Hassan al-Banna: Oldies but Goodies Courtesy of “Making Sense of Jihad”

I have just run across Marisa Urgo’s explanation of Hassan al-Banna’s On Jihad.  It is definitely worth a look.  A couple interesting things.  First, she nicely points out the importance of the structure that al-Banna imparts to the work.  Second, she says “This translation comes from Wendell’s 1977 collection, Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna (1906-1949), and is the only one available that has not been sanitized for Western audiences.”  That told me something I didn’t know.

Also of interest is how al-Banna handles the “greater jihad” vs. “lesser jihad” question.

In addition, Urgo does a similar treatment of al-Banna’s 1936 “Toward the Light” (which I have not previously read) which is on governance.  When I speak about Salafi jihadism, I am routinely asked “what does al Qaida have to say about governance?”  I know that al- Banna is not the same as al Qaida, but there is a genetic relationship so this work may be useful in that context.

Only two recent jihadist texts that I know of speak to governance in more than passing terms.  One is Abu Bakr Naji’s Management of Savagery.  The other is Omar Bakri Muhammad’s “First 24 Hours after the Establishment of the Islamic State.”  This latter is…well, it’s sincere, but it’s also rather lacking in gravitas.

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Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 4:17 AM  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hey Marc — Welcome to the blogosphere. It feels as if you’ve done this for years. Let me know when you come to Jerusalem. Thomas

  2. Thanks for the link! And trust me, you’re not the only one wondering where all the governance discussions are. Salafist-Jihadism’s underlining nihilism is obvious from their lack of seriousness when it comes to issues of governance. However, might I suggest a few starting points: Sayed Khatab’s “Hakimiyyah and Jahiliyyah in the thought of Sayyid Qutb” from Middle Eastern Studies, July 2002. And the much older book, Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World. There’s a chapter there that summarizes the ideologies of various then-emergent groups. There’s also a whole bunch of public statements from senior AQ to Shabaab that offer some insights into their thinking about governance — ie, avoid UN, AMISOM assistance, etc. And, if I’m not mistaken, there was a recent letter from Maqdisi to the Caucasus Emirate that provides some governance advice.

    Yeah, I know this is meager stuff. But I think when we study our adversary’s ideas on governance we are reaching the point on the ideological map that is blank with a note: “Thar be giants.”

    My only other suggestion is to develop your own personal approach to thinking with the enemy, ie. reading the same texts they do, and training your thinking to parallel theirs. I know, easier said than done, but they don’t make it easy. 🙂

  3. I’d hazard to say that Bakri Mohammed is basically brain-dead which is why he attracts the likes of Anjem Choudhary and few others.

  4. Thomas: Ugh. My inexperience with this medium is showing. Anyway, for the second time I post thanks for your welcome!

    Marisa: Good gouge. I have often wondered if perhaps part of the reason for the relative lack of salafi jihadist thinking on governance is because they don’t expect to have much to govern anytime soon. By the way, it suddenly occurs to me that I owe you an email! Tomorrow. I’m so sorry.

  5. I know I am a bit late posting on this topic but over at Exclusive Analysis (my company) we found a pretty interesting document on governance, supposedly by a former member of Islamic State of Iraq, offering governance advice to Somali Islamists. It appeared on the al-Qimmah website in the Somali section so I think was widely missed.

    Jarret Brachman posted on this back on 21 June and also posted a link to our summary of the document. I have an Arabic original for those interested.

    • Thank you so much for that. I didn’t recall that when I wrote my piece. Unfortunately, I don’t see how to find that posting on Jarret’s website because the archives seem only to go back through November. 😦

  6. Hi – apologies, you are right it is now inaccessible. Unfortunately it’s not posted on our own website, but if you are interested, I can send a pdf copy of our summary and analysis, and the Arabic original.

    It makes for good reading as its lessons largely echo counter-insurgency theorists on our side of the fence.

  7. Thank you very much, I would definitely be interested in seeing your summary and analysis on that item. I really appreciate it.

    M p s t o u t 2 {at} c o m c a s t . n e t

    –Mark


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