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SIBACI, MUSTAFA AL- (1915-1964), Syrian political thinker, educator, and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Born in Homs, al-Siba’i came from a prominent family of `ulama’. His father’s nurturance of him in Islamic learning included a strong sense of political activism that later put him on a collision course with the authorities of the French mandate.

When al-Siba’i was eighteen years old, he traveled to Egypt, a country that would have a profound impact on his intellectual development and public life. His studies at al-Azhar were accompanied by involvement in political activism, membership in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and close association with Hasan alBanna’. In 1934 al-Sibd’ was jailed for participating in anti-British demonstrations; in 1940 the British charged him with subversion and sent him to the Sarfad camp in Palestine. After his release (1940, he returned to Horns to establish an organization called Shabab Muhammad (Muhammad’s Youth). Soon he was arrested and jailed by the French for two and a half years. Despite his deteriorating health brought on by torture, al-Siba i s release from prison in 1943 ushered in two decades of dynamic activity as writer, teacher, and leader of Syria’s Islamic movement.

By 1946 al-Sibyl had forged a merger between different Islamic jam’iyat to form the Muslim Brotherhood, and was elected its general supervisor (al-murdgib al`amm). Until the brotherhood’s suppression by the Shishakli regime in 1952, al-Sibd’! worked to strengthen his movement, which he conceived not as a jam’iyah or political party but as a rah (spirit) seeking to raise public consciousness to achieve comprehensive Islamic reform. He was also a distinguished educator and administrator at the University of Damascus.

Al-Siba’i’s most important contribution to Islamic thought was his book, Ishtirakiyat al-Islam (The Socialism of Islam), in which he argued that Islam teaches a unique type of socialism, one distinct from its Western materialistic variants emphasizing class struggle. He saw Islamic Socialism as conforming with human nature, based on five natural rights: life, freedom, knowledge, dignity, and ownership. God is the ultimate owner of all, and man is deputized to make use of property through honest labor. The state plays a regulatory function through nationalization (ta’mim) of essential public services, implementation of Islamic laws on mutual social responsibility (al-takaful al-ijtimd`i), and sanctions (mu’ayyiddt). Al-Siba`i’s theory created an uproar because of its opposition to capitalism, its association of Islam with socialism, and its ostensible support of Nasser’s ideology at a time when the Egyptian Brotherhood was suppressed.

Because of his failing health, in 1957 al-Siba`i turned over leadership of the brotherhood to `Isam al-‘Attar, although he continued to write until his death (1964). In addition to his book on socialism, al-Siba’! edited three journals, Al-manor (The Lighthouse), Al-muslimin (The Muslims), and Haddrat al-Islam (The Civilization of Islam), and began to compile an Encyclopedia of Islamic Law. His other books were Mat’ah bayna al figh wa-algdnun and Hdkadha `allamatni al-hayah.

[See also Muslim Brotherhood, article on Muslim Brotherhood in Syria; Socialism and Islam.]


Abd-Allah, Umar F. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley, 1983. Dekmejian, R. Hrair. Islam in Revolution. Syracuse, N.Y., 1985. Donohue, John J., and John L. Esposito, eds. Islam in Transition. New York, 1982.

Enayat, Hamid. Modern Islamic Political Thought. Austin, 1982. Ismael, Tareq Y., and Jacqueline S. Ismael. Government and Politics in Islam. New York, 1985.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/sibaci-mustafa-al/

  • writerPosted On: August 11, 2017
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