The Idea of jihād and Its Evolution: Ḥasan al-Bannā and the Society of the Muslim Brothers


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  • 1 1Tel Aviv
ranaaro@post.tau.ac.il


This article aims to present the evolution of jihād in Ḥasan al-Bannā’s thought and writings throughout the 1930s, the first decade of the Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. While in the early years of the Society al-Bannā gave jihād a moderate interpretation, the idea assumed a different, more militant one during the latter half of the 1930s. This change corresponded with and reflected a transformation that the Society itself experienced; from a developing socio-religious Society to one that was intertwined with Egyptian politics and won the support of the masses. This analysis revolves around two rasāʾil written by al-Bannā during this formative period of his Society – Daʿwatunā and Risālat al-Jihād.


  • 11

    Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 2.

  • 16

    Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 4.

  • 21

    Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 321.

  • 24

    Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, p. 14.

  • 26

    Safran, Egypt in Search of Political Community, pp. 319–322.

  • 28

    Safran, Egypt in Search of Political Community, pp. 165–180.

  • 29

    Vatikiotis, History of Modern Egypt, p. 327.

  • 30

    Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 76.

  • 33

    Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, pp. 30–36.

  • 36

    Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 84.

  • 37

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 98.

  • 38

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 98.

  • 39

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 117.

  • 40

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 99.

  • 42

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 101.

  • 43

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 97. Translations of Qurʾānic verses are taken from Alan Jones, The Qur’an (Cambridge, 2007).

  • 44

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 105.

  • 47

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 106.

  • 48

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 108. My analysis of al-Bannā’s interpretation of these two notions relates solely to the concept of jihād. For other aspects see, ibid., pp. 102–109.

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  • 49

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 111.

  • 51

    Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 75.

  • 52

    Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 75.

  • 56

    Israel Gershoni, “The Muslim Brothers and the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936–9”, MES, vol. 22 (1986), p. 382. Elshoubaki also notes that from this point onwards, activities that were based on the concept of force began to accompany the more peaceful activities of the Society. See, Elshoubaki, Les Frères Musulmans, p. 35. Rafīq Ḥabīb also discusses the pattern of change in al-Bannā’s ideology from the late 1930s, which included his call for political change and his open opposition to the British colonization of Egypt and the Zionist colonization of Palestine. See, Rafīq Ḥabīb, “Ruʾya li-l-mustaqbal al-siyāsī li-l-ikhwān al-muslimīn: al-Ikhwān bayna l-daʿawī wa-l-siyāsī”, in: ʿAmrū al-Shūbakī, Azmat al-ikhwān al-muslimīn (al-Qāhira, 2009), pp. 31–37.

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  • 59

    Ḥasan al-Bannā, “Khaṭwatunā al-thāniyya: Ilā l-amām dāʾimān – al-daʿwa al-khāṣṣa baʿda l-daʿwa al-ʿāmma”, al-Nadhīr,vol. 1, no. 1 (May 1938), pp. 3ff. Quotations taken from p. 4.

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  • 61

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 53.

  • 62

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 34.

  • 63

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 60.

  • 64

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 60.

  • 65

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 42.

  • 66

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 49–52.

  • 67

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 54.

  • 68

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 59.

  • 69

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 54.

  • 70

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 50.

  • 73

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 58.

  • 74

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 58.

  • 78

    Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 331.

  • 79

    Al-Bannā, Majmūʿat Rasāʾil, p. 40.

  • 80

    Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, p. 206.

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