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CHECK YOURSELF*

Imam Hasan Al-Banna

Dear truthful brothers, the basic elements of our covenant are ten; so grasp their meanings and memorize them. They are: comprehension, devotion, action, striving, sacrifice, obedience, perseverance, resoluteness, brotherhood, and trust.

The acceptance of this covenant obliges you to fulfil the following duties so that you may become strong bricks in the structure.

1 .Devote a daily period for reading the Book of Allah (AI-Qur'an). You are to finish the whole book within a month, but not before three to four days.

2. Carefully recite the Qur'an, listen to it, and ponder over its meanings. Study the purified prac- tice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the history of the early Muslims, as far as your time permits. The minimum required knowledge on this subject is contained in the book The Defen- ders of Islam. Frequently read the collected say- ing of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and memorize at least forty traditions. You are also to study a dissertation on the principles of Islamic beliefs and another on Islamic juris- prudence.

3. Hasten to have a thorough medical checkup, and get treated for any ailments you find in yourself. Attach importance to physical fitness and self-defence, and stand aloof from all causes of bodily weakness.

4. Don't drink too much coffee, tea, or other stimulating beverages. Drink them only when necessary. Also, abstain completely from smok- ing.

5. Show interest in the cleanliness and tidiness of your home and place of work. Be concerned with the cleanliness of your dress, diet, and person, for Islam was founded on cleanliness.

6. Always be truthful, and never tell a lie.

7. Fulfil your promises and agreements. Never breach a covenant, regardless of the circum- stances.

8. Be courageous and enduring. The highest degrees of courage are telling the truth in your own disfavour, keeping secrets, admitting mis- takes, and controlling yourself when angry.

9. Always be serious and dignified. However, this should not prevent you from smiling or en- gaging in truthful jesting.

10. Always have bashful, delicate feelings. Be sensitive to beauty and ugliness; the first pleases you, and the second pains you. Also, be modest without humiliation, servility, or adulation. If you demand less than what you deserve, you will receive what you deserve.

11. Always be equitable and of sound judgement in all situations. Never allow anger to make you forget merits, nor let affection and pleasure blind you to defects. Don't allow disputes to make you ungrateful. Always speak the truth, no matter how painful it is, even if it is against yourself or against the people dearest to you.

12. Be active, energetic, and skilled in public services. You should feel happy when you offer a service to another person. You should feel com- pelled to visit the sick, assist the needy, support the weak, and give relief to the ill-fated, even if it is only a kind word of sympathy. Always rush to do good deeds.

13. Be compassionate, graciously excusing and forgiving others. Be tender, forbearing, and clement to people and animals, and observe good manners with everyone. Observe Islamic social injunctions. Be merciful to the young and respect- ful to the old. Make room for your brothers in meetings and gatherings. Don't spy or backbite. Don't be noisy. Always seek permission before entering non-public places, and make a courteous exit.

14. Be proficient in reading and writing. Esta- blish a private library, no matter how small. Delve deeply into your field if you are a specialist in science or art. Acquaint yourself with the general Islamic subjects to the degree which makes you capable of forming general judgements concern- ing day-to-day problems.

15. Undertake some economic enterprise, even if you are wealthy. Try to establish a private business, regardless of how small it may be or how busy or scientifically oriented you are.

16. Don't run after government jobs, for they are the most limited sources of income. However, don't reject them unless they totally conflict with your duties towards the Islamic work (movement).

17. Perform your job in the best manner you can, and stand aloof from dishonesty and cheat- ing. Observe your appointments, and never be late for work.

18. Be amicable in claiming your due, and hasten to give others their due in full, without procrastination.

19. Keep away from all forms of gambling, no matter what the incentive may be. Avoid unlawful means of livelihood, regardless of what quick profit lies therein.

20. Avoid the practice of charging interest (riba) in all your transactions. Purify yourself from its putrid touch.

21. Foster Islamic wealth in general by encour- aging and helping Islamic economic institutions. Be careful about your money. Don't let it fall in unislamic hands, regardless of the circumstances.

22. Contribute a portion of your wealth to the Islamic work (movement). Pay zakat, no matter how small your income is, and consider it the inalienable right of the poor and deprived.

23. Set aside a portion of your income to defray unforeseen expenses, no matter how small your income is, and never indulge in extravagance.

24. Struggle for the revival of forgotten Islamic practices and the elimination of practices alien to Islam in all areas of life. This includes greet- ings, language, calendar, dress, household furnishings, times of work and rest, food and drink, arriving and departing, and expressing joy and sorrow. Always refer to the purified practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

25. Boycott non-Islamic courts and judicial systems. Also, dissociate yourself from organ- izations, newspapers, committees, schools, and institutions, which oppose your Islamic ideology.

