RESPONDING TO THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST INCLUDING THE EGYPTIAN CASE: ISLAM RECOMMENDS A UNITED AND MUTUALLY HELPFUL SOCIETY IN THE WORLD
by Syarif Hidayat*
What is Islam? It’s certainly not a social or political regime. So what exactly is it? Islam has been revealed to us for a purpose: for man to identify himself according to the mechanics of existence and the universe, and for man to unveil the prime attributes from his true essence.
The holographic reality states that all that is present throughout the Universe also exists within the human mind. Islam provides the realization that the path for man to reach his creator is through his own mind… Islam provides you with the system and mechanics to reach your creator, to unleash the true potential within. Islam was revealed to you, FOR you.
In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful! “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Prophet Muhammad PBUH) explaining to you much of that which you used to hide from the Scripture and pass over (i.e. leaving out without explaining) much. Indeed, there has come to you from Allâh a light (Prophet Muhammad PBUH) and a plain Book (Al Qur’an). Wherewith Allâh guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace, and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to the Straight Way (Islâmic Monotheism).” – Al Qur’an Surah Al Maidah, Verse 15-16.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” – Al Qur’an, Surah Al-‘Alaq, Verse 1-5.
In Al-‘Alaq Surah, Al Qur’an emphasizes the important of reading and learning in Islam. This includes learning a religion before converting. That is why Islam prohibits forcing (by way of forceful persuasion or giving food or money in exchange for converting) someone to convert into Islam.
A United and Mutually Helpful Society
Islam recommends a united and mutually helpful society, and this vision does not only refer to the level of nation, but includes international relations, too. In this sense, from an Islamic perspective, international law should take the establishment of peace as a foundation. The root of the word Islam, silm, refers to “making peace, being in a mutually peaceful environment, greetings, rescue, safety, being secure, finding peace, reaching salvation and well being or being far from danger, attaining goodness, comfort and favor, keeping away from troubles and disasters, submitting the self and obeying, respect, being far from wrong.”
The “submitting the self and obeying” here means “submitting to justice and righteousness in order to reach peace and safety and being in a peaceful environment by one’s free will.” In fact, salaam and salaamat, mean “to reach salvation,” and their rubai form (with four radical letters) aslama means “submitted, became Muslim, and made peace.” “Islam” as either a noun or a verb with these meanings is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an.
In order to be able portray a fair image of Islam, we have to consider its divinely inspired purposes, which yield, as a result, a just worldly order. By applying preventive measures to ensure security of wealth, life, mind, religion, and reproduction, Islam aims to build a society in peace, serenity, friendship, collaboration, altruism, justice, and virtue. According to the Qur’an, all Muslims are brothers and sisters to each other and if a disagreement appears among them they make peace and correct it: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islâmic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allâh, that you may receive mercy.” (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Hujraat, Verse: 10).
They help each other to avoid what God forbids and to observe their religious awareness at every stage in their life: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.“O you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allâh, nor of the Sacred Month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlanded people or animals, and others nor the people coming to the Sacred House (Makkah), seeking the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when you finish the Ihrâm (of Hajj or ‘Umrah), you may hunt, and let not the hatred of some people in (once) stopping you from Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm (at Makkah) lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is Severe in punishment.” (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Maeda, Verse:2) .
They carry out important tasks after shura, that is, consultation: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “And by the Mercy of Allâh, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh¬hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allâh’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allâh, certainly, Allâh loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-E-Imran, Verse:159).
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “And those who answer the Call of their Lord [i.e. to believe that He is the only One Lord (Allâh), and to worship none but Him Alone], and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them.” (Al Qur’an,Surah Ash-Shura, Verse:38).
They always witness truthfully and are just even if it is against their close relatives: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allâh, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allâh is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allâh is Ever Well¬Acquainted with what you do.” (Al Qur’an, Surah An-Nisa, Verse:135).
