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Qutbism (also called Kotebism, Qutbiyya or Qutbiyyah) 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"
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.
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.
The Society of the Muslim Brothers, better known as the Muslim Brotherhood, is a transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt by Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928. The organization gained supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups such as Hamas with its "model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work", and in 2012 sponsored the elected political party in Egypt after the January Revolution in 2011. However, it faced periodic government crackdowns for alleged terrorist activities, and as of 2015 is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Qutbism has gained widespread attention because it is widely believed to have influenced Islamic extremists and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. Muslim extremists “cite Sayyid Qutb repeatedly and consider themselves his intellectual descendants.”
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, also rendered Usama bin Ladin, was a founder of the pan-Islamic militant organization al-Qaeda. He was a Saudi Arabian until 1994, a member of the wealthy bin Laden family, and an ethnic Yemeni Kindite.
Like the term "Wahhabi", Qutbee is used not by the alleged proponents to describes themselves, but by their critics.
Wahhabism is an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It has been variously described as "ultraconservative", "austere", "fundamentalist", or "puritan(ical)"; as an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship" (tawhid) by devotees; and as a "deviant sectarian movement", "vile sect" and a distortion of Islam by its detractors. The term Wahhabi(ism) is often used polemically and adherents commonly reject its use, preferring to be called Salafi or muwahhid. claiming to emphasize the principle of tawhid, for exclusivity on monotheism, dismissing other Muslims as practising shirk, (idolatry). It follows the theology of Ibn Taymiyyah and the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, although Hanbali leaders renounced Abd al-Wahhab's views.
The main tenet of Qutbist ideology is that the Muslim community (or the Muslim community outside of a vanguard fighting to reestablish it) "has been extinct for a few centuries"having reverted to Godless ignorance (Jahiliyya), and must be reconquered for Islam.
Qutb outlined his ideas in his book Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq (aka Milestones). Important principles of Qutbism include:[ citation needed ]
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.
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.
Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.
The most controversial aspect of Qutbism is takfir, Qutb's idea that Islam is "extinct." According to takfir, with the exception of Qutb’s Islamic vanguard, those who call themselves Muslims are not actually Muslim. Takfir was intended to shock Muslims into religious re-armament. When taken literally, takfir also had the effect of causing non-Qutbists who claimed to be Muslim in violation of Sharia law, a law that Qutb very much supported. Violating this law could potentially be considered apostasy from Islam: a crime punishable by death according to Qutbis.
Because of these serious consequences, Muslims have traditionally been reluctant to practice takfir, that is, to pronounce professed Muslims as unbelievers (even Muslims in violation of Islamic law).This prospect of fitna, or internal strife, between Qutbists and "takfir-ed" mainstream Muslims, was put to Qutb by prosecutors in the trial that led to his execution, and is still made by his Muslim detractors.
Qutb died before he could clear up the issue of whether jahiliyyah referred to the whole "Muslim world," to only Muslim governments, or only in an allegorical sense,but a serious campaign of terror – or "physical power and jihad" against "the organizations and authorities" of "jahili" Egypt – by insurgents observers believed to be influenced by Qutb followed in the 1980s and 1990s. Victims included Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, head of the counter-terrorism police Major General Raouf Khayrat, parliamentary speaker Rifaat el-Mahgoub, dozens of European tourists and Egyptian bystanders, and over one hundred Egyptian police officers. Other factors (such as economic dislocation/stagnation and rage over President Sadat's policy of reconciliation with Israel) played a part in instigating the violence, but Qutb's takfir against jahiliyyah (or jahili) society, and his passionate belief that jahiliyyah government was irredeemably evil, played a key role.
Qutb's message was spread 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.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who went on to become a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was one of Muhammad Qutb's studentsand later a mentor of Osama bin Laden and a leading member of al-Qaeda. and had been first introduced to Sayyad Qutb by his uncle, Mafouz Azzam, who had been very close to Sayyad Qutb throughout his life and impressed on al-Zawahiri "the purity of Qutb's character and the torment he had endured in prison." Zawahiri paid homage to Qutb in his work Knights under the Prophet's Banner.
Qutbism was considered propagated by Abdullah Azzam during the war between the Soviet and Afghan mujahideens. In the scene of the war, Qutbism had merged with Salafism and Wahhabism, culminating in the formation of Salafi jihadism.Abdullah Azzam was a mentor of bin Laden as well.
Osama bin Laden is reported to have regularly attended weekly public lectures by Muhammad Qutb, at King Abdulaziz University, and to have read and been deeply influenced by Sayyid Qutb.
Late Yemeni Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki has also spoken of Qutb's great influence and of being "so immersed with the author I would feel Sayyid was with me... speaking to me directly.”
Following Qutb's death Qutbist ideas spread throughout Egypt and other parts of the Arab and Muslim world, prompting a backlash by more traditionalist and conservative Muslims, such as the book Du'ah, la Qudah (Preachers, not Judges) (1969). The book, written by MB Supreme Guide Hassan al-Hudaybi, attacked the idea of Takfir of other Muslims (but was ostensibly targeted not at Qutb but at Mawdudi, as al-Hudaybi had been a friend and supporter of Qutb).
