“So Lot believed in him. And Abraham said, ‘I am emigrating in obedience to my Lord. He alone is indeed the Almighty, All-Wise.’” 
I was extremely honoured and blessed by Allah that my relationship with the esteemed Acting and Deputy General Guide of the Society of Muslim Brothers (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood), Ibrahim Munir, was deeply personal. As a result, I am desirous to write about the biography of one of the flag-bearers of this religion and callers to its way, whose life of dedication and sacrifice would perhaps otherwise go unknown to much of the English-speaking world.
I will be unable to encapsulate all the lofty achievements that Ustadh Ibrahim had attained in his 85 years, with particular reference to his commitment to the da’wah since a young age. This is made more difficult because Ustadh Ibrahim was a man of unique ikhlāṣ; he often attended gatherings unnoticed by many, despite his lofty status. He was not interested in having pictures taken of him, nor having a personal social media account, or plastering his name over initiatives. Indeed, the last time I visited him this year was when I requested to write for him a book regarding his life experience, reflecting on the lessons for young du’āt – he politely and gently rejected the idea.
“To say Ustadh Ibrahim was a child prodigy or genius is not an exaggeration.”
Ibrahim Munir was born in Bilbeis, in the Egyptian countryside, in 1937 and belonged to a now dwindling and unique generation that produced the likes of Imam Hassan al-Banna, al-Shaheed Sayyid Qutb, and Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (may Allah be pleased with them all).
His father was not officially enrolled with the Muslim Brotherhood but was impressed by their calling. His uncle, however, was. And he was arrested as a result. Towards the start of his life, Ustadh Ibrahim studied in a kuttab (Qur’ān school). Later, he transferred to a modern Western education. To say Ustadh Ibrahim was a child prodigy or genius is not an exaggeration.
At the age of 12, he was enrolled at Egypt’s arguably most prestigious university at the time, Cairo University, to study Arabic literature. He graduated at age 15. At around this time in 1953, the Ustadh joined the da’wah of the Muslim Brotherhood at a period of great difficulty when the Movement was banned. The esteemed Ustadh additionally later completed a law degree in the 1960s.
Due to his involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood and in the wake of the increasing crackdowns initiated by the repressive secular nationalist military regime of Gamal Abdul Nasser, Ustadh Ibrahim was imprisoned twice: once in 1955 (when he was 17 years of age) and once in 1965. He was sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour as a result of his da’wah activities and beliefs.
At one stage, perhaps given his young age and as a result of perceived weakness, the Ustadh was asked by the military regime to write a letter in support of the dictatorship in exchange for his release. So Ustadh Ibrahim wrote, but the letter received was one that was criticising the regime of Nasser, not in praise of it. The tyrannical rulers of Egypt would perhaps, for the first time, realise that they were dealing with an unwavering foe of injustice in this young man in their detention.
He exuded fairness & concern for the unity of the Ummah
This obituary, in being personal, also includes incidents I heard from the Ustadh that may be unknown or lesser known to many. But from those relating to his prison days was his reading of Imam al-Shāṭibī (raḥimahu Allah), the great Islamic scholar. This demonstrated Ustadh Ibrahim’s deep foundations in Islamic knowledge and intelligence from his youth. It also perhaps imprinted in him a long-standing appreciation of Maqāṣid al-Sharī’ah, which the Ustadh was cautious to confine within the correct bounds of Islamic scholarship and deep īmān in Allah. The Ustadh also read Talbis Iblīs by Ibn al-Jawzī (raḥimahu Allah), but was quick to follow it up with a personal story in defence of the Sufis, which illustrates the fairness of the Ustadh and his concern for the unity of the Ummah.
Within prison, Ustadh Ibrahim was particularly impressed by the character of Imam Ahmad (raḥimahu Allah), who he felt Allah had chosen from all of the universe to preserve the Religion from the corruption that would result as a consequence of the potential victory of the Mu’tazilite beliefs. Perhaps this admiration was strengthened by the Ustadh’s personal observations of scholars who sided with falsehood during those years within the dungeons of Abdul Nasser.
He recounted to me that Shaykh Muhammad Badran – one of the leading scholars of the Azhar University in his age, who was possibly a family friend of the Ustadh – was very learned. As a young man, the Ustadh visited the Shaykh and noted that the vastness of the Shaykh’s collection of books was such that the books occupied space outside of his library.
Later, the same Shaykh was called to the prison to‘re-educate’ the Ikhwān. Once, when one of the Brothers debated with the Shaykh by trying to refute him by declaring that “Umr (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said…”, Shaykh Badran responded, “From now on, you are not to say ‘Abu Bakr (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said’ or ‘Umr (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said’; rather, say ‘Muhammad Badran said.’” This is a pertinent lesson to us about the Scholars of the Sultan, that knowledge is not merely ownership of voluminous works or beautiful recitation, but reflected in the brave positions and support of the truth that scholars undertake.
