A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, December 7, 2012

The "Government of the Guide"

The slogan painted on the APC (apparently tolerated by the Republican Guard on board) reads "Down with the Governement of the Guide," referring to Muhannad Badie, the General Guide or  Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many people in Egypt seem to feel (with some justification I think) that the Muslim Brotherhood leadership is calling the shots, not President Morsi (especially now that his non-Brotherhood advisers have quit).

Since we've never gone much into the Btotherhood's Organization here, I thought it was worth making one point at least. The leadership of the Guide does not, whatever else you may think of the institution, constitute an Iranian-style "Governance by the Faqih," both because Sunni clerics lack the power of Shi‘ite clerics, but  because the Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood is not in fact a trained cleric. Badie is a veterinatian, and in fact of the eight Guides so far none have been clerics; they have been laymen active in Islamist politcics and political organization. For example:

Hasan al-Banna':: schoolteacher (1928-1949)
Hasan al-Hudaybi: lawyer, judge (1951-1972)
Umar al-Tilmisani (1972-1986) wealthy landowner
Muhammad Hamid Abu'l-Nasr (1986-1996)  not clear: apparently only a secondary education?
Mustafa Mashhur (1996-2002), wealthy landowner
Ma'mun al-Hudaybi, (2002-2004), lawyer, judge, son of Hasan al-Hudaybi
Muhammad Mahdi Akef schoolteacher organuzer international activist (2004-2010)
Muhammad Badie: (2010- )Veterinarian

Two judges, two wealthy landowners, two schoolteachers, and a veterinarian, plus one who apparently had few major secular jobs but also was not a cleric? This is fairly typical not just of the Brotherhood Guides but of its senior leadership, who tend to businessmen, doctors, and such.

That doesn't justfy the current grab for power in any way, but it seemed like a point worth noting,

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