January 11, 2005

5 Qutb III.

Note: Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) was an Egyptian author, literary critic, bureaucrat, and one time American student who went on to become the most prominent of the radical fundamentalist thinkers of the post-Colonial period; his political thinking has become the platform of some of the more radical terrorist groups; numerous articles note that both Osama bin Laden and Ayam al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number one and two, have been influenced by Qutb. In a number of prior posts, ideofact has explored the writings of Qutb.

Now, ideofact continues its exploration of the Sayyid Qutb essay, Our Struggle with the Jews, this time trying to read between the lines of Qutb's anti-Semitic rant.

Here is, roughly, a blueprint of Qutb's essay:

Opening: Muslims are having trouble with Jews today, in part because they've forgotten that the Qur'an teaches us how to deal with Jews and overcome their conspiracies. Hence,

Anyone who leads this Community away from its Religion and its Qur'an can only be a Jewish agent, whether he does this wittingly or unwittingly... The Jews will then be safe from this Community...

The Problem: The struggle with the Jews is not only military; rather, the Jews are trying to destroy the creed (al-'Aqidah) of Islam; the Qur'an is the only defense against their schemes, which are succeeding. "The Jews have falsified the exegesis of the Qur'an," Qutb tells us, and adds,

The Jews have instilled men and regimes (in the Islamic world), in order to conspire against this (Muslim) community....

The Tens of personalities who have been foisted upon the Muslim Community (as conspirators against it) in the guise of "heroes" were manufactured by Zionism, in order that these "heroes" should do for the enemies of Islam what these enemies are themselves not able to do openly.

...the implication here being that the various secular regimes of the 1950s -- led by "heroes" of the people like Nasser -- were installed by Jews. There are enemies within, in other words, at the very top of society, but it doesn't stop there. The Jewish agents include

...a massive army of agents in the form of professors, philosophers, doctors and researchers -- sometimes also writers, poets, scientists and journalists -- carrying Muslim names becasue they are of Muslim descent!!

Qutb goes on to explain how these people of Muslim descent are actually Zionist agents, are actually Jews (or, to follow the punctuation in the translated essay, Jews!!) and that "This conspiracy continues uninterruptedly."

The Jew: The previous sections represent the first third (roughly -- five of sixteen pages) of the essay. What follows is Qutb's disquisition on Jews. I am providing a very truncated version of Qutb's essay, and I've passed over plenty of anti-Semitic and Judeophobic rhetoric, and will do so here. This is where Qutb interprets the Qur'an to suggest that Jews are not people of the Book and in fact are worse than polytheists*, that they are behind every calamity in history, that they "harbor hatred for others" and

"make others suffer...in the form of dissensions among peoples and wars which the Jews themeslves foment in order to make profits from them. Through these wars and disturbances the Jews cultivate their continuing hatred (for others) and the destructiveness which they impose on people and which others then need to impose on them...

Qutb then ends his essay by suggesting that to best the Jews, one needs only to believe as Qutb believes. Against a true believer, the Jews have no courage or martial ability ("they turned their tails and ran away like rats").

WHILE THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT THAT Qutb was an anti-Semite and a Jew hater, the frame he offers shows the closeness of his technique to Nazi propagandists of the 1920s and early 30s: the Jew is the enemy, your political opponents are Jews or tools of Jews. Discrediting his enemies and gaining control of the state was the first objective. He left little room for doubt about what the second would be.

Posted by Ideofact at January 11, 2005 12:09 AM

". This is where Qutb interprets the Qur'an to suggest that Jews are not people of the Book and in fact are worse than polytheists,"

woah. He contradicts the Qur'an? Because the Qur'an in fact explicitly says that Kews are people of the Book:

The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (42:13)

Say O People of the Scripture! Ye have naught (of guidance) till ye observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto you from your Lord. (5:68)

Explicit references to the Prophet Noah (Nuh) and the Torah (Taurat) would seem to make Qutb's argument moot.

Can you elaborate on the argument he uses here (or point me back to it if I missed it somehow)

Posted by: Aziz at January 11, 2005 06:24 PM


I'm not up for 5 Qutb IV tonight, so maybe I'll do a Qutbnote on it.

Posted by: Bill at January 11, 2005 10:11 PM