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Hassan Al-Banna: A Profile from the Archives

[Hassan Al-Banna. Source: Flickr] [Hassan Al-Banna. Source: Flickr]

[”A Profile from the Archives“ is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic  and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.] 

Name: Hassan

Last Name: Al-Banna

Father’s Name: Ahmed Abdul Al-Rahman

Mother’s Name: Fawzieh Amin Baik

Date of Birth: 1906

Date of Death: 1949

Nationality: Egyptian

Category: Politician

Profession: Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood

[Hassan Al-Banna with his followers]

Hassan Al-Banna


  • Egyptian (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood).
  • Born on 14 October 1906 in Al-Mahmoodieh town, near Cairo.
  • His father, Ahmed Abdul Al-Rahman Al-Banna, was a watchmaker and was known in his social circle as an unofficial religious man.
  • Had six daughters: Wafaa, Sanaa, Rajaa, Hala, Istishahad, and Safaa. Safaa died during his lifetime. He had two sons: Ahmed Saif Al-Islam and Muhammad Husam Al-Deen. The latter also died during his lifetime.
  • Mainly received religious education.
  • Established associations and was affiliated with others while still a student at twelve years old. The first association, in which he actively worked, was the Association of Moral Ethics, followed by the Association of Taboos, the Association for Protecting Ethics from Deterioration, the Association of Fidelity in Social Work, and the Association of Policy for Reform Matters.
  • Mingled with the Sufis and met one of their groups which was called “Al-Hasafieh” (the prudence).
  • Read many books that were published or translated at the time. However, he remained a stranger to the culture of his time until the beginning of his youth.
  • Completed his education in Dar Al-Uloom University and graduated as an elementary teacher in 1923.
  • On 17 September 1928, he went to Alexandria and worked as teacher in a school. He was quoted as saying: “I haven’t come to be a teacher for the young, but also for adults. Teaching the young is a normal source of income; the other teaching is for adults."
  • Was the foundational work for what would be called the “Muslim Brotherhood.” 
  • Before reaching the age of 30, he was able to establish a widespread organization which extended to all of Egypt. He was able to get out to people and tell them: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a religious association that competes with foreign missionaries in their specific field of work, i.e. at hospitals and schools specifically."
  • In 1936, the fourth assembly of the Muslim Brotherhood was held in celebration of the coronation of King Farouk.
  • Built the first mosque in Ismailia, and right next to it he built Harraa Islamic Institute (with academic and vocational branches). Then he built the school of Mothers’ of Believers to educate Muslim women. He also established a sorority called Muslim Sisterhood (the women's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood). He also cared for scouting activities and team trips.
  • In 1939, he faced, and for the first time, dissent within the association from a faction called The Association of the Youth of Prophet Muhammad. A struggle between them broke out. He belonged to the preaching wing which called for patience while the other was rushing "jihad." The most famous dissident was Mahmud Abo Zaid, the editing supervisor of Al-Natheer magazine.
  • In 1941, while still a teacher, the authorities transferred him to Upper Egypt. However, he was able to go back to Cairo a few months later.
  • Authorities detained him along with his deputy. They also stopped the newspapers which were published by his association--Al-Ta’arof, Al-Ishaa, and Al-Manar. They also prohibited media from covering news about him and his associations' activities. However, he was quickly released following a parliamentarian reaction.
  • Summoned by Al-Nahhas Basha who asked him not to run for elections in exchange for an appeasement which he accepted without question (the appeasement was permission for his association to resume its activities and actions to prohibit alcohol and prostitution).
  • In 1942, he decided to establish the secret apparatus (after the first clash with authorities). The apparatus was made up of the best group of fighters that was assigned with difficult tasks. This apparatus reports directly to the Supreme Guide.
  • On 24 February 1945, Ahmed Maher, the prime minister, was assassinated by a member of the National Party. Al-Banna quickly reassured the new prime minister Al-Nakqrashi Basha of the sincerity of his association.
  • In 1946, he resigned from his job as a teacher and became the chairman of the board for the Press House of the Brotherhood. His monthly salary was one hundred Egyptian pounds but he refused to take it. He settled for the help that his brother-in-law, Al-Haj Abdullah Al-Soli, gave him. He then founded Al-Shehab magazine which provided him with a salary equal to the salary he got from the government.
  • He was a stubborn adversary of Al-Wafd Party and leftists movements.
  • Issued the Muslim Brotherhood weekly magazine, jointly with the Syrian intellect Mohi Eddin Al-Khateeb in 1933. He then changed it into a daily magazine in 1946.
  • On 12 February 1949, he was assassinated as he left the Association of Muslim Youth. This assassination came after political assassinations and bombings of public facilities of which his association was charged. This drove Prime Minister Al-Naqrashi Basha to dissolve the association in December 1948. The association retaliated by assassinating him in the same month.

His Thoughts and Principles in Six Points

1-    Studying the Holy Koran. The Koran, as he sees it, contains all the sciences and knowledge, even those which have no foundation in religion.

2-    Unifying Muslims around these principles to create the true nation of the Koran.

3-    Exploiting the resources of the country, establishing social justice and improving the standard for Muslim workers.

4-    Charity work and fighting ignorance and moral sins.

5-    Liberating the Nile Valley, Arab countries, and all Islamic countries from colonialism; helping the Muslim minorities in the world; and establishing an Islamic government, in legislation and principle, that would work to establish Islamic unity in the whole world.

6-    Establishing peace and justice in the whole world according to the principles of Islam.


  • Memoirs of Preaching and the Preacher, mothakerat al-da’wa wa al-da’i
  • Muslim Women, al-mar’a al-moslimah
  • Birth Control, tahdeed al-nasil
  • Research in the Science of Hadith, mabaheth fi o’loom al-hadeeth
  • Peace in Islam, al-salam fi al-islam
  • Our Cause, qadiyatona
  • Letters, al-rasa’il
  • The Message of the Approach, risalat al-manhaj
  • The Message of Elections, risalat al-intikhabat
  • Purposes of the Holy Koran, maqasid al-quran al-kareem
  • The Message of Teachings, risalat al-ta’aleem

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