Jamal al-Banna: Portrait of a Muslim Intellectual

Date of Publication September 2009
Authors Ben Connery and Rémi Drouin
Reviewer Cornelis Hulsman
Editor Cornelis Hulsman (Editor-in-chief)
Full Text Jamal al-Banna: Portrait of a Muslim Intellectual


Jamāl al-Bannā is a household name in Egypt, where he is famous both in his own right, as a prominent and sometimes controversial Muslim intellectual and writer, and because of his brother Hassan al-Bannā, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Many different labels have been attached to Jamāl al-Bannā over the course of his life. At various times he has been termed a 'liberal,' 'fundamentalist,' 'reformer,' 'socialist' 'revisionist' and a 'pan-arabist'. This study, which involved research into his many books as well as a series of interviews with the man himself, attempts to explore al-Bannā's core beliefs and paint a comprehensive picture of the 89 year old thinker.

In particular the study looks at al-Bannā's views on Sharīcah, other religions, the role of Islam in society in addition to his opinions on the foundation and development of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jamāl al-Bannā did not go to university and instead decided to dedicate himself to being a writer. His writing talents were noticed by his elder brother Hassan al-Bannā who enlisted him to write literature for the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Bannā has continued to be a prolific writer throughout his life and has published over 100 books. Yet, he has also invested time in social issues such as developing the trade unions in Egypt. He firmly believes in strengthening the role of the masses in politics, and in 1981 he created the Islamic Labor Organization.

Ultimately, though, al-Bannā seeks to be remembered for his intellectual contributions as opposed to his practical achievements and as this fascinating and insightful report shows he continues to be an independent and critical voice on a broad range of issues.