The Society of the Muslim Brothers

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195084375
ISBN-10: 0195084373
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The Society of the Muslim Brothers + Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh, With a New Preface for 2003 + Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Very much enjoyed this book. It should do my students quite well."--John P. Dunn, Florida State University


"This is an excellent study of Islamic revivalism. It is timeless, and will benefit both students and scholars. Many young scholars and libraries have not had access to this book, and this reprinting will allow Mitchell to be of even more direct influence on Egyptian studies and the study of Islamic revivalism."--Vali Nasr, University of San Diego


"Richard Mitchell's book was one of the first serious studies of what it is now customary to call the 'resurgence of Islam' and it still remains one of the best....It helps us to understand why they have survived so many changes of fortune and are still a powerful force in Egypt and other Muslim countries."--Albert Hourani


"The Society of the Muslim Brothers is a major seminal work that remains the standard history of the early Muslim Brotherhood. Essential reading for understanding the growth of contemporary Islamic movements across the Muslim world."--John Esposito, Georgetown University


About the Author

Richard P. Mitchell is at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195084373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195084375
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mitchell's book is obviously dated by now, published in 1969 and has been republished in 1993. At first, I wonder whether it is still worth a reading given that there are a lot more recent works in the field as a result of the proliferation of literature on the Islamist movements in recent decades. Having read this book, I must admit that Mitchell's book continues to be a significant contribution in our understanding of Islamism.
The book covers periods of Ikhwan foundation in 1928 till its second suppression in 1954. The focus is on Egypt without dealing with various manifestations of the movement outside of the country. The book can be divided into three parts. The first and largest is history of the movement. It sheds interesting light on al-Banna, the founder of the movement, and the roles the movement played in political events including its attitude toward the 1952 revolution. The second part deals with the details of the organizational aspect of the movement while the third part concentrates on its ideology with special reference to its world-view as regards the West, Egypt, capitalism, communism, and Zionism. The final chapter assess the place of the movement in Egyptian social and political life. The most impressive aspect of this study is Mitchell's utilization of the sources. Through his field works in Egypt in 1953-5 Mitchell was able to witness the development first hand and to conduct interviews with many of the Ikhwan members and other Egyptians. Furthermore, Mitchell uses Arabic language sources, including the writings of the prominent figures of the movement such as al-Banna and Muhammad al-Ghazali, and Qutb along with the writings of other Egyptian unconnected with the society as well as Ikhwan's own publications and documents.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on May 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
This work still remains one of the best ever written on modern Islamism; it also happens to be one of the first. John Voll's preface to this reprinted edition is excellent and gives the work its due place in the history of the development of scholarship on Islamism.
Mitchell's work preceded the sensationalism so characteristic of the field today and, therefore, lacks many of the vices present therein today. In particular, one notices his consciousness that he is studying a *religious* group; therefore, his work doesn't suffer from the rampant reductionism that seeks to explain Islamism merely in terms of market fluctuations and changing birthrates. As Richard Mitchell wrote just before his death, "So deeply ingrained is secularism as to make even the most sympathetic observers floundering for meaning in simplistic explanations such as `Mahdism,' `Messianism,' `religious obscurantism,' `fanaticism,' `nativism,' `cover for power grab,' etc. All of these things exist in the Islamic movement. But it would not be a serious movement worthy of our attention were it not, above all, an idea and a personal commitment honestly felt."
Mitchell's works shows how Islamism began as a relatively conservative movement without any explicit aims for revolution at the governmental level. Rather, they desired a religious revolution that was later protracted into a larger arenas of social reform. Political opposition and activism-of the potentially seditious kind-actually came relatively late and in the atmosphere of despotic monarchy.
The books ends with the imprisonment of the Brotherhood by Nasser-ironically after the Brotherhood provided the major popular support for the Free Officers to enter into power-and thereafter the history of the Brotherhood was chronicled mostly by francophone authors such as Olivier Carré and Gilles Kepel.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte A. Hu on May 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
In The Society of the Muslim Brothers, Richard P. Mitchell addresses the ideology of the organization. He takes the reader from the birth of the movement that would eventually challenge the Egyptian government to it's greatest and worst moments. He writes with an amazingly objective style, neither apologizing for the members who committed crimes, nor minimalizing the excellent social welfare contributions of Hassan Al-Banna, the leader. Of particular interest in this discussion of dualities is the point made about the dual legal systems. Al-Banna felt that the Western laws "corrupted and perverted the nation's thought, mind and logic." Mitchell's point on this seems to hold vivid clarity in the idea that manmade laws and shari'a are innately incompatible. The inharmonious combination of this dual legal system "served to shatter the `unity' of the nation." Mitchell's writing really catches the essence of a group of people struggling to come to terms with a rapidly changing society in flux in a rapidly changing world. His book was translated into Arabic and Arab scholars agree that his portrayal of this politically powerful religious movement is academically sound.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Roberts on November 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the sole book that needs to be read in order to understand the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its founding until the 1950's. Richard Mitchell presents a balanced coverage of their history and ideology. It's only limitations is it does not cover modern movements within the brotherhood, but an array of other books do (although they are not all unbiased and balanced like this). This book is definitely the primer for anyone hoping to understand the Muslim Brotherhood. After reading this you can get into books focusing on modern movements of the brotherhood.
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The Society of the Muslim Brothers
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