Qutbism: Wikis


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Qutbism (also Kotebism, Qutbiyya, or Qutbiyyah) is a strain of Islamist ideology and activism, based on the thought and writings of Sayyid Qutb, an Islamist and former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was executed in 1966. It has been described as advancing the concept of "offensive jihad," - waging jihad in conquest[1] - or "armed jihad in the advance of Islam" [2]

Qutbism has gained notoriety from what many believe is his strong influence on jihadi extremists such as Osama bin Laden. According to observers, jihadi extremists “cite Sayyid Qutb repeatedly and consider themselves his intellectual descendants.”[2]

Qutbee or Qutbi (also Qutbists) are followers of these ideals. These terms originated from, and are mainly used by opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood in general and Qutb in particular, and by Muslims who seek to distance themselves from the activities of militant groups based on or influenced by Qutbism.



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" [3] 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). Other important principles of Qutbism include[citation needed]

  • adherence to Sharia as sacred law accessible to humans, without which Islam cannot exist
  • adherence to Sharia as a complete way of life that will bring not only justice, but complete freedom from servitude, peace, personal serenity, scientific discovery and other benefits;
  • avoidance of Western and non-Islamic "evil and corruption," including socialism and nationalism;
  • vigilance against Western and Jewish conspiracies against Islam
  • a two-pronged attack of 1) preaching to convert and 2) jihad to forcibly eliminate the "structures" of Jahiliyya.
  • the importance of offensive Jihad to eliminate Jahiliyya not only from the Islamic homeland but from the face of the earth.

History of the word "Qutbee"

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Dhimmi · Eurabia · Islamism · Sharia
Jihad · Pan-Islamism · Qutbism
Apostasy in Islam
Divisions of the world in Islam
Islam and domestic violence
Islam and antisemitism
Islam and slavery
Freedom of religion in Iran
Homosexuality and Islam
Islamophobia · Attitudes towards terrorism


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Notable modern critics

Ayaan Hirsi Ali · Irshad Manji
Daniel Pipes · Philippe de Villiers
Alexandre del Valle · Ibn Warraq
Geert Wilders · Oriana Fallaci
Robert Spencer · Theo van Gogh
Afshin Ellian · Salman Rushdie
Ahmad Kasravi · Taha Hussein
Turan Dursun · Wafa Sultan
Lord Pearson

Related events since 2001

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), written by the MB Supreme Guide Hasan al-Hudaybi.

The word Qutbee is said to have first been used by Saudi Arabian Salafist Muslims to refer not only to explicit devotees of Qutb's ideas, but to Muslim Brotherhood members and their sympathizers in general[citation needed](despite the fact that there is a range of opinion among Muslim Brethren on Qutb's ideas.) The word Qutbee is used in a similar way as the term Wahhabi in that it is used not by the individuals it describes themselves, but by their opponents.


The most controversial aspect of Qutbism is Qutb's idea that Islam is "extinct," and therefore those who say they are Muslims—with the exception of Qutb's Islamic vanguard—are not. Intended to shock Muslims into religious re-armament it also had the effect, if taken literally, of making non-Qutbists who claimed they were Muslims in serious violation of the traditional Sharia law (law that Qutb very much supported) potentially finding them guilty of Apostasy in Islam and their blood fit to be shed.

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).[4] 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,[5] and is still made by his Muslim detractors.[6][7]

Qutb died before he could clear up the issue of whether jahiliyya referred to the whole "Muslim world," to only Muslim governments, or only in an allegorical sense.[8] But that his critics fear of fitna was legitimate would seem to have been borne out by a serious campaign of Islamist terror - or what Qutb might have called "physical power and jihad" against "the organizations and authorities" of "jahili" Egypt - 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.[citation needed] 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,[9] but Qutb's takfir against Jahiliyyah (or jahili) society, and his passionate belief that Jahiliyya government was irredeemably evil and must be destroyed[citation needed] played a key role.[10]

Traditionalist criticism

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 traditionalist/conservative/Wahhabi Muslims. They include

