Manual From Secularism to Jihad: Sayyid Qutb and the Foundations of Radical Islamism

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It makes no reference to elections and calls only for the ruler to consult some of the ruled, as a particular case of the general rule of Shura. Qutb also opposed the then popular ideology of Arab nationalism , having become disillusioned with the Nasser Revolution after having been exposed to the regime's practices of arbitrary arrest, torture, and deadly violence during his imprisonment.

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Qutb was a staunch antisemite. Man is specifically taught and directed to study the world around him, discover its potential and utilize all his environment for his own good and the good of his fellow humans. Any harm that man suffers at the hands of nature is a result only of his ignorance or lack of understanding of it and of the laws governing it. The more man learns about nature, the more peaceful and harmonious his relationship with nature and the environment.

Hence, the notion of "conquering nature" can readily be seen as cynical and negative. It is alien to Islamic perceptions and betrays a shameless ignorance of the spirit in which the world has been created and the divine wisdom that underlies it. This exposure to abuse of power undoubtedly contributed to the ideas in his famous prison-written Islamic manifesto Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq Milestones , where he advocated a political system that is the opposite of dictatorship — the Sharia , "God's rule on earth".

Qutb emphasized that this struggle would be anything but easy.

True Islam would transform every aspect of society, eliminating everything non-Muslim. Although his work has motivated and mobilized some Muslims, [84] Qutb also has critics. Following the publication of Milestones and the aborted plot against the Nasser government, mainstream Muslims took issue with Qutb's contention that "physical power" and jihad had to be used to overthrow governments, attack societies, and the "institutions and traditions" of the Muslim — but according to Qutb jahili — world. Reformist Muslims, on the other hand, questioned his understanding of sharia , i.

They have accused Qutb of amateur scholarship, overuse of ijtihad , innovation in Ijma which Qutb felt should not be limited to scholars, but should be conducted by all Muslims [95] , declaring unlawful what Allah has made lawful, [96] [97] assorted mistakes in aqeedah belief and manhaj methodology.

Islam: Sayyid QUTB

Alongside notable Islamists like Maulana Mawdudi , Hasan al-Banna , and Ruhollah Khomeini , Qutb is considered one of the most influential Muslim thinkers or activists of the modern era, not only for his ideas but also for what many see as his martyr's death. Qutb's written works are still widely available and have been translated into many Western languages. This volume work is noteworthy for its innovative method of interpretation, borrowing heavily from the literary analysis of Amin al-Khuli, while retaining some structural features of classical commentaries for example, the practice of progressing from the first sura to the last.

The influence of his work extends to issues such as Westernization , modernization , and political reform and the theory of inevitable ideological conflict between "Islam and the West" see Clash of civilizations , the notion of a transnational umma, and the comprehensive application of jihad. Hekmatyar , one of the most influential Afghan Islamists, says that he precisely turned Islamist in , after hearing the death of Qutb on radio.

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Ali al-Tamimi , considered "arguably the first American born activist Salafi preacher", [] has Qutb as one of his main intellectual influences. His influence on al-Qaeda was felt through his writing, his followers and especially through his brother, Muhammad Qutb , who moved to Saudi Arabia following his release from prison in Egypt and became a professor of Islamic Studies and edited, published and promoted his brother Sayyid's work.

One of Muhammad Qutb's students and later an ardent follower was Ayman Zawahiri , who went on to become a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad [] and later a mentor of Osama bin Laden and a leading member of al-Qaeda. According to Lawrence Wright , who interviewed Azzam, "young Ayman al-Zawahiri heard again and again from his beloved uncle Mahfouz about the purity of Qutb's character and the torment he had endured in prison.

Osama bin Laden was also acquainted with Sayyid's brother, Muhammad Qutb. He was the one who most affected our generation.


