Muhammad Qutb's
Islam : the Misunderstood Religion

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Elmer Swenson
Last Updated: 6-27-2005


  1. What's so special about Muhammad Qutb and his book Islam : the Misunderstood Religion?
  2. Why do educated "Westernized" Muslims have doubts that "Islam is not a mere creed," but a complete system of economics, with civil, criminal and international legal codes?
  3. What are the "Masters" who control Westernized Muslims like?
  4. Why does Qutb thinks the Western "masters" are "perverted, savage, avaricious, barbarous, monstrous, hideous," and so on?


  5. What is the place of women in (Qutb's) Islam?
  6. Why does "Islam" exclude women from the job of running a country or an economy?
  7. Why is "the evidence of two women ... in Islam equivalent to that of one man"?
  8. Why does "Islam" allow scourging (beating) of wives?
  9. If men and women in "Islam" have "perfectly equal status," can a woman beat a man when the man misbehaves?
  10. Why does "Islam permits women to go outside their houses only when there is really a genuine need for them to do so"?
  11. Why can a man divorce a woman just by saying "talaq, talaq, talaq,"?
  12. How do we know women love a strong man?
  13. More fun facts about female psychology
  14. What was the place of women in Europe traditionally?
  15. How did the industrial revolution affect women in Europe?
  16. Why were European women paid less than men in factories during the industrial revolution?
  17. Why did women put up with being paid less then men?
  18. Why did Europe "finally outlaw" prostitution?
  19. What was people's sex life like in Communist countries?
  20. What is the sex life of Americans like?


  21. What was slavery like under Islam?
  22. What country or civilization was the first to free slaves?
  23. Why was slavery tolerated by Islam?
  24. Why did Europe free its slaves?


  25. Fun facts about America
  26. Fun facts about Scandinavia (and Britain, France and America)
  27. Why do many Europeans oppose Shari'ah Law - ... stoning of adulteresses, beheading of murderers, the dismemberment of thieves, etc.?
  28. Why do some people drink alcohol?
  29. How have Non-Muslims been treated under Islam? How will they be treated under (Qutb's) Islam?
  30. Is Islam guilty of "restricting freedom of thought simply because it prohibits atheism"?
  31. Is (Qutb's) Islam "guilty of dictatorship"?
  32. Are Muslim jurisprudents similar to Christian clergy?
  33. Why do Westerners think science and religion somehow conflict?
  34. Does science conflict with religion?
  35. What are the "two pillars of capitalism"?
  36. How do we know (Qutb's) Islam will solve the problems of poverty and inequality?
  37. If Islam is so wonderful, why is the Muslim world in such a bad state?
  38. What ought Muslims to do?
  39. What does it all mean?


1. What's so special about Islam : the Misunderstood Religion and its author, Muhammad Qutb?

Another book on the Qur'an, the prophet and the Five Pillars, clearing up misconceptions about the Religion Of Peace for curious non-Muslims? Not this time.

This book is for Muslims, not non-Muslims. Specifically it's for the "sincere and enlightened youth, who earnestly wish to find out the reality, the truth, but the doubts and lies spread about Islam by the deceitful imperialistic powers leave them helpless to see the light" of Islam.

And what are these "doubts and lies," these misunderstandings that Muhammad Qutb wants to clear up? Essentially that Islam -- i.e. the "fundamentalist," (quasi-traditionalist selectively modern) version of Islam Qutb supports --

  • is in any way imperfect (especially that it is "backward" or suited for middle ages but not the current day)
  • is in any way incomplete (that there is some aspect of life -- how many lashes to give a fornicator, or what goods and services the government ought to provide its citizens -- it doesn't touch on).
  • The author is (or was) the younger brother of the iconic shaheed martyr to Islamism, Sayyid Qutb. While Sayyid went to the gallows, Muhammad fled Egypt for the more fundamentalist-friendly Saudi Arabia to teach at a university (or universities) there. Though much less famous than his brother, Muhammed was influential in his own right. Not only did he help to make his brother famous by editing and publishing Sayyid's books, but there is good reason to believe that Muhammad Qutb influenced the world's most famous terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and that terrorist's al-Qaeda network, while Qutb was teaching and preaching in Saudi Arabia.

    For those of you without the time to read this ... invaluable book, I'd like to share some of the highlights I've skimmed off. Some of them I've checked against the facts, others speak for themselves. Hopefully they'll all give you an insight on the man who influenced a good number of the "sincere and enlightened youth" -- how he saw the world, what he wanted, whether his followers hate the West for "what it does or what it is."

    For more explanation, more quotations and for sources, click on the
    Details ...

    hyperlink (like the one here) at the end of each FAQ answer.
    It'll take you to the
    More Detail section.
    To go back to the FAQ list, click on a FAQ answer title.

    2. Why do educated "Westernized" Muslims have doubts that "Islam is not a mere creed," but a complete system of economics, with civil, criminal and international legal codes?

    They have been taught these doubts "in the history books prescribed by the agents of imperialism." These Westernized "`educated` people ... are merely expressing and parroting the imported thoughts of their masters," the Western (British) imperialists. (Qutb does not like these people one bit.)

    Details ...

    3. What are these Western "masters" like?

    They have a "perverted attitude toward life," an "innate inhuman character," are "crazy," "savage and backward," "pygmies", and characterized by "avarice ... miserliness, rigidity and ingratitude." They have brought the world "barbarous tyranny," and are leading it to "doom." Their crimes are "the most monstrous and hideous" yet "witnessed by mankind." Their economic system "has poisoned all life." The doctrine of their religion -- Christianity - consists of "imbecilities." Many of them "are criminal by nature," and for that reason oppose Islamic punishments of stoning, beheading, dismemberment. They are not only spreading "lies about Islam," but still "engaged" in a crusader war "against the Muslim world."

    Details ...

    4. Why does Qutb thinks the Western "masters" are perverted, savage, avaricious, barbarous, monstrous, hideous, etc.?

    COMMENT: When Westerners apply the post-9/11 question of, "Do they hate us for what we do, or for who we are?", to Qutb and his book, the answer is "for both" ... but as the previous section indicates most of the hate is for "who we are." That British rule or Western influence isn't good for Muslims is a given. Qutb's interest in imperialism is more as a weapon to be wielded against separation of religion and state -- if the "deceitful imperialistic powers" say Islam is a mere creed ... well, then, obviously that must be wrong.

    But there's a third set of grievances sprinkled throughout his book that Qutb makes to Muslim youth - beyond what Westerners have done or who they are, there are the things Qutb says Westerners have done that never actually happened. It's these grievances modernist Muslims and especially Westerners should probably be more aware of.

    Details ...


    5. What is the place of women in (Qutb's) "Islam"?

    On the one hand, Islam acknowledges "a perfectly equal status as human beings for both men and women" and treats "them as equals, entitled to equal rights." On the other hand, Islam (i.e. Qutb's interpretation of it) differentiates "between man and woman with regard to their special functions in life." (p.99) Men's function is to run governments, set economic policy and beat disobedient wives (not very hard) if necessary. Women's function is to take care of children and leave the house only in emergencies.

    Details ...

    6. Why does "Islam" exclude women from the job of running a country or an economy?

    "Forming of a government or legislating about national economy" is a man's job because "a woman is endowed" with "an emotional character rather than an intellectual one." Her natural job, "the upbringing of a child, calls for" emotional qualities, the "overflow of vehement feelings and passions," but "does not allow her to mediate coolly" as a political or business leader must.

    Details ...

    7. Why is "the evidence of two women ... in Islam equivalent to that of one man"?

    Well, again, because of that "vehemently emotional, impressionable" female character. For example, "it is quite possible that" in a court case, "the accused, against or for whom a woman appears as a witness, may be an attractive woman which may make the witness jealous and hostile towards her and so give a wrong evidence." So with a second woman witness "if one of [the women] is deceived or confused ... her companion may correct her."

    COMMENT: But wouldn't that next woman witness be jealous also? She's a woman, too! And what about all the court cases that don't involve attractive women or jealousy?

    Details ...

    8. Why does "Islam" allow scourging (beating) of wives?

    "If the wife is the cause of [marital discord], whom should we expect to correct her? The court?" Ridiculous! "No sensible man can ever think of taking to court all his petty grievances." Scourging is the solution.

    Besides, "in certain psychological perversions chastisement is the only effective remedy. The science of psychology tells us . . . in acute cases, e.g. masochism," conciliatory measures "fail, the only remedy in such cases being the physical chastisement of the persons concerned. Women rather than men are more generally the victim of this psychological malady."

    COMMENT: This makes no sense at all. If masochists enjoy pain, the pain of scourging would be an incentive, not a deterrent, for them to give their husbands more "petty grievances" to get more of those enjoyably painful beatings.

    Details ...

    9. So if men and women in "Islam" have "perfectly equal status" (not just "roughly equal" or "almost" equal status), can a woman beat a man when the man misbehaves?

    Get real! A woman "does not respect the husband whom she can beat and chastise"! (p.115)

    Details ...

    10. Why is it that "Islam permits women to go outside their houses only when there is really a genuine need for them to do so"?

    "Women's outside activities" found in "the West and communist nations" are "a mere folly which [Qutb's] Islam does not approve of," because they distract her from her "real primary function within her home." If a woman's "attention is diverted" away from "her real function of motherhood" toward "other unimportant activities," she "becomes just a plaything in the hands of men and a slave to their foolish demands, giving way to unchecked luxury and license ... "

    Details ...

    11. Why can a man divorce a woman just by saying "talaq, talaq, talaq (I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee)"?

    COMMENT: Traditionally this practice allows for no reconsideration, no "I take it back" by the husband. No matter how fully and passionately the husband and wife reconcile following a triple talaq, there can be no remarriage until the woman marries another man and consummates that marriage. Just the sort of issue those smirking Westernized "educated skeptics" point to as in need of reform and militant traditionalists like Qutb stoutly defend.
    But he doesn't. He ignores the issue. When it comes to divorce he'd rather talk about rhetorical straw men like banning divorce, or limiting it only to situations where the man can prove his wife is in the wrong (impractical, he says); and how high the divorce rate is in America (40%).

    Details ...

    12. How do we know women love a strong man?

    Well, just look at

    the case of the American woman. Who enjoys subjecting herself to man, makes love to him and tries to win him over. She is moved by his strong, well-built body, broad chest, and when satisfied of his strength as against her own physical weakness she surrenders her person to him.

    Details ...

    13. More fun facts about female psychology.

  • Where should a woman work?
    Though a woman may work outside of the home in an emergency (if, say, the husband dies), women "feel at ease in those professions only that have got an emotional appeal for her feminine nature viz. nursing, teaching or fostering." Working in a retail shop is okay too because it will "enable her to carry out her search for a male companion." But these kinds of jobs are mere sideshows that don't "satisfy her innate urge for a husband, a home, a family and children." (Italics added.)

    Details ...

  • What happens when women can't get married and have children?
    "Their most innate craving" will "remain ungratified - their craving for children, without whom their whole existence is reduced to a dull, lifeless drudgery."

    Details ...

  • If a woman can't stand someone, can she refuse to let that person in the family house?
    Amongst the three most important obligations of a wife to her husband are that "she should not let anyone enter his house whom he would not like to" have enter. But does the wife also have the right to "debar" anyone "from the house of her husband" that she would rather not have visit?
    Well, no, because "the impressions of the woman are in most of the cases illogical," so the wife might end up barring her mother-in-law or some other in-law. If the husband went along with this "it would be an act of mawkish tenderness that may soon suffer a change...", so that's out.

    Details ...

    14. What was the place of women in Europe?

    The woman was "a mere nonentity". A lucky few became a "means of diversion and entertainment for the licentious rich" men, but mostly "woman in Europe" were "content to live as animals - eating, drinking, bearing children, ... and working day and night."

    Details ...

    15. How did the Industrial Revolution affect women in Europe?

    "It brought in its wake the worst possible sufferings from women yet experienced by her throughout the history of mankind."

    Details ...

    16. Why were European women paid less than men in factories during the industrial revolution?

    Because of the "miserliness, rigidity and ingratitude," the willingness to "infect others with evils" for which "Europe has been for ever known."

    Details ...

    17. Why did women put up with this miserly ingratitude until the emancipation of women?

    Well, partly to earn a living, but also because of their "love" of "costly clothes, cosmetics etc.," and their need to get laid. You see, after tens of millions of men were killed in World War I, European women who would otherwise have become housewives took jobs. They did it to be able to eat, but

    The woman was not plagued by hunger alone; sex too claimed its share and gratification. As the number of men had fallen too low due to the war, not all the women could achieve that gratification through marriage. But the creed and religion prevalent in Europe did not allow polygamy - as Islam does in such periods of emergency. Thus the woman in Europe was left at the mercy of her passions that swept her away bon gre mal gre. Her need for bread and the urge to achieve sexual gratification besides her love for costly clothes, cosmetics etc., were the factors that forced her to this course of life. [p.94]
    Does he really mean women got jobs so they could have sex with the boss? Yes.
    factory-owners did not want working hands merely; they wanted to satisfy their lust as well. The helplessness of woman now promised them an excellent opportunity of which they fully availed themselves ... [p.94]
    So taking advantage of the situation
    The factory-owners exploited this weakness of woman to their own advantage. They paid her wages far less than those they paid to the male workers doing the same work ...
    Breaking up this disgusting nexus of materialism, greed, and lust was a post-coital fight by women for equal wages: a "stupendous revolution ... at last broke out" sweeping away "centuries-old iniquity and gross injustice," but creating a "new degenerate social order where" women "successfully ousted man from the position of leadership and authority."

    Thus we see that the emancipation of women was just an overreaction by women to (male) European society's greed, and its failure to allow men to have more than one wife -- both of which problems true Islam (i.e. Qutb's Islam) would remedy.

    COMMENT: But did any of this actually happen?

    Q. Was there a "stupendous revolution" following World War I?
    A. Of sorts. But it was about votes for women (equal pay for equal work was just one of many arguments in favor of women's suffrage).

    Q. Did this stupendous revolution follow a period of post-war wage and sex exploitation?
    A. No. It was spread out over decades both before and after the war.
    World War I was a milestone for suffrage in Britain, Germany, Russia and many states in America, but women won the vote as early as 1893 in Colorado and New Zealand, 1896 in Utah and Idaho, 1901 in Australia. Sweden and Norway gave the vote to women in 1909 and 1913 respectively.

    Q. Was Emancipation for women connected to the loss of large numbers of marriageable and employable males?
    A. There's no connection between the two. The aformentioned countries gave women the vote before the war, while in France and Italy -- where large numbers of males did die in the war -- women couldn't vote until decades later -- 1944 in France and 1945 in Italy.

    Q. What about widespread fornication between the women and their employers? The domination by women of European governments and institutions after World War I?
    A. These events seem to have escaped the notice of everyone except Qutb. (Women didn't commonly serve as ministers in government until the 1960s and 70s.)

    Details ...

    18. Why did Europe finally outlaw prostitution?

    They didn't need it any more.

    The civilized Western governments, which at last prohibited prostitution, did not act so out of any respect for the human status of a prostitute as such, [but because] these prostitutes had lost all their usefulness, their place having been taken by the common sybaritic society girls.

    FACT CHECK: This will come a surprise to anyone who's visited Amsterdam! Even in countries were prostitution isn't strictly legal, decriminalization is common.
    Q. What about the era Qutb is talking about? Was there a trend to prohibiting prostitution after World War I with the shortage of marriagable men?
    A. No. The poster country for `sybaritism` (and the one hardest hit by casualties during World War I), was Weimar Germany. It didn't ban prostitution, it decriminalized it.

    Details ...

    19. What was the sex life of people in communist countries like?

    Well "... in ancient Persia sexual anarchy was as rank as is at present associated with the communist countries."

    Q. Were sexual mores loose in the Communist Bloc countries?
    A. The Marxist-Leninist countries were famous for their sexual regimentation, not sexual anarchy. They prided themselves on having cleaned up the "bourgeois decadence" (i.e. "sybaritic society girls"!) of the regimes they overthrew. There were no bikinis, no plunging necklines, seldom any cosmetics and certainly no singles' bars and wife swapping. In China gays were shot; premarital sex was a rare and serious scandal. Soviet Russia was not as strict, but equally family-centered. Children lived with their parents until marriage, and often after it because of housing shortages.

    Details ...

    20. What is the sex life of Americans like?

    In America "every lad has a girl friend." These couples "go for picnics where they ... respond to the call of sex. They return from such picnics so relaxed that they can devote themselves to their studies."
    (FACT CHECK: We don't know that Qutb ever talked to an American, never mind heard them tell about how students all go on picnics to have sex.)
    Unfortunately, "trivial"-minded people in the Muslim world think this is good. These people, are so enthralled" by "Western moral corruption," that they forget that "American statistics ... show that 38% of secondary school girls are pregnant."

    FACT CHECK: If this sounds a little high it's because it would mean an average of one and half babies born to each American high school girl (minus any abortions and miscarriages) by the time their three years of high school were up! In fact "American statistics" show teen pregnancy rates a fraction of that number. The sexual revolution and teen pregnancy problem started a decade or so after Qutb originally wrote his book (1955), but in the last 25 years teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. never got above 12% (it's now more like 8.5%), and most of these pregnant teens were 18 and 19 -- too old to be in high school.

    Of course whether 38% or 12% or 3% of teens are pregnant, that's still too many. Teenagers should be maturing and getting an education, not having babies ... right? Well don't try and tell fundamentalists like Ayatollah Khomeini that. They believe in following the example of early Islam, and in 7th Century Arabia girls got married early. Though Qutb is (discretely) silent on the issue, Khomeini preached teen marriage, pregnancy and childrearing -- in fact, early teen pregnancy, right after puberty, which Khomeini figured came at age 9!

    Details ...


    21. What was slavery like under Islam?

    "... a state of perfect equality prevailed between the slave and his master" under true Islam.

    COMMENT: Few things infuriate Qutb more than European disapproval of the traditional Islamic practice of slave masters taking slaves as concubines.

    Islam made it lawful for a master to have a number of slave-women captured in wars and enjoined that he alone may have sexual relations with them ... Europe abhors this law but at the same gladly allows that most odious form of animalism according to which a man may have illicit relations with any girl coming across him on his way to gratify his animal passions
    i.e. adultery. "There is nothing common between [the] filthy, abominable trade of human bodies" known as prostitution, "and that clean and spiritual bond that ties a maid [slave] to her master in Islam."

    COMMENT: But could a "maid" say, "No thanks, Mr. Master. I'd rather not have sex with you"? Bear in mind that in many cases female slaves were defeated enemy taken as loot by their victorious Muslim warrior masters. Such a slave generally had had her home destroyed, property taken and father, brothers, and uncles killed by her slave master and the rest of the conquering army. How likely was it a maiden like this felt a "clean and spiritual bond" with her owner?

    FACT CHECK: Setting aside the master/slave sex issue, there's no question that Islam urges kindness to slaves and freeing of slaves. There's little question that most slaves in the Islamic world were treated better than their plantation counterparts in the Americas. But a slave's life was not easy let alone valued as "equal" with that of their master's. Zanj (African) slaves working in mines or to drain farmland had a miserable time. In 868-9 A.D. plantation slaves rebelled. 300,000 died when they sacked and burnt Basra.

    Details ...

    22. What country or civilization was the first to free slaves?

    Islam was

    the first to initiate the emancipation movement which took the world some seven centuries to adopt and enforce. The fact nonetheless is that Islam had before long practically put an end to slavery in the Arabian peninsula ...

