|Original title||Ma'alim fi al-Tariq|
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Ma'alim fi al-Tariq, also Ma'alim fi'l-tareeq, (Arabic : معالم في الطريق, romanized: ma‘ālim fī t-tarīq) or Milestones, first published in 1964, is a short book by Egyptian Islamist author Sayyid Qutb in which he lays out a plan and makes a call to action to re-create the Muslim world on strictly Quranic grounds, casting off what Qutb calls Jahiliyyah .
The romanization of Arabic writes written and spoken Arabic in the Latin script in one of various systematic ways. Romanized Arabic is used for a number of different purposes, among them transcription of names and titles, cataloging Arabic language works, language education when used in lieu of or alongside the Arabic script, and representation of the language in scientific publications by linguists. These formal systems, which often make use of diacritics and non-standard Latin characters and are used in academic settings or for the benefit of non-speakers, contrast with informal means of written communication used by speakers such as the Latin-based Arabic chat alphabet.
Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.
Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been debated in both public and academic contexts. The term can refer to diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles or more specifically to movements which call for full implementation of sharia. It is commonly used interchangeably with the terms political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism. In academic usage, the term Islamism does not specify what vision of "Islamic order" or sharia are being advocated, or how their advocates intend to bring them about. In Western mass media it tends to refer to groups whose aim is to establish a sharia-based Islamic state, often with implication of violent tactics and human rights violations, and has acquired connotations of political extremism. In the Muslim world, the term has positive connotations among its proponents.
Ma'alim fi al-Tariq has been called "one of the most influential works in Arabic of the last half century".It is probably Qutb's most famous and influential work and one of the most influential Islamist tracts written. It has also become a manifesto for the ideology of "Qutbism". Commentators have both praised Milestones as a ground-breaking, inspirational work by a hero and a martyr, and reviled it as a prime example of unreasoning entitlement, self-pity, paranoia, and hatred that has been a major influence on Islamist terrorism.
Qutbism is an Islamist ideology developed by Sayyid Qutb, the figurehead of the Muslim Brotherhood. It has been described as advancing the extremist jihadist ideology of propagating "offensive jihad" – waging jihad in conquest – or "armed jihad in the advance of Islam"
English translations of the book are usually entitled simply "Milestones" (the book is also sometimes referred to in English as "Signposts"). The title Ma'alim fi al-Tariq translates into English as "Milestones Along the Way", "Signposts on the Road", or different combinations thereof.
Ma'alim fi al-Tariq marked the culmination of Qutb's evolution from modernist author and critic, to Islamist activist and writer, and finally to Islamist revolutionary and theoretician. It was written in prison, where Qutb spent 10 years under charges of political conspiracy against Egypt's Nasser regime, and first published in 1964. Four of its thirteen chapters were originally written for Qutb's voluminous Quranic commentary, Fi Zilal al-Qur'an (In the shades of the Qur'an).
Less than a year after its publication, Qutb was again arrested and brought to trial in Egypt under charges of conspiring against the state. Excerpts from the book were used to incriminate Qutb and he was found guilty, sentenced to death and executed by hanging in 1966.His death elevated his status to Shaheed or martyr in the eyes of many Muslims. Milestones became a bestseller and widely distributed across the Arab speaking world. To date, close to 2,000 editions of the work are said to have been published.
A martyr is someone who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, refusing to renounce, or refusing to advocate a belief or cause as demanded by an external party. In the martyrdom narrative of the remembering community, this refusal to comply with the presented demands results in the punishment or execution of an actor by an alledged oppressor. Accordingly, the status of the 'martyr' can be considered a posthumous title as a reward for those who are considered worthy of the concept of martyrdom by the living, regardless of any attempts by the deceased to control how they will be remembered in advance. Originally applied only to those who suffered for their religious beliefs, the term has come to be used in connection with people killed for a political cause.
In his book, Qutb seeks to set out "milestones" or guiding markers along a road that will lead to the revival of Islam from its current "extinction."
