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Profile: Mohamed Mahdi Akef (12 July 1928 - 22 September 2017)

May 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef looks on during his trial at the non-commissioned police officers institute in the capital Cairo on 28 February, 2015 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images]

Mohamed Mahdi Othman Akef was born the same year the Muslim Brotherhood was founded – 1928. He was born in one of the villages of Mansoura City to the north of Cairo and was brought up with 10 siblings by a father who was wealthy at the time. Mohammad attended primary school in al-Mansoura before moving to Cairo to live in a popular area called al-Sakakini.

Mahdi Akef in brief

Born in Kafr Ewad al-Sinita – the Aja Daqhaliya Centre, school [Mansoura] primary, then the Fuad I High School in Cairo, then he joined the Higher Institute of Sport Education and graduated in May 1950.

After graduation he worked as a physical education teacher at Foud I High School.

He came to know of the Brotherhood early on in 1940 and was educated up by the elders and scholars including Hassan al-Banna. One of the Sheikhs dearest to him was Muhibb al-Din al-Khatib.

He joined the Faculty of Law in 1951 and led Ibrahim University [currently Ain Shams] camps in the war against England in the channel [citation needed] until the revolution was underway and left the university camps to Kamal al-Din al-Hussein who was responsible for the National Guard at the time.

The last position Akef held in the Brotherhood before the decision to dissolve it was issued in 1954 was president of the student section.

He was also chairman of the Department of Physical Education at the General Centre of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was arrested in Early August 1954 and was tried on charges of smuggling Major general Abdel Moneim Abdel Raouf – an army leader one of the symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood – who oversaw the expulsion of King Farouk – and he was sentenced to death. This was commuted later commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.

He was released from prison in 1974 during the reign of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to resume his work as Director-General of Youth at the Ministry of Reconstruction.

He moved to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to work as a consultant to the Islamic World Youth Assembly, and responsible for its international camps and conferences.

He participated in organising the largest Muslim Youth Camps in the world beginning in Saudia Arabia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Australia, Mali, Kenya, Cyprus, Germany, Britain, and America.

He served as the director of the Islamic Centre in Munich.

He has worked as a member of the Guidance Bureau; the highest leadership body inside the Organisation since 1987.

He was elected a member of the People’s Assembly in 1987 by the Department of east Cairo as part of the Islamic Alliance list whose umbrella the Brotherhood ran under.

He was brought before a military court in 1996 in what is known as the Salsabil Affair which at the time included a large number of the leadership of the Brotherhood, and was accused of being responsible for the Brotherhood’s global organisation. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

He has good relations with most of the leaders of Islamic action across the globe.

Joining Muslim Brotherhood

When he was 12 years old in 1940, his attention was attracted by the Muslim Brotherhood’s interest in the sport he loved and “the gentle and sophisticated way the Brotherhood dealt”. Akef joined to the group, which at the time had gone through major expansion.

After he finished Fouad secondary school, he joined the Faculty of Engineering. However, Sheikh Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, indirectly directed him to enrol in the Higher Institute of Physical Education as he wanted members of the brotherhood to be present in all schools, colleges and institutes at the time and because of the love and inclination he saw that he had for sport.

His activities

Akef joined the special organisation of the Brotherhood established to resist British colonialism and graduated from the Institute of Education in 1950. He then enrolled in the Faculty of Law in 1951 and lead the Ibrahim University [currently Ain Shams] camps in the war against British colonial rule of the Canal until the Revolution began. He then worked as head of the student section which was one of the most important sections in the organisation; it was lead by Hassan al-Banna himself and the head of the Department of Physical Education at the General Centre of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was arrested on 1 August 1954 and was tried on charges of smuggling ‘Abdul Moneim Abdel Raouf’ – one of the military leader who oversaw the expulsion of King Farouk – and he was sentenced to death. This was then commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour and he spent 20 whole years in prison.

When he was released during Sadat’s rule in 1974, he embarked on youth work and took the post of Director-General of Youth at the Ministry of Learning and Education. He then worked at the Islamic World Youth Assembly in Saudi Arabia where he established large camps for young people across the Islamic world.

In 1980, he then travelled to Germany where he worked as director of the Islamic Centre of Munich. He returned to Egypt in 1986 where he again led the youth and student section of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He has worked as a member of the Guidance Bureau from 1987 until the current.

Akef was one of 35 members of the Popular Council that represented the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in parliament in 1987 for East Cairo. He is of the opinion that the brotherhood achieved success in this session because “they continuously spoke about public interest and government monitoring as a primary goal of the council as well as monitoring and discussing laws and the budget… etc… I am a person who has benefited a lot from policy and how to make events from the source” He said.

At the beginning of 1995, tension in the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian government reached a peak and the latter launched a detention campaign against many of the middle generation of the Muslim Brotherhood and brought them before a series of military trials that lasted over 5 years. Akef was brought before Military court in 1996 accused of responsibility for the international organisation of the Brotherhood and was sentenced to three years in prison to be released in 1999 and the last post he held was to supervise contact with the Islamic world.

Then he assumed the position of General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood after the death of Muhammad Ma’mun al-Hodeibi in January 2004 and continued until his term expired in January 2010. Br Muhammad Badi was chosen to succeed him although he is still present in the organisation.

He is married to the sister of the Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat and God has blessed them with children.

Akef and the guides

Akef believes that al-Banna was a broad minded, knowledgeable man with the heart that accommodated all people, even his opponents.

That Hudaibi was a godly man committed to the truth and feared no one in this regard.

That Hamed Abu Nasr was a mild-mannered man of ethics with a high level of commitment to the opinion of the brotherhood.

However, he disagreed with Umar al-Talmasani because al-Talmasani he viewed the Shura as an instructor rather than as binding in the context of Islamic Jurisprudence. “This is of course a jurisprudential opinion, and I used to follow the other juristic opinion that it is binding.”