    FACT CHECK: This would come as news to the strict traditionalist Muslims who resisted the "innovation" of banning slavery for decades. In 1855, one such traditionalist, Sheikh Jamal, the chief of the Ulama of Mecca (a very important man), pronounced "the ban on slaves is contrary to the Holy Shari'a." He declared the Muslim Ottoman Empire modernizers who tried to ban slavery "infidels," and urged good Muslims to kill them, assuring his followers "it is lawful to make their children slaves."

    The "infidel" Ottoman Sultan beat down the ensuing rebellion but relented on the issue of banning slave trading, allowing Hijaz to become a center for slave trading. 20 years later 25,000 slaves a year were being sold or exchanged in Mecca and Medina according to the Anti-Slavery Reporter correspondent at Alexandria Egypt.

    So when was an end put to slavery in the Arabian peninsula? It was banned by law in Saudi Arabia and Yemen in 1962.

    Details ...

    23. Why was slavery tolerated by Islam?

    Slavery was tolerated by Islam because

    it was not possible for Islam to forthwith set at liberty all the prisoners falling in its hands ... So the practice was tolerated just so long as there did exist no alternative to it.

    FACT CHECK: Long after belligerents began exchanging prisoners-of-war, slave trade continued in the Muslim world. An estimated 14 million black slaves were traded in Islam through the 20th Century, including 300,000 early in the 20th century.

    Details ...

    24. Why did Europe free its slaves?

    They were no longer cost effective. "Slavery in Europe came to an end only when, due to ... their incapacity to work, the slaves became more of an economic liability than an asset to their masters."

    Or then again, maybe it was the slave revolts: "successive revolutions ... broke out ... which in the end made it impossible for their master to hold them any longer in subjection."

    But whichever reason it was that slaves were freed for, they soon ended up as serfs, which was just another form of slavery, since: "The slave could not leave the soil which, if he did, he was declared a fugitive by law, bound in chains ... This form of slavery continued to exist in Europe till it was finally swept away by the French Revolution."

    FACT CHECK: Qutb is apparently mixing up two different eras: fall of the Roman Empire (which was followed by medieval feudalism), and the end of 19th century plantation slavery (which had a successful major slave rebellion), but (surprise!) has a few facts wrong.

    The Romans did have several major slave rebellions, but they weren't successful and slavery continued for centuries after, dwindling away only when the rest of the economy did, as the Empire collapsed 500 years later. The Romans who became serfs weren't ex-slaves, but small farmers seeking protection from marauders by joining large landholders. By the time the French Revolution abolished feudalism, serfdom had been dead or dying for centuries. Feudalism was based on protection for peasants and broke down whenever they didn't need it.

    Western leftists argue that the Haitian slave rebellion and not the anti-slavery movement killed plantation slavery. As usual, Qutb presents the Leftist critique as establish fact when it comes down against Western Civilization, and angrily attacks it when it criticizes traditional Islam.

    Details ...


    25. Fun facts about America

  • The "administrative system in the U.S.A." merely mimics that of the original 1300-year-old system of Islam. Municipal government in the U.S. is independent, but if its budget has any surplus or shortfall, "the balance will be sent to the authorities of the city [the city government sends its debts to the city government?!!] or to the state" or "paid by the state."
    Q. What happens when a local government body runs out of money in the U.S.?
    A.: City and county governments in America are on their own, responsible for their own budgets and their budget's shortfalls. What local government would ever limit in its spending knowing some higher government body had promised to cover its debts?? Qutb would have known all this if he'd known squat about America, or about the real world.

  • Why did America and the other "Western powers" want the Arabs to agree to "a joint defense pact (intended as a Middle Eastern equivalent of NATO) with them"? Because the Soviet superpower to their north had recently taken over the land of tens of millions of Uzbeki, Turkmen, Kazak Muslims, and might want to do the same to them?
    No. So the Western powers could "try" their "deadly weapons" on unsuspecting Arab allies and see how many they killed.
    In doing so they forcibly captured all the food production of the Arab world, exposed its people to dishonour and disgrace and when at last they no longer needed their services, kicked them out.
  • Is the American government democratic? No.
    Despite the appearances of freedom manifested in democratic elections, capitalism knows how to sneak into parliaments and government offices in order to achieve its shady ends by crooked means and under various names. (Italics added)
  • Can a country (like America) be "steeped in worldly pleasures, yet powerful and great"? No! Proof? A "news item" purporting "that 120,000 American military men deserted the armed forces."
    When did these 120,000 soldiers desert? The U.S. military saw only 21,000 convictions for desertion during World War when it expanded to several times its normal size (to 11+ million troops). Even during the disastrous Vietnam War only about 5,000 U.S. soldiers assigned to Vietnam deserted.

  • Should Abraham Lincoln get any credit for freeing American slaves? No. Lincoln issued "an order" freeing slaves "without preparing slaves mentally."
    COMMENT: Wouldn't that be a little impractical? The slaves were in enemy rebel hands so he couldn't very well "prepare" the slaves for freedom without winning the war, and he might not have won the enormously costly and bloody civil war he was fighting without the emancipation proclamation.

    COMMENT: Was Qutb just venting against the superpower that was bankrolling the zionist enemy? Possibly, but when his book was first published the U.S. was not Israel's major benefactor. It was still vying with the Soviet Union for support of the Arab world and had a partial arms embargo on Israel. It was only a minor supplier of armarments to Israel until after the 1967 war.

    Details ...

    26. Fun facts about Scandinavia (and Britain, France and America)

    "The English, the Americans and the French -- staunch advocates of racial and national discrimination -- admit that the Scandinavian peoples are the most civilized and affectionate peoples on earth." (italics added)

    COMMENT: Orderly, hard working, enlightened, tough -- sure. But affectionate? And not just affectionate, but the most "affectionate people on earth"??

    Details ...

    27. Why do many Europeans oppose Shari`ah Law - ... the stoning of adulteresses, beheading of murderers, the dismemberment of thieves, etc.?

    "There can be no reason why some Europeans are afraid of the application of the rules of Islam except that they are criminal by nature and persist in committing crimes which lack all justification."

    COMMENT: Well, the "criminal by nature" part is certainly true if you think drinking alcohol and fornication are criminal acts, but there may be more legitimate reasons for European opposition. If someone has their hand or foot cut off they're disabled for life; not so if their punishment is a term in a prison. Modern bracelets that monitor offenders for drugs/alcohol and/or their location weren't around when Muhammad was prophet. They are now. Another problem is the shariah punishments (aka hudood), are so harsh they end up seldom being used in places they are theoretically in effect like Nigeria and Pakistan. But of course, if a punishment is seldom used, it's hard for it to deter crime.

    Details ...

    28. Why do some people drink alcohol?

    "Liquor and other narcotics are needed only by delinquent societies," places "where people suffer from" maladies like inequality, poverty, tyranny and "the hateful and monstrous noise of modern machinery."

    FACT CHECK: Some of the heaviest drinking countries are: Luxembourg, where the average person drinks an equivalent of 17.54 liters of alcohol a year, the Czech Republic with 16.21 liters, Ireland 14.45.
    Are they "delinquent"? You decide.

    Details ...

    29. How have Non-Muslims been treated under Islam?
    How will they be treated under (Qutb's) Islam?

    Muslims have treated Christians generously while Christians tortured and killed Muslims.

    COMMENT: But hasn't there been brutality on both sides? The thousands of Bulgarian and Syrian Arab Christians killed in the 19th Century, the one or two million Armenians killed during World War I? Qutb makes no mention of these incidents except to allude briefly and vaguely to "very rare incidents" of "religious persecution ... engendered by the British Colonialists for the purpose of sowing dissention and diversion."

    What about the traditional command to Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule to pay tribute (jizyah) and feel humbled? Might this, and not colonialism, have led non-Muslims to rebel? Qutb come up with two (very contradictory) explanations why not -- first claiming the tribute is actually a fee for military exemption available to anyone (and ignoring the humiliation), then claiming the tribute and humilitation are punishments exacted only against hostile non-Muslim enemies!

    Details ...

    30. Is Islam guilty of "restricting freedom of thought simply because it prohibits atheism"?

    No. Because "disowning one's God" is not "freedom of thought, but freedom of atheism." "These so-called liberals are not interested in the freedom of thought but are rather more interested in spreading moral corruption and uncontrolled sexual anarchy."

    Details ...

    31. Is (Qutb's version of) Islam "guilty of dictatorship"?

    Qutb scoffs at fears of "free thinkers" who claim the "vast powers" of the Islamic state will "lead to dictatorship". These are "false accusations ... refuted" by the simple fact that the Qur'an teaches that Muslim rulers should be just and should consult the ruled.

    COMMENT: But what happens if Islamic fundamentalists rulers take vast powers for themselves and aren't just and don't heed the consultation of the (majority) of people - as has happened with the Islamist revolutionaries ruling Iran? Qutb has nothing to say to refute this, but it's clear he's in favor of an Islamic state that would have the "vast powers" that the "free thinkers" fear and the Iranian Islamists have used.
    Like the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamists in Iran, he believes those who have left Islam (apostates), are to be killed. And like the Ayatollah he believes the Islam they are forbidden to leave is not just a faith but a complete economic, social, philosophical and legal system. In other words, there are all sorts of transgressions under Qutb's Islam for which a Muslim might be declared an apostate and put to the sword.

    Details ...

    32. Are Christian and Muslim clergy similar?

    No. The Christian church tortured and burned scientists and "passed a set of lies and superstitions." Islamic institutions merely "challenge and criticize an individual's understanding of religion."

    FACT CHECK: These days Christian Churches have put torture and burning of heretics behind them, while some influential Islamic clerics (e.g. Egyptian Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali) have supported the killing of Muslim "apostates" and "arrogant" non-Muslims.

    Details ...

    33. Why do Westerners think science and religion somehow conflict?

    Because Christian clerics tortured and burnt scientists alive for heresies like proclaiming that "the earth was round." They fail to realize that this conflict is confined to Christianity (or at least religions other than Islam) because "there is no trace of any conflict between science and their religious beliefs to be found in the minds of these great Muslim scientists."

    FACT CHECK: No scientist has ever been tortured, or burnt, or otherwise executed by the Catholic or other Christian churches for believing the earth wasn't flat, because those churches never believed or taught such a thing. One man was executed by the Catholic inquisition for, amongst other things, preaching the earth was not the center of the universe (Giordano Bruno, 1548-1600) ... but Qutb would have executed Bruno too if Bruno had been a Muslim - Bruno also taught sacred scripture was fable. At least one of the great Muslim scientists, ibn Rushd (aka Averroes), was tried, convicted and banished (temporarily) for heresy by his local religious community (in 1195 AD).

    However backward the Catholic Church used to be in its knowledge of astronomy, in recent centuries it appears to have passed up Al-Azhar, the oldest, biggest, and leading Islamic school (and one that Qutb speaks of favorably). The Catholic Church admitted its geocentric mistake two centuries ago, while Al-Azhar went on teaching that the sun circles the earth until the Egyptian government forced them accept modern astronomy in 1961!

    Details ...

    34. Does Science conflict with religion?

    It does conflict if erring humans make it supreme over God (as foolish Westerners have done). An example of this is the denial by scientists of existence of telepathy, despite proof from narratives (ahadith) passed down by companions of the Prophet (p). Around 641 A.D. Caliph Omar sent a telepathic message to Muslim commander Sariah hundreds of miles away. As a result Sariah escaped an enemy ambush and marched on to victory.

    COMMENT: This accusation doesn't quite make sense. A proper scientist wouldn't/couldn't deny that telepathy occurred between Omar and Sariah 1300+ years ago. They weren't there to observe what happened. They'd only say controlled experiments don't detect it now.

    But telepathy is just the tip of the science-and-religion iceberg. What would happen if a scientist questioned other traditional pre-scientific interpretations of the Qur'an, such as the creation of the earth in six 24-hour periods, of the first human from soil, jinn (genies) from fire, that stars are lamps decorating the sky, that 1400 years ago the moon was split in two and then reunited, etc.??

    Would they also be engaging in a "cult of science-worship," not science, and demanding supremacy over religion? Is this why we know there is not "even a single scientific fact which has been found to contradict" Qutb's Islam? And that no Muslim scientist has ever been "persecuted for their views"? Because if they do they aren't real scientists?

    Qutb doesn't say.

    Details ...

    35. What are the "two pillars of Capitalism"?

    "Usury and monopoly." "Capitalism cannot prosper or grow without usury and monopoly". The two practices form "the mainstay of the capitalist economy." And since "the evil of capitalism has poisoned all life" - being "monstrous" and currently in a "morbidly evil phase" - an Islamic economic system that forbids both the charging interest on loans (aka usury) and the stifling of competition, will be just the thing to cure life of this poison.

    FACT CHECK: Islamic banking is now a booming $200+ billion business, though one serving a niche in the financial world of capitalism (still alive and well) rather than as a replacement for it. (Far and away the largest Islamic bank is one owned by a Western consortium, Citigroup.) Islamic banking replaces interest on loans with payments using arabic names, but doesn't replace capitalist economic order, or even much of the market for loans.

    Details ...

    36. How do we know (Qutb's) Islam will solve the problems of poverty and inequality?

    We know it from two naratives (ahadith) passed down by companions of the Prophet (p)

    If a person who is charged with work for us has no wife, he shall have one; if he has no dwelling place, he shall have one; if he has no servant, he shall have one, if he has not animal, he shall have one.
    A man came to the Prophet (peace and prayer of God be upon him) begging for anything to live on. The Prophet gave him an axe and a rope and ordered him to collect some wood and sell it and live by its price. He further told the man to come back and report what would happen to him

    According to Qutb, these serve as instructions to Muslims to redistribute the excess wealth of the rich to the poor, and guarantee employment to all. Thus poverty and (extreme) inequality will be eliminated under Qutbian Islamic government.

    COMMENT: Now that the Soviet Union is gone and (formerly) Marxist-Leninist countries eagerly seek out capitalist investment, there is less talk about a welfare state and redistribution being "Islamic". Could this be a warning against amateur interpretation of eternal and unchanging Islamic law, positing as Islamic whatever economic or social theory happens to be popular at the time?

    Details ...

    37. If Islam is so wonderful, why is the Muslim World In such a bad state?

    The political and economic system of Islam reached the "heights of moral refinement ... the highest realms of moral perfection ever witnessed ... the most ideal state of social justice yet experienced ..." (p.179-80) What better way to cure what ails Muslims (and non-Muslims) then to return to this perfection?

    COMMENT: There's a catch, though. The perfection Qutb describes hardly ever existed. On one issue after another - slavery, war, feudalism, treatment of women and the poor, virtue of clerics - as Qutb describes Islam's perfect policies he than admits that not only are they not currently being practiced, they haven't been for centuries.

    So when did this perfection exist? From 622 to 644 AD (when the Holy Prophet and the first two caliphs ruled) and 717 to 720 (during the rule of the pious Omar bin Abdul Aziz), coming to a grand total of 25 out of over 1380 years of Islamic history.


  • Surely a political/economic system guaranteed to bring prosperity, justice, and militarily success would catch on more often than one year in 50, and more recently than 1200+ years ago?
  • Unless, of course, the 25 years of prosperity/justice/military expansion had less to do with a political/economic system of strict medieval laws reproducable on demand, than a rare allignment of idealism, talent, and weak enemies;
  • And with how we "know" the era was perfect - a system of oral reports known to not be immune from falsehood, exageration and just plain bias of the reporters.
  • But let's say those oral reports are absolutely accurate, and the 25 years of perfection was a direct result not just of general principles of goodness and charity, but of the system's "economic system ... social organization ... codes of civil, criminal as well as international law". Can this perfection -- or even this system -- be duplicated 1400 years later? How much does a life of tribal connections, camel caravans, archery, swordsmanship, horsemanship, have to teach people living in an era of cell phones, biotechnology, traffic control, hygiene, cruise missiles, 16+-year-long terms of school education, etc.?

    Details ...

    38. What ought Muslims to do?

    In his short last chapter, "What's Next," Qutb warns that the West is "still engaged" in a Crusade against Islam, its offers of alliance actually a scheme to kill Arabs, "capture" their "food production" and "expose its people to dishonour and disgrace." But, he goes on, that Muslims can draw inspiration from the military power of Muslim faith. Poorly armed but brave Muslims chased out cowardly imperialists of "senile old empires." "There will be no Christian or heathen imperialism ... when there are half a million men ... ready to lay down their lives for Islam." "Islamic forces are gathering strength day by day." Their "self-immolation" will "bring peace and tranquility to the world."

    COMMENT: It has to made clear Qutb is not just talking about the expulsion of imperialists from the Muslim World. Islam "is destined to play as glorious a role as it played in the first days of its history" when it conquered "two of the most powerful and proud states of that time, the Roman empires on their left [i.e to the west] and the Persian to their right." [i.e. to the east]

    In other words, not only is the West a mortal enemy, but the goal of Muslims should be the "capture ... of vast territories" to the West and East. About the only thing he doesn't do is spell out the names of those non-Muslim states in the West and East that are to be conquered.

    Details ...

    39. What does it all mean?

    COMMENT: For Westerners and modern Muslims, Muhammad Qutb's combination of ignorance, fantasy, hatred, agression -- with its popularity in the Muslim world -- is pretty alarming. His book has been published in dozens of editions, is found at dozens of internet locations and who-knows-how-many mosque bookstores.

    From a dispassionate point of view there's plenty to interest students of Islamism:

    But what most non-Islamists really care about is in what way Qutb could affect bin Laden and other insurgents who've heard or read him. Here it's pretty clear that whatever his public position, a bin Laden that was inspired by Qutb's lectures or his book is not going to be interested in negotiation or compromise, nor be placated by an end to Western military presence in the Middle East. Western civilization just has no redeeming features and has to go. It's bad for the Muslims because by its very nature Western civilization will always be plotting to destroy Islam and torment Muslims. It is bad for non-Muslims because ... well, how can anyone ever truly be happy without (traditional) Islamic Shari'ah law -- God's perfect, divine rule?
    And while how best to fight Qutb's movement is a whole `nother issue, one approach that would help is simply to prove him wrong.

    Details ...

    More Detail

    on Muhammad Qutb's Islam : the Misunderstood Religion

    Quotations, Sources, Explanations ...


    What's the Book Like?

    Islam: the Misunderstood Religion is 200 pages long, with preface but no index, notes, and no information about the author. It was originally published in Arabic as Shubuhat hawla al-Islam in 1955. The English edition used for this page was published by Markazi Maktabi Islami, Delhi-6 in India and is their fifth edition.

    Being a book aimed at Muslims, its influence has been felt mostly below the Western radar. (Though it rated a brief mention in a New York Times' front page story on the growing Islamic conservatism in Iran before the Islamic Revolution exploded there. [1])

    But that influence has been plenty real. At least 30 editions of just the English translation of it were published around the Muslim world in Kuwait, Lahore, Delhi, Damascus, Decca, Iran, Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 2000! (According to WorldCat database.)
    On the internet, a Google search circa June 2005 found 30-odd sites selling the English version of the book. [2]
    The online text of six of the 19 chapters of Qutb's book are available at

    The ideas Qutb's book promotes --

    -- have become basic principles of the ideology known as Islamism and spread throughout the Muslim world.

