December 29, 2004

4 Qutb I:3

I'm doing exactly what I didn't want to do in blogging Sayyid Qutb's The Islamic Concept and its Characteristics; instead of glossing, I'm doing far too much quoting. In his introduction, it is perhaps suffice to say that Qutb borrows from Fichte and the German romantics and argues against an intellectual approach to Islam, but rather an emotional one. Once again Islam is the delicate crystal that the bull of Western thought shatters (this, at least, is a recurring theme in all the works of Qutb I have read so far), once again the countless good Muslims who saw no contradiction between their faith and reading, say, Aristotle are cast aside, once more none of Islamic history measures up to Qutb's ideal of Islam. And finally, once again Qutb's technique is to criticize and call un-Islamic those with whom he disagrees, without offering anything concrete in their stead.

Particulars, though, are often what illuminate Qutb's thought in a way that generalizations don't convey. To cite one example, Qutb explains that, as part of his approach, he is not responding to any particular critique of or deviation by the faithful -- doing so can have disastrous results. He explains:

...some Christian missionaries and some Zionist authors have accused Islam of being a religion of the sword, asserting that it was spread by the sword, whereupon some defenders of Islam from among us immediately rose up to remove this "blemish" from Islam. In their zeal to "defend" Islam against these vicious attacks, they downgraded the place of jihad in Islam by narrowing its sphere of application and by apologetically stating that jihad is permitted only for "defensive" purposes, in the narrow current technical sense of the word. They also lost sight of the fact that Islam, in its role as the last divinely-revealed guidance for mankind, has a natural duty, and therefore the right, to establish its particular system as preeminent on earth in order that the whole of mankind may benefit from its just, balanced, and humane laws, and so that every individual living under this system may enjoy freedom of belief. "There is no compulsion in religion" is part of this faith.

Yes, and war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strenghth...

Posted by Ideofact at December 29, 2004 01:00 AM

I think this is unfair Bill.

Qutb is saying that it is not intellectually honest nor is it faithful to true belief to suddenly discover, as the apologists would like to, that the Islamic doctrine of jihaad is actually completely consistent with defensive war as understood in post World War II International Law.

He is affirming that jihaad is something else -- it has its own textual sources in revelation, its own historical background, and a scholarship surrounding it that has been developed over hundreds of years, it even has its own disagreements among its scholars.

For all that, it would be basically impossible to find any Islamic scholar in the first millenium of Islamic thought who argued that Jihaad means 'defensive war' only.

Your argument that to say that Islaamic rule is just and guarantees freedom of belief is somehow an Orwellian statement is just that -- your argument. I disagree. I find Bush's statements much more Orwellian in nature. I guess that shows our difference in worldview and understanding of history.

Posted by: Abu Noor al-Irlandee at December 29, 2004 11:55 AM

"once there is a single (mine) Deen of al-Islam, then there will be no compulsion in religion."

I snorted (Diet Lime) Coke over my laptop when i read that. I have to admit it makes sense, logically speaking.

Posted by: Aziz at December 29, 2004 06:11 PM