Ibrahim El-Houdaiby

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Ibrahim El-Houdaiby (Arabic: ابراهيم الهضيبي, alternative spelling: Ibrahim al-Hudaiby; November 2, 1983-) is an Egyptian political activist and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

Ibrahim El-Houdaiby (Source: Al-Moheet)


Contents

Background

Ibrahim el-Houdaiby comes from a well-known and politically active family. His great grandfather, Judge Hassan el-Houdaiby, "became the MB’s second General Guide after Hassan al-Banna, the founder and theoretical godfather of the movement, was assassinated in 1949." Hassan was one of those who "established within the MB a tradition of non-violent political engagement" with the government. He wrote Du`atun la Qudah (Preachers, not Judges) which is "seen by many as the authoritative counter-argument to the revolutionary ideas of the infamous Brotherhood ideologue Said Qutb." Hassan's son and Ibrahim's grandfather, Ma'mun el-Houdaiby, would later become the MB's sixth General Guide from 2002 to 2004. [1]


Education and Career

Ibrahim el-Houdaiby received his bachelor's degree in political science from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 2005. He is working toward a master's degree in Shari`a at the High Institute of Islamic Studies and another in Comparative Politics at AUC.[2]

He used to be a board member and columnist at the Egyptian MB's English website (IkhwanWeb.com).[3] He also worked as a business advisor in the United Arab Emirates.[4]

As a Muslim Brother

As a Muslim Brother, Ibrahim el-Houdaiby worked as an editor of the organization's English language website, IkhwanWeb. He defended and clarified the Brotherhood’s practices and beliefs. He also represented the MB in conferences in Egypt and the US.

In 2007, Ibrahim wrote an article in response to journalist Mona El-Tahawy's piece in which she expressed her frustration at a Muslim Brother who called her `iryana ("naked") for not wearing the veil. Ibrahim writes:

In her opinion article, Eltahawy criticizes the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, for calling her 'naked' because she was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt and pants. I could not agree more with her. Not wearing the hijab, or headscarf, makes a woman unveiled, not naked. I realize how offensive it is to call someone 'naked' for not wearing a headscarf, and I find Akef’s comment unjustifiable. To be clear, I support Akef’s stance on wearing the hijab, and like him view it as a religious obligation. There has been consensus on that among Islamic scholars for centuries. Yet this has got nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood as a political group. While we believe that wearing the hijab is an obligation, we believe it is an individual woman’s choice to uphold it — a choice that the state should not interfere in.[5]

Elsewhere in the article, Mona writes that although she does not agree with the objectives and opinions of the MB, she "will stand up" for the organization since it is "the last man standing." Ibrahim applauded Mona for seeing beyond this incident and writes, "Eltahawy is critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political orientation and stances on a number of issues, yet she stands with us in solidarity against the Egyptian government’s crackdowns. It is important that Egyptians of different political views defend each others’ political rights, as Eltahawy has done... I wholeheartedly salute the positive spirit exhibited in Eltahawy’s opinion article. I salute her pragmatism, I salute her willingness to overcome ideological disputes and work with political rivals for a common cause, and I salute her uncompromising position on human rights and her defense of freedom for all." He concludes by saying that the MB acknowledges the fact that it cannot bring democracy to Egypt without the aid of other parties: "It is for this specific reason that Muslim Brotherhood members need to hear constructive criticism and advice from their political rivals, so we can all help each other move forward in pushing for genuine reform in Egypt."[6]

Turning Away

Despite his family's heritage, Ibrahim el-Houdaiby left the MB for unstated reasons, later indicating only that “profound differences” arose between him and the organization.[7]

Ibrahim describes the schisms within the MB as a "crisis [that] originates in the dispute over the general direction of the MB, concerning its composition, function and objectives." According to Ibrahim, there are three ideological schools: one that "derives directly from Hassan al-Banna’s intellectual foundation, which was an extension of a reform movement within Al-Azhar, the famous Sunni theological seminary based in Cairo"; another that revolves around Sayyid Qutb’s ideas; and one based on Wahhabism, "which is essentially materialistic and externalistic [sic] in its approach to Islam."[8][9] He claims that the confusing, mixed messages the MB sends are dangerous: "One Brotherhood legislator declared on TV that 'the MB no longer adopts violence since the publication of Duatun La Qudah. But fewer new MB recruits read Duatun La Qudah than those who read Said Qutb’s Maalim Ala At-Tareeq (Milestones). More dangerously, those who read both are not able to grasp the contradiction between their different teachings. The official MB mouthpiece, Ikhwan Online, disseminates many contradictory messages, and you find commentators praising everything brainlessly."[10]


Political and Religious Views

His activity in the revolution has included joining the protests, advocating for the revolution in print, and appearing frequently on television as an advocate of the revolution. He has become well-known for his outspoken political and religious positions.

