more raiding of our common culture ARE NOT acceptable to the people.

Those who want positive change in Syria should have in mind:

1-That all Syrians are equal. This includes Sunna, Jews, Christians, Armenians (3atiq wa jadid), Kurds, Baha’is, Assyrians, Druze, Ismailis, ‘Alawis, Shi3a, Yazidis, seculars (agnostics and atheists), as well as others (Bhuddists, Hindus, etc… if one should contemplate joining another religion). Are you ready to tell those who still use the Millet system put together by the Ottomans for the peace of mind of the Sublime Porte occupants that the State and the Church/Mosque/Temple are now and forever separate? And while women are qualified, what about transexuals and hermaphrodites? Surely you must have a very cosmopolitan view of the world so to make the area a model for tolerance and progressive thought.

2-What is the cost of your machinations? The people will not pay for your wars, especially when they know that you are being manipulated by people who are famous for putting the dagger in the back of their enemies, but also of their agents once the agent’s thirty dinars can be recuperated and the job outsourced somewhere else. Ask our Turkish neighbours about what will happen to them once they clear away from servility to the zionist entity and allow assistance to those who brew trouble in some areas of Iraq/Iran/Turkey.

3-Have you not noticed, as an example, that the Armenian genocide issue is being used by a party of War (the “disappointing” party, as Saul Landau calls it) to make things difficult for the other party of war (the “ridiculous” party, as Saul Landau calls it)? This is in an era where the citizens of the Levant have now decided that “democracy” may come at a prohibitive cost: war, insecurity, loss of land, loss of economic autonomy, and loss of culture (more specifically, loss of honor). Why do I say this? Because other citizens in established democracies have learned that democracy can become “two wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner” and the people are not one of the two wolves.

3-Democracy is not only organizing elections and letting the winner or winners take all, until the next winner comes in and behaves in the same way. Democracy is believing that you must take the interest of ALL the people(s) at heart. The reason Quwwatli and Qudsi were leaders is that they did not impose their will on all the people, and they really were Arab patriots when dealing with the zionist entity. When you look at yourself in a mirror, do you think you look like Shukri Quwwatli or more like Husni Za3im?

4-What about the economy? Once in power, what are the plans to benefit the enormous workforce that our young population is? And can you put in place an autonomous self-sufficient economic model? One of the biggest costs in the budget of Western econmies is that of taking care of the retired population, and you are spared most of that right now; but, the population will age, and prompt action is needed.

5-What about the zionist entity? Are you going to fight them like Joumblatt? He is quite effective, you know. He has just completely destroyed five battalions of the zionist entity by accusing Hassan Nasrallah of being an agent of Israel. They all died adopting the same posture: grabbing their rib cages tightly; they died LAUGHING. Or maybe fight them like Sanyura, by refusing to grant the Warrior Princess a meeting when South Beirut was being reduced to rubble? Wow! That was heroic! I am sure that she is still seing a shrink who is helping prevent her ego from shrinking because of that affront.

But I am disgressing. The one thing in Moslim Brotherhood that I like is “Brotherhood” and this should be your new departure. Change that to Syrian Brotherhood, clean your ranks from treators, and go meet with the President on neutral turf to ask for fair and square people-funded muli-party elections for a new costitutinal government where all decisions will be taken by consensus. Because this is the honorable way to do things: consensus. Not of the rulers, but of the peoples. As to your past, please fess up to the fact that your adventures in the 1980ies started an episode that killed too many Syrians, particularly in the beautiful city of Hama in the Heartland of Syria.

And may Allah/God, the one and only, guide you.

October 31st, 2007, 6:21 pm


wizart said:

Blasphemy in Islam

Blasphemy in Islam constitutes speaking ill of any other prophet mentioned in the Qur’an. The Qur’an also states that it is blasphemy to claim that there is more than one god or that Jesus Christ (the son of Mary) is the son of God (5.017). Speaking ill of God is also blasphemy. In Islam, blasphemy is considered a sin. The Quran says “He forgives all sins, except disbelieving in God (blasphemy)”. In Islam if a person dies while in blasphemy, they will not enter heaven, except if said person repented before death. However, in Islam, interjections such as “God!”; “Good Lord”; or “for God’s sake” are not considered blasphemy, unless the word “God” is replaced with another name that implies worship to someone or something other than God. For example “Jesus!” or “Holy cow” are considered blasphemy because they denote worship to something other than God.

The following Qur’anic verses appear to suggest that there is no worldly punishment for blasphemy, controverting the notion that blasphemy is punishable by death:

“ When ye hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme. [Qur’an 4:140] ”

“ And when they hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: “to us our deeds and to you yours; peace be to you. [Qur’an 28: 55] ”

“ Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant. [Qur’an 7:199] ”

“ Have patience with what they say, and leaves them with noble (dignity). [Qur’an 73:10] ”

“ And the servants of Allah . . . are those who walked on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say ‘Peace’ [Qur’an 25:63] ”

“ Allah is with those who restrain themselves. [Qur’an 16: 128] ”

“ . . . But they uttered blasphemy . . . if they repent, it will be best for them, but if they turn back, Allah will punish them.” [Qur’an 9:47]

History of Humanism

Contemporary humanism can be traced back through the Renaissance back to the Islamic Golden Age to its ancient Greek roots. Humanism can also be traced back to the time of Gautama Buddha (563-483 BCE) and Confucius (551–479 BCE) and the Warring States Period, though the term “humanism” is more widely associated with Western philosophers.

The term “humanism” was coined in 1808, based on the 15th century Italian term umanista, which was used to designate a teacher or student of classic literature. The evolution of the meaning of the word humanism is fully explored in Nicolas Walter’s Humanism — What’s in the Word.

Optimism in Humanism

Humanism features an optimistic attitude about the capacity of people, but it does not involve believing that human nature is purely good or that each and every person is capable of living up to the Humanist ideals of rationality and morality. If anything, there is the recognition that living up to one’s potential is hard work and requires the help of others. The ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings. The focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving the world better for those who come after.

April 27th, 2008, 5:24 pm


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