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Al Banna & The Muslim Brotherhood: A Hundred Years Later
I was lucky to watch the debate aired by al Jazeera Channel Television on Sunday October 15, 2006. Marking the el Banna’ s 100th anniversary, the debate was attended by a number of Egyptian prominent figures, including MB First Deputy Chairman Dr. Mohamed Habib, Chief Editor of  Al Kahera ( Cairo) Newspaper Mr. Salah Essa, Expert on Islamic Groups affairs Dr. Dhia Rashwan, and  Eng. A
Wednesday, October 18,2006 00:00
by Eman Abd Rahman, Ikhwanweb

I was lucky to watch the debate aired by al Jazeera Channel Television on Sunday October 15, 2006. Marking the el Banna’ s 100th anniversary, the debate was attended by a number of Egyptian prominent figures, including MB First Deputy Chairman Dr. Mohamed Habib, Chief Editor of  Al Kahera ( Cairo) Newspaper Mr. Salah Essa, Expert on Islamic Groups affairs Dr. Dhia Rashwan, and  Eng. Abul Ela Madhi, the agent of Al Wassat Party under construction, with three phone – in interpositions from Secretary General of the World Association of Muslim Scholars Dr. Mohammed Sleem el Awa,  senior MB leader Farid Abdul Khalek, who is also one of the group founders, and  Mr. Ahmed Seif el Islam Hassan el Banna ,the son of the Muslim Brotherhood founder. In the debate, First MB Deputy Chairman Dr. Mohamed Habib said that Muslim Brotherhood advocates reconsideration of positions and policies as part of democracy.

 On claims that the Muslim Brotherhood still sticks to traditional tenets and blocks any intellectual innovation and adopts age rather than efficiency as a criteria, especially as regards mechanisms of electing the Chairman, the First Deputy Chairman said that while the group observes a few constants, it opens the door for any new ideas and paves the way for its members to pursue innovation just as their first leader did. Commenting on the position of the group toward multiparty system, Dr. Habib affirmed that Imam el Banna steered clear of the idea of partisanship at the time as he sought for independence which was too difficult for the then parties to gain, in addition to the political conduct of these parties which he criticized.

Asked why the intellectual project of Imam el Banna was not completed, Habib replied that the group has come under security crackdowns which has negatively affected its activities. However, he affirmed that no other group could have withstood the fierce persecution, detentions and tortures which the Muslim Brotherhood has come under throughout its history, but he added that the group has come out of all its ordeal steadfast, pursuing  its peaceful Call. Writer Salah Essa praised Imam el Banna as a unique character, and said if he had lived longer, he could have handled the group’s  intellectual variables” but it was too late because he fell martyr before he embarked on this reformist step”, Essa said.

 Hailing el Banna as a charismatic genius who was able to rally the masses around him, he said that he didn’t lay down an exclusive point of reference for the group for fear that this could have led to religious sedition between Muslims, affirming that he would have done this at later stages. Essa criticized the inability of the Muslim Brotherhood to start intellectual reconsiderations , saying that such reconsiderations are still exclusively MB – made ones without other non MB being invited to have their viewpoints thereof. In his word, Dr. Dhia Rashwan recognized that el Banna founded a group which embraces several thinkers and Muslim scholars even from outside the group, calling on the group, however, to reconsider the ideology of Sayed Qotb and try to subordinate it to meet with that of Imam el Banna, especially in terms of Qotb’s vision on jihad.

 However, Rashwan said that el Banna was not a thinker insomuch as an Arabic expert, citing his academic study in the Faculty of Dar le Oloum rather than in al Azhar university. But Seif el Islam el Banna, the son of Imam el Banna, countered by saying in a phone -in interposition that there are several books written by his father but they were not published yet , pointing out that el Banna’s literature is published in several periodicals in his time. He criticized Rashwan for saying that el Banna was not a thinker, explaining that Imam el Banna contributed to revitalizing the purely Islamic literature besides his efforts in promoting for the religion of Islam. On the group’s intellectual outlook in al Banna’s centenary anniversary , Mr. Farid Abdul Khalek, an el Banna’s contemporary MB figure and one of the group’s founders, said that that the matter of reconsidering the group’s positions and attitudes are  in need of a series of studies and  reconsiderations, affirming,however,that such subject matters were started during the life the Imam himself.

Secretary General of the World Association of Muslim Scholars Dr. Mohammed Sleem el Awa said that martyr imam laid down the foundation ground for the intellectual frame and left details for his successors.


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