Muslim Brotherhood and was known as the influential Egyptian ideologue of the Islamic revolution who lived from 1906 to 1966. The social and political circumstances influenced him and eventually led Qutb to change his views and led him in the direction of radical Islamism and Syed Qutb was executed at the hands of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Naseer in 1966.
Radical Islamic movements were on the move some years after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in Egypt in 1981 and the name of Syed Qutb was in the air, and that happened way before 9/11 when Islamism was not really on the radar of most North Americans.
His religious imagination attracted many researchers as he was a poet and a literary critic before he became Islamist. And in the study of Islamism, scholars treat the phenomenon as resulting from material discontent. Syed Qutb eventually turned the religion that he inherited from his father into an ideology of radicalism.
The development of Syed Qutb’s thought and his actions and expression has both negative and positive impacts on Muslims and how it is generally perceived by the world, especially by non-Muslims.
Qutb received a traditional Muslim education and it highlights the integral role that Islamic beliefs and practice played in his life from a very young age. He was a highly educated man and extremely knowledgeable about his faith in the words of Allah as presented through the Quran.
When Syed Qutb went on to teach in the secular education system; which is a system of public education in countries with a secular government and where government and religion are separate and that’s the kind of separation that Qutb felt needed to be abolished in order to achieve what he refers to as true Islam.
He was sent to the USA on a scholarship and was extremely dissatisfied with what he saw as a secularized country. He feared the impact of the West on Islam and this experience could be viewed as the trigger as he began writing and it was his writing which criticized the American and Western Way of living that provided his primary source of influence or impact on the development and expression of Islam.
Qutb was also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood an organization that is still around today and is considered a revolutionary movement that advocated the return to true Islam through the Quran and Hadith. Qutb became chief editor for the Muslim Brotherhood newspaper and occupied a significant role and find this as an opportunity to communicate his views.
His main concern was ending the separation between religion and state. This was a practice that was and continues to be evident within the Western world and Qutb saw this as being opposite to true Islam which he felt could only be achieved by a world which is governed by Sharia law.
Basically, the ideals of this organization were to establish a single Muslim state where an Islamic community also known as Ummah could exist in a state and society governed by Islamic law. But the organization was banned by the Egyptian government as their ideas were in complete opposition with that of the government.
However the significance of Qutb and this organization was, that it was the first social and moral reformist movement to revive Islam as a way of life. And Qutb was an integral element as the Brotherhood used his ideas in the ideology of their movement.
Qutb was extremely concerned with the impact the Western world was having on the Arab world having been to the USA he viewed their way of life as the complete opposite to Islam and Islamic principles. And was concerned from an Islamic perspective about the impact that these Western ideas would have on the place of Islam and that Muslim people may turn away from Islamic principles in order to abide by Western culture
Essentially anything that opposed Islamic principles for example separation between religion and state, communism, capitalism etc. were a threat. And what Qutb was trying to achieve was the need for an Islamic state which essentially is a state governed by Islamic principles one which was free from Jahiliyah which is ignorant of Islam. And wanted to establish the principle of Sharia law in his society.
Qutb had a greater impact mainly through his writings and there are three books of primary concerns in which he attempted to spread his philosophy they are social justice in Islam in the shade of the Quran and milestones and he basically wrote about Islamic advocacy, the promotion of Islamic social justice and education, and all of these ideas were guided by Islam and Islamic principles.
The effect Syed Qutb was both positive and negative positive in the fact that he tried to affect the lives of Muslims by supporting social and cultural change and showed a clear dissatisfaction with the status quo and encouraged change and by doing so attempted to guide Muslims in an ever-changing world. He had quite a negative impact in the fact that groups such as al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood have used his writings to justify military attacks and the way his writings have been interpreted have led to a world that is in a sense enveloped in terror and the use of military attacks is increasing now because of that there is a negative perception of Islam particularly within the Western society. However, the important point is that although terrorist actions have been closely linked with Qutb’s writing, and terrorists use violence against civilians but Qutb actually never promoted violence against people or innocent civilians.
The third book milestones is probably the most influential and significant. In this book Qutb proposes radical transformation he wrote about how Muslims had reverted to Jahiliyah, so ignorant and lived in a world that lacked Islamic thought and where the primacy of God had been replaced with people in authority. And this contradicted the idea of Allah being the source of everything and the ultimate authority. He believed that this happened because of the West. The key concept is that Allah is the only authority, not men and a truly Islamic community could only be guided by the Quran.
Milestones are extremely controversial and it actually led to his arrest and was accused of conspiring to assassinate President Nasser. This was most likely due to the fact that the ideas he was promoting were in direct opposition to the government it was because of this book that he was sentenced to death and it is also because of this book that reveals both the positive and negative impact that he had on Islam. It is argued that he wanted to implement Sharia law and it would bring about peace prosperity progress and justice. However this book has also become a classic manifesto of the terrorist wing of Islamic fundamentalism. For example the 9/11 attacks some believe that his ideas may have been used by the terrorists responsible and secondly that his promotion of the destruction of Jahiliyah Muslim governments may have roused terrorist jihad and therefore the attacking of Western countries
The ideas presented by Qutb could be perceived as being both positive and negative Qutb believed that Islamic policy needed no rulers other than God, the Quran and hadith and Sunna provided enough guidance and would not need any greater assistance. He had this belief that if everyone followed Sharia law then there would be no need for any other authorities and that this could spread throughout the world through preaching and jihad.
Jihad being the personal struggle in the light of Allah okay now to bring about freedom was to fight Jahiliyah with a two-fold approach preaching and the abolishment of organizations and authority of the jihad system by physical power and jihad had presented the controversy and has led to some of the more negative impacts upon Islam.
For Qutb, many Islamic countries were considered as Jahili society, and as they were promoting secularism and were not following Islamic principles and Sharia law. So the only solution was Jihad, to these problems. And the purpose is to fight the evil and preserve Islam. And for that one should go through the greater jihad first, to purify himself and then he will be prepared to fight for Allah and establish God’s authority, and through this process, Muslims will ab able to create a new society that is free of Jahiliya.
However according to many modern Muslims, non-violent Jihad should be used rather than using violent means but according to Syed Qutb it is necessary to use both when there are no other ways, violence can be used at times. So in order to eliminate Jahiliyah and to fight evil, Jihad is necessary.
Qutb was a quiet controversial figure and he was executed for his views on how Islam should be applied politically and this was most likely because he had such strong views on Islam in its place within the modern world. He is viewed as both a martyr as well as a false teacher and dangerous extremist.
And it is important to recognize that as a result of his writings he actually had a significant impact on Muslims who returned to the faith or strengthened their resolve in Islam but he also caused division and conflict between Islam\’s because of his writings and he is considered partially responsible for the negative perception of Islam religion by the West.