Again, as mentioned in the Qur’an, a true Muslim follows the straight path. That means that he or she is faithful, honest, and just, is calm, lives to perfectly observe his or her religion and in guidance of reason. Pursuing the straight path can be understood as being absolutely truthful and honest in all circumstances, as well as embracing a moderate way of life that encourages good relations with everyone.
Peace and Reconciliation
The Qur’an emphasizes peace and reconciliation as basic to all social and even international relations. As mentioned in the Qur’an, Paradise, which is the reward for the pious, is a place of serenity. One of the ninety-nine names of God is Salaam, which means peace. Throughout history, Muslims have made every effort to establish peace and serenity everywhere in all divergent fields, only taking military measures when their enemies tried to hinder these efforts for humankind.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH commanded us to maintain social solidarity and cooperation, to open our hearts to our fellows, and to help one another at all times. He said, “Do not cut relations between each other! Do not turn your backs on each other! Do not grow hatred between each other! O God’s servants! Become brothers and sisters!” Over the course of history, the general approach of Muslims has been supportive of maintaining peace, spreading an environment of serenity and trust, and constructing a civilization of love, compassion, and mercy to share with other people in peace.
When the Messenger of God (Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) explained Islam’s potential to contribute to safety and peace in society, he specified one goal in his time as the following: “A rider will travel from Sana’a (a city in Yemen) to Hadhramaut (a region in the southwest of the Arabian peninsula) fearing none but God, or a wolf as regards his sheep.” If we consider the troubles due to the extreme violence Muslims were exposed to both in the Medinan and Meccan periods, we can understand how meaningful was this message expressed by the Prophet. It does not include any desire for revenge against any person or any group; instead, it only expresses an ardent desire for a violence-free world for all.
Islam is against TERRORISM
“Jihad” is a term often misunderstood and associated with violent radical militants. This Arabic word is frequently mistranslated as ”holy war,” although there is no such thing in Islam. Holy war is something undertaken to forcibly subject others to certain religious doctrines. As we have seen this expressly forbidden in Islam.
The Arabic word “Jihad” actually means a struggle or striving within and applies to any great effort on the personal as well as the evil from oneself and from society. This exertion of effort can be spiritual, social, economic or political. For example, one of the highest levels of jihad is to stand before a tyrant and speak a word of truth. Restraining the self from wrongdoing is also a form of jihad.
It is a broad Islamic concept that includes opposing evil inclinations within the self, opposing injustice by peaceful means, the exertion of effort to improve the quality of life in society, as well as striving by military forces on a battlefield in defense of the community or of peoples oppressed. Jihad is not synonymous with war, as that is only one possible aspect of the term and it certainly does not include terrorism!
Islam is against terrorism: In Islam, the right to life is an absolute value. In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Allah SWT says in Al Qur’an: “Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation (in legal punishment) of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidence, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allâh by committing the major sins) in the land!” – Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Maidah, Verse 32.
There is also jihad of the soul, which means striving to purify the soul, to increase its faith, incline it toward good and keep it away from evil. Then there is jihad through wealth, which means spending it in various beneficial ways, including charities and welfare projects. And there is jihad through the self which comprises all good works done by a believer.
It includes the protection of societies from oppression, foreign domination and dictatorships that usurp rights and freedom, that abolish just and moral rule, that prevent people from hearing the truth or following it, and that practice religious persecution. Jihad endeavors to teach belief in the one supreme God (Allah SWT) and worship of Him, to spread good values, virtue and morality through wise and proper methods.
Jihad means striving for social reform and the elimination of ignorance, superstition, poverty, disease and racial discrimination. Among its main objectives is securing rights for weaker members of society against the impositions of the powerful and influential.Armed jihad is not an option for Muslim individuals or groups. It can only be declared by the Muslim head of state and religious leadership. Moreover, it must never be fought for worldly gain, conquest or revenge. Muslims may only engage in battle to protect people’s lives, properties and freedom.
