Hassan al-Bana Approach
When the thoughts of Hassan al-Banna was spread all over the Arab countries under the title of 'al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun,' al-Banna wrote a message of instructionس of their movement, namely (ِرِسَالَةُ التَعَالِيم) 'Risalat at-Ta'aleem' in which he identified the stages of dawa, the structure of this movement, the articles of bay'ah and so on.
Al-Banna summarized these stages and said:
ِكُلُ دَعْوَةٍ لَابُدَ لَهَا مِنْ مَرَاحِلَ ثَلَاثٍ: مَرْحَلَةِ الدَعَايَةِ وَالتَعْرِيفِ والتَبْشِيرِ بِالفِكْرَةِ وَإِيصَالُهَا إِلَى الجَمَاهِيرِ مِنْ طَبَقَاتِ الشَعْبِ، ثُمَّ مَرْحَلَةِ التَكْوِينِ وتَخَيُّرِ الأَنْصَارِ وإِعْدَادِ الجُنُودِ وتَعْبِئَة الصُفُوفِ مِنْ بَيْنِ هَؤُلِاءِ المَدْعُوِينَ، ثُمَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ كُلِهِ مَرْحَلَةِ التَنْفِيذِ والعَمَلِ والِإنْتَاجِ، وكَثِيرًا مَا تَسيِرُ هَذِهِ المَرَاحِلَ الثَلاثِ جَْنبًا إِلَى جَنْب
"Each dawa must go through three stages: the stage of propaganda, informing and calling to the movement and spread it until it reaches a large number of people's different classes.
then the stage of formation and choosing the followers and preparing the soldiers and the rows (of war) from these followers.
After all of this comes the stage of establishment, (real) working and production. Usually, these three stages are followed simultaneously. " (Al-Banna, Risalat at-Ta'aleem, p. 102)
Application of Seera
Al-Banna did not show, exactly, how these stages work in light of the seera events, he rather quoted some narrations at the end of these instructions telling the adaab (ethics) of such work.
The job of identifying the how these stages in the seera events were done by Muneer al-Ghadban (d. 2014), a leading Syrian member and the Chief Superintendent (Muraqib 'Aam) of the movement in Syria, in his book al-Manhaj al-Haraki li as-Seera an-Nabawiyah, published 1990.
Ghadban rephrased these three stages as follows:
First Stage: Secret Dawa and Secret Formation
Ghadban argues this stage started from the very beginning of revelation and lasted for three years. He included a number of characteristics, the most important of them are:
Secret calling to the principles of the Jama'ah (movement).
فَهِيَّ لَيْسَتْ دَعْوَةٌ عَلَنِيَةً تُقَامُ فِي الأَنْدِيَةِ العَامَةِ والمَجَالِسِ والمَحَافِلِ؛ إِنَمَا تَقُومُ عَلَى الاِصْطِفَاءِ الشَخْصِي
"It is not a public dawa that could be held in public places, rather it targets the individual selection of people."
He gave examples of the Prophet's conversion of Ali Abu Bakr Zayd ..etc. whom the Prophet (saw) proactively, as he claimed, targeted to establish the first blocks of the Islamic state.
General calling in terms of all the public classes is targeted by this dawa regardless of his age, gender, social and political status.
Quraysh knew the matter of the Prophet's dawa; but as soon as he did not touch their fundamental creeds, they did not harm him at that point; so the movement's members shall follow a similar approach.
ولا تَهْتَم مَكَةَ بِمِثْلِ هَذِهِ الأَحْدَاثِ وَهَؤُلَاءِ النَاسِ، طَالَمَا أَنْهُم لَا يَتَعَرَضُونَ لِعَقَائِدهَا وَأَصْنَامِهَا
"People of Mecca did not care of such events and such people as soon as they don't contradict their creed and idols."
The leaders of the movement must choose the right time to start the public dawa, after the spiritual, intellectual, militarily preparation of such followers, ensuring the relative protection of their lives.
Second Stage: Public Dawa and Secret Formation
This stage starts when Allah ordered the Prophet (saw) to show up with his dawa publically:
فاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ، إِنَّا كَفَيْنَاكَ الْمُسْتَهْزِئِينَ
"So declare what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists. Indeed, We are sufficient for you against the mockers." (Qur'an 15:94-95)
At that stage, Muslims have to go out gradually to the public with their principles. This gradual operation starts with the family, close friends and so on.
Muslims have to avoid engaging with their opponents' pushing backs. Ghadban argues:
ِالإِعْرَاضْ عَنْ المُشْرِكِينَ بَاقٍ فَلَا مُوَاجَهَةً مَادِيَةً، وَلَا مُقَاوَمَةً مُسَلَّحَةً، وَلَا انْتِقَامًا وثَأَرًا لإِهَانَةٍ. إِنَهَا مَرْحَلَةُ كَفِ اليَّدِ والاكْتِفَاءِ بِالتَبْلِيغ.
