A Genealogical Inquiry into Early Islamism: The Discourse of Hasan al-Banna

Journal of Political Ideologies, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2012

This article inquires into the ideological vision of Hasan al-Banna (1906–1949), one of the most influential figures of Islamist thought. By assuming a discourse theory perspective, I argue that al-Banna’s Islamistdiscourse was genealogically caught between a traditional pan-Islamic vocation and modern ways of articulating political discourse, such as nationalism and Arab nationalism. Following the traumatic encounter between tradition and modernity that colonialism enacted, al-Banna increasingly integrated and valourized modern national ‘signifiers’, downplaying early universalistic ethos. This denoted a growing reliance on the language of modernity over the language of tradition, though such reliance was instrumental to al-Banna’s anti-imperialist political project, entailing the very preservation of tradition as a moderator principle in the appropriation of modernity.

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