According to Qutb, the Muslim community has been "extinct for a few centuries" and reverted to Jahiliyyah ("The state of ignorance of the guidance from God" —be that someone (or something) a priest, president, a parliament, or a legal statute of a secular state— is "outside God's religion", although he may "claim to profess this religion".) because those who call themselves Muslims have failed to follow "the laws of God" or Sharia (also shariah, Shari'a, or Shari'ah), traditional Islamic law. Following the sharia is not just important but a defining attribute of Muslims, more necessary than belief itself, because "according to the Shari'ah, 'to obey' is 'to worship'." This means Muslims must not only refrain from worshiping anything other than God, they must not obey anything other than God: "anyone who serves someone other than God"
Jahiliyyah is an Islamic concept referring to the period of time and state of affairs in Arabia before the advent of Islam in 610 CE. It is often translated as the "Age of Ignorance". The term jahiliyyah is derived from the verbal root jahala "to be ignorant or stupid, to act stupidly". In modern times various Islamic thinkers have used the term to criticize what they saw as un-Islamic nature of public and private life in the Muslim world. In current use, Jahiliyyah refers to secular modernity, as in the work of Abul A'la Maududi, who viewed modernity as the “new jahiliyyah.” Sayyid Qutb viewed jahiliyyah as a state of domination of humans over humans, as opposed to their submission to God. Radical groups have justified armed struggle against secular regimes as a jihad against jahiliyyah.
Sharia, Islamic law or Sharia law is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's immutable divine law and is contrasted with fiqh, which refers to its human scholarly interpretations. The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim fundamentalists and modernists.
Qutb sees sharia as much more than a code of religious or public laws. It is a "complete" way of life based on "submission to God alone,"crowding out anything non-Islamic. Its rules range from "belief" to "administration and justice" to "principles of art and science." Being God's law, sharia is "as accurate and true as any of the laws known as the 'laws of nature,'" such as gravity or electricity, and part of the universal law "which governs the entire universe".
The modern Muslim world has erred by approaching the Qur'an for the sake of "discussion, learning and information" or "to solve some scientific or legal problem." In fact it should be approached as a source of "instruction for obedience and action"to remove man from the servitude of other men and to the servitude of God.
When of God's law is established on earth, it will lead to blessings falling on all mankind.Sharia is "the only guarantee" against "any kind of discord" in life. and will "automatically" bring "peace and cooperation" among individuals. Knowledge of the "secrets of nature, its hidden forces and the treasures concealed in the expanses of the universe," will be revealed "in an easy manner." The "harmony between human life and the universe" of sharia law will approach the perfection of heaven itself.
Just as sharia is—in Qutb's view—all encompassing and all wonderful, whatever is non-Muslim (or Jahiliyyah) is "evil and corrupt," and its existence anywhere intolerable to true Muslims.In preaching and promoting Islam, for example, it is very important not to demean Islam by "searching for resemblances" between Islam and the "filth" and "the rubbish heap of the West."
According to Qutb, to ignore this fact and attempt to introduce elements of socialism or nationalism into Islam or the Muslim community (as Egypt's Arab Socialist Union government was doing at the time), is against Islam. Qutb stresses that in the early days of Islam, Muhammad did not make appeals to ethnic or class loyalty. Though these crowd-pleasing appeals would have undoubtedly shortened the thirteen years of hardship Muhammad had to endure while calling unresponsive Arabs to Islam, "God did not lead His Prophet on this course. ... This was not the way,"and so must not be the way now.
To restore Islam on earth and free Muslims from "jahili society, jahili concepts, jahili traditions and jahili leadership,"Qutb preaches that a vanguard (tali'a) be formed modeling itself after the original Muslims, the companions ( Sahaba ) of Muhammad. Qutb believes these Muslims successfully vanquished Jahiliyyah principally in two ways:
Following these principles the vanguard will fight Jahiliyyah with a twofold approach: preaching, and "the movement" (jama'at). Preaching will persuade people to become true Muslims, while the movement will abolish "the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system"by "physical power and Jihaad". Foremost amongst these organizations and people to be removed is the "political power" which rests on a complex, "interrelated ideological, racial, class, social and economic support," but ultimately includes "the whole human environment." Force is necessary, Qutb explains, because it is naive to expect "those who have usurped the authority of God" to give up their power without a fight.
Remaining aloof from Jahiliyyah and its values and culture, but preaching and forcibly abolishing authority within it, the vanguard will travel the road, gradually growing from a cell of "three individuals" to ten, from ten to a hundred, until there are thousands, and blossom into a truly Islamic community. The community may start in the homeland of Islam but this is by no means "the ultimate objective of the Islamic movement of Jihad."Jihad must not merely be defensive, it must be offensive, and its objective must be to carry Islam "throughout the earth to the whole of mankind."
True Muslims should maintain a "sense of supremacy" and "superiority,"on the road of renewal, but it is important that they also prepare themselves for a "life until death in poverty, difficulty, frustration, torment and sacrifice", and even to brace themselves for possibility of death by torture at the hands of Jahiliyyah's sadistic, arrogant, mischievous, criminal and degraded people. Qutb ends his book by an example of persecution against Muslims from the Quran's "surat Al-Burooj ", enjoining modern-day Muslims to endure the same or worse tortures for the sake of carrying out God's will. After all, "this world is not a place of reward"; the believer's reward is in heaven.
Two of Qutb's major influences were the medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiya, and contemporary British Indian (later Pakistani) Islamist writer Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. Both used the historical term jahiliyya to describe contemporary events in the Muslim world.
Two other concepts popularized by Qutb in Milestones also came from Maududi:
Qutb's precept—that sharia law is essential to Islam. and that any self-described "Muslim" ruler who ignores it in favor of man-made laws is actually a non-Muslim who should be fought and overthrown—came from a fatwa of Ibn Taymiya.According to Quran, whoever judge by any law other than the law of Allah is kafir.
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Qutb's intense dislike of the West notwithstanding, some of his ideas have been compared to European fascism:
although it differs from that ideology in being based on religion and not on race or ethnicity. Fascism having made some impact among anti-British Arab Muslims before, during, and after World War II.The influence of particular fascist thinkers (particularly French fascist Alexis Carrel) in Qutb's work is disputed.
The centrality of an Islamic 'vanguard' (Arabic: tali'a) in Qutb's political program also suggests influence from Leninist thinking.
Qutb's book was originally a bestseller and became more popular as the Islamic revival strengthened. Islamists have hailed him as "a matchless writer, ... one of the greatest thinkers of contemporary Islamic thought,"and compared to Western political philosopher John Locke. Egyptian intellectual Tariq al-Bishri has compared the influence of Milestones to Vladimir Lenin's pamphlet What Is To Be Done? , where the founder of modern Communism outlined his theories of how Communism would be different from socialism.
Critics allege that Qutb's Milestones helped to open up a Pandora's box of takfir (by declaring that the Muslim world was actually non-Muslim and so many Muslims not actually Muslims, and potentially guilty of apostasy) that has brought serious internal strife, in particular terrorism, to the Muslim world in recent decades.
Qutb repeatedly proclaims that "serving human lords" is intolerable and is a practice Islam "has come to annihilate."Christians and Jews are guilty of it since, according to Qutb, they give priests and rabbis "the authority to make laws" and "it is clear that obedience to laws and judgments is a sort of worship." Because of this, Qutb says, these religions are actually polytheist, not monotheist.Qutb says this from chapter number 9 and verse number 31 from the Quran.
They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God - Allah) La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)
Qutb asserted that "World Jewry" was and is engaged in conspiracies whose "purpose" is:
to eliminate all limitations, especially the limitations imposed by faith and religion, so that Jews may penetrate into body politics of the whole world and then may be free to perpetuate their evil designs. At the top of the list of these activities is usury, the aim of which is that all the wealth of mankind end up in the hands of Jewish financial institutions which run on interest.