"Turning away from the polytheists is still valid, so there has to be no material confrontation, no military counteraction and no vendetta nor revenge for an insult. This is the stage of withholding the hands and keeping conveying the message only."
The formation has to stay secret as the Prophet (saw) kept doing in Dar al-Arqam. So, they have to choose a meeting place away from the opponents' eyes and intelligence service. Thus, the leaders could safely meet the soldiers and vice versa.
The Prophet (saw) stayed approaching this stage for other seven years, but after the stubbornness of Quraysh and he was followed by well-prepared followers, he approached the third stage.
Third Stage: The Establishment of State
This stage publicly targets the establishment of the Islamic state. There are some steps for the accomplishment of such a stage. The main steps are the following:
ٍوعَبْقَرِيَةِ النُبُوةِ فِي إِقَامَةِ هَذِهِ الدَوْلَةِ دُونَ أَنْ تُرَاقَ قَطْرَةُ دَم
"This is the brilliance of the Prophet (saw) in establishing the (Islamic) state without shedding blood drop."
Reference: Al-Ghadban, al-Manhaj al-Haraki li as-Seera an-Nabawiyah, Vol. 1, pp. 17-203.
The general stages presented by al-Banna is more accurate (it does not mean I am a member, as I am not) than the detailed references of seera which is more problematic. For example, Ghadban argued the first stage of the Prophet's dawa was secret where the Prophet (saw) proactively approached individuals, not leaders, and converted them. Where in reality, the opposite is true. The Prophet's (saw) mission to establish Islam as a way of life was public from the outset. He however kept secret the education, preparation and building of his group of companions, primarily for their protection following Quraysh aggression and rejection.
The Prophet (saw) did not proactively call non-influential individuals to Islam. Most early converts heard rumours of his discussions with tribal leaders requesting they collectively reorient society according to a new worldview based on the divine. He critiqued fundamental polytheistic values of Meccan society, ancestralism and socio-economic practices.
Those approaching the Prophet (saw) would be told of his message, revelation and the truth. Those who believed him would tell others and bring them to the Prophet (saw).
He also argued 'Quraysh knew the matter of the Prophet's dawa; but as soon as he did not touch their fundamental creeds, they did not harm him at that point.' But in reality, they knew, tortured and opposed the Prophet (saw) from the beginning of revelation. In addition, the Prophet (saw) criticised their fundamental creeds and sent their forefathers astray, as proved here.
For example, in a narration of the conversion of the companion Amr ibn Abbasah al-Sullami (ra), the fourth convert to Islam, he states the opposite of this notion. His own testimony states he was living outside of Mecca but heard rumours of the Prophet's (saw) dawa, visited him and accepted Islam. He asked the Prophet (saw) if he could stay with him in Mecca, but the Prophet (saw) refused stating Quraysh may harm him, advising him to return to his homeland and join him when Islam was dominant in power. Ibn Abbasah acted on the Prophet's (saw) advice, returning only when the Prophet (saw) had established Islamic power in Medina.
He narrated the state of the environment when entering Mecca searching for the Prophet (saw), stating Quraysh was harming him pretty severely:
فَسَأَلْتُ عَنْهُ فَوَجَدْتُهُ مُسْتَخْفًيًا، َوَوَجَدْتُ قُُرَيْشاً عَلََيْهِ أَشِدَّاءْ
"I searched for him and I found him hiding and I found Quraysh fiercely (opposing) him." (Dhahabi, Siyah A'lam an-Nubala', Vol. 2, p. 458)
The Prophet (saw) faced persecution early on as Quraysh rejected his call.
The Prophet used to meet the companions for education in Dar al-Arqam not to hide his Prophethood, rather protect his weak followers during his interactions with the leaders and he was preparing this for leading afterwards.
The Prophet (saw) used to pray differently and make tawaf in front of the leaders and Meccans openly (as Afif and al-Abbas noted above), but when he performed something secretly, it seemed to be primarily for the protection of his followers during their preparation.
The Prophet (saw) did not start calling leaders after three years as Ghadban argues, rather soon after the revelation, probably within days, continuing doing the same after individuals converted having heard rumours about the Prophet (saw).
Year six probably seems to shift the call from the Quraysh elites to their followers as the elites rejected his call.
The second and third stage is less controversial, regardless of the order of revelation of the verse.
Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun suggests there are three stages of dawa lead to the establishment of the Islamic state: First stage: Secret Dawa and secret formation; Second stage: Public Dawa and secret formation; Third stage: The establishment of the Islamic State.
Al-Banna, Risalat at-Ta'aleem;
Al-Ghadban, al-Manhaj al-Haraki li as-Seera an-Nabawiyah.
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