Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The original Brother

Today we remember the death of one of the leading lights of Islam in the 20th century:

Ustaz Hasan al-Banna.

History is one of my personal obsessions. I love it because by seeing history we see patterns and trends, we see unchangeable, universal laws that Allah set in governing the affairs of men.

It is particularly interesting to read about the lives of great men, and I love to see the dates in which important events happen to them, how old they were at that time and what they did at that age. To take al-Banna for example:

- Born in the year 1906. Memorised the Qur'an at a young age, entered Madrasah ar-Rasyad at the age of 8, and then primary school, and then Madrasah Mu'allimin (teaching school) Damanhur, and finaly the Darul 'Uloom in Cairo. Graduated in 1927 (21 years old)  

- An activist from early on, he set up a society for the prevention of Munkar in school and with his friend Ahmad Sukkari set up another society for the same purposes in the teaching school.

- Worked as a teacher in Ismailiyyah in 1927 (21 years old). People call the late teens and early twenties as 'formative years', the ages where young people are most susceptible to new ideas and most willing to fight for those ideas (the bulk of Rasulullah's early followers were in this age bracket). Ismailiyyah is a city on the west bank of the Suez Canal, then still controlled by the British. Let us look at some of the forces acting to shape the identity and character of the young al-Banna:

1. Being born into a scholarly family (his father was a scholar of hadith)

2. Constant tarbiyyah since he was small
3. Living in close proximity to the British presence, he must have had a strong sense of the degradation and humiliation faced by muslims living under colonialism

These influences are not exhaustive, but I hope that they convey the impression that Allah prepares the right conditions for the right people to come out at the right time.


"..And whoever believes in Allah - He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things." (At Taghabun:11)

- Established al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin (the Muslim Brotherhood) in 1927 (21 years old). The call of the MB spread across Egypt, and al-Banna himself visited around 3,000 villages in Egypt to spread the da'wah.

- In his 30s, established the Muslim Brotherhood Theatre, as well as several magazines and newspapers.

- Resigned from teaching in the year 1946 (40 years old)

- 1947-1948 (41/42 years old) - Sent thousands of MB members to Palestine to resist the Israeli onslaught. In 1948 the members of the Ikhwan were estimated to be at least half a million

- Assassinated on the 12th of February 1949, aged 43.

Here is an example of someone who made maximum use of his youth. We could take inspiration from the fact that he was already leading a formidable revivalist movement in his 20s, when most 20-year olds today are preoccupied with what job to apply for, what car to buy or what show to watch.

We could take inspiration from the fact that in his youth, he reached out to a lot of people, either by going great distances to meet them personally, or indirectly through his writings and his followers.

Western authors would say that he died a 'premature death', because he died at a very young age and it is at 40 that people usually reach the height of their abilities. But we say that Allah makes the best decisions, because 

eventhough al-Banna died young

His thought and his struggle is going strong until today. It is a sign that this struggle is not dependent on one individual.

It is a struggle that has withstood hostile propaganda, executions, ruthless dictators, mass arrests and more. It is a sign that the truth has settled in the hearts of men, and the truth will not be sold for cheap earthly rewards. The truth does not need us, we need it.

The fact that al-Banna could achieve so much in so short a life, begs the question:

What have you done today?