Transformation of the Ennahda Movement from Islamic Jama’ah to Political Party


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 2, 2017

Many intellectuals and activists made theoretical and practical contributions to the process in which the fundamental building blocks for the Ennahda Movement were laid by individuals such as Rached Ghannouchi, Abdelfattah Mourou, Hamida al-Naifar, Salah al-Din Jourchi, and Abdulmajid al-Najjar. The Ennahda Movement, which was affected by the methods of Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood but avoided slavish imitation, went through many stages until it acquired an idiosyncratic structure. Without a shadow of a doubt, the prominent leader at all stages has been Rached Ghannouchi.

Ghannouchi showed interest in Arab nationalism in his youth; however, he gravitated towards “Pan-Islamism” after realizing that the latter type of nationalism possessed a more secular and Western character rather than embracing the culture of Islam. In his own words, he “entered Islam” while he was studying philosophy in Damascus, after having realized that the socialist and nationalist movements he was involved in were crisis-ridden at the time. With this decision, he left both secular nationalism and traditional/imitational Islam and took a step toward fundamental or “real” Islam. This real Islam, whose main source was the revelation, is different from “imitational” Islam, which is the invention of history and traditions.

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