Religion and State: The Muslim Approach to Politics

By L. Carl Brown | Go to book overview

14.
Al-Banna, Mawdudi, and Qutb

Hasan al-Banna was born in a small provincial town, Mahmudiyya, some 90 miles northwest of Cairo in October 1906. 1 He was the eldest of five sons. Much of his early religious training came from his father, the imam and teacher at the local mosque who supplemented his income as a watch repairman. Another formative influence was his Qur'anic school (kuttab) teacher. At the age of twelve he moved from the kuttab to the local primary school. During these years he also became involved with the local chapter of the Hasafiyya Sufi brotherhood as well as other religious organizations. The next step, in the early 1920s, was enrollment in the Primary Teachers' Training School in Damanhur, also in the Delta, 13 miles from his hometown.

At age sixteen he entered Dar al-'Ulum, a higher-level teacher training institution that had been founded in 1873 to offer the modern (i.e., Western) curriculum that al-Azhar had resisted adopting. Graduating from Dar al'Ulum in 1927 at the age of twenty-one, al-Banna accepted his first post as a primary school teacher of Arabic in Isma'iliyya.

Located on the Suez Canal, Isma'iliyya in those years was replete with the signs of alien military, economic, and cultural domination. British military bases, 2 the foreign officialdom of the Suez Canal Company, foreign economic domination of all major businesses and public utilities, even street signs in English brought home to al-Banna the colonized status of his fellow Muslims. It was in this environment that he organized his Muslim Brethren, the first members being, significantly, six Egyptian workers from the British military camp. The earliest recruits and activities were in the

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