After leaving the MB, Ibrahim tried to find a political party that suited him but failed. "We have not yet reached a certain level of political maturity, which is why I find it best to work alone," he says. "But I do cooperate with everyone, and I am on good terms with most of the aspiring parties".[11]

Rise of Islamists

Ibrahim is often asked about what he thinks of the rise of the MB and the Salafists. In an interview with ONTV's Yosri Fouda, Ibrahim said that he was not at all surprised by how well the MB and Salafists fared in the parliamentary (People's Assembly) elections.[12] These two Islamist groups together secured 75% of the seats in parliament.[13]

Regarding the MB, Ibrahim maintains that the organization's newfound freedom poses a new challenge: “For a long time, the group managed to ignore internal differences because the whole organization was under threat.”[14] Now the MB's cohesion will be in question. Ibrahim believes that "as threats of systematic crackdown, which had long forced the group to sideline conflicting ideological differences in the name of cohesion, are diminishing, internal disputes will lead to the disintegration of the group into many parties that will bear 'multiple manifestations' of political Islam".[15]

The MB founded Hizb al-Hurriya wal-Adala (the Freedom and Justice Party), the organization's political arm, in April 2011. The MB subsequently stated that if a member of the MB joins any other political party, he or she will be expelled from the organization. Ibrahim disapproved of this exclusivity and said that it is unfair to MB members who wish to join other political parties that may suit them better.[16]

The Salafists' rise, on the other hand, has caused considerably more apprehension. Many fear that Salafists will implement their puritanical and literalist interpretation of Shari`a law, a concern which Ibrahim believes has been largely exaggerated. While the MB is more politically experienced and "underst[an]d[s] that Egypt's [Islamic] identity could hardly be jeopardised in a free democratic context", the Salafists who have "a classic rigid worldview and only minimal political experience" do not understand this and ultimately "resorted to identity politics."[17] Ibrahim argues that Salafists "have not yet been able to come up with [a] comprehensive platform, and therefore they choose, consciously or not, to resort to their comfort zone; identity politics." Ibrahim urges Egyptians not to fear the Salafists but to work towards integrating them in the political system, for their supporters, taken by the Salafists' identity politics and rhetoric, are "defending their identity and not the Salafist political project." He reminds the Islamists that they are not "the guardians of this identity," and argues that "throughout its modern history, Egypt had always observed this identity whilst following different political orientations."[18]

In any case, Ibrahim says that he is content with the results of the parliamentary elections, since they were a reflection of the democratic spirit that came about after the revolution.[19] He said, "I respect democracy, and even if the MB wins 99% [of the seats in parliament], I will respect that because if I do not, then I am in fact disrespecting the people."[20]

Religion and the State

Ibrahim believes that an merge "between religion and politics is inevitable in the Egyptian context." He therefore argues that politicians should not focus on secularization, as in divorcing the state from religion, but should focus on how best to intersect the two domains. In fact, he claims that calling for separation between religion and politics will empower the Islamists, who profess an Islamic identity. He maintains that political rivals of the Islamists should also focus not on the idea of implementing Shari`a but on the Islamists' interpretations of it; "As most scholars understand, Sharia’s legislative component is not a monolithic rigid body of law but rather a highly diverse and flexible set of objectives, legislation and legislative guidelines. If Islamists have a tendency to adopt its most rigid interpretations, for identity politics purposes, their political opponents should better focus on challenging Islamists choices and not Sharia, for the former choice would enrich the debate and lead to the sophistication of political discourse, while the latter would increase polarisation and put questions of politics behind those of identity [sic]."[21]

