OBITUARY: Fathi Yakan- Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood Leader


Lebanese media is reporting on the death of Muslim Brotherhood leader Fathi Yakan (aka Fathy Yakan). According to a report in the Daily Star:

BEIRUT: The Islamic Action Front announced Saturday the death of its leader Fathi Yakan. He was 76 years old. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Grand Mufti Mohammad Rasheed Qabbani and an array of political and religious figures, as well as the Sunni Jamaa al-Islamiya and Shiite Hizbullah issued statements eulogizing Yakan. In a statement, the IAF said Yakan passed away at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Achrafieh, where he was admitted on Friday night. Yakan’s body will be moved to Tripoli on Sunday morning. The time and place of the funeral will be announced at a later time, the statement added. The IAF earlier denied media reports of Yakan’s death but said he was in critical condition. Yakan was born in the northern port city of Tripoli in 1933. He became involved in Islamic work in Lebanon in the mid-1950s and was a pioneer in the establishment of the Islamic Movement. Yakan was elected a member of Parliament in 1992, and was also the founder of one of the earliest private universities in the northern coastal city, the Al-Jinan university. Since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Yakan’s IAF had been allied with the Hizbullah-led opposition; it ran one candidate in Tripoli during the 2009 parliamentary elections on June 7.

According to a report by an Israeli research center, Yakan was one of two early leaders of the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood:

….the 1964 establishment of the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Association), marked a watershed in several respects. Led by Tripoli natives Fathi Yakan and Faysal Mawlawi, al-Jama’a saw the pursuit of an Islamic state as a viable (if long-term and incremental) political project and a counter to the burgeoning appeal of secular Arab nationalism as the ideology of choice for disaffected young Sunnis.

A London-based Saudi newspaper reported last year (see Note 1) that the same two leaders headed the Lebanese Brotherhood and that Yakan was in charge in South Lebanon and was strongly “supportive of Hezbollah.” In 2006, al-Arabia TV (Dubai) had reported that a new Sunni Jihadi front had been established in Lebanon, named The Islamic Action Front (Jabhat al-Amal al-Islami). According to Muslim World News (MWN), Fathi Yakan, identified as a follower of Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb, was believed to be the main establisher of the new Front, which brought together major Sunni organizations from all parts of Lebanon (which altogether include several thousand members), aiming to “fill an existing gap” and “create an authoritative body for the Sunnis in Lebanon”, that will “work in co-operation with the other authoritative bodies”. Yakan further stated the Front’s commitment to all aspects of Jihad, including its military side, and its willingness to fight alongside Hizbullah.

Yakan’s status as a follower of Qutb is confirmed by a U.S. academic who has writes that Qutb’s intellectual progeny included Fathi Yakan, who likened the coming Islamic revolution to the French and Russian revolutions, a comparison recently also made by Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric.

The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), representing the global Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, issued a glowing eulogy to Sheikh Yakan:

Sheikh Fathy Yakan, one of the most prominent da’ah, has met his maker after a lifetime spent in efforts for the cause of Da’wah, truly he was one of the knights of the cause, succeeding in shaping future generations, we give him willingly up to God. Sheikh Fathy was born in 1933 in Lebanon, and dedicated his life to the cause of da’wah, till his death on the morning of Saturday June 13th 2009. Sheikh Fathy Yakan is considered to be the father of the Islamic movement in Lebanon, with his literary edifying contributions which established moderate and tolerant thought, and encouraged the guidance of youth. …On this occasion the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe presents its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased in Lebanon and the Islamic world, and prays that God Almighty will accept his servant – a great loss to the Ummah – and place him on the Day of Judgment with the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), with the prophets, the true believers, martyrs and the pious, for he will be a good companion for them.

The President of the FIOE sent a condolence telegram to Sheikh Faysal Moloy (likely Faysal Mawlawi, also affiliated with FIOE) as follows:

The Islamic Ummah has lost one of its most prominent members, and one of its most sincere men, we willingly put our loss aside and give his soul up to God. The Federation sends its condolences to all the Islamic Ummah on the death of Sheikh Fathy Yakan, the renowned Islamic thinker, who met his death today. We ask of God Almighty to accept his good deeds and his life work in His service, and to take him into His mercy and grant him the rewards of paradise.

