• Copts
  • July 8, 2007
  • 11 minutes read

Hassan Al Banna and Egypt’s Copts

Hassan Al Banna and Egypt’s Copts

Hassan Al Banna- Allah”s mercy be on him- was from the beginning a living role model of religious tolerance, and excluding blind fanaticism; he was looking at the Copts- in particular- as brothers in homeland; and that they men of a book that was sent from Allah; every Muslim is ordained- to be a real Muslim- to believe in Allah, His angels, books and His messengers. He, Allah”s Mercy be on him, used to sow that these meanings and values in his followers” souls, in his messages, speeches, and lectures.

His quotes

He- while presenting these high human values- depends on the pure original sources to bypass futile arguments and controversial disagreements. There so many texts and quotes foremost among which is a quote from his message “Towards the Light”  (it is a long message that Muslim Brotherhood delegates handed to King Farouk, the Prime Minister Mustafa An-Nahhas Pasha, Arab kings and rulers and top officials):
Islam, which was originated by the All Wise and All Knowing, The One who knows the past, present, and future of a nation, had taken all the measures to overcome this problem before it arose. The wise and sanctified rules did not appear without containing clear and unambiguous injunctions concerning the protection of minorities. Does mankind require anything more self evident than the following text:
‘Allah does not forbid you to deal with those who have not fought against you in religion, and have not driven you from your homes, with benevolence, or to show them justice. surely Allah loves those who are just.’
(Surat-al-Mumtahinah (60), ayah 8)
This text does not merely include protection, but it also counsels benevolence and sincerity towards them, for Islam sanctified the unity of mankind as a whole. The Almighty says:
‘O mankind. We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another.’
(Surat-al-Hujuraat (49), ayah 13)
Likewise, it sanctified universal religious unity, putting an end to fanaticism, and ordaining its people to have faith in all the revealed religions (in their original untammpered form) As the Almighty says:
‘Say: “We believe in Allah and what He revealed to us and what He revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and what the prophets received from their Lord. We do not distinguish between any of them, and we have surrendered to Him.” And if they believe the like of what you believe, they are rightly guided. But if they turn away, then they are in dissension, and Allah will suffice thee against them. He is the Hearer, the knower! (Our religion is) the baptism of Allah and who is better than Allah in baptism?’
(Surat-al-Baqarah (2), ayahs 136-138)
Then it sanctified religious unity of a special kind, without any arrogance or animosity. The Blessed and Almighty said:
‘The believers are none other than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers and fear Allah; perhaps you will find mercy.’
(Surat-al-Hujuraat (49), ayah 10)
This Islam, which was founded according to such a pattern of moderation and extreme justice, could not possibly be the cause for its followers to disrupt a long lasting unity. On the contrary, it has endowed this unity as sacred, whereas formerly it used to draw its strength solely from the civil authority.

Incidents are the best evidence:

This was the Islamic teaching in dealing with other religions; Imam Al Banna – Allah”s mercy be on him- was presenting and emphasizing on this teaching and was facing with it those who accuse Islam of fanaticism.
Some may say: There so many speeches and principles, but there are very little action and application!! But the history reports attitudes, incidents and events what assert that Imam Hassan Al Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood lived in cordiality, reconciliation and good treatment with the Coptic citizens who exchange the Supreme Guide and the Muslim Brotherhood the same feeling, in spite of attempts of those biased who had bad intentions to make seditions in these good relations .
We shall report in the following lines some incidents that prove this opinion :

In Ismailia

Someone wanted to cause a sedition among the Muslim Brotherhood and Christians at the beginning of the Da”wa – when imam Al Banna was a teacher in Ismailia; this one wrote a petition with a signature nicknamed “Christian”, in which he said that ” the fanatic Muslim teacher ” Hassan Al Banna” heads a fanatic group called ” the Muslim Brotherhood ” and that he insults and persecutes Christian pupils, and gives preference to Muslim pupils over them”. The petition writer demanded officials transfer this fanatic teacher away from Ismailia to avoid sedition from erupting.
This petition was sent to the headmaster, angering the Christians so much and a delegation topped by the orthodox church sponsor came to the school declaring their condemnation; many high ranking Copts in addition to the church ” with its seal” and the signature of its sponsor wrote petitions and letters of condemnation which the headmaster enclosed with his report that he concluded with :” I hope that the Ministry of Education won”t tire us with such unknown complaints, and to probe them on its own, after it was proved that all of them are malicious complaints which seek no good.