    Like his brother Sayyid, Muhammad was one of the leading supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Unlike his brother, Muhammad survived the crackdown following an assassination attempt. [3]

    Not being the shaheed legend his brother was, it's not as easy to find public information about Muhammad Qutb (at least for non-Arabic readers), on when he died (or even if he's still alive). What is known is that he "settled in Saudi Arabia after his release from an Egyptian jail in 1972" [4]; and that he "edited and published" Sayyid's books in Saudi Arabia [5], and taught at either Mecca's Umm al-Qura University [6], and/or King Abdel-Aziz University in Jeddah where bin Laden was a student and Qutb's course was compulsory. [7]

    Still another source,, says nothing about bin Laden but claims Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's #2 and leading theorist, was the one influenced by M. Qutb:

    His brother, Muhammad Qutb, moved to Saudi Arabia where he became a professor of Islamic Studies. One of Muhammad Qutb's students and ardent followers was Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was to become the mentor of Osama bin Laden.
    If true, this may actually mean Qutb had even more influence on al Qaeda than if bin Laden had been his student!

    As the intro above explains, Qutb's audience isn't non-Muslims but Muslims, specifically Muslims tempted to listen to "`educated` people" (e.g. educated, secular Egyptians) ridiculing the Islamic approach (i.e. Qutb's interpretation of the Islamic approach) toward slavery, economics, charity to the poor, women's rights, sex, freedom of thought, communism, etc. The book shows its age by spending a lot of time on issues like racial segregation in the U.S. and the threat of nuclear holocaust from the unbelieving superpowers. It also holds forth against the Soviet bloc, the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, deification of modern science (p.2), and the secularism of Muslims "enthralled" with Europe - forces all long since vanquished in the Muslim world thanks in part to the brothers Qutb.

    Notes to "What's the Book Like"

    [1] New York Times "Young People of Iran, Rejecting Modernism, Revive Islamic Values," Dec. 17, 1978, p.1

    [2] How many places sell the book?

    Google search (circa June 28, 2005): price qutb OR kutb OR kutub OR qutub "islam the misunderstood religion".


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  • (A personal testimonial by a Muslim....
    `.... The book that really had the impact on me was Islam: the misunderstood religion by Mohammad Qutb. I came to know that Islam was complete. That convinced me intellectually. ....`


    ....In 1952, in the days before staging his coup d'etat, Colonel Nasser is said to have paid a visit to Qutb at his home, presumably to get his backing. Some people expected that, after taking power, Nasser would appoint Qutb to be the new revolutionary minister of education. But once the Pan-Arabists had thrown out the old king, the differences between the two movements began to overwhelm the similarities, and Qutb was not appointed. Instead, Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, and after someone tried to assassinate him, he blamed the Brotherhood and cracked down even harder. Some of the Muslim Brotherhood's most distinguished intellectuals and theologians escaped into exile. Sayyid Qutb's brother, Muhammad Qutb, was one of those people. He fled to Saudi Arabia and ended up as a distinguished Saudi professor of Islamic Studies. Many years later, Osama bin Laden would be one of Muhammad Qutb's students.
    (from: "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror" By PAUL BERMAN, New York Times, March 23, 2003)
    (originally: )
    (currently: )

    Peter Bergen mentions Muhammad Qutb in his book on bin Laden
    (Holy War Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden, The Free Press, 2002)

    "It seems probable that Osama first came under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. Leading Muslim Brotherhood members who taught there included Muhammad Qutb, the brother of the Islamist martyr, who carried forward his brother's radical, pan-Islamist mantle,... (A Fury For God : the Islamist Attack on America by Malise Ruthven, 2002 p.198-199)

    [4] The War for Muslim Minds : Islam and the West by Kepel, p.174,

    [5] Jihad : the Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel p.51],

    [6] The War for Muslim Minds : Islam and the West by Kepel, p.174-5],

    [7] According to Paul Berman ...

    Some of the Muslim Brotherhood's most distinguished intellectuals and theologians escaped into exile. Sayyid Qutb's brother, Muhammad Qutb, was one of those people. He fled to Saudi Arabia and ended up as a distinguished Saudi professor of Islamic Studies. Many years later, Osama bin Laden would be one of Muhammad Qutb's students.
    (from: "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror" By PAUL BERMAN, New York Times, March 23, 2003)

    And Andrew Lycett ....

    ... at Jeddah's King Abdel- Aziz university, where [bin Laden] came under the influence of two radical Islamic scholars, the Palestinian Abdullah Azzam and the Egyptian Muhammad Qutb, whose martyred brother, Sayyid, had written Signposts [aka Milestones], a key text for the Islamic Jihad movement .... "The forces behind Osama"
    Sunday Times London (UK), Nov 18, 2001; pg. 42

    In a 2002 book (Jihad, The Trail of Political Islam, Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2002, p.314) Gilles Kepel suggests M. Qutb must have had bin Laden as a student because the Islamic Studies class is compulsory in Saudi Arabia and Qutb was the one who taught it at Abdel-Aziz, the school bin Laden went to. In a more recent book, though (The War for Muslim Minds : Islam and the West by Gilles Kepel, Belknap Press, 2004, p.174-5), Kepel says nothing about bin Laden being Qutb's student, though he does agree Qutb was influential. Qutb "found a job teaching at Mecca's Umm al-Qura University; and there he began to attract students seeking his kind of inspiration."


    Westernized Muslims

    Who are these "educated skeptics" who doubt that "Islam is not a mere creed," (p.ix) and shout for "separation of religion from the state"? (p.xii) "Whence does their skepticism originate? ... The fact is that the skepticism exhibited by these gentlemen is not at all a result of their own independent thinking, nor did it originate in their own minds as such." (p.x) They "are merely expressing and parroting the imported thoughts of their masters," the imperialists (p.xii) having been taught them "in the history books prescribed by the agents of imperialism," (p.5) as part of Britain's plan to strengthen its hold on the Islamic world and safeguard "their interests from being swept away by the true Islamic spirit of the Orient." (p.x)

    (Egypt was occupied by Britain in 1882 and had a military presence there until Gamal Abdul Nasser's coup in 1953. It influenced the educational system along with much else.)
    (COMMENT: Qutb refers to the Islamic World throughout his book as "the Orient" or "the East", never mentioning the existence of the almost two billion non-Muslims in China and India.)

    The educational policy they adopted in Egypt was such as left the students quite ignorant about the reality of Islam, ... Among the Egyptians there sprang up generations who were shorn of any thought of their individuality or independent cultural existence. They were completely enthralled by Europe; they worshipped it most devotedly" (p.x-xiii)

    The "`educated` elite" of Islamic world "would never return to what is right until their masters in the West also do" (p.xiv) So hopeless are they, Qutb isn't even interested in trying to show them the light. "This class of educated elite was not at all in my mind when I wrote this book. They would never turn to what is right until their masters in the West also do ..." (p.xiv)

    COMMENT: In short, Westernized Muslims are both fools and traitors, thinking themselves "independent" while actually serving foreigners who want to exploit their country.

    The Evil of the West, according to Muhammad Qutb

    Muslims "were taught ... doubts cast against Islam by the orientalists and other European crusaders in order to make the Muslims forsake their religion and succumb easily to the evil machinations of imperialism" (all mentions of imperialism in the book refer to British, US or European imperialism.) p.xi

    the West will "turn towards ... what is right" only "after despairing of their Godless materialistic civilization." (p.xiv)

    "In writing this book" Qutb wanted to appeal to "the sincere and enlightened youth" to correct "lies spread about Islam by the deceitful imperialistic powers" which leave youth of Islam "groping about in darkness for the slaves of imperialism... " (p.xiv)

    In what way has Islam "had the most liberalizing effect on human intellect"? By freeing "human intellect" from (amongst other things) "the Jewish traditions, and the imbecilities of the Christian church." (p.8) (Qutb doesn't specify what these imbecilities are.)

    Why does "Modern Science" stand in the way of liberation of "human reason and spirit"? (p.11) Because "Westerners ... installed science as supreme God declaring that it alone had the right to claim the adoration and submission of man." (p.9)

    "Islam ... alone can restore peace between religion and science, bring back once more the tranquility and concord to this distressed world of today that has lost them through the perverted attitude towards life of the dominant West." (p.11)

    "the most dangerous malady that the modern West suffers from at present" is the belief that scientific discoveries bring Man closer to God and ultimately become "on par" with God. But "there is one last hope: that is Islam ... this alone can save [humanity] from the doom brought on it by the Godless West." (p.12)

    How can dangerous "international rivalries" (nuclear arms race presumably) be ended? "If the world of Islam should as a whole rise against the barbarous tyranny of the modern imperialist Powers." (p.15)

    What will the Islamic State do for its citizens? "Liberate them from all tyrants at home" as well as "outside aggression ... whether it be in the form of imperialistic exploitation or a threat of it." (p.14)

    The Modern West, despite its successes in science, "in the field of humanity it remains as savage and backward as ever." (p.16)

    Why are Westerners "crazy"? They ask "`why can't a woman be a worker outside as well as a mother inside home at the same time with a nurse [daycare worker] taking care of children in her absence?` This is a baseless assertion ... " (p.122)
    (COMMENT: Many Europeans and North Americans would agree child care is not a good idea "during at least the first two years of" an infants life, but that doesn't stop Qutb from talking as though daycare from birth was the standard Western approach to child rearing.)

    Is America "steeped in worldly pleasures, yet powerful and great"? Some "misinformed people in the East" may think so but "a penetrating eye may not be deceived." "All the symptoms of the fatal malady" are apparent "behind the thin veil of its resplendent exterior."

    Evidence? News items describing:

  • 33 U.S. State Department employees were sacked for loose moral character and selling secrets. (Quite possibly true.)
  • 120,000 American military men deserted the armed forces. (Not even close)

    What is the nature of Western morality? "Ancient Rome was no less rotten morally than its modern counterparts - Paris, London and the cities of America" (p.18)

    "The treatment of Islam with the peoples of the countries it conquered with a view to spreading the world of God, was so generous, lofty and sublime that the eyes of the pygmies of the `Civilized` Europe can hardly penetrate those heights." (p.23)

    Should Abraham Lincoln in America or the French Revolution of 1789 get any credit for abolition of slavery? Certainly not. America oppressed negroes with segregation after emancipation and the French colonized Algeria. "Is not the slavery in effect the subjection of a nation to another [what "the French did in Algeria"] and the deprivation of a class of people of the rights enjoyed by other men like themselves ["crimes of Americans towards the Negroes" or English in South Africa]? "The crimes perpetrated underneath are of the most monstrous and hideous nature yet witnessed by mankind during their long career on the earth." (p.47)

    While Westerners complain that Muslim slave masters were allowed to have sex with "slave-women captured in wars, ... that clean and spiritual bond that tie[d] a maid [i.e. slave] to her master in Islam." (p.50) cannot be compared to the "odious form of animalism according to which a [Western] man may have illicit relations with any girl coming across him on his way to gratify his animal passions." (p.51)

    While Europeans and Americans may go on about the nobility of their abolition of slavery, it must be noted that unlike Islamic slavery, Western slavery "was sustained without any real and genuine social need ... It was founded in the vileness of European civilization and its innate inhuman character." (p.52)

    As the Ottoman Empire declined, "Godless, materialistic and aggressive European civilization marched in triumph against the Islamic world. It staged military occupations, destroyed all spiritual values and put an end to the spirit of cooperation, replacing these with the most hideous forms of capitalistic exploitation and life-long misery to the poor." [italics added] (p.63)

    Do the elections of Western democracy merit any praise? No. "Despite the appearances of freedom manifested in democratic elections, capitalism knows how to sneak into parliaments and government offices in order to achieve its shady ends by crooked means and under various names." (p.82)

    How did the industrial revolution affect women in Europe? "It brought in its wake the worst possible sufferings from women yet experience by her throughout the history of mankind." (p.91)

    Europe has throughout the ages exhibited such a rigidity and avarice of nature as lack both generosity and liberality." (p.91)

    Curiously, for someone all but foaming at the mouth with loathing for the West, Qutb sees fit to pontificate on the hatred, "innate cruel natures" and lack of love that afflict his other enemies, the Marxists. (All italics added.)

    ...There are in fact some so-called `reformers` who seek inspiration from hatred rather than love. This is the headspring of their inspiration, which they say gives them the courage to bear hardships for their cause with patience. The hatred they cherish may be personal in character or it may spring among a class of people and be directed against mankind in general or the generation they may have happened to be born in. Such rancour-inspired people may realize some of their ends by way of `reformation`. Their rancour coupled with their fiery and innate cruel natures may as well sustain them and boost their `morale` to willingly suffer privation for the sake of the cause they stand for, but a doctrine based on malevolence rather than love can never lead humanity to anything good. They may remove certain evils and put an end to the existing state of injustice but offer no sound remedy for these ailments of mankind. Based on hatred and malevolence, such a philosophy of life is bound sooner or later to degenerate and create far more evil and injustice than that it had originally professed and sought to cure.... [p.4-5]

    Might perhaps the phrase "Islamist jihadis" be substituted for "so-called `reformers`" to bring Qutb's rant up to date?

    Why Does Qutb Hate the Western "Masters"?

    Was it the treatment of Muslims by the imperial powers? The exploitation of Egypt over the Suez Canal? The invasion and takeover of Algeria by France in 1830? Of Egypt by Britain in 1882? The loss of Palestinian land and rights to Jewish settlers from Europe?

    Qutb does talk about imperialism and killing.

  • He relates telling a UN economic adviser from Britain that Egyptians hate the British and Americans and "would continue hating them so long as they continue committing aggression in any part of the East." (p.138)
  • He talks about "the slaughter of 40,000 Muslims in North Africa" by colonialists. (p.132)
  • The "extermination of Muslims in ... Yugoslavia [sic], Albania, Russia, ... Somalia, Kenya, Zanzibar ... India and Malaya." (p.173)

    But as his comments quoted above on women's rights, the history of slavery and "lies spread about Islam" indicate, Qutb's grievances are more philosophical, (Islam : the Misunderstood Religion being, after all, a book about religion). Qutb cares less about the effect of Western guns and munitions on Muslim youth than the power of Western ideas on individual freedom and gender equality to turn those youth away from traditionalist Islam.

    Qutb's third set of grievances, beyond what Westerners do to Muslims, or tempt Muslims to do -- are all the things Westerners did not do that Qutb claims they did:

  • "on the occasion of the British occupation of Jerusalem in World War I ... [the British Field Marshall] Lord Allenby said in clear terms `Now have the crusades come to an end!`" (p.x)
  • "The British Prime Minster of the Victorian age, Mr. Gladstone" held "up the Holy Qur'an in his hands" and "told the members of the House" of Commons "`So long as the Egyptians have got this book with them, we will never be able to enjoy quiet or peace in that land.`" (p.x-xi)
  • And how following this the British developed a policy of "deriding Islamic laws and principles ... of painting Islam in the blackest of colours ... to tighten up their imperialistic grip on this country." (p.xi)

    Needless to say, all this puts in doubt the advisability of Muslims peacefully coexisting with the West ... or would if it were true.

  • Though other Britons drew a connection between British occupation of Palestine and the crusades, Lord Allenby "carefully avoided any demonstration of overt imperialist or Christian triumph, making his entry on foot." [1B].
  • There is no mention of any anti-Qur'anic rant by Prime Minister Gladstone in British history books, and for him to have made one would have been both wildly out-of-character and insanely provocative. Unlike most of the British public or his government, the liberal Gladstone was famous for his lack of interest in, and enthusiasm for imperialism. The invasion of Egypt occurred in spite of his being Prime Minister at the time, not because of it.
    More importantly, there were millions of Muslims in British Imperial India (where not-that-long-ago there had been a very bloody mutiny by Indian troops, partly inspired by religious complaints of Muslims), many of them in positions of responsibility, and many of them regularly reading newspaper reports of what was debated in the parliament of the Empire's capital. [2B].
  • As Christian Europeans, the British had little use for traditionalist Islamic "laws and principles." On the other hand the British invasion had been "neat, quick and resounding success ... unlike nearly every other British military enterprise between Waterloo and 1914" [3B]. The imperialists were far from wringing their hands over the lack of "quiet or peace in that land" in 1882. The native resistance the British did have to contend with in coming decades was overwhelmingly nationalist rather than Islamist.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    COMMENT: Where do these make-believe tales come from?
    Perhaps from the importance in the Islamists' mind not just of their image of themselves and their cause, but their image of the enemy's idea of them. For the imperialist enemy to dismiss the Islamists' beliefs (when it thinks of them at all), as one of many colorful and quaint folklores found throughout the world destined to be swept away by science, "progress" and/or Christianity - is more than just ego deflating, it's ... impossible. Qutb's Islam is not just All Good and All Encompassing, it's a "religion of glory and power" (p.14). That Islam has neither (temporarily of course), is in part the fault of Muslims' own shortcomings, but this world turned upside down must have some deeper explanation -- such as an enemy that is not just in error and inferior, but working hard, plotting and planning campaigns against God's religion. An enemy that's "deriding" the "laws and principles" of the cause; that's "painting" it "in the blackest of colours." And if evidence of this arrogant, crafty wickedness isn't always immediately apparent to the eyes and ears ... well, it must be there somewhere. Stories and rumours about it will have to do.

    Notes to "Why is it Qutb thinks the Western `Masters` are perverted, savage, avaricious, barbarous, monstrous, hideous, etc."?

    [1B] Fighting for Christendom by Christopher Tyerman, 2004. p.21)

    [2B] Note from internet history news group:
    [large chunks of India were Moslem and that for sundry reasons the British officials in India found them the best-educated and most "advanced" i.e. Westernized. Thus British-sponsored colleges were built in India first in Moslem communities.

    Gladstone also knew that the Indian Army was organized on tribal and religious lines (had regiments of Sikhs, Gurkhas, Mahrattas, etc.), that educated Indians read parliamentary proceedings from London, and that religious motives had fueled the notorious Indian Mutiny of 1857. (Observation courtesy of Don Phillipson of Ottawa)

    [3B] (Gladstone : a Biography, by Roy Jenkins, p.504)

    [4B] The story of Gladstone and the Qur’an with slightly different details is found on another website


    The Place of Women in (Qutb's) "Islam"

    Islam acknowledges "a perfectly equal status as human beings for both men and women" and treats "them as equals, entitled to equal rights."

    But after acknowledging a perfectly equal status as human being for both men and women, and treating them as equals, entitled to equal rights, Islam does however, differentiate between man and woman with regard to their special functions in life, a step that has given rise to a great hue and cry by some women organizations supported by certain writers, `reformers` and young men. [p.99]

    But if Qutb is for perfectly equal status for women, that doesn't mean he's for absolutely equal status!

    As a consequence of this fundamental difference in their functions and objectives we find that man and woman have to come to differ from each other in disposition as well as in constitution ... It is for this reason that I am at a loss to understand how all this empty talk about an absolute equality between man and woman can ever bring it to pass. [p.100]

    "It" being the accomplishment of the "primary functions" of each sex. See below for some examples of what the "perfectly equal" yet "differentiated" status means in regards to politics, courts of law, and marriage:

    Role of the Genders In Running a Country or an Economy

    Qutbian Islam excludes women from the job of running a country or an economy because "Islam holds that the real duty of a woman is the propagation of the human race." (p.193) "A woman is endowed" with "an emotional character rather than an intellectual one."