Ultimately, Ibrahim believes in the rule of Shari`a but rejects "any argument for its imposition by an authoritarian regime against the will of the people."[22] He often decries the example of an Islamic state such as that promoted by Iran and Saudia Arabia. He argues that direct and excessive government involvement in personal religious matters "will create a society of hypocrites."[23] Ibrahim stated that he believes Islam is a reference, a broad framework, "a holistic view of the issues at hand".[24]

Transition to Democracy

On the first anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, Ibrahim insisted that people were not celebrating but protesting, for they felt the revolution was still ongoing. The military council promised to hand over power to a civilian government by July 2012, but revolutionaries call for the speeding up of the transition process. Their opponents, however, believe that the council should stay in power until July 2012. Ibrahim believes that the transition should be immediate. To those supporting the military’s schedule for the handover of power, Ibrahim says, "Five months is [indeed] little, but if [this person's] son was killed during those five months, it would not be little." The military council has failed on all fronts, he argued. The responsibility is simply too much for the military to bear. "I care for the health of our army... and am against anyone who wants to weaken the institution."[25]

He argues that the military council should not stay in power until the drafting of the new Egyptian constitution. He gives the example of Chile, where the military remained in power while the constitution was being drafted and managed to guarantee and maintain its status and privileges even though it was no longer in power. In stark contrast, he says, "Brazilians, who continued protesting until they overthrew their military rulers, drafted their constitution without military intervention."[26] He also places responsibility on the newly elected Egyptian parliament, saying that MPs will have to set aside their political differences, unite and finally overthrow the military rulers. Tahrir Square, he says, needs to work with the parliament but must also be better organized.[27]

Ibrahim often cites the Turkish experience as one to be emulated. He cites Turkish history as an example of how a political party can overcome the military junta. "When the military coup took place in Turkey in 1980, the army ruled supreme." And the elected government had very few powers. The Turks chose a government they believed would oppose the military regime and bureaucracy, but the elected government instead collaborated with them and lost the people's support. Every subsequent government that failed to oppose the military also failed to make changes in the state and eventually lost political sway. This was, of course, until the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rose to power in 2002. Ibrahim writes, "The AKP... still insists on calling itself an opposition party, because it continues to oppose the Turkish bureaucracy and army and is pushing them out of the political arena".[28]

Out of the presidential candidates, Ibrahim says he supports Abdel-Moneim Abol-Fotoh most. But he believes that the presidential election will eventually narrow down to two candidates: Amr Moussa or Ahmad Shafiq who will face either Abol-Fotoh or Muhammad Selim al-Awwa. He does not believe that any of the other presidential nominees have presented a clear presidential platform.[29]

In February 2012, Ibrahim wrote that if democracy is truly to be upheld in Egypt, then the presidential election must come before the drafting of the constitution. The March 2011 "constitutional amendments that were passed and the provisional constitution drafted as a result of those amendments both dictate that the election comes before the constitution," he writes. But, he says, there is also danger in keeping the military in power during the drafting process. "The prolongation of military rule means more bloodshed, economic failure, and will allow them [SCAF] to constitutionalize their sovereignty. Time is also needed for political and societal discussions surrounding the structure and main principles of the constitution."[30]


