Commemorating Ibrahim Abouleish: An Integral Giant has left us

15 June 2017: The founder of Sekem, the world renowned human development initiative in the Egyptian desert, hailed by many as one of the most inspiring and pioneering showcases for sustainable development, passed away. A friend, mentor, and co-creator of Trans4m, and for years member of our Global Wisdom Council, is no longer on this earth – and yet, will stay in our hearts forever.

It was Ronnie Lessem who read first about Ibrahim Abouleish and Sekem, some 13 years ago. A phone call followed, we spoke to Ibrahim, who immediately invited us to come to Sekem.  From that first visit sprang a friendship with Ibrahim, his son Helmy, the Abouleish family and the Sekem community, that grew stronger with every year.

Our first Visit at Sekem, with Ibrahim and Mona Abouleish and Regina Haniel
Our first Visit at Sekem, with Ibrahim and Mona Abouleish and Regina Hanel

Ibrahim impressed us beyond measure through his ability to combine deep philosophical understanding with practical impact. A social innovator, through and through, he engaged with us in countless conversations and many transformative projects to explore how to integrally express, articulate, evolve and advance Sekem and later Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. A complex, often difficult man, Ibrahim was infused by a deep knowing and unshakable drive to build a new society.

The compelling power of Ibrahim’s vision, his will and determination that enabled him to pursue his vision, often against all odds, his capacity to attract people to work with him to bring about the miracle in the desert that Sekem has indeed become, and his unsurpassed artistry in manifesting new realities, makes him and Sekem a role model for generations to come.

The co-creative work relationship with his son Helmy, the inclusion of his large family (by now four Abouleish generations live and work together in Sekem), the strong local community and a huge global network jointly form the relational tapestry, which he continuously enlarged and nurtured, and which carried him forward, as well as everyone else who became part of this social fabric – including ourselves.

Over time, Sekem became one of the primary showcases for an integral paradigm, as it combines and integrates economic, cultural, ecological, social and scientific dimensions in a most unique way.

Profoundly rooted in the cultural, historical, social and, indeed, natural soil of Egypt, Sekem has grown not only into a pioneer for the future society of Egypt, but for the world at large. In many of our books, published in the Routledge Transformation and Innovation Series, Sekem is showcased as an integral enterprise, and a driver for an integral economy – and Heliopolis University as a case for an emerging integral university.

A Trans4m PhD Module at Sekem (in 2015), with Ibrahim, Helmy and Max Abouleish
A Trans4m PhD Module at Sekem (in 2015), with Ibrahim, Helmy and Max Abouleish and Martina Dinkel

In addition to Ronnie’s and my countless work visits to Sekem, we were able to share the experience with many participants of our PhD Program for Integral Development. Every year a module of our PhD program takes place at Sekem – a program of which Ibrahim’s grandson Maximilian is part, himself focusing his research-to-innovation on the renewal of Sekem’s Integral Human Development approach. Furthermore, by now five of Trans4m’s Junior Fellows have worked, on the ground with Sekem in Egypt, experiencing and contributing to the ever unfolding integral knowledge base and practice of Sekem. And countless students from around the world were exposed, through us, to the Sekem case – and worked actively on projects related to Sekem.

Last week, during a three days workshop at Sekem, I had the honour to spend time, on each day, with Ibrahim. His mind was clear, curious and inquisitive, his spirit illuminated and transcendent, and an aura of grace, dignity, beauty and love radiated from him. For me, those were sacred hours.

As Trans4m Community, Ibrahim, we are grateful for the friendship and learnings we received, and for your invitation to co-create. We bow before the radiant and accomplished personality you have been, and for what you – together with the Sekem community – have brought into the world.

 You are “a priceless pearl”, and you will always be remembered.

 On the day of your leaving this earth, on June 15 2017, we have planted a Cherry Tree at Trans4m’s seat, the Home for Humanity, in France. It is surrounded by a circle of stones, and within the circle emerges the (integral) logo of Sekem – representing the vitality of the sun.

 And next to the circle sits the Egyptian scribe, that once you have gifted to us.

2017 06 15 Ibrahim Abouleish Farewell Tree Home for Humanity 2017 06 15 Ibrahim Abouleish Farewell Tree Home for Humanity Sekem Design 2017 06 15 Ibrahim Abouleish Farewell Tree Home for Humanity Sekem Design with Egyptian Scribe

Ibrahim, you will always be with us !

Alexander & Ronnie and the entire Trans4m Community



My deep condolences  for the passing away of  the inspiring, communipreneur and thinker Dr Ibrahim Abouleish to all members of the Sekem community particularly his daughter Soraya and son in law Maximilian and all other members of his family. The inspiring memory and ever influencing contribution of our guru figure Dr Abouleish will stay with all of us and will continue inspiring all of us and many others.  … May God keep his soul in peace and reward him for his human spirit, common good and sustainable contribution.

Prof. Adel Rasheed (Trans4m Senior Fellow), Yarmouk University, Jordan

Our Deep condolences to the communities of Sekem and Trans4m on the demise of Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, a hero to all of us. May his legacy continue to produce young, old, men and women that act as transformers for the common good of the world.”

Jubril Adeojo, Trans4m Fellow, Nigeria

The community of IntegraI Green Slovenia is so sorry to hear this sad news. Prof Abouleish was a great friend of Slovenia and supporter of the movement for an Integral Green Slovenia. His deep devotion to humanistic values, his thoughtful considerations and ground-breaking conceptual contributions, as well as the greatness of his sustainable work in the Egyptian desert has inspired us in creating our initiative – at the 1st International Conference INTEGRAL GREEN ECONOMY FOR A BETTER WORLD in September 2013, in further communication with him and the SEKEM community, through studying his work and by his precious endorsement to our book Integral Green Slovenia. He will remain a bright star in the sky of Integral Green Slovenia.

And we are convinced that the personality and work of Prof Abouleish can inspire the entire global community in finding sustainable solutions from current and future crises, and especially Europe in these challenging times. He has left to humanity everything he knew and his energy, support and ideas will remain in this world in the future.

Dr. Darja Piciga (Trans4m Senior Fellow), on behalf of the Integral Green Slovenia Community