Redeeming Sunni Islam: Al-Qa'Ida's polemic against the Muslim brethren

Meir Hatina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The appearance of al-Qa'ida at the beginning of the 1990s challenged the modern Islamic discourse by bringing the struggle against the 'new Crusaders'-the United States and Europe-to centre stage. Impelled by frustration with the meagre record of Sunni radicalism in achieving substantive political change, and by its own aspiration for leadership, the organisation singled out the non-violent, influential Muslim Brethren as a main rival and a prime target for polemics. The formative basis for this polemic was provided by an essay written by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Hisad al-murr [The Bitter Harvest], around 1989. The essay, which has not been dealt with in the research literature until now, constitutes a biting attack against the Brethren. It undermines their historical legacy and goes so far as to shatter the image of their charismatic founder, Hasan al-Banna. More broadly, al-Zawahiri's essay reveals the close affinity between historical memory and politics, and illuminates the clash within modern Islam.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012


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