References

  1. "The Primacy of Values - A Conversation with Ibrahim al-Houdaiby." Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Vol. 10. June 09, 2010. http://www.currenttrends.org/research/detail/the-primacy-of-values-a-conversation-with-ibrahim-al-houdaiby Accessed January 11, 2012
  2. El Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Combating Fitna." Common Grounds News Service. April 1, 2008. http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=22889&lan=en&sp=0 Accessed January 11, 2012
  3. Masmoudi, Mariem R. The Muslim Observer. "Political Islam and Democracy." May 29, 2008. http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=2167 Accessed January 11, 2012
  4. http://www.cordempower.com/consultants.php
  5. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "The Muslim Brotherhood Will Stand Up for All Egyptians." Forward. September 26, 2007. http://www.forward.com/articles/11704/#ixzz1jBiMnrgZ Accessed January 11, 2012
  6. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "The Muslim Brotherhood Will Stand Up for All Egyptians." Forward
  7. El Masry, Sarah. "Liqa' ma` Ibrahim al-Hudaiby." AUC Times. November 2011
  8. "The Primacy of Values - A Conversation with Ibrahim al-Houdaiby." Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Vol. 10. June 09, 2010. http://www.currenttrends.org/research/detail/the-primacy-of-values-a-conversation-with-ibrahim-al-houdaiby Accessed January 11, 2012
  9. Ibrahim does not explain how Qutbis necessarily differ from Wahhabis.
  10. "The Primacy of Values - A Conversation with Ibrahim al-Houdaiby." Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Vol. 10. June 09, 2010
  11. El Masry, Sarah. "Liqa' ma` Ibrahim al-Hudaiby." AUC Times
  12. "Akhir Kalam" Su`ud al-Salafiyya bayn al-Asatir wal-Haqa'iq." Youtube. December 7, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9Nj_ZpiisU Accessed January 23, 2012
  13. Batrawy, Aya. "Egypt’s Islamists secure 75 percent of parliament." Arab News. January 22, 2012. http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article566463.ece Accessed January 28, 2012
  14. El-Hennawy, Noha. "Political freedom, competition drives rifts between Muslim Brotherhood factions." Al-Masry al-Youm. March 24, 2011. http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/372967 Accessed January 11, 2012
  15. El-Hennawy, Noha. "Political freedom, competition drives rifts between Muslim Brotherhood factions." Al-Masry al-Youm
  16. "Shabab al-Ikhwan wal-Hurriya wal-Adala." Youtube. May 11, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVK5vIwqvYU Accessed January 23, 2012
  17. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Don't fear the Islamists." Ahram Online. August 8, 2011. http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/18395.aspx Accessed January 11, 2012
  18. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Don't fear the Islamists." Ahram Online
  19. "Akhir Kalam" Su`ud al-Salafiyya bayn al-Asatir wal-Haqa'iq." Youtube. December 7, 2011
  20. El Masry, Sarah. "Liqa' ma` Ibrahim al-Hudaiby." AUC Times
  21. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Focus on politics, not identity." Ahram Online. August 14, 2011. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/4/18855/Opinion/Focus-on-politics,-not-identity-.aspx Accessed January 12, 2012
  22. "The Primacy of Values - A Conversation with Ibrahim al-Houdaiby." Current Trends in Islamist Ideology. Vol. 10. June 09, 2010
  23. "Akhir Kalam" Su`ud al-Salafiyya bayn al-Asatir wal-Haqa'iq." Youtube. December 7, 2011
  24. "Shabab al-Ikhwan wal-Hurriyya wal-Adala." Youtube. May 11, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVK5vIwqvYU Accessed January 23, 2012
  25. "Interview on Akhir al-Nahar." Al-Nahar Channel. Cairo, Egypt. January 26, 2012
  26. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Barlaman al-Sulta am al-Thawra?" Al-Shorouk. January 6, 2012. http://www.shorouknews.com/columns/view.aspx?cdate=06012012&id=b7541251-7776-4df7-a9a4-b0d74232d6fe Accessed January 12, 2012
  27. El Masry, Sarah. "Liqa' ma` Ibrahim al-Hudaiby." AUC Times
  28. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Barlaman al-Sulta am al-Thawra?" Al-Shorouk. January 6, 2012
  29. El Masry, Sarah. "Liqa' ma` Ibrahim al-Hudaiby." AUC Times
  30. El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Sitat Ashhur lil-Dustur." Al-Shorouk. February 17, 2012. http://www.shorouknews.com/columns/view.aspx?cdate=17022012&id=2bdb0085-9c90-49a1-b69d-0d8fdc2f097b Accessed February 17, 2012


Other References

"Ada' al-Tayyarat al-Siyasiyya fil-Marhala al-Thaniya- al-Hudaiby." Youtube. December 15, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSLHEzpdBJY Accessed January 19, 2012

"Akhir Kalam: al-Mashhad al-Siyasi al-Misry qabl In`iqad Maglis al-Sha`b." Youtube. January 17, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk9jc4h4PAc&feature=fvsr Accessed January 24, 2012

Al-Hudaiby, Ibrahim. "Am ala al-Thawra." Al-Shorouk. January 27, 2012. http://shorouknews.com/columns/view.aspx?cdate=27012012&id=60eb0c33-5d46-43ca-bf06-2417c47d1ea2 Accessed February 1, 2012.

