Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Muslim Brotherhood's Long-Standing War On The West; Part 1

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt by a schoolteacher, Hassan al-Banna. He had been born in Mahmudiyya near Cairo on October 14, 1906, the eldest son of a watch-repairer, Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Banna. Though the family was never wealthy, it upheld a long tradition of Islamic scholarship. Al-Banna senior was an imam who had graduated from Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the largest Sunni seminary in the world. Ahmad spent 40 years of his life compiling and cataloguing an estimated 45,000 reports of the sayings and deeds of the prophet Mohammed. The most respected collector of such hadith, Bukhari (810 to 870 AD), included only 2,062 of these quotations in his collection which he considered to be "sahih" or authentic.
 Hassan al-Banna was taught to memorize the Koran at a young age, and trained to be a teacher. He started teaching in 1927. It was in March, 1928, that Hassan al-Banna, his younger brother Gamal and five others gathered at his home and made a pledge to live and die for Islam. Thus was founded the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwanu I-Muslimin or Hizb al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimoon). In its initial years, the Ikhwan functioned as a youth organization engaged in daw'ah or missionary work. Its political philosophy grew as its membership increased. Al-Banna considered himself to be Sufi, which is essentially apolitical, and belonged to the Hasafiya Sufi order.
 Despite this, there were global political issues that concerned him. On March 23, 1924, the last Caliphate, that of the Ottomans, was dissolved by Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish secularist. This system had been an institutional hub of the Muslim world since 1290 AD. In 1919, al-Banna had participated in demonstrations against British rule in Egypt. It has been suggested that al-Banna was a Wahhabist, perhaps confusing a movement from Saudi Arabia called the Ikhwan (Brotherhood), which had been employed by Abdul Aziz al-Saud to establish his rule over Arabia.
 Hassan al-Banna is portrayed by Muslim biographers as a benevolent figure. He would be invited to the British Embassy, and his work in assisting widows and orphans was praised. But Banna's writings belie a more focused and uncompromising agenda. He stated: "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated; to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet."
 A work by al-Banna entitled The Way of Jihad presents some stark words to contradict those who would claim his ideology was benign. Many Muslims speak of Jihad as being an "inner struggle". But Banna made no bones about the meaning of the term. He wrote in the Epilogue of this book: "Many Muslims today mistakenly believe that fighting the enemy is jihad asghar (a lesser jihad) and that fighting one's ego is jihad akbar (a greater jihad). The following narration [athar] is quoted as proof: "We have returned from the lesser jihad to embark on the greater jihad." They said: "What is the greater jihad?" He said: "The jihad of the heart, or the jihad against one's ego." This narration is used by some to lessen the importance of fighting, to discourage any preparation for combat, and to deter any offering of jihad in Allah's way. This narration is not a saheeh (sound) tradition..."
 "...But nothing compares to the honour of shahadah kubra (the supreme martyrdom) or the reward that is waiting for the Mujahideen."
 In the same book, Banna writes: "It is fard (obligatory) on us to fight with the enemies. The Imam must send a military expedition to the Dar-al-Harb every year at least once or twice, and the people must support him in this. If some of the people fulfil the obligation, the remainder are released from the obligation."
 Islam has always divided the world into two camps - Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harb. Dar-ul-Islam is the "abode of Islam", and Dar-ul-Harb refers to the world that is not under Islamic rule. Dar-ul-Harb literally means "the abode of war". And al-Banna certainly approved of this war against the infidels who in the 1930s were seen as conquerors of Muslim lands.
 Al-Banna believed that the West, with its separation of church and state, was weakening Islam with its influence. By 1934, there were 50 branches of the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, and these branches established schools, mosques and factories. In 1935 a Syrian branch was founded at Aleppo. By the end of World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood had half a million members in Egypt alone, belonging to 2000 branches. By this time, there were said to be 50 branches in Sudan. A senior figure in the emergent Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood was Hassan al-Turabi who would later give shelter to terrorists Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal in 1991. In 1990 he also waged war on
non-Muslims in southern Sudan, forcing them to abide by sharia rule.
