The First World War had finally come to an end. The European victors could now turn their attention to the Middle Eastern vacuum. Muslims from Cairo to Jeddah to Jerusalem to Damascus were facing the harsh reality of the end of a seventh century dream. Their Ottoman Empire had slowly disintegrated from within and was now powerless to hold back the European advance. Islam’s core belief in its manifest destiny to dominate all of human civilization was at an end.
It was supremely naïve of the Europeans to think that the words of the Prophet Muhammad would die so easily. Weren’t they words that had come directly from God Himself? In their momentary hubris, they never imagined that these words would once again take hold and would then spread like a contagion and even begin to eat away at their own European society.
The year 1927 marked the first challenge to this Western naïveté. In Islam’s darkest hour there suddenly rose a voice. It was calling for Muslims to abandon the secular and decadent Western encroachment that was destroying them and return to the purity of Islam. It was the voice of a highly gifted and charismatic individual, an Egyptian orator schoolteacher/clock repairer named Hassan al-Banna. He appeared out of nowhere onto the streets corners of Cairo, as well as other Egyptian cities, dressed in a flaming red robe preaching his message. Like the early American Christian evangelists, he mesmerized his audiences with vivid descriptions of hell for those who had abandoned the purity of Islam. Like the American Christian evangelists he too warned of the Day of Judgment and Hell’s torments.
There was, however, a difference between Hassan al-Banna and these Christian Americans. Islam is a political/military religion. Muslims do not render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars’. Muhammad had joined religion, governance and military conquest and made it one. Al-Banna’s mission was first to take over the Egyptian government and then the world. In 1928 he established the Society of Muslim Brothers. By the late 1940’s the Muslim Brothers had some two thousand branches throughout Egypt and it was threatening the Egyptian government itself.
Its objectives were "'individual moral purification and collective political and social regeneration through the establishment of a truly Islamic government in Egypt, as a springboard for universal expansion'"; and as Banna described it, "'until the entire world will chant the name of the Prophet (Muhammad), Allah’s prayers and blessings be upon him.'" (Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism, A History, Yale University Press, 2006, p. 208-19)
But there was a chilling side to these objectives. As Efraim Karsh further describes it in his book:
"In Banna’s view, the Qur’an commanded its believers to love death as much as others love life. As long as Muslim society failed to abide by this sacred philosophy, they were destined to remain in their current dismal position." 'There is no escape from death and it happens only once', he (Banna) claimed. 'Should death come down the path of Allah, it will be a gain in this world and a reward in the other.'
This reasoning was duly incorporated into the Muslim Brother's Credo: "'Allah is our goal; the Qur’an is our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; Struggle is our way; and death in the path of Allah is our highest aspiration.'"Continue reading here