    All this tenderness of feelings, intuitional impressibility, and highly susceptible disposition with which a woman is endowed show that basically she possesses an emotional character rather than an intellectual one. It is this very emotional character that forms the most lively and ever flowing spring of her motherly attributes, as the upbringing of a child calls for qualities not intellectual which may be passive or active ... but an overflow of vehement feelings and passions such as does not allow her to mediate coolly. [p.101]
    Whereas a man "does not need the vehement emotional nature for the performance of his functions in life. ...." Such as
    hunting of a beast, inventing of an instrument, laying down the foundations of a new system of economy, setting up a new form or government, kindling a war, or making peace. All these activities of man depend upon his intellectual ability. Emotions creeping in cannot but spoil them. [p.102]
    Thus the woman
    feels at ease in those profession only that have got an emotional appeal for her feminine nature viz. nursing, teaching or fostering. Similarly when she goes to work in a shop, it is because it has also got an emotional charm of its own for her as it enables her to carry out her search for a male companion. But all these activities are mere off-shoots; they cannot in themselves, however, satisfy her innate urge for a husband, a home a family and children. [p.102]

    Value, or Lack Thereof, of Evidence Given By Women in "Islam"

    How the "vehemently emotional impressionable" quality of women requires their testimony to be worth only 1/2 that of one man. In a court case

    it is quite possible that the accused, against or for whom a woman appears as a witness, may be an attractive woman which may make the witness jealous and hostile towards her and so give a wrong evidence. But it is very rare that two men appearing before the court at once should fall prey to such an error, both of them offering false evidences." The chances in such situations are rather that if one of them is deceived or confused about truth, her companion may correct her. [p.105-6]

    COMMENT: Qutb's amateur psychology may be amusing but the debate over women's equality in legal testimony is anything but academic in places like Pakistan where his Islamist comrades have put strict traditional Islamic Hudood laws are in place:

    "In Pakistan, Rape Victims Are the 'Criminals'" By SETH MYDANS
    New York Times, May 17, 2002

    HORLAKI, Pakistan - The evidence of guilt was there for all to see: a newborn baby in the arms of its mother, a village woman named Zafran Bibi. ... The man Ms. Zafran accused, Jamal Khan, was set free without charges. A case against him would have been a waste of the court's time. Under the laws of zina, four male witnesses, all Muslims and all citizens of upright character, must testify to having seen a rape take place. The testimony of women or non-Muslims is not admissible. The victim's accusation also carries little weight; the only significant testimony she can give is an admission of guilt ... A man can deflect an accusation of rape by claiming that his victim, of any age, consented. If the victim has reached puberty, she is considered to be an adult and is then subject to prosecution for zina. As a result, the Aurat report says, girls as young as 12 or 13 have been convicted of having forbidden sexual relations and have been punished with imprisonment and a public whipping .... As many as 80 percent of all women in Pakistani jails have been convicted under laws that ban extramarital sex, according to .... a women's rights group called Aurat
    [Originally at

    Scourging (Beating) of Wives in "Islam"

    "If the wife is the cause of" marital discord,

    whom should we expect to correct her? The court? Well, the court cannot but widen the gulf between husband and wife by interfering with their private affairs. Their differences may be trivial and temporary but the interference of the court may by airing them aggravate the situation. ... No Sensible man can ever think of taking to court all his petty grievances. [p.113]

    (COMMENT: So how about a marriage counselor?!)

    No. Instead a series of escalating punishments is called for starting with admonishment,

    if she persists in the wrong course he should banish her to a bed apart - a chastisement that ... illustrates how penetrating an eye Islam has into the psychology of woman who being proud of her beauty and personal charm at times plays a coquette [p.113-4]
    And culminating with a mild beating.
    the husband is permitted to beat her as a last resort in his attempt to correct her conduct without intending to torment her. This is why the Islamic law has laid it down that the chastisement should be of a mild severity. [p.114]


    in certain psychological perversions chastisement is the only effective remedy. The science of psychology tells us in normal case the above-mentioned conciliatory measures viz. admonishing and separating apart ... are quite effective but in acute cases e.g. masochism they fail, the only remedy in such cases being the physical chastisement of the persons concerned. Women rather than men are more generally the victim of this psychological malady.... (Men are, on the other hand, commonly afflicted with `sadism`... ) Now if the wife belong under this class of women, clearly her correction can be effected through chastisement alone so that she might have her desired beating and then come to herself again. [p.114]

    No explanation from our amateur shrink why beating wouldn't reinforce the huband-irritating behavior of masochistic wives.

    If Men and Women in "Islam" are "Perfectly" Equal
    (Not Just "Roughly Equal" or "Almost" Equal),
    Why Can't a Woman Beat a Man When He Misbehaves?

    It goes against "human nature."

    Some men may on this point be inclined to demand perfect equality between men and women. But the question is not one of a fanciful and theoretical justice but of that form of it which is practicable and in line with human nature. No woman would like to beat her husband in return for his beating her, neither in the `civilized` West nor in the `backward` East. She does not respect the husband whom she can beat and chastise. This is why no woman has yet demanded a right to beat her husband. [p.115]

    Permitting (or Not Permitting) Women to Go Outside of the Home in Islam

    When does (Qutb's) Islam allow a woman to leave the house? If they are

  • working "in such social institutions as require their services e.g. female education, nursing, medical treatment of women, etc. Their services may for these purposes be procured as those of men are procured in wars, etc." and
  • "if a woman has no bread-winner she may as well go and work outside." (p.121)

    "But Islam permits women to go outside their houses only when there is really a genuine need for them to do so." (p.121) Women's outside activities" found in "the West and communist nations" are "a mere folly which Islam does not approve of, for a women cannot participate in social activities but at the cost of her real primary function within her home." If a woman's "attention is diverted" away from "her real function of motherhood" toward "other unimportant activities, humanity is bound to suffer.

    In such a case she becomes just a plaything in the hands of men and a slave to their foolish demands, giving way to unchecked luxury and license. Islam cannot approve of this situation which if it did, it might be shorn of its chief distinctive make of holding that mankind is a coherent entity that does not suffer a change with the changing circumstances." [p.121]

    The Triple Talaq Divorce

    A modernist Muslim writing in the British magazine New Statesman points out the traditional Islamic divorce

    ... Triple talaq gives a man the absolute right to divorce his wife by uttering "I divorce thee" three times. He can do it by letter, telegram, telephone, fax, even by text message. Quite apart from denying women's rights, the law has inherent absurdities. For example, as one critic has explained, "The moment a Muslim male utters 'talaq, talaq, talaq', his wife becomes unlawful to him, even if he has uttered those words under coercion, in a fit of rage or a drunken state, and regrets his utterance the very next moment." The only way out is for the woman to marry someone else, consummate the marriage, get the second husband to divorce her and then remarry the first husband. ... ["Can Islam change?" by Ziauddin Sardar 13th September 2004, New Statesman,
    The practice is so common there is even a name for "men who specialize in marrying divorcees for a single night" (for a fee) - mohalel or muhalil. (The holy city of Qom, for example, is known as place where a traditionalist Iranian Shi'a divorcee can find a mohalel.) (see The Spirit of Allah by Amir Taheri. Maryland, Adler and Adler, 1985. p.51)

    Qutb deals with the issue by first giving a sympathetic description of the plight of the divorcee

    We have heard many a gloomy tale about the miseries caused by the divorce; how the wife and the children suffered; and how the courts are crowded due to the seemingly never ending family feuds arising from divorce. It often happens that a woman who is happy and dutiful wife doing her best to upbring her suckling besides joyfully expecting yet another one, all of a sudden is approached by a messenger handing over a bill of divorce from her husband which might have been occasioned by a sudden whim or desire of the husband. It is just possible that he has seen a woman whom he believes to be more beautiful and has taken fancy to her, or it may be that he is prompted by a wish to have a change in his sexual routine, or it may have just proceeded from the refusal of the wife to have intercourse with her husband due to her sluggishness and exhaustion.

    Isn't it, they say, then desirable that this dangerous weapon, with which many may in a fit of faithlessness toy so recklessly and wreck the life of a peaceful, patient woman besides darkening the future prospects of his young innocent children, should [sic] be taken away from him? [p.116-7]

    but concludes that a ban on divorce, like that found in "Roman Catholic countries," is impractical.
    (COMMENT: So what about a cooling off period and conciliation for estranged couples?)
    It is also suggested that the right of man to divorce should be restricted, that is the divorce should not take effect on the mere pronouncement of it by the man. Only the court should have the authority to decree the divorce after appointing arbiters one each from among the people of the man and the woman. The arbiters should thoroughly discuss the problem, trying to make the husband desist from his intention and agree to make peace with his wife. If all their efforts fail, only then the divorce should be ordered by the court, not by the husband.

    ... I do not think there is really any need for the court to step in as the remedy prescribed by the Islamic law is in itself quite sufficient for the purpose. Peace and harmony between the spouses depend more on themselves and their desire to end than on anything else. If the will be there and both wish peace, the friends and kindred may prove a useful as any court ... [p.117-8]

    And of course there's the Qutb's favorite theme - the iniquity of the West: "In America alone the rate of divorce is 40% - the highest in the world." Indeed there's a high rate of divorce in America and was even when Qutb wrote his book, but might not triple talaq, make things even worse!

    Women and the Strong Man

    In explaining to us why the man is always the natural head of the family, Qutb argues

    The woman herself does not respect a man who is a weakling and can easily be conquered by her. She despises him; nor can ever bring herself to trust him.
    Qutb allows that
    This behavior of woman may be the vestigial remnant of the attitude of mind she imbibed over the centuries ...
    The fact is ... undeniable that she is still strongly drawn to a physically well-build man as is shown by the case of the American woman, who enjoys subjecting herself to man, makes love to him and tries to win him over. She is moved by his strong well-built body, broad chest and when satisfied of his strength as against her own physical weakness, she surrenders her person to him. [p.107]

    COMMENT: Qutb gives no examples of this behavior by the "American woman," which raises some questions: While he may have learned something from watching Hollywood movies (which he may not have done being a pious Muslim), how much would a pious, viscerally anti-American Islamist -- who strongly disapproves of both the mixing of sexes and women leaving the home -- know about non-Muslim American women? Knowing that foreign women in Egypt very seldom lived apart from the Westernized enclave in Cairo, and that almost all of the few Americans living in Egypt left after the country allied itself with America's cold war archenemy (the Soviet Union); and knowing Qutb lived in non-Muslim-free Hijaz Saudi Arabia after leaving Egypt -- what are the odds he ever met an American woman? And if he did meet one, that he ever got to know her, see her chase after broad-chested men, or otherwise understand how she thought?

    More About Women's Psychology.

  • Where Should a Woman Work?
    "Woman" (not "a woman," or "the woman," just "woman")
    feel at ease in those profession only that have got an emotional appeal for her feminine nature viz. nursing, teaching or fostering. Similarly when she goes to work in a shop, it is because it has also got an emotional charm of its own for her as it enables her to carry out her search for a male companion. But all these activities are mere off-shoots; they cannot in themselves, however, satisfy her innate urge for a husband, a home, a family and children. [p.102, italics added]
  • What happens if a woman can't get married and have children? Or "why polygamy is essential after devastating wars."
    During wars, especially when a large number of men are decimated, balance between the sexes is seriously shaken. In such circumstances, polygamy becomes a social necessity as it may save society from the sexual anarchy that generally follows the decimation of a large number of men ... Such women may earn their living but what about their sexual gratification? This may make them fall an easy prey to the lust of men. But even after this, their most innate craving may still remain ungratified - their craving for children, without who their whole existence is reduced to a dull lifeless drudgery. [p.120]

    COMMENT: Underneath his customary melodrama and crude generalization, Qutb seems to have a point here. Why shouldn't society allow polygamy when there's a shortage of males? Then again, if there's a shortage of females why should women be able to have more than one husband? The second wouldn't be allowed under Qutb's traditional shari`ah law, though it follows logically from his argument.

  • Should a woman be able to refuse to let someone come in the family house that she "resents"?
    The wife "should not allow anyone to defile the bed of her husband whose presence is resented by him," (p.109) which sounds like a poetic way of saying she shouldn't have sex with someone her husband doesn't get along with, (though of course adultery is already forbidden by Islam), but to Qutb it means the wife "should not let anyone enter his [the husband's] house whom he would not like to enter into" it, (presumably when he's away).

    Is there a reciprocal rule for the husband?

    It may be asked: why then did the law not also provide that the husband too should be under an obligation not to allow anyone into his house if his wife should happen to disapprove of it? [p.111]
    if the wife should enjoy the right to debar anyone from the house of her husband, it may make the matter worse, for we may at this place point out that the impressions of the woman are in most of the cases illogical as they are purely the reflection of her own peculiar personality rather than the outcome of any prudence.... [p.112, Italics added.]
    Such as fights with her mother-in-law.
    Therefore to make it incumbent upon the husband to obey his wife in such a circumstance would not be a judicious step; it would rather be an act of mawkish tenderness that may soon suffer a change or be completely unfounded in reality. [p.112]

    Qutb on Women and the West

    What was the place of women in the West?

    Before the emancipation of women, "the woman in Europe and all over the world was looked upon as a mere nonentity." (p.90) Occasionally in Greece or Rome "woman [sic] appears to have occupied a central position in the social set up of the time," but don't get the idea that this meant there was some kind of opportunity for "woman" to rise in power and influence. These women "were no more than means of diversion and entertainment for the licentious rich who applauded their appearances in public out of sheer vanity and self-conceit." (p.91)

    This position of woman in Europe remained unaltered during the periods of serfdom and feudalism. She in her ignorance was blandished sometimes by luxury and licence and at times was content to live as animals - eating, drinking, bearing children, giving birth to others, and working day and night. [p.91]

    COMMENT: Could it be that Qutb's odd use of the singular form ("woman") rather than the plural ("women") in talking about millions of females is connected to his sweeping generalizations about women's temperament and intellect?

    The Industrial Revolution and Women in Europe

    When the industrial revolution took place in Europe it brought in its wake the worst possible sufferings from women yet experience by her throughout the history of mankind. ... The family life was completely ruined, and the ties holding together its members were torn asunder [p.91]
    because men, women and children had to move to the city and work in factories.

    Unequal Pay for European Women During the Industrial Revolution?

    Qutb's analysis of the labor abuses in Europe during the early industrial revolution. They were not caused by poverty or overpopulation but by Europe's character flaws.

    The industrial revolution overburdened women and children with work. This weakened the family ties, which in turn led to a complete disintegration of family life. But it was the woman who had to pay dearly. She worked harder than ever before, and lost her honour, but was still far from satisfied psychologically and materially. Man not only shrank back from taking upon himself the responsibility of supporting her - be she his wife or mother - but also charged her to provide for her ownself. In the factories, she was exploited most ruthlessly by the factory owners; she worked there for long hours but was paid far less than the men doing a kindred job in that very factory.
    It is needless to ask why all this happened as we know that Europe has been for ever known for its miserliness, rigidity and ingratitude. It has never been known to respect men as men, nor to render a voluntary act of goodness while it could with impunity infect others with evils, as its record of the past as well as of the present testifies ...

    Unequal Pay for Women, World War I,
    Lack of Polygamy and the Emancipation of Women.

    How could this "centuries-old iniquity and gross injustice," followed by sex-crazed women chasing greedy gigolo bosses, followed by a "new degenerate social order" dominated by women have been avoided, you ask.

    Only through polygamy.

    Such a social disintegration can be averted only if a man is explicitly permitted by law to have more than one woman at a time provided that he should treat all of them with justice in all things ... In such other emergencies as the one met with during wars the same need for polygamy is indicated. [p.120]
    ... such as when a man is "overactive sexually."

    Thus we see that the emancipation of women was just an overreaction by women to (male) European society's greed, and its failure to allow men to have more than one wife - both of which problems true Islam (i.e. Qutb's Islam) would remedy.

    COMMENT: In talking about Europe (its World War II, its slavery, its prostitution), Qutb acts as though it was one country with one government, one history - an undifferentiated blob of unbelief. A reflection of Qutb's attitude toward Europe: He hates it, yet he doesn't really know it. In fact some countries were devastated by the war, some didn't even fight.
    On the issue of emancipation Qutb condemns the results ("new degenerate social order"), but somehow never actually gets around to saying whether he's for or against the women's right to vote. Does he think it obvious where he stands? Or is he hedging his bets?

    FACT CHECK: Below are some lists of the countries that fought in World War I and how many soldiers they lost (source: Encyclopedia Britannica). And of where and when women were given the right to vote.

    (Major) Countries that fought in World War I
    Country Number of
    military fatalities
    Year Women
    Could Vote
    Russia 1,700,000 1917
    France 1,357,800 1944
    British Empire 908,371 1893, 1902,
    1918, etc.
    U.S. 126,000 1920
    Germany 1,773,700 1918
    Austria-Hungary 1,200,000 1918,
    Turkey 325,000 1918

    Countries that didn't fight, and when they granted women the vote
    Country Year
              Sweden           1919,    
    Norway   1913     
    Denmark  1915     
    Spain   1931     
    Iceland   1915     

    Here are some of the places and dates where women won the vote:

    • 1869: Britain grants unmarried women who are householders the right to vote in local elections. (more) (more)
    • 1862/3: Some Swedish women gain voting rights in local elections. (more)
    • 1881: Some Scottish women get the right to vote in local elections.
    • 1893: New Zealand grants equal voting rights to women.
    • 1894: The United Kingdom expands women's voting rights to married women in local but not national elections.
    • 1895: South Australian women gain voting rights.
    • 1899: Western Australian women granted voting rights.
    • 1901: Women in Australia get the vote, with some restrictions.
    • 1902: Women in New South Wales get the vote.
    • 1902: Australia grants more voting rights to women.
    • 1906: Finland adopts woman suffrage.
    • 1907: Women in Norway are permitted to stand for election.
    • 1908: Women in Denmark some women granted local voting rights.
    • 1908: Victoria, Australia, grants women voting rights.
    • 1909: Sweden grants vote in municipal elections to all women.
    • 1913: Norway adopts full woman suffrage.
    • 1915: Women get the vote in Denmark and Iceland.
    • 1916: Canadian women in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan get the vote. (more) (more) (more)
    • 1917: When the Russian Czar is toppled, the Provisional Government grants universal suffrage with equality for women; later the new Soviet Russian constitution includes full suffrage to women.
    • 1917: Women in the Netherlands are granted the right to stand for election.
    • 1918: The United Kingdom gives a full vote to women of age 30 and older and men age 21 and older.


    • 1937: The Philippines grants women full suffrage.
    • 1938: Women get the vote in Bolivia.
    • 1938: Uzbekistan grants full suffrage to women.
    • 1939: El Salvador grants voting rights to women.
    • 1940: Women of Quebec are granted voting rights.
    • 1941: Panama grants limited voting rights to women.
    • 1942: Women gain full suffrage in the Dominican Republic.
    • 1944: Bulgaria, France and Jamaica grant suffrage to women.
    • 1945: Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Hungary, Japan (with restrictions), Yugoslavia, Senegal and Ireland enact woman suffrage.
    • 1945: Guyana allows women to stand for election.
    • 1946: Woman suffrage adopted in Palestine, Kenya, Liberia, Cameroon, Korea, Guatemala, Panama (with restrictions), Romania (with restrictions), Venezuela, Yugoslavia and Vietnam.

    What about America?

    In America, the 19th Amendment forbidding discrimination against women in voting was ratified on August 18, 1920, a couple years after armistice ended the war, (the process of ratification taking years of work). America had fought in the war and lost almost 120,000 men.
    (source: The American War Library, )

    This seems to follow Qutb's scenario of a shortage of marriageable men leading to dislocations, leading to women rising and securing the right to vote. So did the male shortage play a part in the American women's emancipation movement?
    No, because despite the war casualties there wasn't one. According to the census taken the same year the 19th Amendment was being passed, there were over 500,000 more men than women aged 18-44. (44 is a little old but the census had no numbers for ages 18-24 or any other younger age cohort.)