Peace in Islamic Philosophy
The Arabic term Islam itself is usually translated as submission, submission of desires to the will of God (Allah SWT) . It comes from the term aslama, which means “to surrender” or “resign oneself.” The Arabic word salaam (peace) has the same root as the word Islam. One Islamic interpretation is that individual personal peace is attained by utterly submitting to Allah. The greeting Salaam alaykum, favoured by Muslims, has the literal meaning Peace be with you.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH is reported to have said once, “Mankind are the dependents, or family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His dependents. Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
Concept of Islamic Peace
Islam is a monotheistic religion and according to Al Qur’an all people are children of Adam. Satan is considered the enemy of humanity, causing enmity among all people. The series of prophets and messengers coming from God throughout the ages is to call the people again towards their innate identity of love and friendship.
The good life according to Islam is in submitting to God and in worshiping Him as The Creator and The Master and to recognize the innate nature of man. The individual who will recognize his true nature on which every person is created will be able to live together in society with peace and affection to each other. In his Last Sermon, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH admonished believers: “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Rules for Peace
Islamic tradition dictates that prophets were sent by God to every nation. In Islam, only Muhammad was sent finally to convey God’s message to the whole world, whereas other prophets were sent to convey their messages to a specific group of people or nation. So the ideal nationhood in Islam is beyond all boundaries and differences. Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger according to Islam and his nation or ummah is called Ummat e Muhammad PBUH (nation of Muhammad PBUH).
The establishment of ummah (the Islamic community) on earth based on the rules of shariah is the ultimate goal of Islam according to the jurisprudential approach. The ummah is not confined to any particular geography, or limited to any specific race; rather it consists of all believers throughout the world from whatever background, language, creed, history or geography.
Unlike race, language, history and other such involuntary criteria in nationhood, where the individual has no choice and nationalism and patriotism ask for allegiance to a particular nation and state not chosen by him/her, ummah arms the individual by allowing a choice to be made by him/her in joining or rejecting it. It is therefore a conscious and informed choice that establishes ummah and allegiance to it rather than non-voluntary factors as in nationhood.
Importance of Peace
One of the terms meaning peace and peacemaking in Arabic, sulh, which is used in the Quran, is also the root of the word islah denoting development and improvement. This term is used to refer to peacemaking. Peacemakers are agents of good and those who breach it are elements of corruption and sin. It is therefore observed that peace and peacemaking are seen in Islamic tradition as part and parcel of human development.
In other words peace and making peace are seen as Godly acts worthy of praise and reward. Enmity takes root within and is the cause of conflict amongst humans without; wars start in the minds of men’ reads the UNESCO Charter.
Therefore, the main ingredient and instigator of much of armed conflict in history, enmity and hatred, befell mankind as a result of having succumbed to Satanic temptation and deception. The commonality with Kantian as well as Hobbesian perspective in considering enmity and war as state of nature (outside of the original dwelling) is all too clear.
However, there is a striking difference in man’s approach to the state of nature: Whilst both Hobbes and Kant believe that peace is a better way of life and prescribe an artificial state of peace to promote human security, progress and stability (they, however, disagree widely on how to achieve that state) as a rational discourse, in Islam peace is advocated as a divine quality to be pursued in order to achieve the state of felicity that we were in paradise, man’s former dwelling.
Peace and Justice
Justice, as outlined in the Quran, refers to balance and is the foundation upon which creation stands. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph after the Prophet, has an incisive definition of justice. He considers justice to be the placement of everything in their proper order. The issue of proportionality and relativeness is thus an indispensable part of justice.
Al Quran states in chapter Al Maidah: ”O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.”
Peace based on justice, therefore, would mean a balanced, fair and tranquil state of affairs, where all concerned would enjoy their due rights and protection. Muhammad PBUH is reported to have said once: “Mankind are the family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His family.” “Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
House Of Peace
The ideal society, according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, literally, the house of peace of which it intones: And Allah invites to the ‘abode of peace’ and guides whom He pleases into the right path. The establishment of abode of peace on earth means the establish peace in everyday lives, at all levels. This includes personal, social, state and international levels.