In a story not totally dissimilar, the Ustadh recalled to me that a Shaykh responsible for ‘re-educating’ the Ikhwān found the following Ayah to perhaps be an obstacle to their agenda, as it promoted the concept of the Comprehensiveness of Islam:
“Say, ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.’” 
…to which this ‘Scholar’ tried to argue that any Ayah starting with ‘Say’ is just for the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). The Ustadh recalled the bravery of a young man who objected, stating sarcastically:
“Does this also apply to ‘Qul huwa Allāhu ahad’ (‘Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One,’) as well?’” 
Before his eventual release, Ustadh Ibrahim Munir also met Ustadh Sayyid Qutb in the military prison hospital. He was able to initiate a dialogue with him. He was also able to start his near lifelong relationship with Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (raḥimahu Allah), whom he met in prison and would continually visit later in Qatar – and where he travelled to and prayed his Janazah prayer, less than two months ago.
Onwards from Egypt to Kuwait, Kuwait to London
After his eventual release in the 1970s, Ustadh Ibrahim left for Kuwait, where he would reside for five years. Whilst this article is not going to delve into every facet of the Ustadh’s life, he did remark regarding religious practice in the Gulf as being sometimes ritualistic and mechanical, demonstrating the Ustadh’s emphasis on Tazkiyah al-Nafs (Purification of the Soul) – that worship should be imbued with a deep spiritualism that shapes the one who performs such acts.
Following Kuwait, the Ustadh moved to London. This would be his residence and home until his passing away some 40 years later, having lived in exile and making only one visit during the brief post-Revolution free Egypt.
Eventually, Ustadh Ibrahim was propelled to being the Spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and later the one responsible for the Brotherhood outside of Egypt and the Secretary General of the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood. He had won the trust of every Murshid (General Guide) of the Muslim Brotherhood since Ustadh Muhammad Hamid Abu al-Nasr (raḥimahu Allah) and had a strong personal relationship with Ustadh Yusuf Nada (hāfidhahu Allah).
This responsibility over the international affairs regarding the da’wah was well handled by Ustadh Ibrahim. Within Britain, the esteemed Ustadh played what could perhaps be described as a pivotal role in ensuring that the Muslim Brotherhood was not banned by the government, due to external pressure from dictatorships in the Middle East and most likely the Zionist entity.
Whilst towards the latter years of his life, the Ustadh became more entrenched with the intricacies of the Egyptian political scene in attempting to secure the return of justice in the wake of the military coup, Ustadh Ibrahim was not closed-minded.
His concern was for the entire Muslim Ummah, its unity, and return to Islam. He would travel across the world from Qatar to Malaysia, Turkey to Sudan – supporting the Islamic da’wah, even in his old age. His constant travels allowed him to perhaps ensure the strong connection between the different Islamic movements in a variety of countries. As an example, the Ustadh used to travel nearly annually to Malaysia and had a strong relationship with the IKRAM organisation there.
Another expression of the Ustadh’s concern for the unity of the Ummah was his being a founding figure of the Islamic Unity Forum, an organisation that seeks to bring a variety of Islamic schools of thought together. And I even recall the Ustadh remarking to me that he believed the Zaydis were within the bounds of Ahl al-Sunnah.
One of the key achievements of Ustadh Ibrahim was his role as General Advisor of Risālat al-Ikhwān. For decades, this publication allowed the message and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood to stay alive. Whilst it used to be printed in a newspaper-like form, articles from this publication are now available online and similar writings are distributed through Telegram and the Internet. The use of these publications is, in part, to summarise, remind, and reformulate the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood in a succinct, relevant, and approachable fashion.
A man of action
In this sense, Ustadh Ibrahim Munir and his loyal colleagues and workers from the Islamic Movement played perhaps a critical role in preserving and re-communicating the objectives and values of the Ikhwān’s da’wah, especially in relation to the West. But Ustadh Ibrahim was not one to merely sit and write tomes; he was a man of action. Whether this would be standing, despite his senior age, in protests for Egypt or Palestine or working to resolve issues between brothers within the Islamic Movement, Ustadh Ibrahim was a true leader.
In this sense, I recall him narrating to me an incident where Imam Hassan al-Banna (raḥimahu Allah) was asked why he did not write excessively, to which the Imam noted that he did not write books but rather forged men.
Certainly, both are noble endeavours, but our da’wah is in need of a refocus and prioritisation of tarbiyah, especially as relates to the youth.
Additionally, until the end of his life, Ustadh Ibrahim contributed to the ‘Weekly Message’ of the Muslim Brotherhood, where he wrote on a variety of topics ranging from the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to addressing the Arab leaders and calling on them to stop normalisation with the Zionist entity, as well as to return to Islam.
Such a breadth of knowledge and rich experience made him a valuable and obvious choice for the Deputy Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and later, following the arrest of Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, he fulfilled the role of Acting Murshid (Supreme Guide) of the Muslim Brotherhood until his departure from this worldly life.