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While imprisoned in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki became influenced by the works of Qutb. On the other hand, associate professor of history at Creighton University, John Calvert , states that "the al-Qaeda threat" has "monopolized and distorted our understanding" of Qutb's "real contribution to contemporary Islamism. Three basic themes emerge from Qutb's writings. First, he claimed that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief a condition he called jahiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed. Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jahiliyya.

Deciphering Islamism and Terrorism

Second, he warned that more people, including Muslims, were attracted to jahiliyya and its material comforts than to his view of Islam; jahiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam. Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslim — as he defined them — therefore must take up arms in this fight.

Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sayyid Qutb. Sayyid Qutb on trial in under the Gamal Abdel Nasser regime [1]. Cairo , Egypt. Main article: Secularism. Key texts. Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam Iqbal s. Principles of State and Government Asad Ma'alim fi al-Tariq "Milestones" Qutb Heads of state. Key ideologues. Criticism of Islamism. Related topics.

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  8. August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Egypt portal Islam portal Biography portal Politics portal. Ma'alim fi 'l-Tariq [Milestones] must definitely count among the historic documents of the contemporary Islamic movement. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Archived from the original on 27 September Retrieved 17 June Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age: — Cambridge University Press, The Society of The Muslim Brotherhood. Oxford University Press, Retrieved 26 February Bergen] pp.

    From Parameters , Spring , pp. Sayyid Qutb: From Birth to Martydom. Dar Al-Qalam 3rd edition Brill, , p. II, No. Qutb fused the radical anti-Semitism of modern European history with a radical anti-Semitism rooted in a detailed reading of the Koran. Qutb continued and expanded on the project of cultural fusion and selective appropriation of the traditions of Islam that Husseini and his associates in wartime Berlin had performed.

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    He became the intellectual spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood. Texts such as the books of Sayyid Qutb — often called the father of radical militant jihad, who was executed in Egypt in the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser — targeted Judaism. He was appointed head of its propaganda department and used his position to try to convince 'Abd al-Nasser and the officers to implement Islamic law in Egypt. This application of the term Jahiliyah to modern government and situations was made popular by Sayyid Qutb, a key ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Springer, James L.

    Regens, David N. Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Retrieved 9 July Piscatori, Cambridge University Press, , pp. Likewise, the community should own collectively resources needed for the general wellbeing, and these have expanded considerably in modern times. Added to all of this is the additional moral obligation on individuals to assist the needy and contribute to social causes.

    In discussing economics, Qutb often goes beyond what the traditional sources of authority prescribe, especially in relation to the economic power of the state. What he writes would be largely acceptable to modernists with a moderate socialist inclination. Qutb is at pains to point out that women and men are equal in respect of their humanity as such.

    In temperament, however, women and men differ. Women are more emotional and men more rational.

    Deciphering Islamism and Terrorism - Semantic Scholar

    Hence, men have the right to leadership within the family and women the right to protection. The family is the basic unit of society and the institution that produces human values; its place is rooted in the cosmic order. Obedience to God in matters relating to marriage, divorce, and family is service to God no less than formal prayer. For this reason, women should not work outside the home unless it is absolutely necessary.


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    8. Moreover, those who do are likely to be exploited both sexually and economically, turned into sex objects and underpaid. He draws on his experiences in the United States, among other things, to support these points. All of these things characterize a jahili society, according to him. He also argued that Western women sought election to parliament because men had been making laws unfair to women, but under a system of divinely based law the laws will be fair.

      Women should dress in a manner that shows only their faces and hands but not be secluded, as in some societies. They also should not mix publicly with men as this may lead to promiscuity and weaken marriages. He defends divorce and polygyny, at least under certain conditions. If these seem to make women insecure it is because the present society is jahili and not sufficiently attuned to Islamic values. Both of his sisters were involved, and one went to prison. He was also a mentor to Zaynab al-Ghazali, a well-known woman Islamic activist in Egypt who had put into her marriage contract that her husband would not interfere with her Islamist activities.

      Any society that is not governed according to the Shari'a is a jahili society. The term and general idea come from Mawdudi, but Qutb makes it more extreme.