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la 500 most influential muslims

John Esposito

Ibrahim Kalin

The publication you have in your hands is the first of what we hope will be anannual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslimworld. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, thatis, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the factthat they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the differentways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how peopleare living as Muslims today.Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influensmeaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like themoon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanitytoo. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over thelives of a large number of people on the earth. la 50 most influential figuresare profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they areunified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political,Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Dones, Youth, Philanthropy, Development,Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, mitjans de comunicació, Radicals, International IslamicNetworks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds ofways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: InternationalIslamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnationalnetworks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whoseimportance is due to current issues affecting humanity.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Pursuit of Legal Existence and Intellectual Development in Egypt

Manar Hassan


In the wake of the devastating earthquake that trembled the congested capital of Egyptand its neighboring cities in October of 1992, the Private Voluntary Organizations – dominatedby Islamists – managed to considerably lead the relief efforts within hours, leaving theincumbent regime afflicted with its bureaucratic inefficiencies. The government’s ownlimitations in providing the type of crucial operative services at time of mayhem is a mereexample of its declining credibility among the masses. Moreover, its response to this publicembarrassment was even more austere – passing a decree to ban any direct relief efforts by thePVOs therefore forcing all aid to materialize through the government only. But withgovernmental impediments still looming, the regime struggled to meet the needs of the victimsin time which led to riots and posed as a mere reminder of the incessant exasperation thatEgyptians have faced in their recent history. Hence, it became apparent that Mubarak’sattempts to salvage his image in order to corroborate his grip on power had by and largealienated vital forces within Egypt’s civil society.The civil society has, therefore, been a crucial source through which oppositionists –predominantly the Muslim Brotherhood – derive the power of popular appeal. Being one of thelargest and most influential oppositionist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood cuts acrossestranged social structures such as the modern working class, the urban poor, the young, and thenew middle class, which form a support base. Some of the most prominent Brotherhoodmembers themselves pertain to the new middle class and therefore network through al-niqabatal-mihaniyyah (Professional Associations). One example is Dr. Ahmad el-Malt, who was theformer Deputy Supreme Guide to the Brotherhood and also President of the Doctors’ syndicateprior to his death

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Initiative as a Reform Program

Sayed Mahmoud Al-Qumni
On March 3, 2004, Mr. Mahdi Akef, the leader and guide of the Muslim Brotherhood launched the Brotherhood’s Initiative to Participate in Awaited Democratic Reform, presenting the Brotherhood as a political faction that deems itself competent to participate. The Brotherhood presented itselfnaturallyin the best possible light, which is everyone’s right. And on May 8, 2004, dr. Essam Aryan, a Brotherhood luminary well known due to his appearances on the local Egyptian satellite station, Dream TV, said this initiative is a comprehensive, complete program for soon converting the Brotherhood into a political party.
democràcia, in its liberal sense, means rule by the people, legislating laws for themselves according to their conditions. It doesn’t just mean elections. More importantly, and to lay the foundations for elections, democracy is a pluralistic political system that guarantees citizenspublic and private freedoms, especially freedom of expression and opinion. It also guarantees their human rights, especially freedom of religion. These are absolute freedoms, without any limitation or monitoring. The democratic system allows peaceful change of power in society and is based on a separation of powers. The judicial branch, especially, must be totally independent. Democracies adopt the free market economy that is based on competition, and that encourages individual initiatives. Democracies are based on channels of dialgoue and peaceful understanding among citizens. In dealing with local and international conflicts, they avoid military options as much as possible. Along with those who believe in democracy, it confronts the mentality of terrorism and violent fundamentalist dogmatism. Democracies oppose absolutist ideas that claim to own the absolute truth, and defend relativistic and pluralistic principles. By doing so, they provide all religions the right to be active safely, except opinions that aim to confiscate freedoms or impose themselves on other parties by force or violence. So democracies are concerned with freeing religion from the monopoly of one interpretation or one sect.
In summary, democracy is a group of regulatory and legal measures for society that humankind has reached after a long history of conflict to refine authorities where religious figures cannot impose their will. Religious authorities were disengaged from the
authorities of the state, to guarantee the state’s neutrality toward all religions. This is what allows for freedom of religion and opinion, and freedom of worship for all in total freedom and equality. This prevents conflict in the name of religion, which leads to the security of the state and its citizens.

