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Carnagie Papers – From Violence to Moderation: Al-Jamaah Al-Islamiyah and Al-Jihad

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by Amr Hamzawy and Sarah Grebowski (April, 2010)

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Summary

Recognition by Egypt’s leading Jihadists that violence has failed to achieve political change and in fact has been counterproductive has led them to a remarkable change of course. After years of violent confrontation with the Egyptian government and society, and defeat by the country’s security forces, al-Jama‘a al-Islamiya and, later, segments of al-Jihad have accepted their failure to radically change society and politics, and to recognize the harm that their violent activities—formerly justifi ed using religious concepts—have infl icted on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. These developments have given rise to a Jihadi revisionism that renounces violence and redefi nes attitudes toward the state, politics, and society. The same Islamic concepts that once were used to justify violence have been redefi ned to sanction and urge nonviolent social and political activism. Revisionist documents outline a careful cost-benefi t analysis that effectivelyrules out the use of violence to achieve the groups’ goals. A variety of factors prevent al-Jama‘a and al-Jihad from fully implementing these reformed views, such as the Egyptian regime’s refusal to allow members of either group to reintegrate into the country’s political and social fabric and al-Jihad’s specifi c challenge of disseminating revisionist ideas throughout its fragmented movement that still largely condones violence. However, Jihadi revisionism has led both groups to forego violence and has shifted Egypt’s Islamist spectrum toward moderation.

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About Muhammad Haniff Hassan

Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow. He holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (previously known as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies), Nanyang Technological University. He received his early education in Aljunied Islamic School. He then continued his tertiary education at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, National University of Malaysia, with honours in Syar`iah and Civil law. Mr. Haniff is also active in social activities as a member of the Islamic Religious Council Appeal Board, HSBC Insurance Islamic Advisory Board from 2000 to 2014, Association of Islamic Religious Teachers and Scholars of Singapore (PERGAS) and Management Committee of Al-Irsyad Islamic School. He writes extensively in Berita Harian (a local Malay newspaper) and has also published articles in The Straits Times. He has published six books in his name, co-authored a monograph and helped publish two books for PERGAS and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. His personal website in Malay is at www.haniff.sg

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