On the importance of science and learning, the key to the power of his bête noire, western civilization, Qutb was ambivalent. He wrote that
Muslims have drifted away from their religion and their way of life, and have forgotten that Islam appointed them as representatives of God and made them responsible for learning all the sciences and developing various capabilities to fulfill this high position which God has granted them.
... and encouraged Muslims to seek knowledge.
A Muslim can go to a Muslim or to a non-Muslim to learn abstract sciences such as chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, medicine, industry, agriculture, administration (limited to its technical aspects), technology, military arts and similar sciences and arts; although the fundamental principle is that when the Muslim community comes into existence it should provide experts in all these fields in abundance, as all these sciences and arts are a sufficient obligation (Fard al-Kifayah) on Muslims (that is to say, there ought to be a sufficient number of people who specialize in these various sciences and arts to satisfy the needs of the community). (Qutb, Milestones p. 109)
On the other hand, Qutb believed some learning was forbidden to Muslims and should not be studied, including:
principles of economics and political affairs and interpretation of historical processes... origin of the universe, the origin of the life of man... philosophy, comparative religion... sociology (excluding statistics and observations)... Darwinist biology ([which] goes beyond the scope of its observations, without any rhyme or reason and only for the sake of expressing an opinion...). (Qutb, Milestones pp. 108–10)
and that the era of scientific discovery (that non-Muslim Westerners were so famous for) was now over:
The period of resurgence of science has also come to an end. This period, which began with the Renaissance in the sixteenth century after Christ and reached its zenith in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, does not possess a reviving spirit. [Qutb, Milestones p. 8]
However important scientific discovery was, or is, an important tool to achieve it (and to do everything else) is to follow Sharia law under which
blessings fall on all mankind, [and] leads in an easy manner to the knowledge of the secrets of nature, its hidden forces and the treasures concealed in the expanses of the universe. [Qutb, Milestones p. 90]
Qutbism postulates that sharia-based society will have an almost supernatural perfection, providing justice, prosperity, peace and harmony both individually and societally.
Its wonders are such that the use of offensive jihad to spread sharia-Islam throughout the non-Muslim world will not be aggression but "a movement... to introduce true freedom to mankind." It frees humanity from servitude to man because its divine nature requires no human authorities to judge or enforce its law.
Qutbism emphasizes what it sees as evil designs of Westerners and Jews against Islam, and the importance of Muslims not trusting or imitating them.
Other elements of Qutbism deal with non-Muslims, particularly Westerners, and have drawn attention and controversy from their subjects, particularly following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Though their terminology, issues and arguments are different from those of the Islamic traditionalists, Westerners also have criticism to make.
In Qutb's view, for example, Western Imperialism is not, as Westerners would have Muslims believe, only an economic exploitation of weak peoples by the strong and greedy. [ citation needed ]Nor were the medieval Crusades, as some historians claim, merely an attempt by Christians to reconquer the formerly Christian-ruled, Christian holy land; some historians have disagreed because the crusaders slaughtered Arab Christians too.
Both were different expressions of the West's "pronounced... enmity" towards Islam, including plans to "demolish the structure of Muslim society."Imperialism is "a mask for the crusading spirit."
Examples of Western malevolence Qutb personally experienced and related to his readers include an attempt by a "drunken, semi-naked... American agent" to seduce him on his voyage to America, and the (alleged) celebration of American hospital employees upon hearing of the assassination of Egyptian Ikhwan Supreme Guide Hasan al-Banna.
Qutb's Western critics have questioned whether Qutb was likely to arouse interest of American intelligence agents (as he was not a member of the Egyptian government or any political organization at that time), or whether many Americans, let alone hospital employees, knew who Hasan al-Banna or the Muslim Brotherhood were in 1948.
The other anti-Islamic conspirator group, according to Qutb, is "World Jewry," which he believes is engaged in tricks to eliminate "faith and religion", and trying to divert "the wealth of mankind" into "Jewish financial institutions" by charging interest on loans.Jewish designs are so pernicious, according to Qutb's logic, that "anyone who leads this [Islamic] community away from its religion and its Quran can only be [a] Jewish agent", causing one critic to claim that the statement apparently means that "any source of division, anyone who undermines the relationship between Muslims and their faith is by definition a Jew".
Qutbism emphasizes a claimed Islamic moral superiority over the West, according to Islamist values. One example of "the filth" and "rubbish heap of the West" (Qutb, Milestones, p. 139) was the "animal-like" "mixing of the sexes." Qutb states that while he was in America a young woman told him
The issue of sexual relations is purely a biological matter. You... complicate this matter by imposing the ethical element on it. The horse and mare, the bull and the cow... do not think about this ethical matter... and, therefore, live a comfortable, simple, and easy life.