On March 3, 2004, Mr. Mahdi Akef, the leader and guide of the Muslim Brotherhood launched the Brotherhood’s Initiative to Participate in Awaited Democratic Reform, presenting the Brotherhood as a political faction that deems itself competent to participate. The Brotherhood presented itselfnaturallyin the best possible light, which is everyone’s right. And on May 8, 2004, dr. Essam Aryan, a Brotherhood luminary well known due to his appearances on the local Egyptian satellite station, Dream TV, said this initiative is a comprehensive, complete program for soon converting the Brotherhood into a political party.Democracy, in its liberal sense, means rule by the people, legislating laws for themselves according to their conditions. It doesn’t just mean elections. More importantly, and to lay the foundations for elections, democracy is a pluralistic political system that guarantees citizenspublic and private freedoms, especially freedom of expression and opinion. It also guarantees their human rights, especially freedom of religion. These are absolute freedoms, without any limitation or monitoring. The democratic system allows peaceful change of power in society and is based on a separation of powers. The judicial branch, especially, must be totally independent. Democracies adopt the free market economy that is based on competition, and that encourages individual initiatives. Democracies are based on channels of dialgoue and peaceful understanding among citizens. In dealing with local and international conflicts, they avoid military options as much as possible. Along with those who believe in democracy, it confronts the mentality of terrorism and violent fundamentalist dogmatism. Democracies oppose absolutist ideas that claim to own the absolute truth, and defend relativistic and pluralistic principles. By doing so, they provide all religions the right to be active safely, except opinions that aim to confiscate freedoms or impose themselves on other parties by force or violence. So democracies are concerned with freeing religion from the monopoly of one interpretation or one sect.In summary, democracy is a group of regulatory and legal measures for society that humankind has reached after a long history of conflict to refine authorities where religious figures cannot impose their will. Religious authorities were disengaged from theauthorities of the state, to guarantee the state’s neutrality toward all religions. This is what allows for freedom of religion and opinion, and freedom of worship for all in total freedom and equality. This prevents conflict in the name of religion, which leads to the security of the state and its citizens.

Mahmoud Ezzat in a comprehensive interview with Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansur

Mahmoud Ezzat

dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a comprehensive interview with Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour ascertained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s elections for Chairman scheduled to be held in the upcoming period by members of the Guidance Bureau is open to everyone who wishes to submit his nomination papers as a candidate.

In his statement to the talk show Bila Hedood (Without Borders) on Al-Jazeera TV, Ezzat explained that nomination papers generally should not be used for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidates but rather a complete list of the entire Brotherhood’s 100-member Shura Council is presented to elect the Brotherhood’s Chairman and Guidance Bureau. He denied that the Brotherhood’s General Guide to leadership of the General Shura Council does not allow him the freedom to work on his own in making his final decision. He also revealed that the Council has the authority to hold the Chairman accountable for any failure and if the need arises dismiss him at any time.

He stressed that the movement is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to practice the principle of Shura (consultation) within the ranks of, pointing out that the Shura Council will elect the Chairman and a new Guidance Bureau in the upcoming year.

He commented on the Media coverage of what really happened behind the scenes at the Guidance Bureau, citing that the committee which consisted of leading figures such as Dr. Essam el-Erian and a number of the Guidance Bureau members responsible for printing the Chairman’s weekly statement objected to Mr. Mahdi Akef’s wish a trifle difference of opinion. Akef’s first term will end on January 13, 2010 however he has announced earlier; he will still make a decision whether he will remain in office for a second term as the group’s general guide.

He continued that the 81-year old Akef had informed members of the Guidance Bureau earlier that he intended to resign and will not serve for a second term. Members of the Bureau immediately responded urging him to remain in office.

In his weekly message, Mahdi Akef vaguely referred to his intentions of not running a second term and thanking the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the Guidance Bureau who shared with him the responsibility as if he intended it to be his farewell speech. On Sunday, October 17 the media claimed that the Chairman of the Brotherhood had announced his resignation; however the Chairman has repeatedly denied media allegations where he came to the office the next day and met with members. He later issued a statement disclosing the truth. Media allegations on the Guidance Bureau’s unwillingness to appoint Dr. Essam el-Erian are totally false.

dr. Mahmoud Ezzat ascertained that the movement is pleased to provide an opportunity to members to share their opinions, stressing it is a manifestation of power matching with its existing large size and leading role, indicating that Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood is very pleased to do so.

He stressed that all issues come back to the Guidance Office for the final decision where its resolutions are binding and satisfactory to all, regardless of the differences in opinion.

I do not underestimate what has happened already or I’d simply say there is no crisis, at the same time, we should not blow things out of its context, we are determined to apply the principle of Shura”, he added.

