What “Ikhwan-nabee Correct” Conservative Analysts of Islam Must Learn From Charles Wendell

Given the current obsessive fad which I dub “Ikhwan-nabee Correct Conservative Coverage of Islam”, it is imperative to re-examine what the “non-Islamophobic” Middle East Studies academic Charles Wendell left for all of us to learn about the Muslim Brotherhood, and its founder, Hasan al-Banna, circa 1978.

For those truly desirous of a very astute, remarkably compendious, and intellectually honest assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Weltanschauung, and how this Islamic—not “Islamist”—worldview is seamlessly connected to—and faithfully reflects—mainstream Islam, please read this summary by Wendell, nonpareil translator of al-Banna’s most important treatises:

Hasan al-Banna’s fundamental conviction that Islam does not accept, or even tolerate, a separation of “church” and state, or of either from society, is as thoroughly Islamic as it can be. Any attempt to translate his movement into terms reducible to social, political, or religious factors exclusively simply misses the boat. The “totality” created by the Prophet Muhammad in the Medinese state, the first Islamic state, was Hasan’s unwavering ideal, and the ideal of all Muslim thinkers before him, including the idle dreamers in the mosque. His ideology then, before it was Egyptian or Arab or whatever, was Islamic to the core. Since it embraced all aspects of human life and thought, it was at least as much religious as anything else. Practically all of his arguments are shored up by frequent quotations from the Qur’an and the Traditions, quite in the style of his medieval forbears. If one considers the public to whom his writings were  addressed, it becomes instantly apparent that such arguments must still be the most compelling for the vast bulk of the Muslim populations of today. The nagging feeling that Islam must, and very quickly at that, catch up with the West, had even by his time filtered down from above to the masses after having been the watchword of the modernizing intellectual for almost a century. There was also the notion that all these Western sciences and techniques were originally adopted from Islamic culture, and were therefore merely “coming home”—a piece of self-conscious back-patting that was already a cliché of most Muslim political writing.

From: Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna (1906-1949)—A Selection from the Majmuat Rasail al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna, Translated by Charles Wendell, Berkeley, CA, 1978, pp. 6-7

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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