January 11, 2004

2 Qutb 4a

The fourth chapter of Sayyid Qutb's work Milestones deals with Jihad. There's a lot to write about, but to summarize briefly, Qutb sees the goal of Jihad as destroying all non-Muslim governments, and replacing them with Islamist ones:

This movement treats people as they actually are and uses resources Which are in accordance with practical conditions. Since this movement comes into conflict with the Jahiliyyah which prevails over ideas and beliefs, and which has a practical system of life and a political and material authority behind it, the Islamic movement had to produce parallel resources to confront this Jahiliyyah. This movement uses the methods of preaching and persuasion for reforming ideas and beliefs and it uses physical power and Jihaad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system which prevents people from reforming their ideas and beliefs but forces them to obey their erroneous ways and make them serve human lords instead of the Almighty Lord. This movement does not confine itself to mere preaching to confront physical power, as it also does not use compulsion for changing the ideas of people. These two principles are equally important in the method of this religion. Its purpose is to free those people who wish to be freed from enslavement to men so that they may serve God alone.

Charming fellow. He has a similar passage in Social Justice in Islam, and it's worth noting that for Qutb, a country like the United States, which has freedom of religion, must also see its government abolished.

Posted by Ideofact at January 11, 2004 11:28 PM

Qutb doesn't want the US government abolished because of its freedom of religion. That's a stupid strawmanning of the issue.

Look, all Muslims accept that you cannot force someone into a religion. The Quran specifically prohibits that, "Laa ikhraa fe al deen" which means "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (2:256). Nobody will force you to become Muslim, and Christians and Jews and atheists and the rest are guaranteed freedom to practice their religion in an Islamic state, Qutb had no beefs with that.

Qutb didn't like secular governments, he felt that the US government was a manmade challenge to God's revelation of laws. It's not just him, I could imagine Orthodox rabbis who say that any law that's not Biblical law isn't legitimate.

Posted by: Sulayman at January 19, 2004 05:04 AM

Sulayman --

I think you're misunderstanding my point.

The United States puts no obstacles in front of the Muslim wishing to practice his religion. Nevertheless, Qutb would like to see that government destroyed, and replaced with an Islamic theocracy.

That sounds an awful lot like compulsion to me.

Posted by: Bill at January 20, 2004 10:25 PM


Sulayman is right. I think you are losing sight of two separate issues.

First, there is the theoretical or ideological or principled point. As Sulayman says Qutb disapproves of any government which refuses to recognize God's authority as the lawmaker because as a matter of principle he feels this is shirk and thulm (oppression) regardless of whether the government might appear to be tyrannical or libertarian in your eyes.

Practically, while I see why Qutb's views on America might be relatively more important to those of us who live here, I'm sure you realize that Qutb was not primarily talking about America. He certainly did not envision Muslims removing the American government anytime soon.

Even Usama bin Ladin and his ilk, (and Qutb cannot be blamed for the ways they have implemented some of his ideas) are not interested in attacking America because of its secularism, its disbelief, or even its Christianity. If America did not take an active role (at least in their view) of supporting tyrannical regimes in the Muslim lands, then Al Qaeda would not have engaged America.


Abu Noor al-Irlandee

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at January 21, 2004 03:08 PM