It was discussed earlier at the subsequent meeting of the Guidance Bureau that the group’s Shura Council has the sole right to elect membership of the Guidance Bureau to any member, he explained. dr. Essam himself agreed that it was not suitable to appoint a new member in the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau since the election was near.

Ezzat stated that the episode was presented to the Shura Council on the recommendation of the guidance office amid frequent arrests and detentions waged by state security. We strive hard to involve the Shura Council to choose the next Chairman and members of the Guidance Office. It is expected the whole matter be resolved, Allah’s willing, before January 13.

It was decided at this meeting by the Chairman and members of the MB Guidance Bureau to send a letter to the Shura Council, stressing that the date for these elections will not be later than sixth months. It was assumed that the proceedings would be conducted prior to or during elections in which 5 new members were elected last year. It is the Shura Council’s decision and not the MB Guidance Bureau. Consequently, the general group’s Shura Council finally reached its unanimous decision of holding elections as soon as possible.

He stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood, with the enforcement of the Shura is organized by its internal regulations. Regulations which are adopted and advocated by laws of the Shura Council and are subject to change. The most recent amendment underway with one of its clauses is the duration of the term of a member of the Guidance Office provides that a member must not serve more than two consecutive terms.

Some members of the Guidance Office were accused of their adherence to stay in office for many years; dr. Ezzat claimed that frequent arrests which did not exclude any one the Executive Bureau prompted us to modify another article in the internal Regulation that provides a member maintain his membership even if he was detained. The absence of the honorable working for the welfare of their country and the sublime mission led us to insist on them maintaining their membership. Engineer Khayrat Al-Shater will remain as second deputy chairman of the MB and Dr. Mohammed Ali Bishr a member of the MB Executive Bureau. It is expected Bishr will be released next month.

dr. Mahmoud Ezzat completely denied rumors about internal conflicts within the opposition group with regards to leadership, stressing that the mechanisms, regulations and terms are paving the way to select the movement’s leaders. He also noted that Egypt’s geographical situation and considerable moral weight within the Muslim world justifies the need for the MB Chairman to be Egyptian.

The Guidance Office is currently exploring the general tendency of the Brotherhood’s 100-member Shura Council with regards to nominating a suitable candidate eligible to take charge as Chairman”, he said.

It is extremely difficult to predict who will be the next chairman, noting that 5 minutes ahead of appointing Mr. Akef as Chairman nobody knew, the ballots only decided who would be the new leader”, he said.

dr. Mahmoud Ezzat attributed the Media’s apparent conflicting reports on their allegations towards remarks about the Brotherhood top leaders to the same inconsistencies of media reports on senior leaders that vary from newspaper to another.

dr. Mahmoud Ezzat shed light with figures upon security raids that led to the arrest of some 2696 members of the group in 2007, 3674 in 2008 i 5022 in 2009. This resulted in the Shura Council’s inability to hold meetings and contest elections.

He also emphasized that the Muslim Brotherhood is extremely keen on maintaining Egypt’s national security and itsinterest in achieving peaceful reform in the society. “We are well aware that the meetings of the Guidance Office are surveilled by security although we intend only to practice democracy. In fact, we do not want to provoke the hostility and animosity of others”.

He also stressed the differences within the organization are not motivated by hatred or personal differences since the decent temperaments encouraged by the sublime teachings of Islam encourage us to tolerate difference of opinions. He added that history has proven that the Muslim Brotherhood movement has encountered much more difficult circumstances than the existing crisis.

The media has projected a negative image of the Muslim Brotherhood where they relied on SSI investigations for information. It is imperative that journalists get facts from the original sources if they are to have some sort of credibility. In fact the judiciary has invalidated all the accusations reported in state investigation, he said.

dr. Mahmoud Ezzat was optimistic that the current political crisis will pass asserting that events will prove that the Muslim Brotherhood with all its noble manners, objectivity, and practicing of democracy will shine through with flying colours.