  • Qutb's assertion that slavery is now illegal under Islam, as its lawfulness was only temporary, existing only "until the world devised a new code of practice, other than enslavement." Traditionalist critics maintain `Islaam has affirmed slavery ... And it will continue so long as Jihaad in the path of Allaah exists."` (Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan) [11]
  • Proposals to redistribute income and property to the needy. Opponents claim they are "socialist" and innovations of Islam.[12][13][14] (Though Qutb was in favor of "social justice", he strongly disapproved of socialism - even of "Islamic socialism" - seeing it as compromise with jahiliyya.[citation needed]
  • Describing Moses as having an "excitable nature" - this allegedly being "mockery," and "mockery of the Prophets is apostasy in its own,'" according to Shaikh ‘Abdul-Azeez Ibn Baz.
  • Dismissing fiqh or the schools of Islamic law known as madhhab as separate from "Islamic principles and Islamic understanding."[15]
  • Desiring to unite the four schools of Islamic law into one school - allegedly an innovation.[16]
  • Favoring the overthrow of tyrants, when Islam teaches that "when you cannot correct a wrong thing be patient! Allah ... will correct it."[6]

Accusations against Qutbism include some that may be very questionable, such as one alleging that Qutb believed "Christians should be left as Christians--Jews as Jews," since he believed in hurriyatul-i'tiqaad (freedom of belief) [17]

To some extent these attacks may represent Qutbism's success or its logical conclusion as much as its failure to persuade some critics. Qutb sought Islamically-justified 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.

Many of his critics want to replace not just Western means but ends as well.[citation needed] "Neofundamentalist refuse to express their views in modern terms borrowed from the West.

They consider that 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.)" [18]

There are, however, some commentators who display an ambivalence towards him, noting that "his books are found everywhere and mentioned on most neo-fundamentalist websites, and arguing his "mystical approach" and "pessimistic views on the modern world" have resonated with some Muslims.[19]

Science and learning

On the importance of science and learning, the key to the power of his bete 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 p.108-110)

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 and non-Muslims

Other elements of Qutbism deal with non-Muslims, particularly Westerners, and have drawn attention and controversy from their subjects, particularly following 9/11. Though their terminology, issues and arguments are different from those of the Islamic traditionalists, Westerners also have criticism to make.

Islamic law and freedom

Qutbism postulates that sharia-based society will have an almost supernatural perfection, providing justice, prosperity, peace and harmony both individually and societally.[20]

Its wonders are such that the use of offensive jihad to spread of 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.[21]

Vigilance against conspiracies

Qutbism emphasizes the (alleged) evil designs of Westerners and Jews against Islam, and the importance of Muslims not trusting or imitating them.

The West

In Qutb's view, for example, Western Imperialism is not, as (leftist) Westerners would have Muslims believe, only an economic exploitation of weak peoples by the strong and greedy[22]. Nor were the medieval Crusades, as some historians claim, merely an attempt by Christians to reconquer the formerly Christian-ruled, Christian holy land.[22]

Both were different expressions of the West's "pronounced ... enmity" towards Islam, including plans to "demolish the structure of Muslim society." [23] Imperialism is "a mask for the crusading spirit." [24]

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.[citation needed]


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.[citation needed]

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",[citation needed] 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".[25]

Western corruption

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.[26]

Critics complain that this opinion was wildly unrepresentative and the incident highly improbable. 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 only had premarital sex with their future spouse.[27]

Muslim Brotherhood

Controversy over Qutbism is in part an expression of the disagreement of two of the main tendencies of the Islamic revival: the more traditional Salafi Muslims, and the more radically active Muslim groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood,[28] 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,[29] he was the Brotherhood's "leading intellectual," [30] editor of its weekly periodical, and a member of the highest branch in the Brotherhood, the Working Committee and of the Guidance Council.[31]

After the publication of Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq, (Milestones), opinion in the Brotherhood split over his ideas, though many in Egypt (including radicals outside the Brotherhood) and most Brethren in other countries are said to have shared his analysis "to one degree or another."[32] In recent years his ideas have been embraced by radical Islamists groups[33] while the Muslim Brotherhood has tended to serve as the official voice of Islamist moderation.