    1920 U.S. Census Statistics
    Men and Women of Reproductive Age
    Sex and Age Population
    Females 18-44 years of age and over 21,770,000
    Males 18-44 years of age and over 22,299,000

    (From the United States Historical Census Data Browser, presented by the University of Virginia)

    So it would seem unlikely that Islamic polygamy would have "averted" the "social disintegration" of the women’s suffrage movement.

    Why did Europe finally outlaw prostitution?

    "Prostitutes had lost all their usefulness."

    The civilized Western governments, which at last prohibited prostitution, did not act so out of any respect for the human status of a prostitute as such [but because] these prostitutes had lost all their usefulness, their place having been taken by the common sybaritic society girls. [p.51]

    COMMENT: Prostitutes are no longer needed and has been prohibited because European women are such sluts! What a concept!

    So when was prostitution banned? Where? As usual Qutb provides no information. He can't because it's not true.

    FACT CHECK: Some examples of lack of prohibition:

    ... brothels exist in every major city in Canada, including Vancouver. More commonly called escort agencies, brothels are licensed and inspected by municipal staff in Vancouver and elsewhere. In fact, it's estimated that escort agencies account for about 80 per cent of all prostitution in Canada. ... [1F] [Editorial in The Vancouver Sun, Mar 29, 2005. pg. A.12]

    OFF-STREET PROSTITUTION has become an informally regulated profession and hundreds of sex workers have become fully paid-up members of trade unions, research has found.
    One association of prostitutes has even joined the GMB, which has helped it to negotiate a code of practice between erotic dancers and sex club owners.
    In Manchester, prostitutes have founded the country's first "sauna owners’ forum" dedicated to improving the working environment for sex workers.
    [2F] [from an article in British newspaper Independent Mar 24, 2005. pg. 14, quoting a study: Sex Work, a Risky Business, by Teela Sanders of the University of Leeds]

    What about a half century earlier when Qutb was writing?

    A look at books on the history of prostitution finds no sweeping movement by "Western governments" to ban prostitution after WWI. Periodic crackdowns on prostitution, (it should come to no one's surprise), happened after some scandal involving a surge in business (usually underage males or young soldiers crowding brothels) not because customers had stopped coming! [3F] The largest country in Europe, defeated, demoralized Germany, which lost almost 2 million men to the war was famous historically for its Weimar decadence and breakdown in sexual mores and the old cultural order generally. But it decriminalized prostitution, it didn't ban it. Prostitution didn't lose its "usefulness," it grew.

    ... Liberal sexual reforms like the decriminalization of prostitution in 1927 played a key role in the right-wing backlash against Weimar democracy and the rise of National Socialism. ...
    [ ]

    "... the latest American fashions were all the rage, and for the first time young people were able to earn enough to dress distinctively and to move away from home earlier than had hitherto been the case. Such developments alarmed the older generation, particularly since they were accompanied by a noticeable rise in juvenile crime and in prostitution [italics added]. Already in 1917, 27% of all convictions for offences were of 14-18 year-olds, and youth crime continued to account for a sizable minority of convictions into the 1920s..."
    [4F] [from p.54 of The Weimar Republic 1919-1933 (Lancaster Pamphlets) by Ruth B Henig, 2002.]

    The one country that comes closest to bearing out Qutb's claim is the U.S., where there was a crackdown on prostitution, and "jazz age" sexual revolution. But the crackdown came before the jazz age, in fact before and during the war, which the U.S. didn't enter until 1917, and from which it suffered relatively light casualties compared to Germany, France, U.K.

    Originally, prostitution was widely legal in the United States. Prostitution was made illegal in almost all states between 1910 and 1915 largely due to the influence of the Women's Christian Temperance Union which was influential in the prohibition of alcohol. In 1917 the legally defined prostitution district in New Orleans was closed down by the Federal government over local objections. []

    COMMENT: Even if Qutb is wrong and prostitution is alive and well, it could add substance to his theme of decadence in the West ... Or it could mean European women aren't really such sluts! Either way it shows (again) his willingness to sound off without knowing what he's talking about.

    Notes to "Why did Europe finally outlawed prostitution?"

    [1] [1F.] Editorial in The Vancouver Sun, Mar 29, 2005. pg. A.12

    [2F.] from an article in British newspaper Independent Mar 24, 2005. pg. 14, quoting a study: Sex Work, a Risky Business, by Teela Sanders of the University of Leeds.

    [3F.] Some History of Prostitution

    ITALY - 1860-1958 required registration and examination of prostitutes to prevent venereal disease. Fascists were more strict than previous regime. Policy repealed in 1958 as an infringement on prostitutes civil rights.
    SOURCE: Gibson, Mary, 1950- Prostitution and the State in Italy, 1860-1915 / Mary Gibson.
    New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press, c1986.

    FRANCE 1919-1938 - Between the wars. Talk of closing down whore houses in a particular city because of scandals of underage boys using them.
    SOURCE: Corbin, Alain. Unif title Filles de noce. English
    Women for hire : prostitution and sexuality in France after 1850 / Alain Corbin ; translated by Alan Sheridan.
    Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1990.

    US - NYC - 1920s Prostitute street walkers and whores on public view disappeared because of strict law enforcement. Despite looseness of the jazz era.
    SOURCE: Gilfoyle, Timothy J. City of Eros : New York City, prostitution, and the commercialization of sex, 1790-1920 / Timothy J. Gilfoyle.
    New York, N.Y. : W.W. Norton, c1992.

    US - PROGRESSIVE ERA - Clamped down on prostitution because there was too much of it, not because it was considered a social problem. CTCA suppressed prostitution near army camps in Texas or Arizona(?)
    SOURCE: Connelly, Mark Thomas, 1948- The response to prostitution in the progressive era / Mark Thomas Connelly.
    Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c1980.

    UK 1850-1900 (?) - Starting the Victorian era prostitutes were considered a sort of first line of defense of pure young women from horny men. In 1880 there was a new approach, a "social purity" movement that wanted a ban instead of regulation.
    SOURCE: Bristow, Edward J. Vice and vigilance : purity movements in Britain since 1700 / Edward J. Bristow.
    Dublin : Gill and Macmillan ; Totowa, N.J. : Rowman and Littlefield, 1977.

    [4F.] from p.54 of The Weimar Republic 1919-1933 (Lancaster Pamphlets) by Ruth B Henig, 2002.]

    Sex Life in the Communist World

    "[I]n ancient Persia sexual anarchy was as rank as is at present associated with the communist countries." (p.18)

    Another jaw-dropper. It's hard to describe how far off this description is to anyone who never experienced the Marxist-Leninist world in its day.

    FACT CHECK: Up until the collapse of Communism, China was modest to the point of asexuality. One of the first Western correspondents to live in China and write a book about it (China : Alive in the Bitter Sea by Fox Butterfield), reported that Women wore formless jackets and baggy trousers, had no makeup and simple haircuts. A woman with "even one button" unbuttoned on her blouse was "considered lewd." [1C] When asked by visiting foreigners whether they "sometimes thought about members of the opposite sex," university students would reply `We'd rather study.` It was "not unusual to find people in their mid-twenties who [had] never been on dates, much less [had] steady boy friends or girl friends." Not only was pre-marital sex unthinkable, women engaged to be married sometime had to have the concept of sexual intercourse explained to them. [2C] "For a man to kiss a woman, many Chinese feel, is tantamount to a proposal of marriage, or should swiftly lead to it." Homosexuality was terra incognita, "too deviant even to mention" in a newspaper. That doesn't mean it was ignored by the government though. One American reporter (John Roderick of the Associated Press) was told by his government interpreter `Do you know what we do with homosexuals here in China? ... We shoot them.` [3C]

    Soviet Russia was not as wholesome and straight-laced. Divorce and abortions (the only kind of birth control) were readily available. Drinking was a serious health problem. But there was no sexual revolution there either, no sexy fashions, celebrity sex symbols or singles culture. "The family [was] the strongest institution in Russian life. ... Soviet society does not challenge traditional family relationships the way the West's hyperactive, hyper-mobile ... cities do. It's still common for three generations to live in the same quarters. The hedonistic life-style that lures Westerners out of their homes has no counterpart in the Soviet Union." [4C]

    COMMENT: Where did Qutb get this idiotic idea? Probably from his hope that "the communists" are the modern day empire of the east that (Qutb's idea of) Islam will conquer as it conquered Sasanian Persia.

    Notes to What was the sex life like in communist countries?

    [1C.] China : Alive in the Bitter Sea, Fox Butterfield, 1982 (p.131)

    [2C.] Ibid. p.132

    [3C.] Ibid p.145

    [4C.] Russia : the People and the Power, Robert Kaiser, 1976. p.76

    See also: "Improper Conduct" (1984), documentary by Oscar-winning cinematographer Nestor Almendros about Fidel "Castro's brutal treatment of gays" in Cuba.

    The Sex Life of Americans

    "Some superficial-minded people," i.e. secular, Westernized Muslims,

    accuse Islam of reactionarism on account of the restrictions it imposed on the association of the sexes. They express great admiration of the French civilization which permits a pair of lovers to hold each other in public places and forget all that is around when they are enraptured in a wonderful kiss. No one would trouble them, even the policeman would stand by to protect them from passers-by. [p.145]
    In America things are just as bad.
    Every lad has a girl friend and every lass has a boy friend. They accompany one another most of the time and go out for picnics where they rid themselves of the persistent sexual burden and respond to the call of sex. [0D] They return from such picnics so relaxed that they can devote themselves to their studies and work in a way which will bring about an ever-increasing measure of prosperity and production. [p.145]
    Unfortunately, these "trivial and superficial-minded people who are so enthralled by the Western moral corruption" forget that France surrendered during World War II and "American statistics which show that 38% of secondary school girls are pregnant." (p.146)

    FACT CHECK: To get an idea how far off Qutb is, bear in mind that a couple of years after the first edition of Qutb's book came out (1957), 81,000 illegitimate babies were born to American teenagers. [1D] If 38% of all the teenagers in the U.S. at that time had been pregnant and given birth (abortion was mostly illegal then) there would have been 2 million babies, not 81,000. (There were 5.7 million teenagers then.)

    Of course by the 1960s and 70s a sexual revolution had arrived, but even then pregnancy rates were far lower. They peaked at about 12% (it's now down to about 8.5% [2D], not 38%, and only 1/3 of those were for girls 17 and under.

    The point, of course, is not that 12% or 4% or whatever pregnancy rate among teens is OK, it's that Qutb doesn't mind wild exaggeration if it supports what he want to believe. How about the larger point that American girls are having babies before they're ready?

    Here's the famous Islamist/fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini on what good luck it is to have your daughter married before she's had her first menstrual period!

    It is recommended that one hurries [sic] in giving husband to a daughter who has attained puberty, meaning that she is of the age of religious accountability. His Holiness, Sadegh [the 6th Imam] salutations to him, bade that it is one of a man's good fortunes that his daughter does not see menses in his own house. [3D] [Italics added]
    What might the age of that daughter be?
    A girl who does not know whether or not she has finished nine years of age, when seeing blood which does not have the sign of menses, is not menstruating. And if [the blood] has the signs of menses and she is certain of its menstrual nature, she is menstruating and it becomes evident that she has finished the age of nine. [4D] [Italics added]

    Notes on the Sex Life of Americans

    [0D.] How does Qutb know this - or think he knows this? He never claims in his book to ever have talked to an American - while he does give an anecdote about talking to a British aid official as an illustration of British arrogance. Perhaps it's from his brother, who spent two years in America and whose books he edited.

    [1D.] New York Times May 29, 1957 p.7

    [2D.] "Teen pregnancy rate reaches record low," Insight on the News; Jul 30, 2001; Cheryl Wetzstein),


    "From 1985 to 1990, the pregnancy rate for U.S. teens aged 15-19 ... reached 95.9 pregnancies per 1000 women of that age in 1990 (Spitz et. al., 1996). Nationally from 1991-1995, the teen pregnancy rate for 15-19 year olds has reversed its direction" and is now down to "83.6 per 1000 (Kaufmann, 1998). About 2/3 of teen pregnancies are to 18-19 year olds and 1/3 to teens aged 17 and under."
    Which according to my calculations makes a pregnancy rate of 2.8% of 15-17 year-old girls for the most recent year for which I could find numbers.

    US and Connecticut Teen Pregnancy Facts and Statistics
    Connecticut State Department of Public Health
    April, 2001

    How about teenage pregnancy below aged 15?
    It's pretty infrequent and getting more so... al hamdu lillah! "The birth rate among young adolescents aged 10-14 has fallen to the lowest level since 1946 according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

    ... from a peak of 12,901 [young mothers aged 10-14 delivered a live birth] in 1994, to the current low of 7,315. If the 1990 rate had held through 2002, there would have been 34,336 additional births to the youngest teens. .

    "... About two-fifths of the pregnancies among 10-14 year olds in 2000 ended in a live birth, two-fifths ended in induced abortion, and about one in six ended in a fetal loss. These proportions have been fairly stable since national pregnancy estimates began in 1976. In 2002, the birth rate per 1,000 females aged 10-14 years was 0.7 live births, one-half that of 1990 (1.4 per 1,000) and the lowest level since 1946 (0.7)....."

    So if 0.7 live births per 1000 comes from 40% of the pregnancies that ought to mean there are 0.175% of females aged 10-14 years were pregnant in 2002 (the most recent year for which data is available).

    From: Births to 10 to 14 Year-Old Mothers, 1990-2002: Trends and Health Outcomes

    [3D.] Fatwa #2459 from A Clarification of Questions : An Unabridged Translation of Resaleh Towzih al-Masael by Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini; Translated by J. Borujerdi, with a Foreword by Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi; Westview Press/ Boulder and London, c1984)

    [4D.] Ibid. Fatwa #438


    Slavery Under Islam?

    "... a state of perfect equality prevailed between the slave and his master" under true Islam. (p.31)

    Islam made it lawful for a master to have a number of slave-women captured in wars and enjoined that he alone may have sexual relations with them ... Europe abhors this law but at the same gladly allows that most odious form of animalism according to which a man may have illicit relations with any girl coming across him on his way to gratify his animal passions [p.50]
    i.e. adultery. "There is nothing common between [the] filthy, abominable trade of human bodies" known as prostitution, "and that clean and spiritual bond that ties a maid [slave] to her master in Islam." (p.50)

    COMMENT: Why such wild hyperbole? Perhaps Qutb sensed that slavery and the making concubines of young slave women was one issue where fundamentalism came out looking primitive and oppressive compared to the ideology of his anti-colonialist rivals, the left.

    FACT CHECK: Qutb is right about some things. Ayat (verses) in the Qur'an 4:36, 9:60, 24:33, 40:13 urged kindness to the slave. Other ayat urged slave owners to free there slaves and promised expiation of sins: 4:92, 5:92, 18:3. "Islamic jurists ... took account of humanitarian considerations. They laid down, for example, that a master must give his slave medical attention when required, must give him adequate upkeep, and must support him in his old age ...." [1G]

    But it's not clear that the fact that "the master alone" could have sex with his concubine (and of course not the other way around) was quite the boon to slaves Qutb seems to think it is. The first large number of slaves taken by Muslims were the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe who were found guilty conspired with the enemy. Following the practice of the time, the 700-800 men of the tribe were executed, their possessions auctioned, women sold, and girls given as presents. Though they were not in for a life of arduous physical labor, it may have taken a while for the "presents" to feel a "bond" with their owners! Killing males who had reached puberty and keeping or selling girls as slaves set the pattern in Muslim history for disposing of non-Muslim enemies that refused to surrender. [2G]

    Another hinderence to bonding may have been the master's power of life and death over his non-Muslim posession, as exampled by this hadith:

    Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:
    A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) was informed about it.
    He assembled the people and said: I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up.
    He sat before the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and said: Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.
    Thereupon the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood".
    [Sunan Abu-Dawud Book 38, Number 4348]

    Note that the Prophet's (p) passing of judgement on what happened ("no retaliation is payable for her blood," i.e. no punishment is called for for her killing), forms one of the the basises of legal precedent in Islamic law. The precedent it sets -- a Muslim killer/owner testimony that the non-Muslim slave they killed committed blasphemy is sufficient to get them (the killer) off the hook -- would certainly seem to put to the test the honesty and peaceful disposition of any Muslim slavemaster who for whatever reason is tempted to get rid of their non-Muslim slave.

    Then there were the non-domestic slaves unfortunate enough to have work in agricultural or mining.

    Zanj slaves used to drain the salt flats of southern Iraq, and the blacks employed in the salt mines of the Sahara and the gold mines of Nubia. These were herded in large settlements and worked in gangs. Large landowners, or crown lands, often employed thousands of such slaves. While domestic and commercial slaves were relatively well-off, these lived and died in wretchedness. Of the Saharan salt mines it is said that no slave lived there for more than five years ... [3G]
    Plantation slaves in the Tigris and Euphrates river valley were discontented enough to rise in revolt that lasted 10 years (868-69AD to 878-79 AD, or 255-265 Hijra). A major historical event, the rebellion climaxed in the sacking and burning of Basra where 300,000 died. [4G]

    Notes on What was slavery like under Islam?

    [1G.] Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East : an Historical Enquiry by 1990, p.7

    [2G.] Model for slavery according to Abu Yusuf, d. 798, one of the founders of the Hanafi school of law:

    Whenever the Muslims besiege an enemy stronghold, establish a treaty with the besieged who agree to surrender on certain conditions that will be decided by a delegate, and this man decides that their soldiers are to be executed and their women and children taken prisoner, this decision is lawful. This was the decision of Sa'ad b. Muadh in connection with the Banu Qurayza [a Jewish tribe of Arabia]"
    from p.310 of Kitab al-Kharadj (Le Livre de l'impot), Translated by E. Fagnan. Paris, 1921

    [3G.] Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East : an Historical Enquiry, 1990, p.14

    [4G.] Ronald Segal, Islam's Black Slaves : The Other Black Diaspora, 2001, (p.44)

    What Country or Civilization Was the First to Free Slaves?

    Islam was the "the first to initiate the" slavery

    emancipation movement which took the world some seven centuries to adopt and enforce. The fact nonetheless is that Islam had before long practically put an end to slavery in the Arabian peninsula ... [p.37]

    FACT CHECK: Well, it wasn't enforced by Muslims when Britain freed all its slaves in 1834 after having banned slave trade (using the Royal Navy to halt slave trading vessels). [1H] When Muslim modernizers of the Ottoman Empire (the archenemies of the Islamists) attempted to ban slave trading throughout their empire in the mid 19th century, they met with an uprising in Mecca, the most holy area of the Arabian peninsula.

    Sheikh Jamal, the chief of the Ulama of Mecca issued a fatwa denouncing the ban (and some other rumored reforms):

    `The ban on slaves is contrary to the Holy Shari'a. Furthermore the abandonment of the noble call to prayer in favor of firing a gun, permitting women to walk unveiled, placing divorce in the hands of women, and such like are contrary to the pure Holy Law. . . . With such proposals the Turks have become infidels. Their blood is forfeit and it is lawful to make their children slaves.` [2H]
    The Ottoman Sultan relented after the rebellion and the Hijaz became a center for slave trading. [3H]

    COMMENT: This certainly can't be explained away as the work of a impious sell-out sheikh deliberately misinterpreting the Qur'an to "kiss the hand of a king"! Sheikh Jamal was urging the killing of Imperial Ottoman officials! [3H]

    On the Arabian peninsula, "in 1962" slavery "was abolished by the newly established republican regime in Yemen, and a few weeks later by royal decree in Saudi Arabia." [4H]

    Notes on What country or civilization was the first to free slaves?