We are to God and to Him we shall return

Chakib Bin Makhlouf President of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe

An example of Sheikh Yakan’s “literary edifying contributions which established moderate and tolerant thought” is his best known work “What does it mean to be a Muslim [Madha ya’ni intimai li-al-Islam].” The following are excerpts indicating that Yakan’s vision was the establishment of an Islamic system in every country on Earth, through the use of force if necessary:

Working for Islam means to establish Allah’s rule on this earth, which means replacing man-made laws and systems of governance and problem-solving. Allah’s rule is complete and comprehensive consisting of the greatness of its creed, the beauty of its moral teachings and the universal laws and methods that provide detailed guidance for every practical situation in life. Since our ultimate goal is to replace the un-Islamic system with a total Islamic one, every effort that does not contribute toward achieving the goal of destroying the un-Islamic system is useless and will only prolong evil. ……….Fundamental transformation of society requires actions that can change it at its very roots. The Islamic Movement therefore must reject every cosmetic act or process of putting band-aids on the wounds of the fundamentally flawed societies of materialism. The Islamic Movement must reject un-Islamic methods and refuse to coexist with any man-made ideologies.

As to its method four things are critical to the Movement’s Success. It must be:

1) Comprehensive

The scope and focus of all Movement work should include four elements in order to be comprehensive. These are implementation of thought and political strategy, organization and tactical planning, human preparation, and the manpower and weapons. These elements should be separated from each other, because they are complementary and mutually reinforcing in every effort to pursue the ultimate goal. Allah, the Almighty, says:And fight them until persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah. [Qur’an 8:39]

2) Universal

The Movement must be universal in its planning, organization, and implementation, in the sense that it is active everywhere, in every country and throughout every society. Islam is a universal system of thought and action. It goes beyond the boundaries of country, nationality, family, and language. This system is unique in the sense that it covers all aspects of thought and governance, with the flexibility essential for effective implementation. This has made Islam the only system capable of offering solutions to the problems of life wherever or whenever they may arise. ………The Islamic movement should not work together helping an un-Islamic system solve its problems without addressing their underlying causes, because cooperation in alleviating the effects of injustice only prolongs the power of an unjust system.In addressing the Palestinian problems and all its injustices, the Islamic movement should point out the failure of all un-Islamic systems that have attempted to govern Palestine. These un-Islamic systems have failed to instill in the people the spirit and the feeling of struggling in the path of Allah and have failed to free the land that has been usurped by transgressors. The Islamic movement should also build the belief, trust and pride in Islam as the only method capable of preparing and molding the ummah to face with fortitude any difficulties in the struggle of justice.

3) Faithful to the Way of the Prophet

Second, the formation and mobilization of a group of people bound together by belief and faith in Allah, the Almighty, who obey the organization and its leadership and who perform their responsibilities with the guidance of Allah. Such a group is not diverted from the goals by the decision-making process nor by small matters and trivial problems. Rather they are more concerned with working and preparing themselves to achieve the goal of Islam in their allocation of time and effort. ……Therefore the preparation has to be comprehensive and complete, encompassing worship and education in ways of thinking and knowledge, organization and planning, and training for jihad, both spiritual and physical. All of this preparation must be carried out according to priorities, based on the quantitative, qualitative and urgent needs of the particular stage.

4) Materially Strong

A successful revolutionary movement requires a balance of material and non-material strength. Neglect of either leads to extremism, and extremism is strongly condemned in Islam. Imam Hasan AI-Banna explained the role of material strength in the strategy of the Islamic movement as follows:Many people ask, “Does the Islamic movement plan to use its strength in achieving its goal?” “Does the Islamic movement have in mind a comprehensive or a complete revolution to replace the ruling system and other social systems that exist today?” Since I do not want to allow these questioners to continue in their state of confusion, I want to use this opportunity to answer those questions thoroughly and clearly.The Qur’an says: Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into [the hearts of]the enemies, of God and your enemies. [Qur’an 8:60] …..An organization or group with superficial strength in manpower and weapons, but disorganized or weak in faith, will lead itself to destruction.Should the use of force he the initial solution or only if necessary, the choice of last resort in a final stage? How does one identify and evaluate the good or had results of the use or non-use of force in each stage of the systemic revolution to which all Muslims are called? The Islamic Movement should consider these questions carefully.

(Note 1: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic – URL: Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) Thursday, August 21, 2008)

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