Conflicting views emerge every now and then inside the Muslim Brotherhood between the junior and senior members of the organization, known as the hawks.
The junior members demand for power and rights inside the Muslim Brotherhood, like what the organization did in the 1970s when junior members participated in reviving it after it was disbanded. The Brotherhood’s third supreme guide, Omar al-Tilmisani, who died on May 22nd, 1986, offered support to these junior members.
Tilmisani was born on November 4th, 1904, in old Cairo. He was convinced to join the Brotherhood by the group’s founder Hassan al-Banna in 1933. This was when Tilmisani attended lectures at Banna’s house and then swore allegiance to him.
Tilmisani’s family originated in the northern Algerian city of Tlemcen. His grandfather attended to Cairo and lived in al-Darb al-Amar district. He worked in trade.
Those studying Tilmisani’s history can easily find the presence of a lot of confusion in his life. He did not have a specific objective. He first trained to become an Aud player. He then read poetry and literature and tried to write poetry.
Tilmisani then joined the College of Law and obtained a bachelor’s degree. He worked as a lawyer. He was the first lawyer to join the Muslim Brotherhood in 1933. He was put in jail for the first time in 1954. He was then imprisoned twice, in 1981 and in 1984.
In 1954, Tilmisani was imprisoned on charges of attempting the assassination of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. He was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment with labor. He was released 17 years later by the late president Anwar Sadat.
Tilmisani was appointed the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1973, until 1986. He succeeded the second supreme leader of the group Hassan al-Hodeibi (1949 – 1973). Tilmisani’s tenure was marked tolerance, thanks to the freedoms granted by Sadat to Islamist groups. Sadat wanted to play the Islamists against the leftists. He allowed the Islamists to be present in the mosques and freely campaign against the general public.
Tilmisani wanted to infuse new blood into the Brotherhood’s veins by enlisting support from the junior members of his movement. In doing this, he wanted his movement to follow a course different from its traditional extremist one.
This opened the door for improving relations between the Brotherhood and the security establishment. This made it easy for the movement to deceive this movement.
The Brotherhood established a large number of companies and businesses. It also infiltrated the professional unions and the political parties. Tilmisani also wanted to revive sectarian tensions between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians. His movement was heavily involved in what came to be known as the Zawya al-Hamra incidents of 1981.
He proposed the idea of establishing a political party that backs the Muslim Brotherhood, but one that would not be called after the movement. Nevertheless, movement members rejected the idea because Banna was against political parties as a concept.