See also


  1. ^ DouglasFarah.com, Qutbism and the Muslim Brotherhood by Douglas Farah
  2. ^ a b William McCants of the US Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, quoted in Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism by Dale C. Eikmeier. From Parameters, Spring 2007, pp. 85-98.
  3. ^ Qutb, Sayyid, Milestones, The Mother Mosque Foundation, 1981, p.9
  4. ^ Kepel, Jihad, p.31
  5. ^ Sivan, Radical Islam, (1985), p.93
  6. ^ a b HizmetBooks, Reformer Sayyid Qutb invites People to Stand Up and Shout against the Dictators
  7. ^ The Wahhabi Myth - Salafism, Wahhabism, Qutbism. Who was Sayyid Qutb? (part 2)
  8. ^ Kepel, Jihad, 2002, p.31
  9. ^ Kepel, Jihad, 2002, p.31,
    Ruthven, Malise, Islam in the World, Penguin Books, 1984, p.314-5
  10. ^ Kepel, The Prophet and Pharaoh, p.65, 74-5, Understanding Jihad by David Cook, University of California Press, 2005, p.139
  11. ^ see also: Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan "affirmation of slavery" was found on page 24 of "Taming a Neo-Qutubite Fanatic Part 1" when accessed on February 17, 2007
  12. ^ HizmetBooks, Reformer Sayyid Qutb Exposes his Socialistic Ideas
  13. ^ HizmetBooks, Reformer Sayyid Qutb Advises that Government should Confiscate Individual Property
  14. ^ HizmetBooks, Reformer Sayyid Qutb Interprest the Zakat of Islam Errenously
  15. ^ HizmetBooks, Reformer Sayyid Qutb in his Book "World Peace and Islam" Tries to Represent Western Ideas as Islamic Values
  16. ^ HizmetBooks, Reformer Sayyid Qutb in his Book "Social Justice in Islam" Wants to Unite Islam (Anti-Madhhab Ideas)
  17. ^ Qutb argued that under true Islam non-Muslims could "accept [Islam] or not" (Milestones, p.61), but never said they should be "left" as non-Muslims.
  18. ^ Roy, Globalized Islam, (2004), p.247
  19. ^ Roy, Globalized Islam, (2004), p.250
  20. ^ Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq#Sharia 2
  21. ^ Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq#Freedom
  22. ^ a b Qutb, Milestones, Chapter 12
  23. ^ Qutb, Milestones, p.116
  24. ^ Qutb, Milestones, p.159-160
  25. ^ quote from David Zeidan, "The Islamic Fundamentalist View of Life as Perennial Battle," Middle East Review of International Affairs, v.5, n.4 (December 2001), criticism from The Age of Sacred Terror by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, Random House, c2002, p.68
  26. ^ from Amrika allati Ra'aytu, (America that I Saw), quoted in Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: the Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb by Ahmad S. Moussalli, American University of Beirut, 1992, p.29
  27. ^ For example, over 80% of the women surveyed who were born between 1933 and 1942 either had no premarital intercourse or premarital intercourse only with their future husband, according to the National Health and Social Life Survey. (Robert T. Michael, John H. Gagnon, Edward O. Laumann, Gina Kolata, Sex in America : A definitive Survey, Little Brown and Co., 1994, p.97)
  28. ^ Kepel, Gilles, The War for Muslim Minds, 2004, p.253-266
  29. ^ Hasan al-Hudaybi was Supreme Guide during this period.
  30. ^ Ruthvan, Malise, Islam in the World, Penguin, 1984
  31. ^ Moussalli, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, 1992, p.31-2
  32. ^ Hamid Algar from his introduction to Social Justice in Islam by Sayyid Qutb, translated by John Hardie, translation revised and introduction by Hamid Algar, Islamic Publications International, 2000, p.1, 9, 11
  33. ^ William McCants, a Bahai consultant, quoted in Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism by Dale C. Eikmeier From Parameters, Spring 2007, pp. 85-98.


  • Kepel, Gilles (1985). The Prophet and Pharaoh: Muslim Extremism in Egypt. Al Saqi. ISBN 0-86356-118-7. 
  • Kepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad, The Trail of Political Islam. Belknap Press of Harvard University. ISBN 0-674-00877-4. 
  • Moussalli, Ahmad S. (1992). Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: the Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb. American University of Beirut. 
  • Qutb, Sayyid (2003). Milestones. Kazi Publications. ISBN 1-56744-494-6. 
  • Roy, Olivier (2004). Globalized Islam : the Search for a New Ummah. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-13498-3. 
  • Sivan, Emmanuel (1985). Radical Islam : Medieval Theology and Modern Politics. Yale University Press. 

External links

Further reading

  • Berman, Paul. Terror and Liberalism. W. W. Norton & Company, April 2003.
Berman devotes several chapters of this work to discussing Qutb as the foundation of a unique strain of Islamist thought.

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