26. Always be conscious of Allah (may He be exalted); seek His pleasure with determination and resoluteness. Bring yourself closer to Allah (may He be exalted) by performing extra night prayers (tahajjud), fasting at least three days every month, contemplating Allah and mentioning His name, and reciting the respected supplica- tions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

27. Perfect your personal purity and cleanliness, and try to keep in a state of ablution (wudu) most of the time.

28. Perfect your prayers, and strive to perform them within their proper time periods. Also, try to pray in congregation in the mosque as frequently as possible.

29. Fast the whole month of Ramadan, and per- form pilgrimage to the Sacred House (Kaabah) if you can afford to. If you cannot afford to make Hajj, make it one of the goals of your life and strive hard to undertake it.

30. Always cherish the intention of jihad and the desire for martyrdom in the Way of Allah, and actually prepare yourself for that.

31. Repeatedly repent of what you have wrongly committed, seeking Aiiah's forgiveness. Try to avoid committing pardonable offences as well as major sins. Devote an hour every night before going to bed for self-criticism, reflecting upon the good or bad things you have done throughout the day.

32. Strive hard against your own soul until it is under your full control. Lower your glance, control your emotions, and direct your sexual urge to decent and lawful outlets, absolutely deterring it from despised and unlawful outlets.

33. Completely avoid intoxicating drinks and everything that causes impairment of the body or delay of the mind.

34. Avoid corrupt friends and evil companions. Keep away from places of immorality and sin.

35. Fight to abolish places of play and diversion as well as not patronizing them. Avoid luxury and all aspects of softness and laxity.

36. Perform your duties towards your brothers; that is, love and esteem them, help them, prefer them to yourself, and regularly attend meetings, being absent only because of an overpowering circumstance. Always impress them with your behaviour.

37. Dissociate yourself from those orgariiza- tions and institutions with which you feel your contact is not in the interest of your cause, especially if you are commanded to do so by your leadership.

38. Propagate Your call everywhere. Familiarize your leadership with your activities, and never undertake any action that will seriously affect the movement without first consulting your leadership. Keep yourself in constant spiritual and practical contact with your call, and always consider your- self a soldier in the barracks awaiting a command.

Dear truthful brothers, that was a summary of your call and a brief account of the important concepts of your ideology. The principles outlined can be combined into five clauses:
  • Allah is our goal;
  • the Messenger is our example;
  • the Qur'an is our constitution;
  • Jihad is our means;
  • and martyrdom is the Way of Allah is our aspiration.

These can be condensed further into five words: plainness, recitation (of Qur'an and Hadith), prayer, military preparedness, and manners.

So hold firmly to these teachings, or else you will not have difficulty finding a place among the frivolous, the lazy, and those who lag behind. On the other hand,if you make these teachings consistent with the goals of your life and act according to them,your reward will be honour in this life and blessings and divine favour in the Hereafter. You will belong to us, and we will belong to you.

But if you forsake them and cease to act accord- ing to their guidance, there will be no connection between you and us, even if you appear great among us and the people give you the highest titles and foremost positions in the councils. Allah will bring you to a severe account and will ask you about your slackness and inactivity. So choose yourself, and we pray to Allah to guide and help you.

"0 you who believe, shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous penalty? That you believe in Allah and His Apostle and that you strive your utmost in the Cause of Allah-that will be best for you, if you but knew. He will forgive your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and to beautiful man- sions in gardens of eternity. That is indeed the supremne achievement. And another favour will He bestow, which you do love-help from Allah and a speedy victory. So give glad tidings to the believers."

"0 you who believe, be helpers of Allah. Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, 'Who will be my helpers in the work of Allah?' The disciples said, 'We tlre Allah's helpers!' Then a portion of the children of Israel believed, and a portion dis- believed. But We gave power to those who believed against their enemies, and they became the ones who prevailed." (The Qur'an 61: 10-14)

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.

*Extract from the Message of the Teaching-an English translation of Imam Hassan Al-Banna's writing 'Risalatut Ta'aleem! The original work i.e. Risalatut Ta'aleem was an address by Hassan Al-Banna to the members of the lkhwanui Muslimoon of the fundamental Islamic Ideology and to instruct them regarding their obligations and responsibilities toward their movement.

Although the message was delivered to an audience of workers in the Islamic struggle more than thirty years ago, it has retained both its grandeur and relevance to the training of Islamic workers today.

 

The Muslim
[March/April 1971















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