    [1H.] (source: Slavery : a World History by Milton Meltzer, c1972, 1993, p.244-248)

    [2H.] A detailed account of these events, with some documents is given in Cevdet Pasa Tezakit 1-12, ed. Cavid Baysun (Ankara: 1953) pp.111)

    [3H.] The Anti-Slavery Reporter, v.21 n.2, May 14, 1878, "published an estimate from its correspondent at Alexandria in 1878 that 25,000 slaves a year were being sold or exchanged in Mecca and Medina." (source: p.155 Islam's Black Slaves : The Other Black Diaspora by Ronald Segal, 2001)

    [4H.] Slavery in the Arab World by Murray Gordan (New York, 1989).

    Why Was Slavery Tolerated by Islam?

    It was not possible for Islam to forthwith set at liberty all the prisoner falling in its hands from the camp, for it would have not only been a piece of bad policy but would have also implied a virtual encouragement to its enemies ... the only course left open to Islam was to treat them as captives as they treated the Muslims. The enslaving of the prisoners of war could not be abolished unilaterally by Islam when the enemies insisted on its continuance. So the practice was tolerated just so long as there did exist no alternative to it and till the time the peoples all the world over should agree among themselves upon a basis other than that of slavery in dealing with their prisoners of war. [p.40]

    FACT CHECK: Most slave trade in the Muslim world had nothing to do with prisoners-of-war. The total number of black slaves traded in the Muslim world from Sahara, Red Sea and Indian Ocean routes through the 19th century comes to an estimated 11,500,000, "a figure not far short of the 11,863,000 estimated to have been loaded onto ships during the four centuries of the Atlantic slave trade." [1I] Raymond Mauvy estimates a total of 14 million black slaves were traded in Islam through the 20th Century, including 300,000 during part of the 20th century. [2I]

    Notes on "Why was slavery tolerated by Islam?"

    [1I.] Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformation in Slavery (CUP, 1983)

    [2I.] (p.57, source: "Les Siecles obsurs de l'Afrique Noire" (Paris: Fayard, 1970)]

    Why Did Europe Free Its Slaves?

    European writers themselves confess that in fact slavery in Europe came to an end only when due to their economic difficulties, lack of will to exert themselves and their incapacity to work, the slaves became more of an economic liability than an asset to their masters. The masters had to spend far larger amounts of money on the sustenance and supervision of their slaves then the profits they got back ... It was thus a purely economic factor - just a matter of profit and loss [p.46]
    (Who these "European writers" are Qutb doesn't say). Qutb also blames slave rebellions for abolition of slavery.
    The freedom thus won by the slave in Europe sinks into insignificance when viewed in the context of those successive revolutions that broke out there as a result of the restlessness among slaves and which in the end made it impossible for their master to hold them any longer in subjection.
    So slaves lacked the "will to exert themselves," yet were "restless" .... hmmm. Well, in any case, after breaking free in revolution, the ex-slaves were re-enslaved in a different kind of slavery - serfdom.
    they were held serfhood bound to the soil they tilled and changed masters on the sale or transfer of land. The slave could not leave the soil which, if he did, he was declared a fugitive by law, bound in chains, ... This form of slavery continued to exist in Europe till it was finally swept away by the French Revolution ... [p.47]

    FACT CHECK: Qutb doesn't give any dates or even eras of when all this happened, but he's combining aspects of the fall of the Roman Empire and 19th century European Colonialism. They're 1500 odd years apart, but as the old saying goes al-kufru millatun wahida, (unbelief is one nation).
    The Roman Empire was built on slavery and followed by serfdom-based medieval Europe. Slavery did decline and feudalism did appear as Rome collapsed, but because of the general breakdown in order, not slave-labor rebellions or slowdowns. The collapse meant the rich stopped buying slaves (slaves were an investment, and people don't invest when the future looks bad), and small farmers - not slaves - became serfs after fleeing to large manor estates for protection from marauding thugs and Germanic invaders.
    (sources: and ) There was no emancipation of slaves by the Roman empire and slavery continued on a reduced scale in Europe during for 1000+ years [1J] (source: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968, v.20, p.633), after the last major Roman slave rebellion ended (71 B.C.).
    What about the new "slavery" called feudalism? It didn't officially die until the French and other revolutions, but it was in tatters by the 14th century, dependent as it was on the serfs being isolated from and fearful of the wider world. (source: )

    Rebellion is blamed for decline of 19th century plantation slavery by some Leftists who claim Britain and France gave up on slavery after the Haitian slave rebellion that neither country could defeat [2J], which would explain Qutb's talk about it being "impossible" for slave masters "to hold slaves ... in subjection," and emancipation being "a purely economic factor."

    It doesn't explain some historical facts - like why the British government shelled out 20 Million Pound Sterling (about $100,000,000 in 1842 Dollars) to free 750,000 slaves, ordered its navy to inspect ships for slaves to disrupt the Atlantic slave trade, or annoyed Muslim slave owners (not really economic rivals of the British) to free slaves.

    COMMENT: Does it really matter whether Islam or the West had the moral high ground in slavery (or treatment of women) two hundred years ago? Everyone agrees what was done back then was wrong ... don't they? No, they don't. And of course this is the difference. Qutb wants a return to old days. Westerners and the Modernists don't.

    Notes on "Why did Europe free its slaves?"

    [1J.] Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968, v.20, p.633

    [2J.] "Freed" by Marilynne Robinson, New York Times Book Review, January 9, 2005, p.1


    "Facts" about America

  • Qutb on the "administrative system in the U.S.A": in making another snippy dig at Westernized Muslim `intellectuals` (his quotes), he "reminds" them that the decentralized "administrative system in the U.S.A." merely mimics that of the original 1300 year-old system of Islam.
    It may be useful to remind such `intellectuals` that the administrative system in the U.S.A. is based on absolute decentralisation. The village or town is an independent economic, political and social unit within the general framework of the state as well as the United States. Now, the municipal council of each independent unit imposes certain taxes which are collected from the people of the unit and expended on the educational, medical, transport, social services of the same town or village. If the revenues are more than the expenditure, the balance will be sent to the authorities of the city or to the state. On the other hand, if revenues are less than expenditure the balance will be paid by the state. [p.143-4]

    For anyone unfamiliar with what happens when "revenues are less than expenditure" in the U.S.A., here are a few examples: (While bankruptcies by local governments in the U.S. aren't common, they happen.) One of the largest and most prosperous counties in the US declared bankruptcy in 1994 following a stock market fall.

    On December 6 1994, Orange County, a prosperous district in California, declared bankruptcy after suffering losses of around $1.6 billion from a wrong-way bet on interest rates in one of its principal investment pools. The pool was intended to be a conservative but profitable way of managing the county’s cashflows, and those of 241 associated local government entities. Instead, it triggered the largest financial failure of a local government in US history. ....

    Another, San Diego, may follow suit, having paid too much to its employees pension fund ...

    ... Beginning in the 1980s, San Diego began sweetening its pension benefits to municipal retirees, ... its costs outstripped the pension fund's earnings. City officials then covered up the nearly $2 billion in deficits, even submitting apparently phony documents to Wall Street bond underwriters to make their fiscal situation appear better than it was. Local wags have dubbed San Diego "Enron by the Bay" and municipal bankruptcy protection is one option being considered as federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate who did what, when and why. ...`
    [1E] ["San Diego, once a civic model, has become 'Enron by the Bay'"; Dan Walters. The Sacramento Bee. Nov 29, 2004. pg. A.3]

    More typically a small poor town has problems:

    The village of Hillsdale in north St. Louis County has taken the rare step of heading to bankruptcy court after being ordered to pay $88,000 to a police officer who slipped on ice.
    Hillsdale is only the third municipality in the St. Louis area to file for protection under the federal bankruptcy code's Chapter 9, which was written specifically for governments. Neighboring Wellston did so in 1984, and Kinloch followed suit 10 years later.
    Alan J. Baker, village attorney, said Hillsdale will continue to exist. He said the village filed in bankruptcy court downtown so that it could negotiate its debts and arrange payments.
    Hillsdale, with 1,477 people, is just west of St. Louis and north of Wellston. It was founded as a working-class suburb in 1947 ....
    [2E] "HILLSDALE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY AFTER ORDER FOR INJURY AWARD ... " Tim O'Neil. St. Louis Post - Dispatch Dec 11, 2001. pg. C.1

    You can find documents on how to deal with municipal bankruptcy on the internet ...

    Municipal Bankruptcy: State Authorization Under the Federal Bankruptcy Code

    Executive Summary
    ` Federal law permits municipalities to seek protection from their creditors by filing for bankruptcy under chapter 9, but only if the state specifically authorizes its municipalities to file. The state may attach various requirements subject to granting authorization such as approval by a state body prior to filing, ....`
    [ ]

  • Why did U.S. and "Western Powers" want Muslim countries to join the Baghdad Pact, (aka the Middle East Treaty Organization, a 1951 military alliance of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Britain)?
    Because the avowedly atheist Soviet Union had fairly recently taken over huge swaths of Muslim Central Asian territory (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc), putting pretty severe limits on mosque building [3E], religious instruction, etc., for tens of millions of Muslim? Because the West and Muslims had a mutual interest in stopping the spread of Marxist-Leninism?
    No. So Western Powers could kill the Arabs they claimed to want to befriend with "deadly weapons".
    It was only a short while ago that the Western powers were so anxious to get the Arabs agree to conclude a joint defense pact with them. There real purpose was to incorporate at least half a million Arabs in their armed forces so as to try their deadly weapons on them and thus save the white men of America and England from their deadly effects. In doing so they forcibly captured all the food production of the Arab world, exposed its people to dishonour and disgrace and when at last they no longer needed their services, kicked them out. [p.198]
  • Qutb's warning to Muslims tempted to think America is worthy of emulation.
    At times America is also referred to by some misinformed people in the East as an example of a nation steeped in worldly pleasures, yet powerful and great with the highest material output in the world. But these people forget that America is yet a young nation ... and as all know, youth is the period when the effects of an insidious disease are hardly detected, for the body-politic is still vigorous enough and fully capable of checking the outward manifestations of the disease. But a penetrating eye may not be deceived by the apparent health and youthful vigour of such a people as it observes all the symptoms of the fatal malady ... by reading newspapers which tell of U.S. State Department employees being sacked for loose moral character and spying for the enemy , and one hundred and twenty thousand American military men deserted the armed forces. This number is a fairly large one considering the total strength of the American armed forces and the fact that they belong to a nation still in its youth... [p.17]

    FACT CHECK: There was a famous State Department scandal in the 1950s ending in employees being sacked, but what about these 120,000 desertions? Qutb doesn't say when these alleged desertions occurred but World War II was not long over when his book was written. 11 million plus Americans served in World War II, 21,000 were apprehended and convicted of desertion, a "fairly" small "number considering the total strength of the American armed forces." [4E]
    Even during the disastrous Vietnam War only about 5,000 U.S. soldiers assigned to Vietnam deserted according to

    COMMENT: America is not free of corruption and never has been. Its had periodic cycles of corruption and/or hedonism (Gilded Age/ the Roaring Twenties /the Savings and Loan and Enron scandals), alternating with religious revival (the Great Awakening, Carry Nation, "Muckraker" journalists, Prohibition, the Moral Majority) - though sometimes running simultaneously! (the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition). Each are diametrically opposed to the other, but both as American as the proverbial apple pie. It's tempting to say that what gives America an advantage over other people posessing both a strong religious mindset and endemic corruption, is a belief in the curative power of airing dirty laundry (in the form of a free press), as opposed to retreating into self-serving fantasy and made-up statistics when political-social-economic trouble strikes.

    Q. OK, many things Qutb says aren't true, but might he been have exaggerating out of anger over U.S. support for Israel?
    A. That doesn't explain it. His book was first published in 1955. Back then the U.S. was still vying with the Soviet Union for support of the Arab world. The U.S. had a partial arms embargo on Israel at its inception in 1948, and was only a minor supplier of armaments to Israel until after the 1967 war. Israel depended on Europe (including Czechoslovakia, a member of the putatively anti-Zionist Soviet Bloc) for its weapons before that. [5E]

    Notes on "Facts" about America

    [1E.] ["San Diego, once a civic model, has become 'Enron by the Bay'"; Dan Walters. The Sacramento Bee. Nov 29, 2004. pg. A.3]

    [2E.] "HILLSDALE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY AFTER ORDER FOR INJURY AWARD ... " Tim O'Neil. St. Louis Post - Dispatch Dec 11, 2001. pg. C.1

    [3E.] For example, in the Soviet Union in the 1960s there were 200 licensed mosques and 50 million Muslims - one mosque for every 250,000 Muslims. (Unlicensed Mosques were illegal.) (The Crisis of Islam : Holy War and Unholy Terror, 2003 by Bernard Lewis, p.90)

    [4E.] Army Almanac, Wash, DC: GPO, pp. 625 & 634-637. U.S. War Dept. Judge Advocate General. Court Martial Records Branch. Statistics compiled in 1959.

    [5E.]Lewis, Bernard; The Crisis of Islam : Holy War and Unholy Terror, 2003 (p.96-7)

    Fun Facts About Scandinavia

    The English, the Americans and the French - staunch advocates of racial and national discrimination - admit that the Scandinavian peoples are the most civilized and affectionate peoples on earth.

    So it's no coincidence, Qutb implies, that the Scandinavian countries have

    made necessary guarantees for a fair distribution of wealth. Such guarantees ... prescribe that wages should be proportionate to work. It can be said the Scandinavian states have in this connection come closer than any other state in the world - to a realisation of some aspects of Islam. [p.77, italics added]

    It's been a while since Scandinavian income redistribution programs flourished, or the French, British or Americans could be called "staunch advocates of racial and national discrimination." But when the two were around, they tended not to be on the same wave length. Few staunch racists approved of Scandinavian welfare state, never mind "admitted" those countries were "the most civilized ... on earth."

    What has never been around is anyone who spent time in Scandinavia and with Scandinavians who'd be willing to make the generalization that Scandinavians were "the most ... affectionate peoples on earth." When generalizations are made of Swedes and Finns (not so much Norwegians or Danes) it's to describe them as "reserved," "appreciating etiquette and punctuality," adverse to embracing in public or socializing without prior arrangement [1EE] ... except of course for "vodka tourists" getting comatose in Russia or some other ex-Soviet country with cheap alcohol. [2EE]

    Notes on "Facts" about Scandinavia

    [1EE.] Culturgrams World Edition 2005, Volume 2, Proquest Learning and Information Company, 2005. "Swedes are somewhat more reserved than people in the United States." Traditionally they "seldom embracing in public." Social "visiting without prior arrangement" is rare. (p.158)
    Finland: "People are generally reserved and appreciate etiquette and punctuality" "Embracing when greeting is rare" (p.46)

    [2EE.] "They're well known for boisterous drinking sessions, especially when they travel to countries where booze is cheaper." p.38 Sweden by Carolyn Bain, Graeme Cornwallis. 2nd ed., Footscray, Vic., Australia ; Oakland, CA : Lonely Planet Publications, 2003

    Europeans' Opposition to Shari`ah Law

    Qutb's explanation:

    There can be no reason why some Europeans are afraid of the application of the rules of Islam except that they are criminal by nature and persist in committing crimes which lack all justification. [p.137]

    COMMENT: This seems a little unfair, as even attempts by dedicated Islamists to enforce (Qutb's) "rules of Islam," aka Shari'ah law, in Iran and Pakistan haven't met with notable success. Here are some other reasons Europeans and North Americans prefer to punish offenders with imprisonment, community service, work release, etc.:

  • Most offenders are young. If their hands and/or feet are cut off they will be without them for the rest of their (hopefully) long life, whereas a sentence of incarceration or work will leave them able-bodied after release.
  • Dismemberment, lashing and execution are quick, cheap punishments that makes sense in a poor, violent, tribal-based, desert caravan-trading society. Prisons and guards, modern technology (like GPS or chemical-sensing monitoring bracelets) make sense in a society where the technology and the money to pay for them exist.
  • Qutb argues the frightening harshness of hudood punishment makes them a better deterrent to would-be criminals than Western criminal justice, at the same time that the leniency of enforcement make hudood more compassionate. (He quotes a hadith: `Avoid the execution of punishment by doubt.`) A thief loses his hand if convicted, but can be let off on grounds of hunger. (p.135) An adulterer is punished by being stoned to death, but won't be without the "evidence by four eye witnesses" (p.134), and so on.
    The problem is, the less certain the punishment, the less fear it strikes in the hearts of those tempted to offend, and fear is pretty important deterrent - caution and planning for the future not being a strong point of many (if not most) crime-committers. Even a terrifying punishment, like being crushed alive by a shower of stones, loses its power if its unlikely to happen, and the leniency advocated by Qutb by definition lowers the probability of punishment.
  • Then there's the previously-mentioned problem of rape victims being imprisoned for fornication because their testimony is worth half that of a man's.

    Why Do Some People Drink Alcohol?

    Under Qutb's Islam alcohol will be banned, so naturally he'd like to reassure readers they won't be missing anything. If for some reason they've developed a taste for drinking alcohol, it's because of the oppression they've suffered.

    Liquor and other narcotics are needed only by delinquent societies, where the differences among classes are so great that some people live in licentious luxury which deadens their senses while others live in utter deprivation which drives them to seek and escape from reality, and live in a world of their own invention. Narcotics and liquor may also spread in societies dominated by oppression, tyranny or in societies where freedom of thought is subjected to many restrictions, or where people are obsessed by the struggle for earning a living or where people suffer from the hateful and monstrous noise of modern machinery. [p.144]

    FACT CHECK: What are these societies?
    Some of the heaviest drinking countries in the world (Luxembourg, the world's 2nd highest per capita, where the average person drinks an equivalent of 17.54 liters of alcohol a year; the Czech Republic, 3rd highest, with 16.21 liters; Ireland 14.45 - 4th highest) certainly have problems with liver disease but aren't known for licentious luxury, utter deprivation, oppression, tyranny or even "monstrous noise."
    And some of the most abstentious countries are not nearly so tranquil or free (Iran, Libyan Arab Jamahiriay, and Somalia all 0.00 liters of consumption, Pakistan 0.02 liters, Algeria 0.03, Nepal 0.08, Iraq 0.20, Sudan 0.27)
    [Source: WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004

    Notes on Why Do Some People Drink Alcohol?

    NOTE: Full disclosure: What country did have the highest recorded per capita consumption of alcohol in 2004? Uganda at 19.47 liters equivalent of pure alcohol. Uganda also has had serious internal unrest.

    Non-Muslims Under Islam

    On the intensely sensitive subject of how non-Muslims and Muslims treated each other throughout history, Qutb adopts an indignant posture and holds forth on the benevolence of Muslims and the cruelty and ungratefulness of Christians.

    It may be that the Christians are afraid of Muslim fanaticism. If this is true, it seems that they have no idea of what fanaticism is. Here are a few examples of fanaticism.
    Court of inquisition set up by the Christian Church were primarily meant to exterminate the Muslims of Spain. The said courts tortured Muslims in a monstrous way which had never been experienced before. People were burnt alive, their finger nails were pulled off, their eyes were put out, ...
    Massacres are carried out for the extermination of Muslims in Europe: Yugoslavia, Albania, Russia, or countries under European rule such as North Africa, Somalia, Kenya, Zanzibar or in other countries: Indian and Malaya.
    Christians living under Islamic rule have never been subjected to any form of religious persecution with the exception of the very rare incidents engendered by the British Colonialists for the purpose of sowing dissention and diversion. [p.174]

    FACT CHECK: There's little question that Islam comes out ahead of Christianity in historical tolerance of the other. While Muslims allowed Christians and Jews to remain in lands Muslims conquered, European Christians expelled Muslims from Spain and could barely stand to allow even their Muslim trading partners to stay in the port of Venice. [1K] Jews were also generally treated better by Muslims than by European Christians.