According to Islam there will be an era in which justice, plenty, abundance, well-being, security, peace, and brotherhood will prevail among humanity, and one in which people will experience love, self-sacrifice, tolerance, compassion, mercy, and loyalty. In his sayings, our Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says that this blessed period will be experienced through the mediation of the Mahdi (Imam Mahdi), who will come in the end times to save the world from chaos, injustice, and moral collapse.
He will eradicate godless ideologies and bring an end to the prevailing injustice. Moreover, he will make religion like it was in the days of our Prophet PBUH, cause the Qur’an’s moral teachings to prevail among humanity, and establish peace and well-being throughout the world.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: The backgrounder
In October 1992, Cairo was struck by a devastating earthquake, in which nearly 600 people were killed and several thousand injured. Within hours, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups were out on the streets, clearing the rubble and providing food, blankets and tents to the thousands who had lost their homes. The government of then-President Hosni Mubarak, meanwhile, was nowhere to be seen. The quick response by the Brotherhood illustrated for many Egyptians how deeply rooted the Islamist movement had become, its members able to mobilize a vast social service network in Cairo’s poor neighborhoods while Mubarak’s secular, military-backed regime floundered after years of ineptitude and corruption.
This episode is instructive when considering the long-term consequences of the popular uprising turned coup that overthrew Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president and the first Brotherhood leader to assume the presidency of an Arab country. Despite the missteps during its short-lived rule, the Brotherhood still has support among large segments of the population. Over decades, the movement built mosques, schools and clinics that often outperformed the government’s social welfare system. It is foolhardy to think the Brotherhood can be uprooted and cast out of the Egyptian political system. Egypt cannot have a future as a viable, pluralistic democracy without the Brotherhood’s participation.
Morsi’s overthrow has dangerous implications far beyond Egypt: it could reshape Islamist politics throughout the region. The Brotherhood is the oldest and most influential Islamist movement, inspiring branches and affiliates, in the Arab and Muslim worlds. In fits and starts over several decades, Islamist parties across the Middle East renounced violence and committed to participating in electoral politics.
Muslim Brotherhood’s original mission
Founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood is widely considered the world’s most influential Islamist organization, with numerous branches and affiliates. It is “the mother of all Islamist movements,” says Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. The Brotherhood’s original mission was to Islamize society through the promotion of Islamic law, values, and morals. A revivalist movement from its early days, it has combined religion, social welfare, and political activism in its work.
Hasan al-Banna – the founder of Muslim Brotherhood
According to Sunni Forum website, Hasan al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood or Society of the Muslim Brothers, the largest and most influential Sunni revivalist organization in the 20th century. Created in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood became the first mass-based, overtly political movement to oppose the ascendancy of secular and Western ideas in the Middle East. The brotherhood saw in these ideas the root of the decay of Islamic societies in the modern world, and advocated a return to Islam as a solution to the ills that had befallen Muslim societies.
Al-Banna’s leadership was critical to the spectacular growth of the brotherhood during the 1930s and 1940s. By the early 1950s, branches had been established in Syria, Sudan, and Jordan. Soon, the movement’s influence would be felt in places as far away as the Gulf and non-Arab countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Driving this expansion was the appeal of the organizational model embodied in the original, Egypt-based section of the brotherhood, and the success of al-Banna’s writings. Translated into several languages, these writings have shaped two generations of Sunni religious activists across the Islamic world.
Like many of the Islamic leaders who followed in his footsteps, Al-Banna enjoyed the benefits of a modern education, but had been raised in a traditional Islamic environment. He was born in 1906 in Mahmudiyya, a small town in the Nile Delta. His father, a watch repairman who also served as prayer leader and Qur’anic teacher in the local mosque, had been educated at Al-Azhar. Author of a few works on Islamic jurisprudence, he instilled strong religious values into Al-Banna. Even as a primary school student, Al-Banna joined several religious societies dedicated to the promotion of Islamic standards of moral behavior. It was also at that young age that he became a member of the Hasafiyya Brothers’ Sufi order. His early participation in dhikr circles and avid reading of Sufi literature help explain why he always saw the moral reform of the individual as a precondition to the Islamization of society.