Published on Ikhwanweb

Dissenting Brothers

Founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has never experienced a leadership crisis as serious as that which erupted two weeks ago. As is now well-known, the problem originated with the refusal on the part of the MB’s Guidance Bureau (the organisation’s highest executive body) to accept Essam El-Erian as a member to replace Mohamed Hilal following the latter’s death four weeks ago. It was a clear act of defiance against Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef who wanted to promote El-Erian and who maintained that the MB’s internal regulations gave him that right. In response to the refusal Akef has threatened to resign and designated most of his powers to his first deputy, Mohamed Habib.
Of course, the crisis goes much deeper than the question of El-Erian’s promotion. This is not the first time the supreme guide has encountered resistance. The problem is rooted in the way the MB handles its internal disputes and in its reading of the Egyptian political scene as it touches upon the organisation’s image and activities. Although in the course of the past two decades the MB has managed to deal clearly and firmly with internal opposition, disciplining and marginalising dissenters, it has signally failed to benefit from any intellectual and ideological diversity among its ranks. As a consequence, it has forfeited an important political asset which it desperately needs in its confrontations with adversaries.
The tensions in the upper echelons of the MB hierarchy are too sharp to be swept under the carpet in the usual way. The supreme guide has set himself against the will of the conservative wing of the leadership over the promotion of El-Erian, whom he believes deserves a chance to serve on the Guidance Bureau. But regardless of what actions he takes, including the threat to resign, there are unmistakable signs that he will be unable to reign in the conservatives. Since becoming head of the movement in January 2004 Akef has worked hard to maintain smooth relations between the different ideological trends within the MB. Almost always, malgrat això, his efforts have come at the expense of the reformists or pragmatists, whether because of the relative weakness of their influence within the organisation compared to the conservatives or because he feared a rift that would render the organisation vulnerable to the regime’s political and security tactics.
That tensions have reached their current pitch is due to the brewing conflict over the succession to the office Akef now holds. In March Akef announced that he did not intend to nominate himself for a new term, which would begin on 13 January. His decision marked the first time in the group’s history that a supreme guide has voluntarily stepped down at the height of his career. All six of his predecessors died while still in office. Akef’s unprecedented and, apparently, unexpected decision, triggered an initially silent power struggle over who would fill his post. Interestingly, the struggle has not been between conservatives and reformists, but rather between hardliners and pragmatists inside the conservative camp.
The current situation is significant for several reasons. Rarely have internal differences bubbled over into public view. This time, malgrat això, the main players have been vying ferociously for media attention.
Then there is Akef’s threat, subsequently denied, that he would resign. That Akef should have been driven to such a step reflects the magnitude of the pressures and anger he has faced during his nearly six-year long tenure. Having served as the keel between diverse trends, Akef’s threat must reflect his sense of failure at checking the conservativeshegemony over all the organisation’s bodies and decision-making mechanisms.
That Akef has delegated many of his powers to his first deputy is also unprecedented, as well as being in violation of the group’s internal regulations. Article 6 of the MB’s charter states that the supreme guide can leave his post under three conditionspoor performance of his duties, resignation or death. Since none of these conditions obtains Akef had no right to delegate his responsibilities to his first deputy.
The crisis has thrown into relief a major problem in the MB’s constitutional structure, the lack of an institutionalised arbitrating authority capable of settling disputes between the supreme guide and the Guidance Bureau. It has also demonstrated that many of the group’s internal taboos regarding reverence for, and uncritical obedience to, its leaders have cracked.
The MB leadership will undoubtedly attempt to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible, so that it does not spread through the movement’s rank and file. For this reason, the MB’s General Shura Council will hold elections for the next supreme guide within the next couple of weeks. Even so, it is doubtful that the new leader will enjoy the same level of prestige as his predecessors and will, as a consequence, be hampered in any attempts to maintain equilibrium inside the group. Neither the MB’s Secretary- General Mahmoud Ezzat, or First Deputy to the Supreme Guide Mohamed Habib, the two leading contenders for the post, have the historical legitimacy of Akef, the last of the MB’s founding generation.
But the election of the next supreme guide is not the only problem with which the MB must contend. No less important, or problematic, is the need to elect a new Guidance Bureau. The current bureau was elected in 1995, since which time some members have been added through promotion, as was the case with Mohamed Mursi who became chairman of the political committee in 2004, and others by means of the partial elections in 2008. Comprehensive elections to the bureau should have been held a year ago, following the election of the new MB Shura Council which is responsible for selecting the members of the Guidance Bureau and the supreme guide.
The MB is entering a very delicate phase in its history. Even if MB leaders manage to smooth over the current crisis, its effects will continue to reverberate beneath the surface and, undoubtedly, erupt once again.