    That notwithstanding, there was plenty of discrimination and periodic persecution in many forms (including quite lethal ones) for Christians and Jews (never mind polytheists) living under Islamic rule long before the age of European imperialism. Some examples that have made it into the history books:

    • 634 - area between Gaza and Caesarea is devastated by the Muslim army. 4000 non-Muslims (Christians, Jews and Samaritans) are killed trying to defend their land.
    • 639 - thousand of non-Muslims die from famine and the plague following destruction and pillage of Jerusalem and vicinity.
    • 643 - Tripoli in Northern Africa pillaged. Following that Carthage was razed to the ground.
    • 693-700 - Christian men, women, and children of Egyptians towns of Behnesa, Fyum and Aboit are massacred.
    • 832 - Coptic Christians in Lower Egypt are "ruined" by jizyah taxation, revolt. Arab governor burns villages, vineyards, gardens churches. "Those not massacred are deported."
    • 852-855 - violent persecutions of Christians in Armenia.
    • 923 - Cathedral of Pamplona destroyed by Sultan Abd-er-Rahman III of Muslim Spain. Other cities -- Corova, Zaragoza and Merida -- offer armed resistance and are `subjected to the full rigor of Islamic custom, summary execution of all adult males, and the enslavement of women and children.` (Fletcher)
    • 1033 - between 5000-6000 Jews massacred in Fez, Morocco.
    • 1066 - entire Jewish community of about 3000 Jews Massacred in Granada, Spain.
    • 1126 - Christians of Granada deported to Morocco. (Fletcher)
    • 1145 - Jews in Tunis forced to convert or leave.
    • 1159 - Almohads offer Jews three choices conversion, exile, or death.
    • 1165 - forced conversion of Jews in Morocco, (Fez or the Atlas mountains).
    • 1130-1212 - Christian population in Maghreb eliminated.
    • 1200 - Jewish population of Egypt "greatly reduced" by death at the hands of anti-dhimmi rioters during the 12th century. (Middle East Digest, September 1999)
    • 1232 - Jews massacred in Marrakech.
    • 1275 - more forced conversion of Jews in Morocco, (Fez or the Atlas mountains).
    • 1291 - forced conversion of Jews of Tibriz, Iran.
    • 1318 - more forced conversion of Jews of Tibriz.
    • 1333 - forced conversion of Jews of Baghdad.
    • 1343 - massacre of Coptic Christians who ventured onto the streets of Cairo.
    • 1344 - forced conversion of Jews of Baghdad.
    • 1465 - Arab mobs in Fez slaughter thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive. Similar massacres follow throughout Morocco. (Roumani)
    • 1650-59? - Shah Abbas II forces Jews to choose between forced conversion and banishment. Synagogues closed. Daughters forced to marry Muslims.
    • 1656 - law of Shah Abbas II of Iran gives rights of inheritance of any Christian or Jewish family exclusively to any family member (or members) who've converted to Islam.
    • 1790-92 - more forced conversion of Jews in Morocco Fez or Atlas mountains.
    • 1831 - entire Jewish population of Tibriz killed in pogram. (Sciolino) [2K]

    During the age of imperialism some the "very rare incidents" allegedly engendered by colonialists included the killing of Christian Arabs in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860 ...

    In 1860, the Druze attempting for the last time ... "to reassert a vanishing Druze ascendancy," attacked Maronites throughout the mountain in Lebanon's first civil war. More than 11,000 Christians were killed, 4000 more died of hunger or exposure, and 100,000 were displaced. Encouraged by the Druze example, Sunni Muslims in Ottoman-ruled Syria slaughtered some 5,500 Christians in Damascus in a single day.` [4K]
    of 30,000 rebellious Bulgarian non-Muslims in 1876 [3K], and most appallingly the killing of between one and two million Armenians in Turkey during World War I....

    How much of this bloodletting was "engendered by colonialists"? Some of it was a cause, not an effect, of European attacks. The victorious Russian war to "liberate" Bulgaria from the Muslim Ottoman Empire came in retaliation for the slaughter of Russia's brother Eastern Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria by the Ottomans, not vice-versa.

    Other killings were in reprisal for European conquest ... but not necessarily against the guilty party. When Russia defeated Iran in 1828, Jews in Tabriz, Iran were massacred in revenge [5K], but almost certainly out of frustration rather than punishment. Czarist Russia was notoriously anti-Jewish. Jews were expelled from the Russian cities of Nikolayev and Sevastopol just a year before the massacre [6K], and a few decades later the infamous Russian pogroms started, with Czarist reactionaries doing on a much larger scale what Muslims in Tabriz had done. [7K]

    Armenian Christians on the other hand, thought of Russians as liberators not persecutors, and one renowned Western historian agrees that the most horrendous mass killing of Christians by Muslims was provoked in part by collaboration of minority Christians with Imperial powers against the Christians' Muslim rulers. (Arch-Orientalist Bernard Lewis argues the Christian Armenians rose up against the Turks during World War I at the Turks most vulnerable hour [8K]).

    But even here, Qutb theory of colonialist blame doesn't hold.

    The minority Christians (and Jews) needed few "seeds of dissension sown by colonialists as well as by communists" (p.175) to be unhappy with their lot. The 1915-1918 mass killing of Armenians was just the worst of other incidents (200,000 were killed in 1895-6, 20,000 in Cilicia district in 1909.) [9K] On a day-to-day basis, oppression for rural Armenians took the form of expensive demands by Muslims nomads for Armenians to shelter and feed them and their flocks during the winter. Any attempt by the Armenians to appeal to the Ottomans government to relieve them of this impoverishing burden met with killing, rape and pillage by the tribesmen. Local Muslim Sheiks assured the nomads this extortion was not only permitted but earned them divine credit with Allah.[10K]).

    How could such cruelty be God's way for man? Because according to traditionalist shari`ah law (that Qutb (usually) supports), it's commanded by the Quranic verse

    Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden - such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book - until they pay the tribute [Jizyah] out of hand and have been humbled. [Aya 9:29 as translated by A.J. Arberry]

    in the not too distant past Christians and Jews living under Muslim control in the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere were required to both pay a special tax (Jizyah), and be humiliated. [11K] Humiliation took the form of requirements to serve and feed traveling Muslims, and regulations against riding horses, possessing weapons, displaying crosses, ringing bells from their churches, or building structures taller than those of Muslims. [12K]

    Likewise, the British, French, and Russian imperialists needed little territorial ambition to interfere in Ottoman Muslim affairs, pressuring the Turks for "emancipation," (i.e. abolition of the inferior legal status) of their fellow Christians. But the more Ottoman Christians complained to their European big brothers of mistreatment from marauding Muslim tribes (along with everything else, the prohibition on possession of arms meant Christians were unable to defend themselves), the more this lack of humility enraged traditionalist Muslims. Adding fuel to the fire was the incentive of the non-Muslims' property, the looting of which by Muslims waging jihad was (as mentioned above) traditionally not just accepted but religiously-sanctioned. [13K].

    This European pressure for emancipation of non-Muslims was of a piece with European pressure for a ban on slave trade. Both happened at much the same time and for much the same reasons. Both were at first successful (emancipation was proclaimed in 1847, slave trade banned in 1855) but prompted a furious backlash from traditionalists, who called for the killing of Ottoman reformers, and did kill thousands of Christians. [14K]

    Qutb has nothing to say about this dynamic and it's easy to see why. The whole issue of non-Muslim humiliation puts Qutb and Islamism in general in a quandary. If he sides with the traditionalists against the "educated skeptics" and "agents of imperialism," he comes up against one of the most basic principles of the modern age -- equal rights for all races and creeds - not to mention the billions of non-Muslims who aren't about to be humiliated without a fight!
    If he hedges his interpretation, though ... well, why stop there? Hasn't he accepted the principle of his modernist enemies who want to reopen the "gates of ijtihad" (develop new religous law based on independent interpretation of the Qur'an and the Sunnah) and subject all sorts of traditional interpretation to the light of modern reality?

    Qutb solves the dilemma by taking the hedge route and pretending he's not. He starts by ignoring the "humbling" issue and claiming the Jizyah tax was "imposed on all those who did not take part in military service regardless of their religious belief." Any claim that it was "religious discrimination" is a "baseless accusation." Examples are given of Christians soldiers fighting on the Muslim side and Muslims paying a so-called Jizyah. (p.174) [15K]

    He then disposes of the issue of humbling non-Muslims in aya 9:29, saying ...

    It should be pointed out that this verse refers to non-Muslims who wage war against Islam. It does not apply to the non-Muslims living in Islamic countries.

    But "this verse" ("... they pay the tribute [Jizyah] out of hand and have been humbled"), is the same one calling for tribute that he had just gotten through explaining is a military exemption for anyone! Now it's a penalty applying only to enemy non-Muslims!

    It's an audacious combination that puts the blame for killing on outsiders while presenting traditionalist Islam as undiscriminatory. But aside from the fact it doesn't make sense, it still leaves plenty of questions. How did a punishment for rebellious non-Muslims become a fee for military exemption? If the strict traditionalist Muslims in centuries past thought tribute taken from, and humbling of, non-Muslims were part of Islam's perfect law, could they also be wrong about women's rights and other issues? Are the educated modernists Muslims really so bad if Qutb prefers their interpretation of Jizyah over that of the traditionalists?

    Notes on Non-Muslims Under Islam

    [1K.] p.6 Islam and the West by Bernard Lewis, Oxford University Press, 1993]

    There's a good case to be made for attributing the Christian world's historical intolerance of Islam to its historical fear of Islam

    For almost a thousand years, from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siege of Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam. In the early centuries it was a double threat - not only of invasion of conquest, but also of conversion and assimilation. All but the easternmost provinces of the Islamic realm had been taken from Christian rulers, and the vast majority of the first Muslims west of Iran and Arabia were converts from Christianity. North Africa, Egypt, Syria, even Persian-ruled Iraq had been Christian countries, in which Christianity was older and more deeply rooted than in most of Europe. Their loss was sorely felt and heightened the fear that a similar fate was in store for Europe. In Spain and in Sicily, Muslim faith and Arab culture exercised a powerful attraction, and even those who remained faithful to the Christian religion often adopted the Arabic language. [Islam and the West by Bernard Lewis, Oxford University Press, 1993, p.13]
    ... and for arguing that the levels of religious tolerance in the Muslim world and in the West are a reverse these days of what they were some centuries ago.
    For more than 40 years, the Roman Catholic Church has embraced a seductive theory: By extending an olive branch, Christianity could lay to rest its 1400-year history of conflict with Islam. ... Now, as Catholic cardinals meet in the Vatican to choose the next pope, there is a growing feeling that these efforts to reach out to Islam have backfired. ... In some parts of the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, some Catholic communities are in danger of vanishing altogether. In Syria, for instance, priests say Mass in nearly empty churches as Catholic communities that thrived for centuries have fled regional violence and a resurgent Islam.
    [Wall Street Journal "Islam's Global Gains Pressure Catholics to Rethink Strategy," Apr 19, 2005. p. A.1]

    [2K.] Sources:
    The Dhimmi : Jews and Christians Under Islam by Bat Ye'or; Associated University Presses, 1985, p.61, p.71, p.88, p.104
    "L'Imperialisme Arabe" by Schumpeter, Joseph in Revue Africaine 2 (May-June) 1950:
    Lewis, Bernard, Jews of Islam, Princeton, 1984
    Fletcher, R. Moorish Spain, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992.
    Roumani, Maurice, The Case of the Jews from Arab Countries: A Neglected Issue, Tel Aviv, World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, 1977,
    Scilonio, Elaine, Persian Mirrors, Free Press. 2005 p.217


    In April 1876 the Bulgarians revolted in the so called April Uprising. The uprising was organised by the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee and was inspired by an insurrection in Bosnia the previous year. The revolt was largely confined to the region of Plovdiv, though certain districts in northern Bulgaria, in Macedonia and in the area of Sliven also took part in it. The uprising was crushed with cruelty by the Ottomans who brought irregular Ottoman troops (bashibazouks) from outside the area. Altogether some 30,000 people were massacred, the majority of them in the insurgents' towns of Batak, Perusitiza and Bratzigovo in the area of Plovdiv. The massacres aroused a broad public reaction led by liberal Europeans such as William Gladstone, who launched a campaign against the `Bulgarian Horrors.` The action was supported by a number of European intellectuals and public figures such as Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo and Giuseppe Garibaldi. The strongest reaction, however, came from Russia. The enormous public outcry which the April Uprising had caused in Europe gave the Russians a long-waited chance to realise their long-term objectives with regard to the Ottoman Empire. The Russian efforts, which ...
    led to a war in 1877-78, the treaty of Berlin and the loss (effectively) of Bulgaria to Ottoman control. ( )

    [4K.] God Has Ninety Nine Names by Judith Miller c1996, p.248

    [5K.] The Dhimmi : Jews and Christians Under Islam by Bat Ye'or,
    Associated University Presses, 1985, p.104

    [6K.] source:
    "Timeline of Russia [from 860CE] to 1910." (reference: 11/20/01)


    .... The Jews of Czarist Russia suffered persecution and discrimination. They were restricted in the areas in which they could reside, and were not equal with other citizens before the law. Czars issues numerous decrees against them, and the priests encouraged hatred of the Jews among the peasantry. This reached a climax toward the end of the 19th century in a series of pogroms. In 1881, after a malicious rumour that the Jews had assassinated the Czar, pogroms took place in the Ukraine in more than 30 towns, the most serious of them in Kiev ...
    from: "Russia and the Pogroms," World Union of Jewish Students

    [8K.] p.339-340, The Middle East : a Brief History of the Last 2000 Years by Bernard Lewis, N.Y., Touchstone, 1995

    See also: "France fines historian over Armenia denial," Boston Globe, Jun 22, 1995. pg. 12
    (Abstract: A court found a British historian, Bernard Lewis, guilty of violating French law for having denied that Armenians were victims of "genocide" in Ottoman Turkey.)
    Armenian reply: Yves Ternon, "Freedom and Responsibility of the Historian: The ‘Lewis Affair,'" in Richard G. Hovannisian, ed., Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999), pp. 243-6.

    Bat Ye'or, an anti-Islamic-fundamentalist author, points out the Islamic aspects of the killing

    The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas [non-Muslims living under rule of conquering Muslims] took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these massacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims' property, houses, and lands granted to the muhajirun [Muslims who had been driven out of formerly Ottoman empire land lost to Russia or European revolutionary nationalists], and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the jizya.
    Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 197.
    But also agrees that Non-Muslims did work with Colonialists
    The national movements of the dhimmi [non-Muslim] peoples and their struggle for emancipation complemented one another. Although they were sustained by Russian and European colonial interests, they were often its victims, easily manipulated according to imperialist interests. [Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p.103).

    see also "The Jihad Genocide of the Armenians by Andrew G. Bostom, The American Thinker, April 22, 2005


    [10K.] A report by a envoy (Taylor) to the British ambassador in Istanbul (Elliot) appears in British Parliamentary Papers of 1877 telling the sad story of Armenians in Anatolia.

    It is only by satisfying all demands [of the Muslim Kocher and Koord mountain men], however outrageous, that the Christian agriculturalist can maintain their position. One unbearable custom, that of Kishalk, has done more than anything else to contribute to their present paucity and decay. That custom, originating some years ago .... enabled [Kurds] to exercise the extraordinary right of quartering themselves and flocks during the winter in and about the Christian villages, entailing upon the inhabitants large expenses, not only for their animals, but also food and fuel for themselves, during at least four months ....
    The Koords do not confine themselves simply to plunder. The slightest complaint to Government on the part of the Christians against them is followed by night attacks, or open assaults in the day upon them. In this manner, during the last year, no less than ten have been killed and 40 wounded because they -- the Christians -- had the temerity to complain to the authorities of the oppression they suffered at the hands of the Koords.
    While the Koords make life miserable for Muslim farmers too, they reserved retaliatory killing and raping for the Christians. This practice was done with the encouragement of local "sheikhs".
    These marauders are aided and abetted by a society of so-called holy men, styled Sheiks, living in the Boolanik district of Moosh. They preach their conduct to be lawful and even meritorious, when practiced against Gianours [Infidels] The influence of such teaching instigated their mureeds or disciples last autumn to satisfy their fanaticism and avarice at the same time. They stormed and completely plundered the venerable church and convent -- dating from the time of the Illuminators -- of Surb Ohann. [Taylor [Erzeroum) to Elliot (Constantinople), 18 March 1869, no.13 in P.P. 1877 [C.1739] XCII., p.638-9, 644, 651-2, 655)]

    [11K.] The general practice was to combine tax collection from and humiliation of non-Muslims with a ceremony where the Christian or Jew paid there jizyah and the Muslim tax collector acknowledged the payment with a blow to the taxpayers head. (see: Ya'qub Abu Yusuf (d.798) Kitab al-Kharadj (le Livre de l'impot.) Translated by E. Fagnan. Paris, 1921.
    Ibn an-Naqqash (d.1362) ) "Fetoua relatif a la condition des zimmis et particulierement des Chretiens en pays musulmans, depuis l'etablissement de l'Islam, jusqu'au milieu du 8e secle de l'Hegire" Tranlated by Belin. Journal Asiatique 18: 475-8 (1851),
    Ibn al-Fuwati (d.1323), Al-hawadit al-jami'a (Comprehensive History of Baghdad) (Arabic), Baghdad, 1932.
    Al-Maghili (d. 1504), Ahkam ahl al-Dhimma, in G. Vajda, `Un Traite maghrebin 'Adversus Judaeos`Extraits des Etudes d'Orientalisme dedies a la memoire de Levi-Provencal. Vol. 2, Paris, 1962. (p.811)

    [12K.]"The Pact of Umar," (Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, ppl 229-230,, )

    see also: pp.308-9 of Mawardi (d.1058) Al-ahkam as-sultaniyya (Les Statuts gouvernementaux). Translated by E. Fagnan. Algiers, 1915)

    see also: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (13th century) Sharh ash-shurut al-Umriyya (Commentary on the Covenant of Umar) (Arabic) Edited by S. Salih. Damascus, 1961. p.62

    [13K.] For example, the Al Qaeda "Manual" used by the 9/11 hijackers, which self-consciously tries to follow many early Muslim practices, specifically instructs the hijackers to "plunder" the airplane passengers and crew they kill ("If you slaughter, you should plunder those you slaughter, for that is one of the sanctioned customs of the Prophet ..."), despite the fact the hijackers planned to be dead within a short while and would have no use for anything they plundered!
    "Manual for a 'Raid'" by Kanan Makiya and Hassan Mneimneh,
    New York Review of Books. January 17, 2002, V.49 n.1, p.18+

    [14K.] An example of the traditionalist fury at both the Ottoman reformers and Christians over freedom of religion was the chanting by Nablus (Palestine) Muslims, `No obedience to a creature [the Ottoman Sultan], who causes disobediance to the Creator,` before attacking Christians, looting and killing.
    What had the Sultan done that was so impious? Granted concessions to British imperialists? Legalized prostitution? The sale of alcohol? No, he'd issued a decree proclaiming that

