March 16, 2004

2 Qutb 8a

In the eighth chapter of Sayyid Qutb's work Milestones, the brain of bin Laden takes on science and the arts:

The thing which will appear strange, not only to the common man but also to writers about Islam, is our turning to Islam and to the Divine source for guidance in spheres of science and art.

There isn't much on art, with which I'll deal here for the most part: Qutb refers us to a book by his brother, Muhammad Qutb, called Principles of Islamic Art, as the definitive text on the subject. (Muhammad Qutb, by the way, was Osama's tutor.) In any case, what Sayyid does tell us of art is this:

...all artistic efforts are but a reflection of a man's concepts, beliefs and intuitions; they reflect whatever pictures of life and the world are found in a man's intuition.

From that utterly banal bit of art criticism, we move on to science. Qutb sets up a dichotomy between knowledge which can only be gotten from a devout Muslim --

matters of faith, in the concept of life, acts of worship, morals and human affairs, values and standards, principles of economics and political affairs and interpretation of historical processes

and those which can be gotten from an infidel:

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). If a proper atmosphere is not provided under which these sciences and arts develop in a Muslim society, the whole society will be considered sinful; but as long as these conditions are not attained, it is permitted for a Muslim to learn them from a Muslim or a non-Muslim and to gain experience under his direction, without any distinction of religion. These are those affairs which are included in the Hadith, "You know best the affairs of your business". These sciences are not related to the basic concepts of a Muslim about life, the universe, man, the purpose of his creation, his responsibilities, his relationship with the physical world and with the Creator; these are also not related to the principles of law, the rules and regulations which order the lives of individuals and groups, nor are they related to morals, manners, traditions, habits, values and standards which prevail in the society and which give the society its shape and form. Thus there is no danger that a Muslim, by learning these sciences from a non-Muslim, will distort his belief or will return to Jahiliyyah.

Qutb would like to restrict human endeavors to those things that don't disagree with Islam. He's perfectly happy to co-opt the fruits of Western science -- particularly technology -- without adopting the intellectual freedom necessary to produce such technology. We know that the laws of physics are every bit as binding on Muslims as they are on Buddhists or Christians; in the West, we value the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, of Egypt and Babylon, of Asia and the New World. We enjoy the poetry of Rumi as much as that of, say, Yeats. Of course, we've been tricked into thinking this...

The statement that "Culture is the human heritage" and that it has no country, nationality or religion is correct only in relation to science and technology-as long as we do not jump the boundary of these sciences and delve into metaphysical interpretations, and start explaining the purpose of man and his historical role in philosophical terms, even explaining away art and literature and human intuition philosophically. Beyond this limited meaning, this statement about culture is one of the tricks played by world Jewry, whose purpose is to eliminate all limitations, especially the limitations imposed by faith and religion, so that the Jews may penetrate into body politic 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.

In other words, the ability to derive pleasure, to learn about one's fellow men, to gain from a writer or artist who may have died centuries ago the immediacy of an aesthetic experience, to appreciate Shakespeare, Goethe, the Upanishads, Ovid, Socrates, the operas of Richard Wagner (I include him in part because his music isn't as bad as it sounds, as Bernard Shaw once observed), the epic of Gilgamesh, the art and architecture of ancient Egypt, is to be fooled by the dreaded World Jewry.

Now that I know whom to thank, I'll be sure to send roses...

Posted by Ideofact at March 16, 2004 10:39 PM

I'm very often ashamed to be Muslim these days. :(

Posted by: Mahsheed at March 17, 2004 03:08 PM

Well, you shouldn't be. Qutb's not your fault, nor can you blame Islam for Qutb. He made his own choice to be a narrow minded bigot with fascistic inclinations, and to pervert a religion in order to write nonsense like that.

Posted by: Bill at March 17, 2004 04:35 PM

That's very generous of you Bill, and I appreciate it.

But I know something is wrong when the writings of a guy who deserves to be a foot-note in the ash-bin of history (if that) are freely available on non-ironic websites. Indeed by virtue of the fact that you find him relevant enough to slog thru his writings.

Posted by: Mahsheed at March 18, 2004 01:39 PM