The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. A Historical Analysis of the Islamic Movement

Term Paper, 2014

12 Pages, Grade: 1.00


Table of Content

The Establishment of the MB by Hassan Al Banna

The Kuwaiti Setting in the 1940s

Hitting the Kuwaiti Soil

The Social Reform Association

The Islamic Constitutional Movement



The Muslim Brotherhood (referred to as MB henceforth) has been a source of fear to most Arab regimes, especially the Gulf monarchies. Growing from a small society in a small town in rural Egypt to a transnational organization threatening regimes across the region is a phenomenon that deserves study. This paper examines the evolution of the MB since its escape from the ‘republic of fear’ in Egypt to threatening the political apparatus of Kuwait. The paper also highlights the re-adaption of the Kuwaiti MB's ideology throughout its history to fit the Kuwaiti setting.

Firstly, the paper provides a historical narrative of the MB in Egypt until their disbandment by Abdel Nasser which is critical to understand the roots behind the spread of their ideology in the Gulf. Secondly, it lays out the setting in Kuwait at the time the MB's ideology hit the Kuwaiti soil. Thirdly, the paper discusses the establishment of the first MB branch in Kuwait by Abdul Aziz Ali Al Mato'; and the second stage of the MB's experience in Kuwait that started with changing its name to the "Islamic Guidance of Society." Fourthly, the paper highlights the termination of the Guidance organization and establishment of the “Social Reform Association” which marked the participation of the MB in shaping the Kuwaiti politics. Lastly, the paper examines the establishment of the Islamic Constitutional Movement (referred to as ICM henceforth) marking a new era in the MB's function in the Kuwaiti political arena.

The Establishment of the MB by Hassan Al Banna

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Hassan Al-Banna in 1928. Initially, the group was relatively small and mainly focused on membership-building activities in and nearby Ismailia.[1] Within time, this apolitical religious social organization began to rise in influence and, in the 1930s; they began to evolve a political voice in Egyptian politics. They constructed large public rallies “calling for social reform and an immediate withdrawal of British troops from Egypt.”[2]

Soon after they created what Ziad Munson would note as a “secret apparatus” thereby a paramilitary arm of the Muslim Brotherhood that aimed at protecting the leaders of the MB and spreading their goals through political violence.[3] Although they took part in many political activities such as the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, they found themselves repressed by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954 with the disbandment of the MB after their attempt at assassinating Abdel Nasser. To escape imprisonment or execution, many members took refuge in neighboring countries.

The Kuwaiti Setting in the 1940s

At that time, Kuwait was one of the “sultanistic regimes” of the Middle East which are known to be inherently authoritarian and “rely on a combination of coercive and administrative institutions … to maintain power.”[4] Kuwait also fell under Max Weber’s “traditional authority” category, which is “an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of the status of those exercising authority under them.”[5]

Starting from the early 20th century, Kuwaiti society witnessed influence by religious movements and reformers including: Jamal Aldin Alafghani, Muhammad Abdou, Rashid Rida, and Abdelrahman AlKawakbi.[6] The most prominent Kuwaiti reformers included Shaikh Abdelaziz Alrashid, Shaikh Youssef Bin Alqna’i, Yassin Altbatbani, Farhan Alkhaled, Khaled AlAdsani, and others.[7] These reformers were influenced by the Arab Renaissance Movement in Kuwait, and they worked towards establishing modernized schools. They faced confrontations with conservatives, who believed that modern education was non-Islamic, and that education should strictly be memorizing the Quran, reading, and writing opposing the study of geography and foreign languages.[8]

The conflict between the reformation wing and the conservative wing remained throughout the first quarter of the 20th century. However, in Shaikh Ahmed Aljaber Alsabah’s reign, the reformation wing was influential in modernizing Kuwaiti society.[9] In 1921, he established the Advisory Board, which embodied Shaikh Youssef Bin Alqna’i and Shaikh Abdelaziz Alrashid. This wing also played an evident role in the Kuwaiti political reformation movement in 1938. This movement led to the establishment of the Representatives Council (مجلس النيابي). Shaikh Alqna’i was a member of this council, and Khaled AlAdsani was the Council’s secretary.[10]

The 40s was a difficult time period for Kuwaitis, for the first Legislative Council (المجلس التشريعي) failed in 1938 as a result of bloody confrontations between the Council’s supporters and Shaikh Ahmed Al Jaber’s supporters. These confrontations were followed by WWII, further hindering political progression in Kuwait. Shaikh Abdullah Alsalem took over power in 1950, supporting the Legislative Council and liberal politics.[11]

