Al-Adl wal-Ihsan: An Explanation of its Rise and its Strategy for Social and Political Reform in Morocco
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
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This study examines the rise of al-Adl wal-Ihsan in the early 1980s, its development, its attitude towards a number of Islamic and contemporary issues, and its strategy to take root in society and press for social and political reform in Morocco. The aim is to provide an account that reflects as far as possible what is perceived to be the true nature of al-Adl wal-Ihsan and, more importantly, to identify the factors behind its rapid growth and its ability to become the largest organized Islamic force in the country despite operating under an authoritarian regime and in an environment already populated by several Islamic groups. Drawing on the dialogic model of interpretation which entails, among things, presenting the Islamists’ ideas, experiences and arguments using their own terms and categories, this study has used a wide range of primary and secondary sources and benefited from interviews with a variety of people, including the movement’s founding leader, Sheikh Yassine, before he passed away on 13th December 2012, in order to achieve a better understanding of al-Adl wal-Ihsan. The major findings that come from this research demonstrate that al-Adl wal-Ihsan is a mere response, among others, based on Islamic sources and ijtihad, to legitimate demands of social, political and moral order. Hence, to exclude the moral and spiritual dimension from the analysis would not help to generate plausible explanations of the rise and nature of al-Adl wal-Ihsan or any other Islamic group for that matter. As for al-Adl’s rapid expansion, it has been found to be closely related to five basic factors: a charismatic leadership, an adequate organizational structure, a coherent theoretical framework, an appealing reform strategy and special emphasis on tarbiya [education]. Thus what becomes of al-Adl wal-Ihsan in the future seems to depend on its ability to maintain, if not to improve on what is deemed to be the source of its strength, which is a big challenge.
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies