Islam: The Hijacked Faith?

Islam: The Hijacked Faith? (Part 1)

Introduction

I’ve been asked by people reading my blog and my comments at other blogs if I were ashamed of Islam as if an intellectual human being who claims to be free thinking and “moderate” cannot possibly combine these values with Islam. Some of the people asking this question were truly inquisitive and wanted to know more, expose themselves to a different point of view, and challenge their thoughts. Others ask this question in mocking and belittling manner. In my mind, as a Muslim, I welcome skepticism, challenge, and inquisition to my faith and belief system because if I can’t confront skeptic inquiries into my religion then something is clearly fundamentally wrong with this religion! Why should anyone imprison himself in a faith that cannot confront inquisition? A belief system that cannot stand its own ground against its criticizers should be discarded, and humanity should move on to bigger and better things.

In a series of essays I’m going to attempt to shed some light on those topics in Islam that seem to be most controversial causing much ado due to misunderstandings that are mostly benign but sometimes malicious. In any case, these topics are important to me as a Muslim because having a clear understanding of my underlying belief system is pivotal to the degree of my commitment to it. It is also important to clarify these topics for the non Muslim who is interested in Islam in light of the major crimes committed during the last 10 years or so in the name of that religion. It is a sad truth that many have condemned the religion of Islam to guilt by association to the crimes committed in its name by those who claim to be devout believers.

In my mind there are 3 schools of thought that constantly attempt to present Islam to the world; these are:

I.The Bin Ladens of the world; who present this religion as a vortex of discord amidst a polarized human race, namely the Believers vs. The Infidels, locked in a cosmic conflict of annihilation or subjugation.

II.What I call the “Apologetic Muslims”. These Muslims that lack deep understanding of their religion yet are clinging to it because something in their souls tells them it is the road to their salvation. These Muslims, in their inability to reconcile their belief system with the barrage of assaults Islam is under everyday, end up diluting Islam to the extent of watering it down completely. In my opinion, this process of dilution leaves no more Islam in the religion. This is not to be understood that I consider them non Muslim, on the contrary, I believe they are devout Muslims that just can’t deal with the pressure, hence had to find a way out; but what seemed to be a way out of the pressure is actually a way out of the religion itself and most of what it stands for. May Allah give them strength and resolve in these turbulent times. 

III.The moderates, or rationalists of the Muslim world who attempt to walk this infinitely fine line of moderation. They try to understand Islam as a whole, try to contextualize what they read, hear, and see. They try to follow the footsteps of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). They try to understand Islam as a message from God to them, not from God to the scholars of 1200 years ago. This is not an assault on those scholars by any means; but one cannot be held prisoner to an understanding of Islam that is 12 centuries old without subjecting this understanding to at least the most basic critical thinking tools civilization had taught us human beings. What should’ve been a station on the way of a great journey of knowledge and understanding of the Creator’s message to his creation suddenly became the ultimate destination, and the journeyers stopped! A diabolic mixture of political acquisitiveness, tribal conflicts, medieval intolerance, sheer greed, and lust for hegemony is at the center of answering this sudden death of intellectual progress. Those Moderates can see through all of this.

The Paradox of the “Other” in contemporary Muslim thought

An observer of the current state of affairs between Muslims and non-Muslims, be they Christian, Jew, Buddhist, or any “Other” maybe left with a strong sense that Islam does not accept the “Other” at all, and that Islam stops at nothing short of total hegemony and dominance of belief. What adds to the complexity of the situation is that the reader of Islamic literature that was written hundreds of years ago finds ample evidence of such claims. This is only true if one reads these texts completely voiding them from their contextual circumstances.

Islamic Jurisprudence or, as Muslims call it in Arabic, Fiqh from its days of infancy had to deal with the “Other”, but because of the political realities of that time that “Other” was always in conflict with Islam. To illustrate the validity of this claim, here are some examples of such conflicts affecting earlier literature:

I.The non believers of the Arab peninsula and their 20 years of warfare against the Muslims, the eviction of the Muslims of Mecca from their homes, the persecution of Muslims everywhere in the peninsula.

II.The refusal of the Jews of Medina (Khaybar, Banu Quraitha, & Banu Qainuqa) to honor the constitution mutually agreed upon by them and the Muslims which stated what amounts to what we know today as the “Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship”. This led to much animosity between both sides that culminated first by the extradition of Banu Qainuqa, then Banu AlNadeer, then the execution of Banu Quraitha’s Warriors, and finally the extradition of the Jews from Khaybar. 1

III.The animosity between the Roman Christians during the early days of Islam and Muslims that culminated in two confrontations during the Prophet’s life (Mo’ata and Tabuk) and continued after his death.

Since the early days of Islam the distant “Other” and the “Other” from within were in constant confrontation with Muslims. This is not by any means a hollow conjecture if the nature of how the world worked at that time is taken in to consideration. This was a world of “Eat or be Eaten” not only in this area of the world, but all over (even a 5 minute skim through world history during that time leaves no doubt about this conclusion.) Simply put, Islam, this young faith, was under the constant threat of annihilation as evident by the recurrent, well documented, battles Islam went through in which Muslims were on the defensive. The battle of “Al-Ahzab”, in which the entire Arab peninsula and the Jews of Medina, amassed 10,000 warriors to crush Muslims and their Religion; at that time the entire Muslim army was 1,500! 2

This threat continued in many forms as Islamic influence grew. This growth did not aim at subjugating and converting people to Islam as many would like to think and propagandize. The early Muslims clearly understood that they will not be given safe passage to peacefully introduce people to Islam hence the fight was not for influence (although it became a driver to later Islamic leaders) but for what we today call “Freedom of Speech.”

The early Muslims wanted a safe medium through which to expose people to Islam. For 10 years in Mecca; Muslims saw nothing but persecution. History books are filled with the horrors they faced at the hands of their oppressors. Even the Prophet himself, who’s family is well respected in his tribe, was strangled, spat at, covered with filth and dirt as he prayed, and called every mocking name one can think of. Muslims did not conspire to assassinate, or kill any of there oppressors. Muslims gained much needed strength that enabled them to retaliate at least sporadically after Hamza and Omar (two strong, well connected, and revered men in the tribe of Mecca) became Muslim; yet they didn’t. Those 10 years ended as Muslims migrated to Medina leaving all their valuables behind, taking only what they can afford to carry on a horse or camel at night as they fled in fear to the unknown. In Medina things weren’t much better; conspiracies to kill the prophet, battles to annihilate Muslims (Badr3, Uhud, AlAhzab, and many more) assassinations of Muslims (the famous massacre of Ba’er Maoona4 as an example) and many more affirmed to Muslims beyond any doubt that they will never be granted safe passage; neither to practice their religion nor to teach it.

Given the above, classic Islamic literature always saw the “Other” as either an enemy that will stop at nothing but destroying Islam and Muslims, or suspicious “Dhimmi”5 who is sometimes recruited by the external enemies. For this reason, concepts like “Dar Al-Islam” (the house of Islam), and “Dar-Alharb”  (the house of War) are scattered all over early Islamic Fiqh literature.

This view of the “Other” stagnated, and the concept of the “Other” being a “friendly” or not a “Dhimmi” but a member of an international family of nations; sharing roles and responsibilities with others, living in peace and harmony, and respecting the sovereignty of other nations and peoples in a frame of agreed upon International treaties did not crystallize. Obviously a huge failure in contemporary Islamic ideology. 

By the same token, the early Islamic scholars did not even imagine that the “Other” could be a full partner in a nation or country not just someone who is given protection by an Islamic state. They also did not imagine that “Other” to be independent of the external enemy even if they share the same religion or ideology because that just didn’t exist before our modern day civilization at any noticeable scale. Another failure.

This view of the “Other” is so clearly manifested in the works of Ibn Taymiya & his protege Ibn al-Qayyim. In fact ibn al-Qayyim wrote a book that he called “Ahkam Ahl AlDhimma” or “The rules of the Dhimmis” in which he basically demands that Christians and Jews within the Islamic Lands should pay the “Jizya” (a poll-tax) “in humiliation”, thus interpreting the Quranic Verse to be directed at all and any one that is among the “People of the Book” which we will prove wrong later in this essay. He also, ostentatiously, called for marking their clothes and homes so that people can identify them, and called for extreme measures to limit their freedoms in any way, shape, or form.

In general ibn-Qayyim’s thought of the “People of the Book” or the “Dhimmis” of his time in the most despicable way one can think of; but that, in his contemporaries’ minds, had its roots due to the reasons described earlier about the animosity between all sides, add to it the fact that during ibn-Qayyim’s time (1292 - 1350) the horrors of the Crusades and the Mongols were still haunting the Muslim world.

While one could come to terms with ibn-Qayyim’s brutal rhetoric in light of the traumatic nature of his time; what really is bizarre is how his ideas crept into modern day minds such as that of the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb for example, who in spite of his enormous contribution to the interpretation of Quranic Text, fell victim to ibn-Qayyim’s venomous ideas in his commentary on the Quran.6      

We also find similar ideas in modern day writings such as those of the Syrian Said Hawa & Abdel Gawwad Yaseen. Also in Pakistan, we find traces of the same rehtoric in Abul A’la Maududi’s writing. Not to mention Saudi Salafi & Wahabbi texts: which take this venomous rhetoric to new dimensions!3

Based on the above; the most difficult task at hand in handling such a delicate subject is the process of freeing Islam itself from the vicious claws of historic turmoil. Equally difficult will be the task of re-attuning the religious text of the Quran back into its original unbiased framework such that its interpretation is congruent with the goals of Islam not the emotions of the earlier interpreters and their traumatic experiences or the deceitful goals   of the politically motivated.



Back to Basics

Human beings will always differ, dispute, and fall into conflict in every aspect of their lives. That’s an indisputable fact. If God created us all, and if the Quran is his message to all of us, how could he have overlooked the nature of his creation, hence condemning humanity to an endless existential war? Does the Quran promote such a war, let alone commands the believer to embark on it?

Here’s a sample of what the Quran has to say about this very important point:

“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one People: but they will not cease to dispute.” [Surah 11 - Verse 118]

“If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!” [Surah 10 - Verse 99]

“If Allah so willed, He could make you all one People: but He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions.” [Surah 16 - Verse 93]

Obviously the 3 verses above intersect at one fundamental fact. We are created different, God wanted us this way, and Muslims have to accept this as a fact and deal with it as part of there faith in God.

In fact Islam, through the Quran is pretty clear about the role of Muslims towards the difference we pointed out above and the role of even the Prophet vis-à-vis the “Other”.

“Therefore do thou give admonition, for thou art one to admonish. Thou art not one to manage (men’s) affairs. But if any turns away and rejects Allah, Allah will punish him with a mighty Punishment. For to Us will be their Return;Then it will be for Us to call them to account.” [Surah 88 - Verse 21-26]

Note the assertion that the Prophet himself only warns and doesn’t “manage” other’s affairs. Also note the last verse as God says “It will be for Us to call them to account”.
“We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.” [Surah 34 - Verse 28]

Note the restriction of the Prophet to “give glad tidings” and to “warn”.

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” [Surah 16 - Verse 125]

“If then they turn away, We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty is but to convey (the Message). And truly, when We give man a taste of a Mercy from Ourselves, he doth exult thereat, but when some ill happens to him, on account of the deeds which his hands have sent forth, truly then is man ungrateful!” [Surah 42 - Verse 48]

Note “We have not sent thee as a guard over them” and “Thy duty is but to convey”.

Also, the Quran leaves no room for interpretation of the freedom of religion based on the above verses and the following:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” [Surah 2 - Verse 256]

“Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine.” [Surah 109 - Verse 1-6]

“Say, “The Truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject” [Surah 18 - Verse 29]

I don’t know what more proof is required in order to further assert Islam’s commitment to Freedom of choice and non violence. The Quran is filled with verses that speak to the “Other” gently, clearly, and passionately debating and introducing questions for the listener to ponder. The Quran in these debates has a tendency to end every argument point with questions such as “Will you not Contemplate?”, “Will you not Think?”, or “Will you not Understand?” Clearly this message is trying to initiate dialogue and challenge intellectually. As the Quran metaphorically puts the answer forward to those who refuse to open their eyes:

“Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts.” [Surah 22 - Verse 46]

What went wrong?

If this is the message Islam carries, how come things went horribly wrong to the extent that some people perform mass killings in the name of this Book and the God that revealed it?

At the center of this issue is a Surah (chapter) in the Quran that was revealed 13 months before the Prophet (PBUH) died. The Surah’s name is (At-Touba) meaning “Repentance”, also named (Bara’ah) meaning “The Declaration”.

The understanding, or misunderstanding, of Muslims over the years of this Surah is key to answering this question. A great number of Muslim Scholars, over the years, have treated this Surah as the new norm in international relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims (Pagans and People of the Book alike). They more or less nullified all previous verses in the Quran that called for peace, tolerance, and dialogue. Some of them even claimed that the Surah has what they called “The Verse of the Sword”; the verse that displaces peaceful means by the “Sword”! What is very strange is that those same scholars did not even agree amongst themselves as to which verse the “Verse of the Sword” exactly is! Some said it is verse 5, others claim its verse 29, and others vote on 36!

Verse 5 and 29, if read out of context, can surely lead to such twisted understanding (and I will talk about this later in this paper). Verse 36 cannot under any circumstances be twisted in such manner even if taken out of context, and even if completely read in a vacuum. The verse says:

“.... and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” [Surah 9 - Verse 36]

Does this sound like a verse that could qualify for the nomination of what they called “The Verse of the Sword”? If one reads half of it (”fight the Pagans all together”) then maybe yes, but that’s not how it was revealed hence not how it should be read or interpreted!

Some other scholars weren’t as extreme as the ones described above, but they still ended up with an actually even more troubling conclusion!

Their rhetoric was based on the premise that the verses that call for tolerance and dialogue are not nullified but were “Tactical” in nature, and the “Strategic” direction of Islam is to declare an offensive religious war if and when possible! In essence they call for deceptive dialogue, makeshift tolerance, and peace when Muslims are weak and cannot endure a confrontation, and they call for an assault/war when Muslims can! In my mind this is an even more troubling conclusion because it indirectly accuses Allah of deception and ill will which is obviously blasphemous if one thinks about it rationally!

A More detailed look at Surat (At-Touba)

This Surah of the Quran starts by declaring null all obligations and treaties Muslims have with the Pagans of the Arab Peninsula. If it stopped there it would’ve been enough to be grounds for what the Bin Ladens of the world seek in conflicting with the non-believers; but it doesn’t just stop there! After that declaration the Surah names a very important exception:

“(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided anyone against you. So fulfill your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous.” [Surah 9 - Verse 4]

Note the annulment of treaties does not include those who did not fail to uphold the treaty either directly or by proxy.

After this very important exception, the Surah calls for an all out war against the ones that have no treaties. Why? Is it hegemony? Is it that God just changed His mind about what we discussed earlier here about Islam’s policy of non violence and freedom of belief? If the Surah stopped there that would certainly have been the case, but the answer comes in the subsequent verses.

First the Surah commands the Prophet to give shelter to any non-believer who is not a combatant and who seeks refuge in Muslims for any reason.
“If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.” [Surah 9 - verse 6]

So, verse 6 clearly establish yet another exception. Clearly the Surah called for “all out war” when it said in verse 5:

“But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah 9 - Verse 5]

So who are these pagans that the Surah ordered Muslims to fight? We established that they are not the ones with upheld treaties, and they are also not those who are seek refuge in Muslims. So who are they? Obviously we are left with only one category of pagans; namely, those who have no treaties and are involved in aggressive behavior towards the Muslims in the form of warfare. Can we substantiate that claim?

In verse 7 the Surah reiterates one more time the importance of upholding treaties while alluding to those who fall outside the exception boundaries mentioned earlier.
“How can there be a league, before Allah and His Messenger, with the Pagans, except those with whom ye made a treaty near the Sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them: for Allah doth love the righteous.” [Surah 9 - Verse 7]

Then the Surah enumerates the qualities of those it is pointing to in clear details in 3 verses; 8 to 10:

“How (can there be such a league), seeing that if they get an advantage over you, they respect not in you the ties either of kinship or of covenant? With (fair words from) their mouths they entice you, but their hearts are averse from you; and most of them are rebellious and wicked.

The Signs of Allah have they sold for a miserable price, and (many) have they hindered from His way: evil indeed are the deeds they have done.

“In a Believer they respect not the ties either of kinship or of covenant! It is they who have transgressed all bounds.” [Surah 9 - Verses 8-10]

The the Surah asks a very important question to Muslims (the question is from God), a question that seems to be reasoning with them, explaining the rationale behind everything that was said so far:

“Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do ye fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe!” [Surah 9 - Verse 13]

Clearly there’s compelling motive. These people have “violated their oaths”, “plotted” against Muslims and the Prophet, and were “first to assault”. Does this sound like an offensive war?

The Surah, after explaining the position of Muslims towards the pagans on the offensive and in violation of their treaties, turns towards another type of enemy. This time the Christians and the Jews of the peninsula who were also on the aggressive towards this new religion (at that time the Romans to the north of the peninsula were starting to be disturbed by the seemingly increased influence of the new religion). Again, in a world of “Eat or be Eaten” conflict was just a matter of time. For 20 years Islam offered to coexist with its neighbors but they showed they would stop at nothing short of complete annihilation of this faith that calls for the rich to give the poor and calls for the equality of the slave and his master! An ideology, at the time, that seemed so offensive for the rich and powerful that clearly action had to be taken. The Surah hence starts an assault on those Christens and Jews of the Roman empire and its surroundings to the north in what maybe is the most controversial verse in the entire Quran. A verse that if put in the context described here would stop being as offensive as people think. Here’s the translation of the verse:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” [Surah 9 - Verse 29]

When reading this verse, the reader has to pay attention to two pivotal points:

I.The verse is not talking about all Christians and Jews because it clearly said “from among the People of the Book”.

II.Those Christians and Jews the verse alludes are clearly in conflict, as described earlier, with Muslims. The language of the verse is harsh because its clearly talking about an enemy, that should’ve not been an enemy since from the Quran’s perspective the “People of the Book” were the first to be expected to welcome the Messenger of Allah not to reject him!

From the above, it is clear that every “Other” named by the Surah in its declarations is an “Other” that is in active conflict with Muslims. I invite the reader to study this Surah as one unit and then draw his conclusion on whether this Surah calls for an all out “Offensive” war or an all out “Defensive” war in which Muslims can bring stability and peace to their young nation. The entire world fought world war II against the Nazis because Hitler had to be stopped and if left he would’ve transgressed on every free nation in the world given enough time. Islam could not have averted conflict even if it wanted to, because conflict was knocking on its door every day for 20 years and then more after the Prophet died. The biggest proof of this claim is that right after the Prophet’s death, the pagans of the Arab Peninsula renounced Islam and embarked into open warfare against the Muslims in what was called the Wars of [“Riddah”] or infidelity.


Conclusion

The History of our violent world, regardless of ideology or religion, had contributed to hostile interpretation of the Quran causing much turmoil for centuries. While this interpretation can be rationalized in light of its historical circumstances it certainly needs revision in today’s world of international laws and sovereign countries. Islam is not a hostile religion, but it is also not a passive religion. Muslims, from an Islamic ideology standpoint, will, and should, fight back when attacked (i.e. self defense as defined by UN charters in this day and age) and when peaceful means are unattainable; this is the right of every nation and people under all international charters. The right to defend one’s self against aggression, hegemony, and oppression is a noble cause, but that defense has to be legitimate and through honorable means. The killing of civilians, the slaughter of innocent people, and the barbaric explosions and bombing are crimes against Islam and humanity in general if committed by people wearing military uniform or otherwise, by terrorists or soldiers, and by fugitives or elected governments.

