Why worry? Isn't Islamist democracy just a step on the way to democracy as it is understood in the West? Isn't that why the United States is supporting Egypt, and why the US administration has courted the Muslim Brotherhood since President Barack Obama seated its members in the front row for his famous speech in Cairo in 2009? Isn't this all part of the Arab spring?
The novelist Saul Bellow once wrote that, "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep." To maintain the illusion that the Muslim Brotherhood is intent on transforming Egypt into a democracy requires the application of considerable ignorance. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in reaction to Kemal Ataturk's abolition of the caliphate in 1924. Its ultimate aim is to restore the caliphate. Its vehicle for doing so, according to founder Hassan al-Banna, is a one-party system akin to that of the Soviet Union under Stalin. Al-Banna envisaged a bottom-up strategy in which people would be Islamized at the local level first. For this purpose, he created his party. After winning the masses, the Muslim Brotherhood would take total control.
Why is total control necessary? The chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, wrote that, "Islam chose to unite earth and heaven in a single system." What does this mean? It means that the separate realms of the divine and the human have collapsed into each other, and that it will now be possible, as Qutb said, "to abolish all injustice from the earth."
This, of course, is a millenarian vision similar, in many ways, to the Marxist dream of creating a classless society based on the abolition of scarcity. If perfect justice is to be achieved here, rather than before God's throne in the final judgment, several things will be required by those who institute it. They will, in fact, need the very same things that God is thought to possess in his ability to achieve perfect justice. Those two things are omnipotence and omniscience. The omnipotence will be gained through the establishment of a totalitarian regime. The omniscience will be obtained, as it always has been in totalitarian regimes, through an extensive secret police apparatus.
What does the Brotherhood's version of Islam look like in this scheme? As indicated above, it does not look like a normal religion, which preserves the distinction between the earthly and the transcendent. It is a revolutionary ideology aimed at the total transformation of reality. Here is its view, as expressed by the de facto spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: "Islam is a comprehensive school of thought, a creed, an ideology, and cannot be completely satisfied but by (completely) controlling society and directing all aspects of life, from how to enter the toilet to the construction of the state."
However, some analysts suggest that, since its founding 84 years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood has evolved and, when in power, will evolve even more. This is always the hope of those who fail to recognize the essentially totalitarian nature of certain political movements and principles that are not subject to change. Similar hopes were expressed about the Nazi Party and various Marxist parties. They would mature in power, the exercise of which would transform them in a moderate direction. This, of course, did not happen, though these parties often fostered the impression that it was. Rather, these widely held illusions actually enabled these totalitarian parties to consolidate their power.