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The evil legacy of the evil Sayyid Qutb

Monday, 19 August, 2013

In his book Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman examines the role that Sayyid Qutb played in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Qutb enrolled in the Brotherhood in 1951 and duly became “the Arab world’s first important theoretician of the Islamist cause.” But what did Qutb write? Well, there is his 1964 manifesto, Milestones, a short work in which he calls for recreating the Muslim world on strictly Qur’anic grounds, but, says Berman, “his true masterwork is something else entirely, a gargantuan thirty-volume exegesis called In the shade of the Qur’an, which consists of commentaries on the various chapters or Surahs of the Koran.”

Sayyid Qutb The writing is “wise, broad, indignant, sometimes demented, bristly with hatred, medieval, modern, tolerant, intolerant, cruel, urgent, cranky, tranquil, grave, poetic, learned, analytic, moving in some passages — a work large and solid enough to create its own shade, where his readers could repose and turn his pages, as he advised the students of the Koran to do, in the earnest spirit of loyal soldiers reading their daily bulletin.” As an example, Berman offers Qutb’s commentary on Surah 2, from the section “Martyrdom and Jihad”. A snippet:

“The Surah tells the Muslims that, in the fight to uphold God’s universal Truth, lives will have to be sacrificed. Those who risk their lives and go out to fight, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the cause of God are honorable people, pure of heart and blessed of soul. But the great surprise is that those among them who are killed in the struggle must not be considered or described as dead. They continue to live, as God Himself clearly states.”

And so it was with Sayyid Qutb, who was hanged by Nasser in 1966. His evil ideas flourish and his writings should be studied closely by those now offering themselves as experts on Egyptian affairs, and they should be mandatory reading for those journalists who display a remarkable “understanding” for the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among those who come to mind here are Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Hubert Wetzel and Mary Fitzgerald.


Comments (1)

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  1. Henry Barth says:

    Please add John Pilger to your list of “journalists” who do not seem to understand the MB.

    “Who write the dramatic critiques for the second-rate papers? Why, a parcel of promoted shoemakers and apprentice apothecaries, who know just as much about good acting as I do about good farming and no more. Who review the books? People who never wrote one. Who do up the heavy leaders on finance? Parties who have had the largest opportunities for knowing nothing about it. Who criticise the Indian campaigns? Gentlemen who do not know a war-whoop from a wigwam, and who never have had to run a foot race with a tomahawk, or pluck arrows out of the several members of their families to build the evening camp-fire with. Who write the temperance appeals, and clamor about the flowing bowl? Folks who will never draw another sober breath till they do it in the grave.
    – “How I Edited an Agricultural Paper”

    MARK TWAIN