• June 10, 2007
  • 24 minutes read

1-Glimpse Into The History of Muslim Brotherhood

1-Glimpse Into The History of Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest Islamic group in the world. It exists in more than 80 countries. It is also one of the most important groups that have adopted a middle-of-the-road intellectual line in dealing with various Islamic issues. It has survived numerous plights for which it has offered thousands of martyrs and detainees. This has not prevented its adherents from persisting in continuing their march aimed at conveying the thoughts and principles in which they believe.

Through this series, we are going to introduce the most important stages in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Unit I: a glimpse about the

founder of the Brotherhood

The founder: Imam Hassan al-Banna

Hassan Abdurrahman al-Banna was born on Sunday, 2 Shaaban 1324 H., corresponding to 14 Oct. 1906 at Mahmoudiya, al-Beheira governorate in Egypt.

Imam al-Banna’s education

§         Imam al-Banna was raised within a family having a religious and intellectual background: his father was Sheikh Ahmad Abdurrahman al-Banna, he was well-know by the name of Assa’ati (watch-seller or repairer).  His father was a scholar in the traditions (sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him: he classified the tradition collections of the four Imams according to the branches of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). He wrote a famous book in Arabic entitled “Achieving Aspirations with regard to Divine Revelation”.

§         At the age of eight, al-Banna joined Arrashad (Guidance) Religious School where he studied for four years and which looked like a kuttab (a small place to help children memorize the Holy Quran). He acquired from his teaching sheikhs the passion of reading, sitting with scholars and acquiring knowledge from them. He later joined a preparatory school for a couple of years till that system was replaced by a wider system of primary schools.

§          Thereafter, Imam al-Banna joined a teachers’ training school when he was below the age of 14. He was able to memorize the whole Quran during that period. He graduated with distinction from that school: he ranked first among its graduates and fifth at the level of the whole country. He was appointed as teacher but he preferred to continue his upper education and therefore joined the faculty of “Dar al-Oloum” (a famous Arabic & Islamic Studies Academy).

§         Al-Banna was admitted into that faculty following a series of admission exams and medical examination. There, he showed such distinction that his teachers highly praised him. One of them likened him to Sheikh Mohamed Abdu, one of Egypt’s pioneers of righteous reform.  As a sign of his distinguished performance, he was able to memorize more than 18 000 verses of poetry and a similar amount of prose.


Cultural Formation

The cultural formation of Imam Hassan al-Banna went through two main stages:

§         The 1st Stage. He received purely religious culture and was affected by his father’s religious formation. He was also influenced by the attention he had received from his teachers as well as by the Sufi way called “al-Hassafiya Way”. Regarding the latter, he studied Sufi books at the hands of some Sufi sheikhs.


§         The 2nd Stage. This was a stage of diversified culture: the subject matters that were taught at “Dar al-Oloum” included language, literature, Islamic sharia (law), geography, history, theoretical and practical pedagogy and political economy. Al-Banna had numerous meetings with the masters of thought and culture of that epoch, such as Moheb al-Deen al-Khateeb, Sheikh Muhammad al-Khidr Hussein, Muhammad al-Ghamrawi, Ahmad Taimour and other scholars and thinkers of his time. These characters had their clear effect on the subsequent formation of the leadership aspect of the character of Imam Hassan al-Banna.


Hassan Al-Banna: Reformist Since his Early Age

§         Hassan Al-Banna’s upbringing and education since his early age qualified him to play an effective role in the reform march that was begun by Al-Afghani, Al-Kawakbi and Mohamed Rasheed Rida. He was influenced by their thoughts and opinions about the reasons for the failure of the Arab and Muslim world to catch up with the modern forward march of civilization and how to address them.


§         Since his early age, al-Banna participated effectively in the efforts of non-governmental organizations and played an active role with them. While he was still a small boy at Arrashad Primary School, he took part in setting up the Moral Ethics Association, which sought to promote virtue among pupils and he acted as its chairman. It is amusing to notice that at that early age he collected some piasters  (1 Egyptian pound has 100 piasters), form his schoolmates and organized a farewell party to a Coptic pupil, Labeeb Iskandar, who was to move to another locality.


§         Together with a number of his colleagues, he established  the Association to Prevent Forbidden Things. That association sought to combat vice by sending letters to those who were known to have committed unacceptable acts.


§         Together with his schoolmate Ahmad Al-Sukkary, he established the Al-Hasafiya Charitable Association. This followed his admission into the teachers’ training school. That association was active in two important fields:



o        To promote good manners and try to prevent objectionable and forbidden things;

o        To resist Christian missions that had come to their town.


§                  When he moved to Cairo, after he was admitted into Dar al-Oloum, and saw there the signs of decadence and moral deterioration,  he thought of preparing advocates for Islam from among his colleagues at al-Azhar University and Dar al-Oloum to invite people to the way of God and combat vice and forbidden things at people’s gatherings at mosques, cafés  


§                  and public places. Al-Banna actually started, together with a group of his colleagues, to invite people at cafés to God’s way, which was widely welcomed.

He met with a number of Muslim scholars and Al-Azhar-trained preachers to carry out their role in fighting corruption and decadence, which were widespread in the society. His insistence on calling upon Muslim scholars to do that resulted in the publication of a Islamic magazine called “Al-Fath” (victory), the editor-in-chief of which was Sheikh Abdel-Baqi Sorour and its editing director was Mr. Moheb al-Deen al-Khateeb. It also led to the establishment of the Young Muslim Association.