Sayyid Qutb

Sayyid Qutb (sī´yĬd kŭ´təb), 1906–66, Egyptian Islamist whose critique of modern civilization and Islam provides the theoretical underpinnings for many contemporary Islamic militants. Educated in both traditional Muslim schools and the university, Qutb became a respected writer and literary critic. A conservative Muslim, he spent somewhat more than a year (1948–50) in the United States, where he reacted strongly against a society he perceived as decadent and morally degraded. Becoming increasingly radicalized in the subsequent years, he advocated the reestablishment of the caliphate and a pan-Islamic nation based on the sharia (Islamic law). Qutb objected to any secular modern society, even a Muslim one, and joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1952. The Egyptian government imprisoned him, except for two short periods, from 1954 until his execution.

Qutb's In the Shade of the Qur'an, his major work and a commentary on the Qur'an, attacks modern society for its separation of church and state and its removal of religion from much of daily life. This condition, which he asserts is an outgrowth of limitations and distortions inherent in Judaism and Christianity, threatens Islam from both without and within, and reduces human life to a dark state similar to that before Muhammad received the Qur'an. To restore "true" Islam and revive world civilization Qutb calls for a jihad by a vanguard of Muslims who are willing to suffer martyrdom, as he did when he remained in Nasser's Egypt and attacked its Pan-Arabist secularism (see Pan-Arabism). His other works include Social Justice and Islam (1949, rev. tr. 2000) and Milestones (1964, rev. tr. 1991). Qutb's works have been extremely influential on militant Islamic radicals in the succeeding decades, who have found in them justification for violence against both the West and those Muslim governments they denounce as un-Islamic.

See his memoir (tr. 2004); biographical studies by H, Calvert (2010) and J. Toth (2013); studies by A. S. Moussalli (1993, 1999), O. Carré et al. (2003), and J. Calvert (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Sayyid Qutb: Selected full-text books and articles

Quranic Literary Study: Sayyid Qutb's Thought and Orientation By Ab Rahman, Asyraf Hj; Wan Ahmad, Wan Ibrahim; Ali, Nooraihan; Ismail, Daud Asian Social Science, Vol. 11, No. 4, February 2015
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad: Compilation and Commentary By David Aaron Rand, 2008
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Epistemological Shifts in Sayyid Qutb's Discourse of the Early 1940s By Soffar, Mohamed Hemispheres, Vol. 29, No. 1, January 1, 2014
Locating the Secular in Sayyid Qutb By Salama, Mohammad; Friedman, Rachel Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1, Spring 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Qutb and the Jews By Morris, Benny The National Interest, No. 110, November-December 2010
Women in the Discourse of Sayyid Qutb By Shehadeh, Lamia Rustum Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), Vol. 22, No. 3, Summer 2000
Said Qutb on the Arts in America By Burns, Daniel Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Vol. 9, January 1, 2009
Muslim Brotherhood Figure Disdained U.S. Morality By Sacirbey, Omar The Christian Century, Vol. 128, No. 5, March 8, 2011
Understanding Today's Enemy: The Grand Strategists of Modern Jihad By Gorka, Sebastian Military Review, Vol. 96, No. 3, May-June 2016
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