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Claremont McKenna College

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change


During the first three decades of the Jordanian kingdom’s existence, the Muslim Brotherhood was a relatively apolitical charity organization that held a handful of seats in Parliament. From the mid-1970s onward, however, the Brotherhood grew substantially in size and influence, so much so that it is now the largest and most broad-based political party in Jordan. Looking at domestic, regional, economic, social, political and theological factors, this study seeks to explain the Brotherhood’s dramatic political ascendance and, also, how the regime has coped with its rise. A holistic explanation of this phenomenon is the study’s modus operandi. In order to gather as many different perspectives as possible, my data drew on interviews of (1) members of the Brotherhood and its political offshoot, the Islamic Action Front; (2) officials in the Jordanian regime; and (3) independent academics and journalists who have previously studied the topic. The theory of is this paper is that the political ascendance of the Brotherhood stems from three factors: (1) its presence in civil society, (2) the resonance of its Islamic message and (3) the movement’s positioning on the Palestinian issue. I further argue that since the government’s response has concentrated only on the first variable – and ignores the other two – it can expect partial, but not complete, success in diminishing the Brotherhood’s popular support.


Islamic World and Near East History | Political Science


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