He also alleged that the West had a centuries-long "enmity toward Islam" which led it to create a "well-thought-out scheme ... to demolish the structure of Muslim society."At the same time, "the Western world realizes that Western civilization is unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind," and "the American people blush" with shame when confronted with the "immoralities" and "vulgarity" of their own country in comparison with the superiority of Islam's "logic, beauty, humanity and happiness".
Olivier Roy has described Qutb's attitude as one of "radical contempt and hatred" for the West,and complains that the propensity of Muslims like Qutb to blame problems on outside conspiracies "is currently paralyzing Muslim political thought. For to say that every failure is the devil's work is the same as asking God, or the devil himself (which is to say these days the Americans), to solve one's problems."
Other questions involve Qutb's ideas of sharia and freedom.
Qutb's ideology is premised upon sharia law and its application to every aspect of life. He does not explain or illustrate how any specific statutes are better or different from man-made law — evidence to support assertions in Ma'alim fi al-Tariq is limited to scriptural quotations — but does assure readers sharia is "without doubt ... perfect in the highest degree",and will free humanity from servitude to other men.
Some, such as scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl, have questioned Qutb's understanding of sharia, and his assumptions that sharia is not only perfect but accessible to mortals in its completeness.
Qutb's assertion that the Qur'an should be approached as a source of "instruction for obedience and action" (following the fundamentalist prescription that "the Quran is our law,"
Qutb explains that sharia law needs no human authorities for citizens to obey and thus frees humanity from "servitude" because
This uniquely free socioeconomic system not only frees Muslims to be true Muslims, but explains why offensive jihad to "establish the sovereignty of God", i.e. true Islam, "throughout the world"would not constitute aggression towards non-Muslims but rather "a movement to wipe out tyranny" and to introduce "true freedom" to mankind, since even the most contented and patriotic non-Muslim living in a non-Muslim state is still obeying a human authority. These non-Muslims must be freed by Islamic jihad, just as the non-Muslims of Persia or Byzantium were freed by invading Muslim armies in the 7th Century AD.
Qutb's political philosophy has been described as an attempt to instantiate a complex and multilayer eschatological vision, partly grounded in the counter-hegemonic re-articulation of the traditional ideal of academic jargon.
Political aspects of Islam are derived from the Qur'an, the Sunnah, Muslim history, and elements of political movements outside Islam.
Al-jamāʻah al-islāmīyah is an Egyptian Sunni Islamist movement, and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The group was dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government and replacing it with an Islamic state; the group has committed to peaceful means following the coup that toppled Mohamed Morsi.
Pan-Islamism is a political ideology advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic country or state – often a caliphate – or an international organization with Islamic principles. As a form of internationalism and anti-nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by seeing the ummah as the focus of allegiance and mobilization, excluding ethnicity and race as primary unifying factors. It portrays Islam as being anti-racist and against anything that divides the human race based on ethnicity.
Jama'at al-Muslimin, popularly known as Takfir wal-Hijra, was a radical Sunni Islamist group led by Shukri Mustafa, which emerged in Egypt in the 1960s as an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood, inspired by Sayyid Qutb. The group was crushed by the Egyptian government after it kidnapped and murdered Muhammad al-Dhahabi, a former government minister and Muslim scholar. Despite this, some believe its ideology of separation from Muslim society, "Takfir wal-Hijra", lives on in other groups.
Takfir or takfeer is a controversial concept in Islamist discourse, denoting excommunication, as one Muslim declaring another Muslim as a non-believer (kafir). The act which precipitates takfir is termed mukaffir. Contemporary formulation and usage of the term have their roots in the 20th-century Islamist theorist Sayyid Qutb's advocacy of takfirism against the state or society deemed jahiliyah. According to Qutb, violence is required to be sanctioned against corrupt state leaders, on the premise that quietism is not the Islamic prescription against those deemed apostates. This position is widely held and applied by jihadist organizations to varying degrees. At the same time, the concept is opposed by religious establishment as an ostensible reason for violence. They hold that excommunication against those who profess their Islamic faith is not sanctioned by Islam, or an ill-founded takfir accusation is a major forbidden act (haram).
