Comments: 2 Qutb 5a


The question is not whether people would necessarily admit or choose to phrase it as them worshipping their congressmen or president.

The phrase jahili literally means ignorant. It is not assumed the common person knows that what they are doing is wrong until the message comes to them.

To a great extent, even people who physically bow down before statutes or pictures of their idols (used here literally, but also fits figuratively for music and sports heroes in the west) often claim that they do not worship these things but they are just seeking intercession with God, or these things are a means of focusing their worship of God.

The simple fact is, whether you buy that or not, the Qur'aan and the Sunnah do not buy that argument. The Qur'aan clearly describes the trinity as a shirk of the worst kind.

God then says about the Christians and the Jews:

"They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords beside Allaah, and the Messiah, the son of Mary." Surah at-Taubah Ayah 31.

One of the Prophet's companions Adiy raised a similar question to the Prophet (saw) that you are raising now, Bill. Adiyy had been a Christian before he accepted Islaam and he told the Prophet (saw) that "We didn't worship our monks or priests"

The Prophet (saw) told him Didn't they take things which had been haraam (unlawful, forbidden) and made them halaal (lawful)? Didn't they take things which had been halaal and make them haraam? Adiyy said Yes. The Prophet (saw) said that is how you worshipped them.

So if an individual or a society allows a single person or a group of people to make something legal for them that God has made illegal or to make something forbidden for them that God has made permissible then that person has taken those people as objects of worship.

Christians were at one time allowed to have more than one wife, but certain amongst them made it forbidden for them. Christians were not permitted to deal in interest but then they decided to make it ok. Christians were not allowed to eat pork but then they made it ok. God never said that there should be a class of priests that cannot marry, but Catholics made it so. There are similar examples among the Jews.

So, indeed when your congressmen making laws according to his own whims without reference to the laws that God has given us, indeed he is saying to you vote for me Cause I am bigger than God.

At least that's the way that anyone who believes the Qur'aan and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) sees it.


Abu Noor al-Irlandee

Posted by Abu Noor al-Irlandee at January 28, 2004 10:14 AM

Alright -- here are the problems in one paragraph:

Christians were at one time allowed to have more than one wife, but certain amongst them made it forbidden for them.
Actually, it's the other way around. They were by Christ told to take only one wife. Divorce and remarriage are relatively recent in the West -- though in Byzantium they tended to do it more frequently. Imitating Islamic neighbors? Certainly no Christians ever practiced polygamy other than SERIALLY instead of SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Christians were not permitted to deal in interest but then they decided to make it ok.
Depends on definitions of 'interest', 'usury', and 'o.k.'. This is also quite complicated in Islamic society.

Christians were not allowed to eat pork but then they madeit ok.
Reread the New Testament, please. Jesus's words on diet and ritual cleanliness are ambiguous (rather like the need for Hadith, the Bible is not all adequate. Without Hadith Islam is reduced to unhelpful statements like "...the declaration of faith provides the foundation for a complete system of life for the Muslim community in all its details." If that were true why hasn't it been so?). The whole Peter/Pork thing is presented in Acts as the Word of God, not as the Word of Man. So, if you're going to treat the religion fairly you have to take that into consideration.

God never said that there should be a class of priests that cannot marry, but Catholics made it so.
Only ROMAN Catholic priests are prohibited from marriage -- the Roman Catholic Church makes it clear over and over again that this is a specific discipline of the Western Church and we don't hold it against the Orthodox and the Eastern Rites that they DO have a married clergy. Protestants, of course, don't apply here. Of course, the treatment of "Christians" as one body is narrow.

Oh, well. Better information is always useful. Thanks for the literal meaning (though it doesn't sound like it's the one Qutb is using) for "jahili."

Posted by Michael Tinkler at January 29, 2004 10:14 PM

Thanks Bill for this fascinating guided tour of Sayyid Qutb's political and spiritual ideology. It's a very important subject.

Thanks also to Abu Noor for your thoughtful and eloquent defenses of Qutb and your reflections on Bill's comments.

Qutbism poses an old problem anew for a Liberal society. A committed Qutbist cannot help but be an enemy to the ideals of such a society, if not necessarily one who employs violent means.

How should our nation (the US, in my case) treat with Qutbists who want to come here to live? Who apply to become citizens? Given the potential risks, can we welcome them? Given our own commitment to freedom of religion and of conscience, can we say, "no"?

We struggled for an answer to such questions with Communists, and earlier with the Mormons. An important issue, I think.

Posted by AMac at January 30, 2004 12:07 AM

Abu Noor --

As for the question of intercession, my recollection is that there are traditions that the Prophet himself told the faithful to pray at graves, to ask the departed for blessings, and so on. Isn't that a form of association as bad as the Trinity?

I think if I listen to a Beatles album, or have a poster of Ringo Starr on my wall (I don't, but for the sake of argument), it doesn't mean that I'm asking Ringo Starr or the Beatles to intercede for me with God. It might mean I appreciate Starr's drumming, that I find his musicianship worthy of emulation, that I've set myself the goal of being as good a drummer as he is, but that doesn't mean that I necessarily worship him.

So you would argue that in a country whose government outlaws slavery (which God has permitted explicitly in the Qur'an, implicitly in the New Testament, and explicitly in the Old Testament), then that country's citizens worship their government?

Dr. Tinkler --

Thanks, as always, for your erudition and eloquence.

A Mac --

I owe you an email.

Posted by Bill at February 5, 2004 01:22 AM


The Prophet (saw) NEVER told people to pray at graves or to ask the departed for blessings. I do not know what you are talking about.

One can pray to God for people who are dead. One can ask other people who are alive to pray to God for them. One cannot pray to anyone else besides God. This is the most fundamental principle of Islaam.

Some sufis engage in practices which may look to you or me like they are praying to dead saints or worshipping at graves. Of course they have an explanation for why what they are doing is not what it looks like it is. I can understand why you would think what they are doing is similar to what Christians do and that is why many Muslims (whom of course you might think to be intolerant or even insult as Wahhabis) speak against what those Sufis do and do not believe it to be from Islam.

If you have a statement from the Prophet(saw) that you really think does what you are saying then bring it, but there are none that I am aware of.

Slavery is only permissible in Islaam under certain conditions. If those conditions are not present then not only can a government choose to outlaw slavery that is outside of the Islaamic boundaries but it MUST.

As for the Ringo Starr comment, I don't really follow what you are saying. I don't believe I ever said that if you listen to a Beatles album or have a Ringo Starr poster you are worshipping Ringo Starr. If God had legislated certain music to be forbidden to listen to or had said that men and women who are not married or not related should not dance with each other and you then you said, Forget that, Ringo Starr says its okay, then you are making Ringo Starr a partner with God in that way. Or if you spent most of your time thinking about Ringo Starr, more than you spent thinking about God, or it was more important to you that you were the kind of person Ringo Starr thought was cool than that you were the kind of person that was pleasing to God then those would also be real issues.

I don't have any doubt that you would have that kind of "idol" relationship with Ringo Starr. But, although I wasn't alive at the time, it seems that there were large numbers of teen girls in the United States who did about forty years ago have a relationship that could only be termed troubling in its intensity. (I realize for most of them it probably wasn't about Ringo :)

(I also realize that for most of them it was just a phase and they are all responsible adults now as well. That previous paragraph was my feeble attempt at injecting some humor into the dialogue, although I do think there is a serious kernel of truth in there as well.


Abu Noor al-Irlandee

Posted by Abu Noor al-Irlandee at February 5, 2004 01:54 PM