 Hassan al-Banna wrote many books and treatises on Islam during his lifetime, but he would not survive to see the massive international growth of the movement. He had made enemies within the Egyptian establishment. In 1936 he had written to King Farouk and the prime minister urging them to impose an Islamic system. Two years later, he again made this demand with more force. He wrote that all political parties should be dissolved on account of their corruption. In 1939, the Brotherhood established itself officially as a political group. The movement under al-Banna was rapidly becoming more militant and opposed to the Egyptian government.
 In 1940, the Brotherhood established militant training camps in the Mukatam Hills near Cairo, as well as in the south of Egypt. Its members established kangaroo courts where fatwas were issued against those deemed to be enemies, and Ikhwan members would carry out these assassinations. In 1942, Hassan al-Banna established branches in Transjordan and Palestine. He ensured that several thousand Muslim Brotherhood members were sent from Egypt to fight against the formation of Israel in 1948. According to a 2002 report in the Military Review, in 1948 the Brotherhood carried out the bombing of the Circurrel shopping center. One of their targets for assassination was the prime minister, Noqrashi Pasha. In December of 1948, Pasha had urged the banning of the movement, after bombs were found in Ikhwan members' possession. The Brotherhood claimed that the weaponry was for use against Israel. An Ikhwan member murdered Pasha on December 28, 1948, although Hassan al-Banna condemned this act, and the Brotherhood was banned.
 On February 12, 1949, Hassan al-Banna was shot dead in a Cairo market, almost certainly on the orders of the government. No one was ever charged with the killing. The official successor to al-Banna was Hasan al-Hudaybi, a respected judge. But the intellectual power of the Brotherhood would be carried by a slightly-built man, whose writings still greatly influence today's jihadists.
Sayyid Qutb
From the 1940s, the Brotherhood had been in close association with Gamel al-Nasser, who had a secret wing within the Egyptian army called the Free Officer Movement. The Ikhwan and the Free Officers had a shared contempt for the British and their involvement in not only Egypt but the rest of the Middle East. In 1948, Nasser met with Hassan al-Banna for the first time. An agreement was established, in which the Brotherhood pledged to assist Nasser in his plans to overthrow the government, after which the Ikhwan would expect a share of power. In 1949 nine members of the Free Officer Movement formed a coup committee. Nasser became head of this group in 1950 and in July 1952 Nasser and his associates seized power.
 Though Nasser had been considered an ally, he offered the Brotherhood only a minor role within his new government, inside the Waqf or "religious affairs" department. The Brotherhood's resentment would soon lead to enmity with Nasser. One man would emerge as the spiritual successor to Hassan al-Banna, a shy former supervisor within Egypt's Education Ministry called Sayyid Qutb. This man, born in the same year as al-Banna in the village of Mush in Ayut province, southern Egypt, had initially supported the United States. Between November 1948 and 1951 he had been sent by the Education Ministry to the USA, to study American education programs.
 The outward boat journey was a traumatic experience for the 42-year old virgin bachelor. One night a young American woman, scantily clad and worse the wear for drink, knocked on his stateroom door. She asked to be his guest, and Qutb indicated that there was only one bed in his stateroom. When she said that a single bed could hold two people, Qutb slammed the door in her face. He heard her land on the deck with a thump, and thanked Allah for sparing him from succumbing to temptation.
 This incident was the first of many that would convince Qutb that the American woman was a "vixen" and seducer, and her only suitable partner would be a brutal primitive male, driven on by greed. He would later write in a book entitled "The America I Have Seen": This primitiveness can be seen in the spectacle of the fans as they follow a game of football... or watch boxing matches or bloody, monstrous wrestling matches... This spectacle leaves no room for doubt as to the primitiveness of the feelings of those who are enamored with muscular strength and desire it.
 Like the French revolutionary Robespierre, who had no warm and physical relationships yet clinically sublimated his passions into his political "grand plan", Qutb became a man whose ideology became sharply intellectualized, yet devoid of humanity. Where Robespierre dreamed of implementing a new order by totally destroying the old, Qutb saw Islamic revolution as a redemption from perceived sins and depravities which so alienated him.