In 1923, at the age of 16, Al-Banna moved to Cairo to enter the famous Dar al-’Ulum college. The four years that Al-Banna spent in Cairo exposed him to the political ferment of the Egyptian capital in the early 1920s, and enhanced his awareness of the extent to which secular and Western ways had penetrated the very fabric of society. It was then that Al-Banna became particularly preoccupied with what he saw as the young generation’s drift away from Islam. He believed that the battle for the hearts and minds of the youth would prove critical to the survival of a religion besieged by a Western onslaught.
While studying in Cairo, he immersed himself in the writings of the founders of Islamic reformism (the Salafiyya movement), including the Egyptian Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905), under whom his father had studied while at Al-Azhar. But it was ‘Abduh’s disciple, the Syrian Rashid Rida (1865-1935), who most influenced Al-Banna. Al-Banna was a dedicated reader of Al-Manar, the magazine that Rida published in Cairo from 1898 until his death in 1935. He shared Rida’s central concern with the decline of Islamic civilization relative to the West.
He too believed that this trend could be reversed only by returning to an unadulterated form of Islam, free from all the accretions that had diluted the strength of its original message. Like Rida at the end of his life — but unlike ‘Abduh and other Islamic modernists — Al-Banna felt that the main danger to Islam’s survival in the modern age stemmed less from the conservatism of Al-Azhar and the ulama (which he nevertheless criticized) than from the ascendancy of Western secular ideas.
The rejection of all Western notions
Al-Banna urged the rejection of all Western notions, emphasizing instead the need to return to the foundations and original purity of Islam. Indeed, through the organizational skills he would soon demonstrate, Al-Banna did more than any other thinker during that time to contribute to the eclipse of Islamic refornism and modernism by Islamic fundamentalism. Upon graduating from Dar al-’Ulum in 1927, at the age of 21, Al-Banna was appointed as a teacher of Arabic in a primary school in Isma’iliyya. At the time, Isma’iliyya served as the capital of the British-occupied Canal Zone and hosted the headquarters of the Suez Canal Company (SCC).
British military camps and the homes of the SCC’s foreign employees were as much a part of this rapidly expanding new town as the wretched conditions in which the majority of the SCC’s Egyptian workers lived. Al-Banna’s first assignment thus heightened his resentment of what he saw as Egypt’s military occupation, economic exploitation, cultural domination, and loss of dignity. It strengthened his determination to rid Egypt of British and, more generally, Western influences. From the moment he arrived in Isma’iliyya, Al-Banna involved himself actively in the life of the community.
He made an effort to become acquainted with the town’s notables while reaching out to the broadest possible public. He conducted night classes for his students’ parents and led informal discussions in the mosque, coffeehouses, clubs, and private homes. His basic message was that Egypt had lost its soul; it had become politically sub-servient and economically dependent because it had strayed from the path that had been laid down by God. The only remedy to the decadence of state and society was to reassert Islamic values and ways of life.
It was to spread this message that Al-Banna launched the Society of the Muslim Brothers in March 1928. At first, the society was only one of the numerous small Islamic associations that existed at the time. Similar to those that Al-Banna himself had joined since he was 12, these associations aimed to promote personal piety and engaged in charitable activities. By the late 1930s, it had established branches in every Egyptian province. A decade later, it had 500,000 active members and as many sympathizers in Egypt alone, while its appeal was now felt in several other countries as well.
He was murdered by a government or foreign agent?
The society’s growth was particularly pronounced after Al-Banna relocated its headquarters to Cairo in 1932. The single most important factor that made this dramatic expansion possible was the organizational and ideological leadership provided by Al-Banna. He endeavored to bring about the changes he hoped for through institution-building, relentless activism at the grassroots level, and a reliance on mass communication.
He proceeded to build a complex mass movement that featured sophisticated governance structures; sections in charge of furthering the society’s values among peasants, workers, and professionals; units entrusted with key functions, including propagation of the message, liaison with the Islamic world, and press and translation; and specialized committees for finances and legal affairs.
