Autobiography or Fiction? Ḥasan al-Bannā’s Memoirs Revisited

  • Brynjar Lia


Scholars dealing with the rise of contemporary Islamism and the Muslim Brothers’ early history frequently turn to Ḥasan al-Bannā’s autobiography, Mudhakkirāt al-Daʿwah wa’l-Dāʿiyah (Memoirs of the Call and the Preacher) as one major source of information about the movement’s origin. Despite the centrality of this autobiography and the abundance of references to it in Islamist literature, it remains poorly understood. Drawing upon a range of under-explored primary sources, this article argues that the autobiography was never written as a traditional ex post facto memoir. Only by recognizing its fictionalized nature and by exploring the boundaries between biography and fiction, can al-Bannā’s memoirs can be properly understood.

Keywords: Islamism, Egypt, Ḥasan al-Bannā, The Muslim Brothers, Biography, Autobiography