In Qina in Upper Egypt

When Hassan Al Banna was transferred in 1941 to ” Qina ” in Upper Egypt due to English army pressure on Ali Hussein Serri Basha – the Prime Minister – many hypocrites and sedition preachers spread a rumour among the Copts in Qina that Hassan Al Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood hate the Copts and work for harming them. How did imam Al Banna ended this accusation?
We find the answer in the following lines from a message that Hassan Al Banna sent from Qina to his father- Allah”s mercy be on him- in Cairo :” … The Brotherhood group in Qina goes on successfully; yesterday, we had a great party to which we invited all the Coptic sect and topped by the archbishop; all of them came, a strong slap to Muslims hypocrites who want to be closer to those people through sedition. I was- sofisticatedly- very frank while simplifying the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood in a way admired by all; thanks god, every thing was alright.”

“Christo”… Hassan Al Banna”s deputy

When he ran for the parliamentary elections in 1944 in the era of Ahmad Mahir Pasha”s cabinet for Ismailia constituency, his deputy in the conmmittee of “Tur” committee- which is affiliated to Ismailia constituency- was a Greek Christian with an Egyptian nationality called ” the foreigner Paulo Christo”, some thing that triggered the sarcasm of the ruling Saadist party leaders, especially Ahmad Mahir Pasha, and Mahmoud Fahmi Al Noqrashi pasha.

Habitual love visits

The Christians- all over Egypt- felt this mutual spirit of intimacy and tolerance between them and the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in religious occasions. The Muslim Brotherhood was keen to publish the news of these visits in their newspapers. To cite an example, here is a piece of news published in the Muslim Brotherhood newspaper dated 10/11/1946.
” the Reverend Sharqiya and governorates” Motran visited the Muslim Brotherhood house in Zagazig on the occasion of the Greater Bairam (1365 Hijri) to congratulate them on the feast; the Reverend made public a long statement entitled “The Feast Present” around (unity is the symbol of victory), which he concluded with: I thank the Brotherhood society because they are brothers in feelings, brothers in solidarity and brothers in action”.

Al Banna in Religions Complex

The most entertaining of these incidents was an an incident that took place in late 1927 which we quote in full from his memoirs ” … Forty days after we arrived in Ismailia, we did not like residence in hotels, and we rented a private house, it was a coincidence that we rented the upper floor of a house whose middle floor was rented by a group of Christian citizens who used it as a club, a church and its lower floor ( the ground floor) was rented by a group of Jews who used it as a club and a church. We- in the upper floor- perform the prayer, using this house as a place of worship. It was as if this house was representing the three religions. I couldn”t forget ” Shalom”s mother” the church”s custodian, who was calling us every Saturday evening to light her the lamp, and help her in ” lighting an ancient gas stove” and were joking with her saying: will you use these tricks to deceive Allah for long?!! if Allah banned light and fire from you on Saturday- as you claim-, did he ban benefiting or viewing them on you? and She apologizes, ending the discussion peacefully”.

Without overestimating or underestimating

Yes… It is a real reconciliation, and a true cordiality… without overestimation, underestimation
or niglicting a religious or a national value. When the Muslim Brotherhood noticed that a top Christianity man, priest ” Sergios” offending religion and patriotism, they attacked attacked him fiercely in the Muslim Brotherhood”s newspaper, dated ( 13/5/1947):” … We knew that priest Sergios meets with our Coptic compatriots in ” Altel Al Kabir “, and that this meeting takes place in a church inside a British army camp, what are the intentons of these meetings? is there a premeditated planning to make an  aggression against another church like Zagazig church? The colonist can be apparently and tangibly traced in causing sedition; if the Britons apply their policy with which they colonized the world- causing sedition among the nations” compatriots- how can a cleric approve to make himself a pack animal and means for enemies of the country and religion?”.

It seems that ” Sergios ” with these conducts of his, and with articles that he published against the MB chairman and the call of Muslim Brotherhood, offended the feelings of Christians wisemen, as one of them called- Amin Barsoum- wrote- directing his speech to the Muslim Brotherhood members and their chairman:” … My brothers in homeland: We all Copts are sorry for the disgraced articles “of priest Sergios” which shouldn”t be written by pure clerics who are our pride, to offend the Muslim Brotherhood chairman.
We denounce those articles because we feel the tie of brotherhood linking us with our Muslim brothers because the homeland is for all, and religion is the Creditor”s…”.
The status quo of Egypt nowadays, while sedition has surfaced with a devilish head emitting its poison, makes us ask Allah to have His mercy on the great martyr who was throughout his life a role-model for reconciliation, love, insightafter and respect to every religious man. His followers and students follow his example… May Allah rest his soul.