Critics complain[ weasel words ] that this opinion was wildly unrepresentative and the incident highly improbable.[ citation needed ] Even at the height of the sexual revolution in America 30 years later, most Americans would disagree with his statement, but at the time of his visit to America, sex out of wedlock, let alone "animal-like" promiscuity, was rare, with the overwhelming number of Americans married as virgins or that only had premarital sex with their future spouse. [ original research? ]
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Sab'u Masajid, Saudi Arabia
While Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq [Arabic: معالم في الطريق] (Milestones) was Qutb's manifesto, other elements of Qutbism are found in his works Al-'adala al-Ijtima'iyya fi-l-Islam [Arabic: العدالة الاجتماعية في الاسلام] (Social Justice in Islam), and his Quranic commentary Fi Zilal al-Qur'an [Arabic: في ظلال القرآن] (In the shade of the Qur'an). Ideas in (or alleged to be in) those works also have come under attack from both traditionalist/conservative Muslims. They include:
Qutb may now be facing criticism representing his idea's success or Qutbism's logical conclusion as much as his idea's failure to persuade some critics. Writing before the Islamic revival was in full bloom, Qutb sought Islamically-correct alternatives to European ideas like Marxism and socialism and proposed Islamic means to achieve the ends of social justice and equality, redistribution of private property, political revolution. But according to Olivier Roy, contemporary "neofundamentalist refuse to express their views in modern terms borrowed from the West. They consider indulging in politics, even for a good cause, will by definition lead to bid'a and shirk (the giving of priority to worldly considerations over religious values.)"
There are, however, some commentators who display an ambivalence towards him, and Roy notes that "his books are found everywhere and mentioned on most neo-fundamentalist websites, and arguing his "mystical approach", "radical contempt and hatred for the West", and "pessimistic views on the modern world" have resonated with these Muslims.
Controversy over Qutbism is in part an expression of the disagreement of two of the main tendencies of the Islamic revival: the more quiest Salafi Muslims, and the more politically active Muslim groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood,the group Qutb was a member of for about the last decade and a half of his life.
Although Sayyid Qutb was never head (or "Supreme Guide") of the Muslim Brotherhood,he was the Brotherhood's "leading intellectual," editor of its weekly periodical, and a member of the highest branch in the Brotherhood, the Working Committee and of the Guidance Council.
After the publication of Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq (Milestones), opinion in the Brotherhood split over his ideas, though many in Egypt (including extremists outside the Brotherhood) and most Muslim Brothers in other countries are said to have shared his analysis "to one degree or another."However, the leadership of the Brotherhood, led by Hasan al-Hudaybi, remained moderate and interested in political negotiation and activism. By the 1970s, the Brotherhood had renounced violence as a means of achieving its goals. In recent years his ideas have been embraced by Islamic extremist groups, while the Muslim Brotherhood has tended to serve as the official voice of Moderate Islamism.
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.
Jahiliyyah is an Islamic concept referring to the period of time and state of affairs in Arabia before the advent of Islam. 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.
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).
Abdullah Yusuf Azzam also known as Father of Global Jihad was a Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian and founding member of al-Qaeda. Azzam preached both defensive and offensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet invaders. He raised funds, recruited and organised the international Islamic volunteer effort of Afghan Arabs through the 1980s, and emphasised the political aspects of Islam.
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."
The History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (1954–present) encompasses the History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its suppression under Nasser to its formation into the largest opposition bloc in the Egyptian parliament. The Brotherhood operates under the slogan "Islam Is the Solution," and aims to establish a democratically introduced civic Islamic state. It has been described as "a deeply entrenched force, with hundreds of thousands of members and affiliates across the Middle East".
Ma'alim fi al-Tariq, also Ma'alim fi'l-tareeq, 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.
Religious fanaticism is uncritical zeal or with an obsessive enthusiasm related to one's own, or one's group's, devotion to a religion – a form of human fanaticism which could otherwise be expressed in one's other involvements and participation, including employment, role, and partisan affinities.
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.
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.
Salafi jihadism or jihadist-Salafism is a transnational religious-political ideology based on a belief in "physical" jihadism and the Salafi movement of returning to what adherents believe to be true Sunni Islam.
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.
Takfir wal-Hijra, was the popular name given to a radical Islamist group Jama'at al-Muslimin founded by Shukri Mustafa which emerged in Egypt in the 1960s as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the group was crushed by Egyptian security forces after it murdered an Islamic scholar and former government minister in 1977, it is said to have "left an enduring legacy" taken up by some Islamist radicals in "subsequent years and decades."
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.”
In addition to offensive jihad Sayyid Qutb used the Islamic concept of “takfir” or excommunication of apostates. Declaring someone takfir provided a legal loophole around the prohibition of killing another Muslim and in fact made it a religious obligation to execute the apostate. The obvious use of this concept was to declare secular rulers, officials or organizations, or any Muslims that opposed the Islamist agenda a takfir thereby justifying assassinations and attacks against them. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was later convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, invoked Qutb’s takfirist writings during his trial for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. The takfir concept along with “offensive jihad” became a blank check for any Islamic extremist to justify attacks against anyone.