The plot in Kuwait and these events led to huge resistance from the government and even local Kuwaitis to political Islam movements, like the MB. Average Kuwaitis rejected the idea of a religious political domination over the society, as in Saudi Arabia.[12]

Hitting the Kuwaiti Soil

The migration of Egyptian MB members, under Abdel Nasser’s regime onwards, into the GCC countries led to the evolution of MB branches in neighboring countries, especially the Gulf states. The first MB organization in Kuwait was established in 1947 by Abdul Aziz Ali Al Mato'.[13]

Later on in 1952, Al Mato' suggested to Hassan Al Banna in Egypt changing the name from "Brotherhood" to the “Islamic Guidance of Society.” One can see here that Al Mato' tried to avoid a misconception of the MB's ideology and associating it with the “militant Wahhabi group [that was under that name and]…had invaded Kuwait in 1961.”[14] He also tried to assure Kuwaitis that MB's ideology is different than the Wahhabi ideology dominating the Saudi society.

With the disbandment of the MB in Egypt in 1954 by Abdel Nasser, huge influx of MB leaders fled to GCC countries—including Kuwait—due to its economic prosperity from the discovery of oil. By 1957, Kuwait had a total of 92,851 non-nationals-around 45% of the population-present in the country.[15] The Egyptian MB leaders and member that fled into Kuwait brought along their MB influenced ideas. Many of them were school teachers whose teachings were highly influenced by MB ideology. These school teachers soon helped Kuwait redraft its school curriculum. One can also see that the MB branch in Kuwait started propagating books written by Hassan Al Banna, Said Qutb, Al Mawdudi, Al Nadwi, Said Sabeq, Youssef Al Qaradawi, and Mustafa Al Subaei.[16] These books acted as educational material for the organization in Kuwait.

Additionally, Kuwaiti students—particularly students who were in Egypt during the revival of Islamic involvement—that returned to Kuwait after completing their studies at Egyptian universities, also brought along MB ideas and planned a student movement in Kuwait University. “Their National Alliance won the student union elections in 1979” which still remains to this day.[17] Therefore, one can argue that the Egyptian MB ideas started reaching out to the youth and Kuwaitis through the redrafting of the education systems.

The Social Reform Association

Following Kuwait’s independence of British rule in 1961, the Guidance Organization was terminated and the “Social Reform Association” was established.[18] The Social Reform Association focused on charitable, social, and educational activities as well as exercised political involvement.[19] The Association established 47 Quran teaching centers and utilized them—along with mosques—to propagate MB ideology.[20] The Association also started publishing books, brochures and the weekly "Society" magazine that attacked non-Islamic movements and political regimes.[21]


[1] Ziad Munson. "Social Movement: Theory and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood."The Sociological Quarterly 42.4 (2001), p488

[2] Munson, 2008, p488

[3] Munson, 2008, p489

[4] Mehran Kamrava. “The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since the First World War.” California: University of California Press, 2011, p311

[5] Max Weber. “On Charisma and Institutional Building.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968., p46

[6] عبد الغني عماد, "الاخوان المسلمين في الكويت"الحركات الاسلامية في الوطن العربي. Ed.عبد الغني عماد.بيروت، لبنان: مركز دراسات الوحدة العربية. 2013، 509-528، ص509

[7] Ibid

[8] عماد، 2013، ص509-511

[9] Ibid

[10] عماد، 2013، ص509-511

[11] عماد، 2013،ص511-514

[12] عماد، 2013،ص510

[13] عماد، 2013،ص509

[14] Nathan J. Brown. “Pushing Toward Party Politics?: Kuwait's Islamic Constitutional Movement.” Carnegie Papers. Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2007, p6 Please note that MB will be referred to the MB in Egypt not the movement in Kuwait (Social Reform Association).

[15] Jill Crystal. “Oil and Politics in the Gulf.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p79

[16] عماد، 2013،ص519-521


[18] عماد، 2013، ص 517


[20] عماد، 2013، ص 518

[21] Ibid

Excerpt out of 12 pages


The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. A Historical Analysis of the Islamic Movement
Islam & Politics in the Gulf
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Islam, Politics, Gulf, Kuwait, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt, Islamic Movements, Islam and Politics, Islamic Guidance Society
Quote paper
Islam Hassan (Author), 2014, The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. A Historical Analysis of the Islamic Movement, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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