The Unknown Soldier
What made Ustadh Ibrahim Munir so fitting for such a role was not only his knowledge, but also his outstanding character. Ustadh Ibrahim had remarked that he did not desire this role. Within the Muslim Brotherhood, there is a venerated concept of the ‘Unknown Soldier’ and Ustadh Ibrahim epitomised this. He did not have a Facebook page or a public Twitter account; he was not interested in being in the limelight. Often, he was found to be standing afar from a crowd, or to the side or a few rows from the front of a conference that he was responsible for initiating.
Ustadh Ibrahim was an exceptionally humble man whose heart was overflowing with unique kindness and care. Those who met him may well remember, despite the hardships and challenges, his gleaming smile. And most of all, perhaps, his outstanding akhlāq, his refined composure, and adāb were reminiscent of a pious generation that is largely no longer present with us today. This was acutely felt when he was lied about and attacked by not only the dictatorial regime’s media, but also some of his closest allies and comrades towards the end of his life. However, he never spoke badly of them, nor responded to their lies with further falsifications.
Another unique quality of the Ustadh was his dedication to the youth. Perhaps it is felt by those who are young in the Islamic Movement, that those who are older do not give their due attention to the youth and their needs. Ustadh Ibrahim was the complete opposite of this. In his capacity as Acting Supreme Guide, he appointed Suhaib Abdul Maqsood as Spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood. This provided a young person with a leading position in the organisation, which has been unprecedented in most cases for many years.
On a personal level, since I was around 14 years of age and despite the political, social, and economic crises engulfing the Muslim world, Ustadh Ibrahim would take his time to meet with me, provide me with guidance, and even review my book.
This did not mean, however, that Ustadh Ibrahim was distracted from his responsibilities to the Movement. Ustadh Ibrahim had a deep personal sense of duty to Egypt and especially to the thousands of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners. In fact, at one stage he was willing to even go to Egypt and face almost certain arrest and potential death in order to try to secure the release of his fellow brothers behind bars.
Ustadh Ibrahim Munir was a man of the Ummah
A final note regarding Ustadh Ibrahim Munir and lesson from his life could be seen during the condolence-giving ceremony held for him on the 6th of November 2022.
The Ustadh had requested, in a way emblematic of his sincerity and humility, that he not have a memorial service after his passing. But those present to give their condolences were from a variety of nations ranging from Somalia to Sudan, from Malaysia to Palestine, and from Turkey to Syria. Ustadh Ibrahim was a man of the Ummah. Notably, as well, the esteemed Ustadh’s passing was mourned by the Palestinian Resistance.
The esteemed Ustadh, himself, was actually born without Egyptian citizenship and recalled that when required to fill out his nationality in his youth, he simply put that his nationality was ‘Muslim’. He had a particular responsibility to Egypt but his loyalty was to Allah and to spreading the Message of Islam, wherever this may have been. And so, he was not limited by petty nationalism or regionalism, which may blind many.
This concern for the Ummah was deeply spiritual for the Ustadh and also humanitarian, as was reflected by his role as director of a variety of Islamic charities, such as Human Relief International and the Renaissance Foundation in the 1990s.
As we bid farewell to Ustadh Ibrahim Munir, we part with a man who attempted to ensure the unity of the Islamic Movement; a man who represented the pinnacle of Islamic akhlāq in even basic interactions and someone whose politics and spiritualism could not be separated. Despite the fact that many English-speaking readers may not know this man, Ustadh Ibrahim cared very deeply for Muslims the world over and strove for their ascendency and revival. Ustadh Ibrahim was a tireless worker for the Islamic Movement; the last time I saw him was on the 2nd of November at a conference regarding the human rights situation in Egypt. And a day later, he attended a meeting with his Brothers, discussing the state of the da’wah. Just a few hours later, he would pass away on the morning of the blessed day of Jumuʿah.
Ustadh Ibrahim Munir was mourned as a leader, murabbi, and a man whose character and behaviour spoke before his words, whose concern was not that his efforts be associated with his name or title but rather that they be pleasing to Allah and a source of benefit to the Ummah.
If one were to study the ten qualities that Imam Hassan al-Banna (raḥimahu Allah) had outlined for the ideal Muslim individual, they would have found them in Ustadh Ibrahim Munir (raḥimahu Allah).
The ten qualities are as follows:
- A sound creed
- Correct worship
- Strong manners
- Keen to use his time (wisely and usefully)
- Beneficial to others
- Able to acquire (income, to be self-sufficient)
- Organised in his affairs
- Ideologically cultured
- A mujāhid to his nafs (self).
May Allah have mercy upon Ustadh Ibrahim Munir and grant his family blessings and patience. And may Allah grant us a generation of new leaders and a Near Victory.
 al-Qur’ān | 29:26
 al-Qur’ān | 6:162
 al-Qur’ān | 112:1
MashAllah. It is a good reminder that even in the current difficult era we still have examples of truly great Muslims. May Allah have mercy on his soul.