The Power of the Jama‘A: The Role of Hasan Al-Banna in Constructing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Collective Identity

In: Sociology of Islam
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This article explores the role of Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949) in creating the collective identity of the Muslim Brotherhood. It examines the enduring impact of al-Banna’s thoughts and legacy on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The article argues that al-Banna interweaved a distinctive frame of identity for the MB which is still vibrant and operative. It also contends that the MB’s identity plays a pivotal role in preserving the movement’s coherence and sustaining its political and social activism. Al-Banna, the founder and the chief ideologue of the MB, had crafted what this article calls the ‘Jama‘a’ paradigm. It refers to the cognitive system of aims and objectives, duties and means, phases and norms, symbols and meanings that encompasses and guides the MB’s members in everyday life. The Jama‘a paradigm operates as a frame of reference to the MB’s collective action. While other studies focused on the historical and chronological journey of al-Banna, this study unpacks al-Banna’s legacy and investigates its effects on the MB’s identity. Based on a field research, the article provides a fresh and nuanced account for al-Banna enduring impact on the MB.

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