April 16, 2007

Description of the MB by his foundator, Al-Banna.

Hassan al-Banna created the Muslim Brothers in 1928 in Ismailiyya, a Western enclave administered by French interests and guarded by the British army. This movement became very popular in the 1930s and 1940s. The bulk of the Muslim Brothers’ supporters and propagandists came from the Wadf party. Hassan al-Banna’s thought is influenced by the Salafis, as can be seen from the fact that upon Rida’s death in 1935 al-Banna inherited al-Manar and published it until 1940. Islamist groups already existed in Egypt. The ideological antecedents of the Muslim Brothers were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad ‘abdu, and Rashid Rida. The movement had its own spiritual authorities and did not recognize those of the state. Their society was a complete “umma” modelled on the original community of the Prophet. They elected a council (shura) who advised the supreme leader (imam), or guide (murshid).

At its birth, the Muslim Brothers called for a sharia based society. This total change of society indicates that there is no separation between the state and religion. Brothers rejected the Western domination, Western society, and Western culture. Nevertheless, in 1939 the program was not clearly defined. Al-Banna suggested that if one desired he might: describe the Muslim Brothers as (1) a Salafite call, (2) a way based on the prophetic model behaviour, (3) a sufi reality…; (4) a political association…; (5) an education society…; (6) an economic company…; (7) and a collective thought.” He should have added the determination to end foreign domination.

In the second half of the 1930s, the Muslim Brothers were strongly engaged to help the Palestinians. They raised and channelled funds to fight the Jews, and intensified contacts with religious leaders in Palestine. Banna was interned from 1941 to February 1942 due to his critic of the British presence. The secret apparatus of the Muslim Brothers bombed British clubs during the Second World War, and assassinated Egyptian officials. In 1945, the Palestinian question became even more explosive, and the Muslim Brothers were organizing violent demonstrations against the Jews. Military training centers were set up to send volunteers in Palestine to fight “Zionism.”

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