Al-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Four Decades after Sayyid Qutb's Execution." Daily News Egypt. August 28, 2008. http://www.dailystaregypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=16062 Accessed January 11, 2012

Davies, Lizzy and Ben Quinn. "Three believed dead and blogger's sisters held after clashes at Cairo sit-in." The Guardian. December 16, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/16/egypt-blogger-sisters-arrest?newsfeed=true Accessed January 11, 2012.

El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "9/11: Ten years on." Ahram Online. September 12, 2011. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/4/21032/Opinion/-Ten-years-on.aspx Accessed January 11, 2012

El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Ibrahim el-Houdaiby Yaktub: Irda'an lillah wa li-Maslahat al-Watan Ad`u lil-Taswit did al-Shahhat." Al-Mogaz. December 4, 2011. http://www.almogaz.com/opinion/news/2011/12/4/103928 Accessed January 11, 2012

El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "Ma'zaq al-Shar`iyya.. bayn al-Gaysh wal-Za`amat wal-Intikhabat." Al-Shorouk. March 15, 2011. http://www.shorouknews.com/columns/view.aspx?cdate=15032011&id=11832a59-c066-47a5-a8fd-af58ed47d290 Accessed Jaunary 12, 2012

El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "The Muslim Brotherhood's trial of pluralism." Ahram Online. April 23, 2011. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/4/10662/Opinion/The-Muslim-Brotherhoods-trial-of-pluralism.aspx Accessed January 12, 2012

El-Houdaiby, Ibrahim. "What today's Islamists want." Common Grounds News Service. November 6, 2007. http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=22048&lan=en&sid=1&sp=0 Accessed January 11, 2012

Heil, Betsy. "Some Egyptians fear vote results could dash dreams of democracy." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. December 4, 2011. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/middleeastreports/s_770329.html#ixzz1jBsgCfNX Accessed January 12, 2012

Ibrahim, Ekram. "Despite ruling, Islamist presidential frontrunners' fate still in limbo". Ahram Online. April 12, 2012. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/36/122/39065/Presidential-elections-/Presidential-elections-news/Despite-ruling,-Islamist-presidential-frontrunners.aspx Accessed April 16, 2012.

"Ibrahim Houdaiby Lecture - Main Session." Youtube. November 6, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4tjtZiXaRo Accessed January 20, 2012.

"Ibrahim Houdaiby Lecture - Q&A Session." Youtube. November 6, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0hJUe5MLjk Accessed January 23, 2012.

"The #tweetnadwa Takes on the Role of the Muslim Brotherhood." Al-Jazeera. June 20, 2011. http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/tweetnadwa Accessed January 12, 2012.

Kamel, Nevine. "One sure thing: A pro-market Egyptian constitution". Ahram Hebdo. April 4, 2012. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/3/12/38404/Business/Economy/One-sure-thing-a-promarket-Egyptian-constitution-.aspx Accessed April 16, 2012.

Karmon, Ely. "Will the Arab Uprising Result in the Emergence of a Sunni Bloc Dominated by Turkey?" Turkey Analyst. May 2, 2011. http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/inside/turkey/2011/110502B.html Accessed January 12, 2012.

Khazbak, Rana. "The revolution's sheikh, killed at 52." Al-Masry al-Youm. December 19, 2011. http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/558361 Accessed January 11, 2012.

"Safhat al-Ra'i Abd al-Rahman Yusuf Ibrahim al-Hudaiby 11 9 2011 CBC." Youtube. September 9, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThPGjFphgts Accessed January 19, 2012.

Steavenson, Wendell. "Back to the Square." New Yorker. December 12, 2011. http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2011/12/12/111212taco_talk_steavenson#ixzz1jBt6cs2T Accessed January 12, 2012

"The Stream - The #tweetnadwa Takes on the Role of the Muslim Brotherhood - Ibrahim El Houdaiby." Youtube. July 7, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQmcScZenVs&feature=relmfu Accessed January 14, 2012.


Resources

Ibrahim el-Houdaiby's Twitter Account: @ihoudaiby

Blog: http://ihoudaiby.blogspot.com/

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