In anchoring this organization into Egyptian society, Al-Banna skillfully relied on pre-existing social networks, in particular those built around mosques, Islamic welfare associations, and neighborhood groups. This weaving of traditional ties into a distinctively modern structure was at the root of his success. Directly attached to the brotherhood, and feeding its expansion, were numerous businesses, clinics, and schools. In addition, members were affiliated to the movement through a series of cells, revealingly called usar (families). The material, social and psychological support thus provided were instrumental to the movement’s ability to generate enormous loyalty among its members and to attract new recruits.
The services and organizational structure around which the society was built were intended to enable individuals to reintegrate into a distinctly Islamic setting, shaped by the society’s own principles. Rooted in Islam, Al-Banna’s message tackled issues including colonialism, public health, educational policy, natural resources management, Marxism, social inequalities, Arab nationalism, the weakness of the Islamic world on the international scene, and the growing conflict in Palestine. By emphasizing concerns that appealed to a variety of constituencies, Al-Banna was able to recruit from among a cross-section of Egyptian society — though modern-educated civil servants, office employees, and professionals remained dominant among the organization’s activists and decision makers.
As the society expanded during the 1930s, it quickly changed from a movement for spiritual and moral reform into an organization directly active on the Egyptian political scene. Concurrent with that transformation, radical tendencies asserted themselves within the organization. A “secret apparatus” (al-jihaz al-sirri) was formed that engineered a series of assassinations of enemies of the brotherhood. Between 1948 and 1949, shortly after the society sent volunteers to fight in the war in Palestine, the conflict between the monarchy and the society reached its climax.
Among the Muslim Brothers’ most notable accomplishments during these early years was its involvement in the 1936–1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine. The Muslim Brothers launched a pro-Palestine campaign that was largely responsible for making the Palestine issue a wide-spread Muslim concern. The Muslim Brothers carried out a fundraising campaign that was impressive because it relied upon donations from rural and urban working classes rather than wealthy Egyptians.
In addition to fundraising efforts, the Muslim Brothers also organized special prayers for Palestinian nationalists, held political rallies, and distributed propaganda. Although the Palestinian Revolt was ultimately suppressed through tough military action, the Muslim Brothers’ impressive mobilization efforts helped make the Palestinian question a pan-Arab concern in the Middle East.
Last days and assassination
Between 1948 and 1949, shortly after the society sent volunteers to fight against Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the conflict between the monarchy and the society reached its climax. Concerned with the increasing assertiveness and popularity of the brotherhood, as well as with rumours that it was plotting a coup, Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha disbanded it in December 1948. The organization’s assets were impounded and scores of its members sent to jail. Following Pasha’s assassination by a student member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Banna promptly released a statement condemning the assassination, stating that terror is not an acceptable way in Islam.
On February 12, 1949 in Cairo, Al-Banna was at the Jamiyyah al-Shubban al-Muslimeen headquarters with his brother in-law Abdul Karim Mansur to negotiate with Minister Zaki Ali Basha who represented the government side. Minister Zaki Ali Basha never arrived. By 5 p.m., Al-Banna and his brother-in-law decided to leave. As they stood waiting for a taxi, they were shot by two men, presumably the government agents (But they could also be foreign agents). He eventually died from his wounds at the age 0f 43 and at the height of his career. In honour of his death in 1949, he was often referred to as “As-Shaheed Imam Hassan Al-Banna” (Martyr Imam Hl-Banna).
Though the society never fully recovered from the loss of its charismatic founder, it survived. Since then, the brotherhood has remained a significant force in the politics of several Arab countries, either directly or through the movements it inspired. It appeals most to cultural conservatives who want their government and society to reflect and defend certain basic Islamic values and principles, and who favor a pragmatic and incremental approach to achieve these goals. The legacy of Al-Banna is thus still present, and will continue to shape the destiny of Arab societies in the new millennium. (HSH)
*(He can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. The Holy Al Qur’an Tafsir in English by Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Khan.
2. “Islam is a Religion of Love and Peace” by Professor Huseyin Algul
3.“Peace in Islamic philosophy” from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.