A Study of Hassan al-Banna's "On Jihad"
Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna published his treatise "On Jihad" in the late 1930s. In his book on the group, Brynjar Lia notes that the treatise eventually "became a required part of the Muslim Brothers' curriculum." 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.
After building his argument using the traditional method of sacred verses and jurisprudence, Al-Banna puts all of this work into perspective. The goal of jihad, he writes, is never for personal gain, but to "strive to his utmost" for specific gains. Jihad is thus obliged for "the mission of spreading Islam," a way of instituting "peace," and a means to implementing Islamic law, or as he describes it, "Supreme Message."
Why Do the Muslims Wage War?
People have been for some time stigmatizing Islam because of the religious ordinance of jihad and the [divine] permission to wage war until the [message of] the precious Qur'anic verse is fulfilled: "We shall show them Our signs in the farthest horizons and in themselves, until it is made clear to them that it is the Truth" [Q.41:53]. And now here they are acknowledging that it is the surest way to peace!
God ordained jihad for the Muslims not as a tool of oppression or a means of satisfying personal ambitions, but rather as a defense for the mission [of spreading Islam], a guarantee of peace, and a means of implementing the Supreme Message, the burden of which the Muslims bear, the Message guiding mankind to truth and justice. For Islam, even as it ordains jihad, extols peace: the Blessed and Almighty said: "But if they incline toward peace, incline thou toward it, and put thy trust in God" [Q.8:61].
The Muslim would go forth to fight, one concern within his soul - to strive to his utmost until "God's Word is the most exalted" [Q.9:40]. His religion had ordained that he avoid diluting this purpose with any other; for the love of pomp is forbidden him, and the love of show is forbidden him, and thirst for spoils is forbidden him, and striving to conquer unjustly is forbidden him, while only one thing is allowed him - to offer his blood and his soul as a pledge for his creed and a guidance for mankind.
On the authority of Al-Harith b. Muslim al-Harith, on the authority of his father, who said: "The Apostle of God (May God bless and save him!) sent us on a military expedition. When we reached the area to be raided, I urged on my horse and got ahead of my companions. The people of the [enemy] clan met me with cries of lamentation, and I said to them: 'If you say: "There is no god but God," you are safe." So they said it. My companions reproached me and said: 'You have prevented us from taking any spoils!' When we came back to the Apostle of God (May God bless and save him!), they told him what I had done. He called me over and found what I had done praiseworthy. Then he said to me: -God Almighty has indeed decreed for you so much and so much reward for every human being.' And he said: -I myself shall write something for you in the way of a bequest after my death.' He did so, sealed it, and handed it over to me." Published by Abu Da'ud.
And on the authority of Shaddad b. al-HadI (May God be pleased with him!): "A man of the [nomad] Arabs came and believed in the Prophet (May God bless and save him!). Then he said: 'I shall emigrate with you.' And the Prophet (May God bless and save him!) gave him into the charge of some of his Companions - it was [during] a campaign in which the Prophet (May God bless and save him!) took some booty which was divided up, and of which he received a share. And he [i.e., the Arab] said: 'What is this?" He said: -I have apportioned it to you.' He said: "It was not for this that I followed you; rather I followed you that I might be pierced here (and he motioned with his hand to his neck) with an arrow, and that I might die and enter Paradise.' He said: 'If you believe God, He will believe you." So they remained there for a space; then they rose to do battle with the enemy. He was carried over to the Prophet, having been struck with an arrow exactly where he had pointed. The Prophet (May God bless and save him!) said:
‘Is it he?’ They said: 'Yes.' He said: 'He believed in God: therefore He believed him.' Then he was shrouded in the garment of the Prophet (May God bless and save himi), and he [i.e., the prophet] walked before him and prayed over him. This is part of what he said in his prayer: 'My God, this is Thy servant who went forth as an Emigrant in Thy way and was slain a martyr. And I am a witness unto it.'" Published by Al-Nasa-i.
On the authority of Abu Hurayra (May God be pleased with him): "A man said: '0 Apostle of God, what of a man who wants [to engage in] jihad in God's way, but desires the goods of this world?' He said: 'There is no reward for him.' And he [i.e., the man] repeated this [question] to him three times, but he said: 'There is no reward for him.'" Published by Abu Da'ud.
On the authority of Abu Musa al-Ash'art (May God be pleased with him!), who said: "The Apostle of God (May God bless and save him!) was asked about a man who fights courageously, one who fights zealously, and one who fights hypo critically. Which of these was in the way of God? He said: 'He who fights so that "God's Word is the most exalted" [Q.9:40] is in God's way.'" Published in the Five Books [but not by Al-Bukhari].
If you read about the battles waged by the Companions (May God's grace be with them!), and their behavior in the territories they conquered, you will see to what extent they abstained from indulging their personal desires and cravings, and the extent of their dedication to their fundamental and original goal - the guidance of mankind to the truth until "God's Word is the most exalted" [Q.9:40]. And you will see just how mistaken is the imputation to them (May God's grace be upon them!) of wanting simply to conquer peoples, subjugate nations, and obtain wealth.