Biographies: Hassan al-Banna (Allah Arhamu) - A great Muslim and teacher of Da'wa
Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Banna, the father of al-Shahid Hassan al-Banna, worked as a watch-repairer in the southern Egyptian town of al-Mahmudiyya. he was also an Islamic scholar that had graduated from al-Azhar University. Imam Hasan al-Banna was the oldest son and was born in al-Mahmudiyya in October 1906.
His family was well educated and followed a very strict Islamic lifestyle. The Imam memorised the Qur'an at a very young age and eventually joined the Teachers Training Centre where after a three-year course he came first in his final examinations. He was admitted to Cairo University despite being only 16 years of age because of his intelligence and breadth of knowledge.
Hassan al-Banna when asked why he commenced the work of da'wah once commented: Only Allah knows how many nights we four spent(his colleagues) reflecting on the situation of the Ummah; what stages it has passed through and the sickness that has reduced it to its present state. And we pondered on the cures for all the Ummah's illnesses. The Ummah's difficulties painhat e would often end up crying during these nights.
In 1927 he took the job of a teacher within a state school at the age of 21. In March 1928, the Imam, his brother and five others gathered at his house and swore to live and die for Islam. The foundation for the Muslim Brotherhood (Jama'at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) had now been laid.
In the book "Letter To A Muslim Student" (FOSIS,1995) the dynamics of the Ikhwan are explained: Hassan al-Banna's greatest achievement was his ability to create a sophisticated, organisational structure aiming to translate his vision into real life. However what distinguishes the Ikhwan from other groups which were established in the twenties and afterwards is the former's holistic approach. The Ikhwan was not merely a social, political or religious association or group.
It was described by antagonists as a state within a state. By 1934, the Ikhwan had established more than fifty branches in Egypt. They set up numerous schools, mosques and factories. At the end of World War Two, the Ikhwan had over half a million active workers and around twice as many supporters (some sources say around 3 million). Over two thousand branches were in existence altogether and fifty in Sudan - the work of the Ikhwan began to transcend national borders.
The British even invited al-Banna to their embassy for tea. He was complimented on his good character and his welfare work for the poor, the orphans and the widows was applauded. They explained that the world was very fragile and that Egypt must be built into a modern and prosperous state. They concluded that it was in the Ikhwans interest to get assistance from the British.
Al-Banna listened patiently, then told the Ambassador that Egypt and all its money is the property of the Egyptian people and that Britain's time in Egypt was coming to an end. Al-Banna was exiled to Upper Egypt in 1948.
The government of Noqrashi Pasha banned the Ikhwan despite the organisation having sent thousands of fighters in the war against Israel. A journalist asked al-Banna about the ban and he replied: "..when words are banned, hands make their move."
Shortly afterwards the Prime Minister was killed and the blame was immediately attributed to the Ikhwan. In the following months the properties of the movement were confiscated and thousands of youth were imprisoned.
On the 12th of February 1949, on a sunny crowded market in Cairo Imam Hassan al-Banna was shot dead by assasin. No one was ever charged with the murder.
He was only 43 years old. His last daughter was born on the same day. Her mother named her "Esteshhaad" - martyrdom.
The Muslim Brotherhood has since the martyrdom of Hassan al-Banna survived all attempts to stifle it. Not only did it grow even stronger in Egypt, but it created branches in all the Arab countries. The Islamic resurgence manifest today in the Arab world today owes its origin directly or indirectly to the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation.