Islamic training and philosophy of Hasan-al-Banna by sheikh Yusuf-al-Qardawi -Mahfuz Molla

Book Review

The book is on the occasion of 30th anniversary of shahadat of hasan -al- banna and conveys an insightful description of Islamic training system according to the thoughts of al- banna for 50 years.  Here distinguished sheikh has presented the training system of ikhwan analytically instead of describing mere history. In introduction, he has provided the situation of 14th century Muslim world (especially about Egypt), colonialism and its intellectual effect on Muslim generation as he said ‘then came out generations, Muslim in name but European in thought’. The situation necessitate the emergence of ikhwanul muslimun led by al-banna and the training system he has thought and applied made new Muslim generation.  The writer also described the importance and programs of training and observed the training as ‘foundation of change’. In the part of ‘rabbaniyat’ (spirituality), he said that the first goal of Islamic training is to make a ‘believer’. So, here comes rabbaniyat which he described different from the thought of Sufis, philosophers or mystics. Rather he thought that these three thoughts have amalgamated in the training system of ikhwan by scrutinizing these with reference to Quran, Sunnah and the ancestor’s practices. He said that the center of human entity is ‘qalb’ which need to be purified and will reshaped. Because, if it is purified the whole body will be purified. So, ikhwan emphasized on Revival of ‘qalb’. And softening it by prohibiting which make it stiff. Because stiff ‘qalb’ can’t get the flavor of iman. In result of this training, ikhwans made a ‘qalb’ which can taste bitterness, belittle sufferings and problems and taste the flavor of jihad and shahadat. In the description of reviving the ‘qalb’, he said that the ‘qalb’ dependent on three aspects. Namely to be safe .2.feeding to be alive 3.Medicine to be healed.  Protection from love for worldly life which is root of all sins. And also from the things aligned to it such as lust for leadership, honor, and authority and pursuing people’s handclap.  And he described the remembrance of hereafter, Day of Judgment and power of Allah as cure for this lust and love for worldly life. According to author, the concealed and small sins in our eyes should be abandoned as we abandon big sin. By omitting vanity and desire of showing (the small shirk) and taking the virtue of devotion, a Muslim should be a silent worker (forgetting publicity and glorification) for Islam as prophet Mohammad (PBUH) made his disciples. After protection, the need for feeding the ‘qalb’ comes forward and it is the relationship with Allah by always remembering and glorifying him and make the best worship for only Allah’s satisfaction. And in worshipping some basics have to be maintained. Such as grasping Sunnah and omitting bidat in all worshipping, emphasize on faraidh, inspire to accomplish prayers with congregation, some ‘nafl’ fasting and prayers (especially tahazzud), zikr (the recitation of Quran is the best form of this) tasbih, istgfar and supplication (mainly ma’thurat by al-banna). This type of spiritual training has enabled ikhwan in the field of jihad. The author has asserted this type of relationship (between zuhd and jihad) in many places in this book. Ikhwan also emphasize on self-analysis system for making reports on performance of worships.  There can be aberrations in worshiping or in our life. So as a son of Adam and contrary to Satan’s policy, we have to repent to Allah. This is called in this book as medicine to be healed. In this way ikhwans sold their lives to Allah and bought the ‘zannah’ instead. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow to the death and among them is he who awaits. In the part of ‘wholeness and prevalence’, he said that the training was not confined only in mere rabbaniyat rather its range was wide and it has included different aspects of life. In ‘intellectual aspect’ – from its early age, ikhwan has emphasized on perfect knowledge and thought as Yusuf ((A) said ‘with insight’. And al-banna also made this before amal and jihad in ‘baiyat’ .this aspect comprises of cogitation of Islamic culture, knowledge of Islam from pure sources and thinking Islam as religion and state, worship and leadership, spirituality and amal altogether. And also knowledge of prevailing societies (from family to world at large), opponents and their cultural, intellectual aggression (cultural colonialism) and their local trucklers. And he suggested to return to the pure Islam with obeying Quran and Sunnah, studying sirat and Islamic history and make own cultural and intellectual ground to break the ominous chain of aggression. In ‘characteristic aspect’ – he extracted al- banna who said that spiritual and characteristic crisis is bigger crisis than that of political or economic. Then he stated that, character is the basic component for the social change. He again extracted Al- banna who has described in brief what is needed for purification of character of a desired Muslim. Then he showed by changing of mindset, Muslim can regain their previous honor. The character of Muslim should be as directed by Quran. Purification of character is not only look away from women rather it is also self-control, seeking and saying the truth, ihsan, amanat, enjoining the correct work and prohibiting from incorrect activities . Then he described four characteristics which ikhwans want to plant in the minds of people.1. Sabr ( patience – here he described some  aspects of patience) 2.thubat ( steadfastness – here he means relentlessly work for Islam till death or shahadat, omitting aberrations, impatience and accomplishing the work in inauspicious environment with rejecting all temptation).3. amal ( hope- for the future of Islam, its victory  and  Allah’s help discarding depression which is strictly condemned). 4. Bajl (spending and sacrifice for the sake of Allah and here he showed some inspiring examples). In ‘physical aspect’ –he explained the need for good health and strength with reference to Quran and Sunnah. In ‘jihadi aspect’- he explored the differences between common war and jihad with its wide range meaning and activities.  According to him, jihad comprises of not only ‘kital’ but also strong belief, exemplary character, sacrifice and practices. Jihad means not only preventing external aggression but also preventing internal oppression. Here He showed how ikhwan practiced jihad in their lifestyle and its effect on 1948 war with Israel (here he told some hear-touching and inspiring examples). How it makes Zionists frightened of the name of ikhwan. He insightfully described the dimensions of jihad (with kefir, munafiq and verily with Satan) and its diverse means (war, patience, hate, telling truth or using pen and so on). He also included intellectual war and going forward to liberate the country to establishment of sharia in this part.
In ‘social aspect’ – here he described three relationships to be maintained. With Allah as worshipping, with society in good deeds and with enemy as jihad. He also asserted the necessities of social works and described ikhwan’s examples. Interestingly in this part he criticized hizbut tahrir’s thoughts about social work. In ‘political aspect’ – here the distinguished author has showed some isms and ikhwans viewpoint toward these isms.  He criticized secularism which makes difference between religion and politics and analytically showed al- banna’s thought about nationalism. He also described anti-colonial movements and activities of ikhwan to liberate the country from colonialists and ikhwan’s highest goal of Islamic unity.  Ikhwan’s political training was based on some aspects as revival of Islamic thought, liberating the Muslim lands from colonialists and invaders. Then establishing the sharia as there is no alternative of this system and thinking religion and state are not separated. Here the author revealed an important discussion about use of power for revolution or change and described its use and misuse with reference to Quran and Sunnah. Then comes the necessities of Islamic unity which he described as fardh with reference to Quran and Sunnah and showed its practical utility. He described the dimensions and processes of national, Arab and Muslim unity. Here also comes the discussion about need for ‘khilafat’. In ‘positivity and creativity’ – here he depicted ikhwans positive approaches, creativity and productivity. Al-banna, in this name lies creativity as the author said. Ikhwan always emphasize on work instead of mere word, criticize, backbiting and boast off , avid to do  basic and practical  work instead of dreaming of  utopian scheme and inclined to do positive activities omitting lying , bad word even to Satan . Here he extracted al-banna and his scheme of a series of positive activities, starting from self-purification to establishment of domination of Islam on this world. Ikhwan does not criticize differences of opinion rather they criticize dogmatism and blind imitation. The author has defined positivity and creativity with many examples and al-banna’s writing. Here he emphasized on best utilization of time in creative and positive activities.  In ‘golden mean and balance’ – he showed how ikhwans take what is good and cast aside what is bad from social and political thoughts. They did not criticize bluntly each and every organization or thought. Ikhwans followed ‘no allegation policy’ in their movement. They do not derogate ancestors rather they do new iztihad and take measures on the ground of changed situation. In this part, the author showed ikhwans balanced position about basic creed of Islam. In spirituality, ikhwans followed ancestors like Ibne Taimiya and Ibnul Qayyem. In ‘balance in social viewpoint’ – he presented a positive approach, not to merely criticize social problems rather to take proper measures to make change. Here he presented modernist and mystical view on social aspects and Ikhwans balanced position (Islamization of prevailing society). In ‘patriotism and nationalism’ – he showed ikhwans thought of these two isms. He made references from Quran and Sunnah and presented a balanced theory of these isms. He thought that the goal of patriotism and nationalism should be for the sake of Allah and ikhwan does not forget Muslim unity. He presented ikhwans policy in this regard in this section.  In ‘Brotherhood and organization’ – he presented the Doctrine of Muslim unity and brotherhood based on creed with reference to Quran and Sunnah. And showed how ikhwans practiced this brotherhood and made an organization based on mutual love and admiration. How ikhwans followed Quranic examples of brotherhood, giving priority and mutual love for Allah’s sake. In ‘conclusion’ – the distinguished author said that, all of ikhwans were not same. But they also made sins and repent to Allah. He proposed for rethinking of Islamic training system as the situation has changed and new challenges have come in front of Islamic movement.
In this book, I focused on spirituality, political aspects, positivity and creativity, balance, social work, which the writer mentioned smoothly, as we are in lack of these practices in Bangladesh. We need also to rethink about our present training system.  This book can be a guidebook although we have our different aspects on social and political situation.
The writer of this review is a undergraduate student of the University of Dhaka.