A takfiri is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy. The accusation itself is called takfir, derived from the word kafir (unbeliever), and is described as when "one who is a Muslim is declared impure."
Muslim Youth was an Islamist group founded in 1969 in Kabul by several Afghan junior professors and a handful of students at Kabul University. Many of the leading figures of the Soviet–Afghan War were members of this group, including Professor Mawlavi Habibur Rahman, Engineer Habibur Rahman, Saifuddin Nasratyar, and Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Shukri Mustafa was an Egyptian agricultural engineer who led the extremist Islamist group Jama'at al-Muslimin, popularly known as Takfir wal-Hijra. He began his path toward Islamist thought by joining the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s. After being arrested for activities related to the group he became interested in the works of Sayyid Qutb and other radical thinkers. After being released in 1971, he gathered followers and withdrew from contemporary society. He was executed on March 19, 1978 after allegedly kidnapping and killing of an Egyptian government minister and mainstream Muslim cleric, Muhammad al-Dhahabi. He was sentenced to death after a swiftly arranged military tribunal, alongside four other leaders.
Muhammad Qutb, was an Islamist author, scholar and teacher best known as the younger brother of the Egyptian Islamist thinker Sayyid Qutb. After his brother was executed by the Egyptian government, Muhammad moved to Saudi Arabia where he promoted his older brother's ideas.
The term "Jihadism" is a 21st-century neologism found in Western languages to describe Islamist militant movements perceived as military movements "rooted in Islam" and "existentially threatening" to the West. It has been described as a "difficult term to define precisely", because it remains a recent neologism with no single, generally accepted meaning. The term "jihadism" first appeared in South Asian media; Western journalists adopted it in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks of 2001. It has since been applied to various insurgent and terrorist movements whose ideology is based on the notion of jihad.
Islamic extremism is any form of Islam that opposes "democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs". Related terms include "Islamist extremism" and Islamism. Some people oppose the use of the term, fearing it could "de-legitimize" the Islamic faith in general. Some have criticized political rhetoric that associates non-violent Islamism with terrorism under the rubric of "extremism".
The ideas and practices of the leaders, preachers, and movements of the Islamic revival movement known as Islamism, have been criticized by Muslims and non-Muslims. Among those authors and scholars who have criticized Islamism, or some element of it, include Maajid Nawaz, Reza Aslan, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Muhammad Sa'id al-'Ashmawi, Khaled Abu al-Fadl, Gilles Kepel, Matthias Küntzel, Joseph E. B. Lumbard, and Olivier Roy.
Hassan al-Hudaybi was the second "General Guide", or leader, of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, appointed in 1951 after founder Hassan al-Banna's assassination two years earlier. Al-Hudaybi held the position until his death in 1973.
Muhammad Sa'id al-'Ashmawi was an Egyptian Supreme Court justice and former head of the Court of State Security. He was a specialist in comparative and Islamic law at Cairo University, described as "one of the most influential liberal Islamic thinkers today."
Sayyid Qutb Ibrahim Husayn Shadhili was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, poet, and a leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, he was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and was executed by hanging.
Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj (1954-1982) was an Egyptian radical Islamist and theorist. He led the Cairo branch of the Islamist group al-Jihad and made a significant contribution in elevating the role of jihad in radical Islam with his pamphlet The Neglected Obligation. He was executed in 1982 for his role in coordinating the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat the previous year.
Islamic Extremism is any form of Islam that opposes "democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs." These extreme beliefs have led to radical actions in the past across the Middle East, and Egypt itself has a long history of these radical and extreme sects of Islam with roots dating back to around 660 CE. Islamic extremism in Egypt has been the cause of much terrorism and controversy in the country in the 20th century, and still continues to be a main issue in the current Egyptian society. The main conflict between Islamic extremists and the government officials throughout history stems from two major issues: “the formation of the modern nation-state and the political and cultural debate over its ideological direction.”
... the intolerance of Qutb's followers in takfiring the slightest deviation from piety irritated many Egyptians.
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