 In 1949, Qutb was based at Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley, 100 miles north of Denver. Even in this quiet conservative town, Qutb saw depravity everywhere. He even saw the habit of mowing lawns as a sign of American greed. Attending a dance held at a basement of a church, where men danced with women, Qutb was appalled. He wrote: "They danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire..."
 Upon his return from the US in 1951, Qutb joined the Muslim Brotherhood. At the time of the 1952 coup, Qutb was head of the Brotherhood's propaganda department. The resentments against Nasser led to one member, Abdul Munim Abdul Rauf, trying to assassinate Nasser on October 26, 1954. The Ikhwan was once again banned. As a result of Nasser's suppression of the movement, many Muslim Brotherhood members fled to neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Nasser attempted to overthrow the kingdom of Jordan, and the local Brotherhood supported King Hussain. When the Jordanian king abolished political parties in 1957, the Brotherhood was allowed to remain in Jordan.
 The 1954 assassination attempt against Nasser would lead to most of the Brotherhood leadership being taken to jail in Egypt. Here the leaders, including Qutb, would be subjected to torture. His experience of such rough justice did not prevent him from writing. During his sojourn in prison, he completed his largest writing project, Fi Zalal al-Koran (In the Shadow of the Koran), a 30-volume commentary on the Koran which he had begun to publish in installments since 1952.
 His experiences of being incarcerated for 10 years of his life inspired his most famous book - Milestones on the Road (Ma'alim fi'l-Tariq). In this, his final book, he laid out a ground plan for political jihad, leading ultimately to Islam's global domination. This book is still read by Salafists and jihadists and has inspired the current global jihad. The book was published shortly after he had been released from jail in 1964. The revolutionary nature of the work led to Nasser ordering Qutb to be rearrested. He was sentenced to death in August 1965.
 Qutb wrote in Milestones: "Mankind today is on the brink of a precipice, not because of the danger of complete annihilation which is hanging over its head - this being just a symptom and not the real disease - but because humanity is devoid of those vital values which are necessary not only for its healthy development but also for its real progress. Even the Western world realizes that Western civilization is unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind. It knows that it does not possess anything which will satisfy its own conscience and justify its existence.... It is essential for mankind to have a new leadership... Islam is the only system which possesses these values and this way of life."
 In Milestones, Qutb advocated the establishment of a force of believers to lead a war against Jahiliyya, the state of ignorance that existed before Mohammed's message. The book can be read online. In its fourth chapter which discusses jihad, Qutb writes: "The establishing of the dominion of God on earth, the abolishing of the dominion of man, the taking away of sovereignty from the usurper to revert it to God, and the bringing about of the enforcement of the Divine Law and the abolition of man-made laws cannot be achieved only through preaching. Those who have usurped the authority of God and are oppressing God's creatures are not going to give up their power merely through preaching; if it had been so, the task of establishing God's religion in the world would have been very easy for the Prophets of God! This is contrary to the evidence from the history of the Prophets and the story of the struggle of the true religion, spread over generations."
"....God held back Muslims from fighting in Mecca and in the early period of their migration to Medina, and told them, "Restrain your hands, and establish regular prayers, and pay Zakat". Next, they were permitted to fight: "Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they are oppressed, and God is able to help them. These are the people who were expelled from their homes without cause. The next stage came when the Muslims were commanded to fight those who fight them: "Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you." And finally, war was declared against all the polytheists: "And fight against all the polytheists, as they all fight against you;" "Fight against those among the People of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, and who do not consider the true religion as their religion, until they are subdued and pay Jizyah." Thus, according to the explanation by Imam Ibn Qayyim, the Muslims were first restrained from fighting; then they were permitted to fight; then they were commanded to fight against the aggressors; and finally they were commanded to fight against all the polytheists."
 In 1966, Nasser granted an amnesty to the Brotherhood, and most of its imprisoned members were freed. Within months there were three assassination attempts against the dictator, and the leaders of the Brotherhood were rounded up once more. All, including Sayyid Qutb, were hanged. Qutb died on the gallows of Tura Prison on August 29, 1966.

>>> Continued in Part 2

Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who regularly contributes in Family Security Matters. His essays also appear in Western Resistance, Spero News and He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.

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