Khalil Al-anani

Esam

Founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has never experienced a leadership crisis as serious as that which erupted two weeks ago. As is now well-known, the problem originated with the refusal on the part of the MB’s Guidance Bureau (the organisation’s highest executive body) to accept Essam El-Erian as a member to replace Mohamed Hilal following the latter’s death four weeks ago. It was a clear act of defiance against Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef who wanted to promote El-Erian and who maintained that the MB’s internal regulations gave him that right. In response to the refusal Akef has threatened to resign and designated most of his powers to his first deputy, Mohamed Habib.

Of course, the crisis goes much deeper than the question of El-Erian’s promotion. This is not the first time the supreme guide has encountered resistance. The problem is rooted in the way the MB handles its internal disputes and in its reading of the Egyptian political scene as it touches upon the organisation’s image and activities. Although in the course of the past two decades the MB has managed to deal clearly and firmly with internal opposition, disciplining and marginalising dissenters, it has signally failed to benefit from any intellectual and ideological diversity among its ranks. As a consequence, it has forfeited an important political asset which it desperately needs in its confrontations with adversaries.

The tensions in the upper echelons of the MB hierarchy are too sharp to be swept under the carpet in the usual way. The supreme guide has set himself against the will of the conservative wing of the leadership over the promotion of El-Erian, whom he believes deserves a chance to serve on the Guidance Bureau. But regardless of what actions he takes, including the threat to resign, there are unmistakable signs that he will be unable to reign in the conservatives. Since becoming head of the movement in January 2004 Akef has worked hard to maintain smooth relations between the different ideological trends within the MB. Almost always, malgrat això, his efforts have come at the expense of the reformists or pragmatists, whether because of the relative weakness of their influence within the organisation compared to the conservatives or because he feared a rift that would render the organisation vulnerable to the regime’s political and security tactics.

That tensions have reached their current pitch is due to the brewing conflict over the succession to the office Akef now holds. In March Akef announced that he did not intend to nominate himself for a new term, which would begin on 13 January. His decision marked the first time in the group’s history that a supreme guide has voluntarily stepped down at the height of his career. All six of his predecessors died while still in office. Akef’s unprecedented and, apparently, unexpected decision, triggered an initially silent power struggle over who would fill his post. Interestingly, the struggle has not been between conservatives and reformists, but rather between hardliners and pragmatists inside the conservative camp.

The current situation is significant for several reasons. Rarely have internal differences bubbled over into public view. This time, malgrat això, the main players have been vying ferociously for media attention.

Then there is Akef’s threat, subsequently denied, that he would resign. That Akef should have been driven to such a step reflects the magnitude of the pressures and anger he has faced during his nearly six-year long tenure. Having served as the keel between diverse trends, Akef’s threat must reflect his sense of failure at checking the conservativeshegemony over all the organisation’s bodies and decision-making mechanisms.

That Akef has delegated many of his powers to his first deputy is also unprecedented, as well as being in violation of the group’s internal regulations. Article 6 of the MB’s charter states that the supreme guide can leave his post under three conditionspoor performance of his duties, resignation or death. Since none of these conditions obtains Akef had no right to delegate his responsibilities to his first deputy.

The crisis has thrown into relief a major problem in the MB’s constitutional structure, the lack of an institutionalised arbitrating authority capable of settling disputes between the supreme guide and the Guidance Bureau. It has also demonstrated that many of the group’s internal taboos regarding reverence for, and uncritical obedience to, its leaders have cracked.

The MB leadership will undoubtedly attempt to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible, so that it does not spread through the movement’s rank and file. For this reason, the MB’s General Shura Council will hold elections for the next supreme guide within the next couple of weeks. Even so, it is doubtful that the new leader will enjoy the same level of prestige as his predecessors and will, as a consequence, be hampered in any attempts to maintain equilibrium inside the group. Neither the MB’s Secretary- General Mahmoud Ezzat, or First Deputy to the Supreme Guide Mohamed Habib, the two leading contenders for the post, have the historical legitimacy of Akef, the last of the MB’s founding generation.

But the election of the next supreme guide is not the only problem with which the MB must contend. No less important, or problematic, is the need to elect a new Guidance Bureau. The current bureau was elected in 1995, since which time some members have been added through promotion, as was the case with Mohamed Mursi who became chairman of the political committee in 2004, and others by means of the partial elections in 2008. Comprehensive elections to the bureau should have been held a year ago, following the election of the new MB Shura Council which is responsible for selecting the members of the Guidance Bureau and the supreme guide.

The MB is entering a very delicate phase in its history. Even if MB leaders manage to smooth over the current crisis, its effects will continue to reverberate beneath the surface and, undoubtedly, erupt once again.

Published On Al-ahram Weekly