Alternative spellings of his "first" and "last" names include Syed, Koteb (rather common), Qutub, etc. Arabic: سيد قطب
He first received a religious education; in 1920, he moved to
The perceived racism, materialism, and 'loose' sexual conduct that he saw in the United States is believed by some to have been the impetus for his rejection of Western values and his move towards radicalism upon returning to Egypt. Resigning from the civil service he became perhaps the most persuasive publicist of the Muslim Brotherhood. The school of thought he inspired has become known as Qutbism.
The Muslim Brotherhood, and Qutb in particular, enjoyed a close relationship with the Free Officers Movement in the time leading up to and following the coup of June 1952. But their early cooperation soon soured over such issues as the Free Officers' refusal to hold elections, to ban alcohol, or to take a hard line against the British presence in
After the attempted assassination of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954, the Egyptian government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoning Qutb along with many others. While in prison, Qutb wrote his two most important works: a commentary of the Qur'an Fi zilal al-Qur'an (In the Shade of the Quran), and a manifesto of political Islam called (Milestones).
His commentary on the Qur'an has been extremely influential; some see him as the central theorist of twentieth-century Islamism. There is anecdotal evidence that Sayyid Qutb and Shaykh Taqi-ud-deen an-Nabhani founder of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, influenced each other. According to Daniel Benjamin and , "In a century in which some of the most important writing came out of prisons, Qutb, for better or for worse, is the Islamic world's answer to Solzhenitsyn, Sartre, and Havel, and he easily ranks with all of them in influence. It was Sayyid Qutb who fused together the core elements of modern Islamism.... Qutb concluded that the unity of God and His sovereignty meant that human rule – government legislates its own behavior – is illegitimate. Muslims must answer to God alone." [Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against
One of Qutb's main ideas was applying the term Jahiliyya, which originally referred to humanity's state of ignorance before the revelation of Islam, to modern-day Muslim societies. In his view, turning away from Islamic law and Islamic values under the influence of European imperialism had left the Muslim world in a condition of debased ignorance, similar to that of the pre-Islamic era (or Jahiliyya).
The conditions he experienced in prison, it has been argued, pushed Qutb to the conclusion that the Egyptian state was totally illegitimate. Violence against the inmates was commonplace. Sometimes this took the form of torture, but it once climaxed in the murder of 23 Muslim Brothers and the wounding of 46 after a protest in which they refused to perform hard labor. This incident, according to some, transformed Qutb’s view of the
Qutb was let out of prison at the end of 1964 at the behest of the then Prime Minister of Iraq, Abdul Salam Arif, for only 8 months before being rearrested in August 1965. He was accused of plotting to overthrow the state and subjected to what some consider a show trial which culminated in a death sentence for him and six other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. On 29 August 1966, Sayyid Qutb was executed by hanging.
- Mahammat ash-Sha'ir fi-l-hayat wa-shi'r al-jil al-hadir, 1933
- ash-Shati al-majhul, 1935
- al-Taswir al-Fanni fi-l-Qu'ran (Artistic Representation in the Qur'an), 1944/45
- Tifl min al-qarya (A Child from the Village -- an autobiographical work), 1946
- Al-'adala al-Ijtima'iyya fi-l-Islam (Social Justice in Islam), 1949, his first theoretical work
- Fi zilal al-Qur'an (In the Shade of the Qur'an), 1954, commentary of the Qur'an in 30 volumes, his most important theoretical work. In 1960, a revised edition started to appear which was to remain uncompleted; the last volume appeared in 1964. The commentary is interesting in so far as it is rather innovative in its methodical approach, borrowing heavily from the method of literary interpretation developed by sura to the last)., while retaining some structural features of classical commentaries (for example, the principle of progressing from the first
- Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq (Signposts on the Road, or Milestones), 1964, Qutb's best known work, regarded by some as "in many ways mark the beginnings of modern political Islam"
- Egyptian Islamic Jihad
- Hasan al-Banna
- Yusuf al-Qaradawi
- Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
- Khurshid Ahmad
- Note on Salafi vs. Wahabi vs. Qutubi at Salafi
- Shepard, William E., Sayyid Qutb and Islamic Activism. A Translation and Critical Analysis of "Social Justice in Islam",
- Haddad, Yvonne Y., "Sayyid Qutb: ideologue of Islamic revival", in Esposito, J. (ed.), Voices of the Islamic Revolution,
1983 New York
- Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (http://www.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/books/milestones/index_2.asp).
- Paul Berman, The Philosopher of Islamic Terror (http://members.cox.net/slsturgi3/PhilosopherOfIslamicTerror.htm) New York Times Magazine (March 23, 2003).
- Robert Irwin, Is this the man who inspired Bin Laden? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,584478,00.html) The Guardian (November 1, 2001).
- Sayyid Qutb's America (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1253796) from NPR's All Things Considered (May 6, 2003).