“For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.” [Surah 5 - Verse 32]

Notes

1.It is beyond the scope of this essay to prove or disprove the events mentioned in this context. Like any other conflict between two factions, each side has its own story to tell, and each side carries the burden of proof in the court of public opinion. The fact that these events are recorded in Islamic history as described here is enough to illustrate the point we’re trying to make in regard to how early Muslims viewed the “Other” even if the reader doesn’t agree with the factual accurateness of the events and how they occurred. Muslims believe the stories in the way described here, and that’s enough, for them, to formulate conclusions based on this understanding.

2.This battle ended without fighting after a huge storm (believed by Muslims to be sent by God) caused the armies to disperse, albeit some skirmishes with the besieging armies from the outside and the Jewish population inside the borders of Medina itself after they violated the signed treaty with the Muslims following their belief that the Muslims stood no chance against the 10,000 men sieging army.

3.Badr, was indeed an offensive battle in which Muslims attempted, successfully, to recapture the wealth they were forced to leave behind when they escaped Mecca. In fact, some Islamic historic sources claim that the trading caravan that was attacked, causing Badr, was entirely financed by the wealth Muslims left behind in Mecca.

4.The massacre of Ba’er Maoona refers to the documented event that an Arab tribe sent an envoy to the Prophet claiming their acceptance of Islam and their need for teachers to introduce them to the new religion. The prophet accepted their claim and sent 70 of his companions to them to teach the religion. Those 70 men were all brutally slaughtered in what was later discovered to be a setup. 

5.The Word “Dhimmi” (Someone who is protected by a treaty) or “Ahl El-Dhimma” (The people that are protected by a treaty) is one of the most abused terms in Islamic literature. It is portrayed as a derogatory term, yet it merely means “Protected People by treaty.” These are the people who became part of an Islamic state and do not wish to become Muslims. These rules were a breakthrough in freedom of religion when they were set by Islam because, as it is historically documented, choice was not an option during the times before Islam, and what we enjoy today in our modern day democracies did not exist in any way, shape, or form during these times. This should not be considered as an argument that Muslims did not, themselves, commit the same mistakes later in their quest for hegemony. It is clearly documented that some Muslim rulers (Al-Hajjaj Ibn Youssef in Iraq as a point in case) did persecute religious minorities, even Muslim religious minorities in the case of Al-Hajjaj (Shia Muslims, and other different schools of Islamic thought.) The fact remains that “Dhimmi” is a term that is supposed to indicate rights and freedoms not otherwise!

6.Sayyid Qutb, in my opinion, is one of the most misunderstood and misquoted contemporary Islamic thinkers. Radical Islamic ideologies of the 20th century are said to be the fruit of his work, but I tend to disagree. Qutb was an exceptionally gifted writer and scholar, no other Muslim (contemporary or otherwise) who wrote anything about the Quran came remotely close to Qutbs’ sensational commentary on the Quran. Qutb completed his commentary then later rewrote the first 10 chapters in which all his seemingly radical ideas first made appearance. It is extremely important to note that during the time he rewrote these controversial 10 chapters he was under arrest in an Egyptian prison during Nasser’s rule; suffice to say that the torture he endured in his prison left him with only one semi-functional lung after which he became the only over 60 years old prisoner in modern Egyptian history to be executed for political reasons! (Egypt’s constitution prohibits the execution of senior political prisoners.)  The torture Qutb endured left a permeant scar on this extremely fragile, kind, emotional man’s personality that gave way to most of his questionable ideas. Add to that the fact that Qutb was from the generation that could not deal with the “shock, disappointment, and resentment” of the independence of Israel on the lands of Palestine. Qutbs entire generation had nothing but resentment and hate towards Jews (and by association Christians who, in this generations’ mind, aided the Jewish state through the famous Belfour Declaration.) It is grossly unfair to evaluate the man without considering the enormous suffering he endured, and the political atmosphere in which his ideas were born. This man left behind a treasure in the form of a commentary on the Quran. This treasure, unfortunately, contains a few “land-mines” the reader needs to maneuver around.


Please visit Ahmed Talaat’s site at http://www.threaddump.org


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