    ... Every distinction or designation tending to make any class whatever of the subjects of my Empire inferior to another class, on account of their religion, language, or race, shall be for ever effaced from the administrative protocol ... [Sultan's decree read April 7 1856]

    (source: petition to the British Ambassador at Constantinople, Sir Stratford Caning by eight native Protestant Christians of Nablous. 13 September 1856, United Kingdom Foriegn Office. (F.O. 195/524 Petition (English to Arabic) to Caning (Constantinoble) 13 September 1856.]
    and James Finn (Consul Jerusalem for the UK from 1845-62) Stirring Times or Records from the Jerusalem Consular Chronicles (1853-1856), 2 vols, London, 1878 (2:442-45)

    The major Ottoman religious reform was known as the Tanzimat. see: M. Reischer Sha'are Yerushalayim (The Gates of Jerusalem) (Hebrew). Warsaw, 1879

    [15K.] Qutb quotes one T.W. Arnold as saying the Jizyah tribute was "in lieu of the military service; ... and it is very noticeable that when any Christian people served in the Muslim army they were exempted from the payment of this tax," (The Preaching of Islam by T.W. Arnold (no date or publisher given)). Qutb cites cases of Egyptian Muslims who paid Jizyah to avoid military service, and of the Christian al-Jurajimah tribe that fought on the side of the Muslims in battle and didn't pay Jizyah. (p.174)

    While this gives Qutb a way out, it has to be said that just because something happened in Muslim history doesn't mean it followed strict traditional law. Traditionalist Muslims would hold the al-Jurajimah Christians in violation of Islamic law. As for Christian people served in the Muslim army, part of what led to the slaughter of Ottoman Christians in 1860 was their impertinent insistance on the right to serve in the Army and not pay a new, substitute Jizyah tax called a bedel

    In 1855 the jizya was abolished throughout the Ottoman Empire at the same time as the prohibition against dhimmis' bearing arms. This tax was replaced by another, the bedel, payable by non-Muslims in lieu of military service. But while this tax was optional for Muslims, it was obligatory for Christians and Jews, and assessed according to the individuals wealth. Thus, when the Christians of Damascus asked to be conscripted and refused to pay the Bedel, which they considered a substitute for the jizya, they were regarded as rebellious rayas [conquered non-Muslims] who had lost the right to protection, and this, together with other factors provoked their massacre in 1860. [source: Ma'oz, M. Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine, 1840-1861: The Impact of the Tazimat on Politics and Society, Oxford, 1968 p.233]

    Restricting Atheism

    "Disowning one's God" is not "freedom of thought but freedom of atheism." Liberals "accuse Islam of restricting the freedom of thought simply because it prohibits atheism." (p.156) Atheism might be excusable in Europe where "people sought to attack religion in order to liberate their minds from superstition and to free people from oppression," but there's no reason for a Muslim to ever "abandon their religion." So what's the motive of the liberals? "Why should they attack" religion? Answer: "These so-called liberals are not interested in the freedom of thought but are rather more interested in spreading moral corruption and uncontrolled sexual anarchy." (p.158-9)

    COMMENT: In other parts of his book Qutb mentions many more restrictions on freedom of religion (i.e. freedom of religion for Muslims) than just banning atheism. .... But for some reason he doesn't mention them here!

    Is (Qutb's version of) Islam "guilty of dictatorship"?

    So say liberals.

    Advocates of `free thinking` allege that the Islamic system of rule is dictatorial because the state has vast powers. The worst of it, they say, is that the state enjoys immense power and authority in the name of the faith which has a very great attraction for the people. So they blindly subject themselves to its tyrannical rule. Thus they conclude, these vast powers lead to dictatorship and the common people are made slaves with no right to think for themselves. The freedom of thought is lost forever. None dare challenge the rulers and he who does is accused of rebellion against religion and God. [p.159]

    And it's true Qutb's Islamic system will have some restrictions unfamiliar to citizens of Western democracies. "There will be no pornographic motion pictures, newspapers or songs," for example. (p.136).

    Never fear, though:

    These false accusations are best refuted by referring to these verses of the Holy Qur'an:
  • `And their government is by counsel among themselves (42:38)
  • `And when you judge between people you judge with justice` (4:58) [p.159]
  • COMMENT: But are verses in the Qur'an enough to keep imperfect human beings from being corrupted by power?

    FACT CHECK: What happened when Iranians dared to challenged Qutb's fellow Islamists, the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran? It wasn't six months after the Islamic Republic was created that club-wielding partisans of the "Party of God" (Hezbollah) were crushing protests, and closing down dozens of opposition newspapers and magazines. Fearless Leader Imam Khomeini was declaring his opponents `wild animals.`

    We will not tolerate them any more ... After each revolution several thousand of these corrupt elements are executed in public and burnt and the story is over. They are not allowed to publish newspapers. ... We will close all parties except the one, or a few which act in a proper manner ... we all made mistakes. We thought we were dealing with human beings. It is evident we are not.` [1L]

    More than a few Iranians were executed, or more often, threatened with it for "rebellion against God." Khomeini went so far as directly accusing Iranians who dared to laugh at his doctrinaire clerical supporters (known as maktabi in Iran) of apostasy and threatened them with death.

    As soon as they hear the word maktabi, the gentlemen poke fun at it. Maktabi means Islamic. To poke fun at it is to poke fun at Islam. If [a man] does so with conviction, he is an apostate which means his wife no longer is his and his property should be given to his heirs and he should be killed.` [May 27, 1981] [2L]

    And since Khomeini's passing, his successors have carried on the tradition, accusing Iranians of warring with God for activities ranging from attending an International conference on "Iran after the elections" (the crime of Saeed Sadr, translator at the German Embassy in Tehran [3L]), to participating in street protests against the political domination of clerics and the lack of democracy (the crime of young demonstrators).

    They are rioters, hooligans and they are waging war on God. The judiciary should confront them as people who wage war on God,
    (Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a member of the Guardian Council on pro-democracy anti-clerical protesters in Iran.)
    `... The loose term "waging war on God", a charge which has been leveled at political dissidents in the past, carries the death penalty in Iran.` [from a Jun 21, 2003 report on ] [4L]

    It's true Qutb implies dissenters will not be beaten, censored or accused of waging war on God -- but then so did Khomeini when he was out of power. Then he promised Iranians that "the Islamic government will answer criticism by reason and logic" (November 9, 1978). [5L]

    Qutb avoids the subject of takfir (accusing someone of apostasy) when talking about freedom of religion or unfounded fears of an Islamic dictatorship, but you can find it in his book if you search it out and pieced it together. What should be done with apostates? That's explained in an offhand comment on how easy it will be to enforce the collection of az-zakat (Islam's obligatory 2.5% charitable donation). Qutb prescribes the same punishment as Khomeini: death.

    Az-zakat ... is an ordinance prescribed by law; the government must fight those who refuse to pay Az-zakat and may even kill them if they persist in such refusal, because they would then be considered apostates. [p.85]

    Are apostates only those who flout Az-zakat or another of the core five pillars of Islamic belief? No! One bunch he mentions not once but three times (p.13, p.187, p.167) are nominally-Muslim tyrants:

    Those who do not rule in accordance with what was revealed by God are the unbelievers. [v : 44]

    But unbelievers don't have to be rulers. Since "nothing escapes" Qutbian Islam's "penetrating eye" (p.19), which forms

    a harmonious whole that ... includes a just economic system, a well-balanced social organization, codes of civil, criminal as well as international law, a philosophical outlook upon life .... [p.ix],
    there are few aspects of life Islam doesn't have laws for.

    COMMENT: If you put the two together --

  • turning away from Islam is a capital crime (and)
  • the Islam that cannot-be-turned-away-from is not just a religious belief but an all-encompassing system

    -- the logical conclusion seems to be that Qutb's Islam has laws for every aspect of life a Muslim must obey on pain of death! A serious question in need of "refuting" ... but again Qutb doesn't go there.

    Notes on Is (Qutb's version of) Islam "guilty of dictatorship"?

    [1L.] Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah by Baqer Moin, Thomas Dunne Books, c2000, p.219

    [2L.] Speech by Khomeini on the first anniversary of the opening of the Majlis 27 May 1981. Quoted in Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah by Baqer Moin; Thomas Dunne Books, c2000

    [3L.] Los Angeles Times, November 8 2000, quoted in,

    [4L.] from a Jun 21, 2003 report in,1227,199626-1-9,00.html )

    [5L.] (Khomeini in exile in Neauphle-le-Chateau France from Ettellaat November 9, 1978).

    The Jurisprudents of Islam and the Churchmen of Christianity

    While the Christian church of Europe was guilty of "suppression of science, torturing of scientists and passing on a set of lies and superstitions ..." (p.157),
    In Islam there are no churchmen such as the European church had. ... But it is necessary that some people should specialise in the study of jurisprudence and law on which public order is based. ... They are just the jurisprudents and counsels of the state. It may be pointed out here that [the Islamic world's leading university, located in Cairo] Al-Azhar is a religious institute but it does not have, as the churchmen did, the authority to burn or torture people. All that Al-Azhar can do is to challenge and criticize an individual's understanding of religion. [p.157-8]

    FACT CHECK: When it comes to exercising "authority" over people's lives, the Islamic sheikhs on the side of Qutb's Muslim Brotherhood DO bear a resemblance to the "churchmen" of the inquisition of the Catholic Church. One Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali (a faculty member of Al-Azhar and "one of the most revered sheiks in the Muslim world") ( ),
    didn't just "criticize" people's "understanding," he testified on behalf of the killers of an Egyptian Muslim modernist, Farag Foda (the terrorist group Gamaa Islamiya). Foda had agitated against traditional shari'ah law, and Sheik al-Ghazali proclaimed that

    anyone born Muslim who militated against the shari'ah was guilty of the crime of apostasy, for which the punishment was death. In the absence of an Islamic state to carry out this sentence, those who assumed that responsibility were not blameworthy.
    There followed "a series of attacks by the Brothers on any attempt by secularist intellectuals to intervene in the debate on society's core values. . ." [1M]

    Some other examples of clerical support for murder include fatwas by the blind Egyptian Sheik Sheikh `Umar `Abd al-Rahman against Coptic Christians in Egypt for their `arrogance` (istikbar) [2M] and by the Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie for his "opposition to Islam." (14 February 1989) [3M]

    Notes on The Jurisprudents of Islam and the Churchmen of Christianity

    [1M.] (p.287, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel) (see also )

    [2M.] (Le Prophete et Pharaon by Gilles Kepel, 1986, p.209),


    In the name of God the Almighty. We belong to God and to Him we shall return. I would like to inform all intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qor'an, and those publishers who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, where they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctities. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing. In addition, if anyone has access to the author of the book but does not possess the power to execute him, he should point him out to the people so that he may be punished for his actions. May God's blessing be on you all. Ruhollah Musavi al-Khomeini.` [Broadcast on Tehran Radio 14 February 1989]

    The Misconception of Westerners that Science and Religion Are In Conflict

    Westerners inherited this from the Ancient Greeks who thought understanding of the "mysteries" of the world through science was something mankind "forcibly wrenches from these jealous but ineffectual gods who would ban and take back" all "good things" (like fire given to humans by the wayward god Prometheus) "if they could." (p.11)

    ... The only thing that makes man prostrate himself before God, it says, is his own sense of weakness. But each big stride that man takes forward in the various fields of science raises him to a higher plane of being -- brings him nearer to godhood ... [p.11]

    This illusion was reinforced by the "imbecilities" of Christian clerics who "arbitrarily embraced certain theories and dogmas" and "swallow nonsense and superstitions in the name of God," promulgating

    the torturing of scientists and burning them alive because they said, for instance, that the earth was round. [p.xiii]

    In contrast, "there have been great" Muslim

    doctors, astronomers, mathematicians, physicists as well as chemists, but never were they persecuted for their views. There is no trace of any conflict between science and their religious beliefs to be found in the minds of these great Muslim scientists. [p.xiii]

    FACT CHECK: What scientists were burnt at the stake for refusing to maintain the earth was flat? None. The legendary conflict between the Catholic Church and science was the arrest, threatening, forced recantation and life sentence of house arrest by the "Holy Office" of the inquisition of Galileo Galilei, for his questioning of the reigning astronomical dogma. But

  • The Catholic (or any Protestant) church never persecuted any one for teaching the earth was round because the church never preached or taught that the earth was flat.
  • Galileo was not burnt at the state, nor was he tortured, nor was he pressured to state the earth was flat. (The doctrine demanded of him was the "Ptolemaic" system -- the belief that the earth, not the sun, was at the center of the universe.)
  • Galileo's critics claim there were many other reasons for his run-in with the church besides unorthodox belief, namely: impolitic arrogance in dangerous counter-reformatory times; goading the academic establishment by campaigning to make heliocentrism the new dogma without offering complete scientific proof; picking a fight with his powerful erstwhile supporter and friend the pope (Cardinal Barberini, later Pope Urban VIII). [1N]
  • Though many religious "heretics" were burned at the stake by the church, only one scientific heretic was so executed, for (amongst other things) maintaining the earth was not at the center of the universe - philosopher (not scientist) Giordano Bruno (1548-1600).
  • Qutb would have executed Bruno too!!! Bruno was also a religious heretic, a defrocked monk who believed sacred scripture was fiction and God was not a being but simply nature. [2N]
  • At least one of the great Muslim scientists, the celebrated philosopher, physician and jurist Abu al-Waid ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd (know to Westerners as Averroes), had some kind of "conflict" with Muslim authorities over his religious beliefs. Ibn Rushd "was tried as a heretic by the religious community of Corova and banished in disgrace" in 1195 AD, with "many of his works" burnt. He was later rehabilitated.
  • The Church reversed itself 200 years later, accepting Copernicanism as fact, [3N] putting it ahead of certain leading Islamic scholars:
    the Islamic university of Al-Azhar in Cairo [went] on teaching Ptolemaic astronomical system (in which the sun circles the earth) until compelled to adopt the Copernican system by the Egyptian government in 1961. [4N]
  • What about the theory of evolution? To many, this, not astronomy, was the quintessential issue where "churchmen" clashed with science. So was/is Christian fundamentalist opposition to evolution another example of Christian "imbecilities"? Is there "no trace of any conflict between" the theory of evolution and Qutb's religious beliefs? Not likely. Muhammad Qutb published and edited his brother Sayyid's books, including one proclaiming it is "not permissible" for Muslims to study evolution, or "Darwinist biology," because it
    goes beyond the scope of its observations, without any rhyme or reason and only for the sake of expressing an opinion .... [5N]

    This of course puts the Qutb brothers and their fellow Islamists in the same camp as their archenemies, the Christian fundamentalists, and outside the pale of 99% of those trained in life sciences who support the theory of evolution. ["By one count there are some 700 scientists with respectable academic credentials (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists [or 0.14%]) who give credence to creation-science..." rather than evolution. [6N] ]
    ... Yet for some reason Muhammad Qutb has nothing to say about evolution.

    Notes on Why do Westerners suffer from the misconception that Science and Religion are in conflict?

    [1N.] "Galileo Affair" by George Sim Johnson

    [2N.] The Encyclopedia of Unbelief, edited by Gordon Stein, 1985. See also Who's Who in Hell, compiled by Warren Smith, c2000

    [3N.] "Galileo Affair", p.6

    [4N.] In the Path of God : Islam and Political Power by Daniel Pipes, c1983, p.113

    [5N.] Milestones, by Sayyid Qutb, The Mother Mosque Foundation, 1981, p.110

    [6N.] Newsweek magazine, 1987 June 29, p.23

    Does Science Conflict with Religion?

    Though "science is a powerful instrument to help us increase our knowledge of the things around us" and "has an impressive record of achievements to its credit," it has led to "one fatal mistake of the Westerners," their misperception of science as a competitor to God and their installation of "science as supreme God." (p.9)

    An example of their erring arrogance can be seen in a refusal to accept the existence of telepathy, which "is recognized as a scientific fact" (recognized by whom he doesn't say) because tradition passed down over fourteen centuries tells us Caliph Omar used it to warn one of his commanders. Sadly, "the modern scientist" denies this truth (or claim it was the "manifestation of a sixth but yet not fully explained faculty of the human mind," Qutb isn't clear which).

    Telepathy is the name for the communication of one mind with another at a distance. The most notable example of it is that incident wherein Caliph Omar called out to Sariah, a Muslim commander saying: `Sariah! To the Mountain! To the mountain!` Sariah heard this warning coming from hundreds of miles away. So he led his contingent to the mountain, escaped the enemy lying in ambush and won a victory over them. As such, though telepathy is recognized as a scientific fact, yet the modern scientist is so biased that its having anything to do with `soul` is denied outright. It is explained as a manifestation of a sixth but yet not fully explained faculty of the human mind. [p.10]

    COMMENT: It isn't clear what the real problem is with this Western "cult of science-worship." Do these cultists prefer scientific findings over the revealed truth of the Quran? But how can that be when Qutb has told us the two don't contradict each other -- there has never been "even a single scientific fact which has been found to contradict Islam" (p.xiii)?
    So is the problem that these cultists are ignoring scientific data that doesn't contradict Islam, since the telepathy they deny exists "is recognized as a scientific fact"? But if that's the case why is Qutb complaining about "science-worship" instead of incompetence and error of "the modern scientist"?

    It does seem clear that if a Muslim scientist is ever "persecuted for their views," they aren't really scientific views since there has never been "even a single scientific fact which has been found to contradict Islam" (p.xiii). If it contradicts (Qutb's) Islam, it must not be a scientific fact!
    It certainly can't be because there aren't traditionalist Islamic interpretations that don't fit in too well with modern science. Telepathy is just the tip of the iceberg. Besides that (and whether women are too emotional to have equal rights with men), there's

  • the creation of the earth in six 24-hour periods (Q.7:54);
  • that stars are "lamps" (Q.67:5);
  • that the first human being was created from dirt (Q.55:14);
  • the first jinn (genie) from fire (Q.55:15);
  • the moon split in two and then reunited 1400 years ago (Q.54:1-3)
  • In fact, few Westerners or modernist Muslims (even scientists), advocate for "science as supreme God," (aka for "scientism" -- the belief that nothing truly exists unless science can observe and measure it). What many do believe is that if a long-tested and retested scientific finding clashes with a traditional religious belief, then the scripture the belief is based on should be reinterpreted, and not science ignored. (Or as some Muslims put it, Islam is perfect, but Muslims' understanding of it is not.)

    What should a Muslim do if points of lights in the night sky traditionally thought to be decorative "lamps" perhaps a few miles away ...

    And we have, (from of old), adorned the lowest heaven with Lamps ... [Q67:5]
    turn out to be incredibly huge incandescent balls of gas millions of miles in diameter and quadrillions of miles away? Should they dismiss as a "cult" the system and methods that discovered this? Or go back and rethink the traditional understanding of what the Qur'an meant by "lamp"?

    Qutb pretends the issue doesn't exist.

    A looking at the historical record does nothing to dispell the feeling Qutb is papering over clashes of traditionalist Islam and science.

  • Muslim clergy in Iran declared "those who studied a foreign language infidels, and forbade the dissection of human bodies in the medical school." These were not hand-kissers of the Shah of Iran. Their attitude was a major reason the modernizing Reza Shah became a staunch secularist, and the clergy and shah determined foes. [1NN]
  • One of the tragedies of Muslim Science was the destruction of the great observatory in Galata near Istanbul in 1580. Ottoman Muslim progress in astronomy had been on par with Europe under Taqi al-Din, the astronomer (and astrologer) in chief to the Sultan Selim II in 1571. al-Din "persuaded the new Sultan Murad III to allow him to build" a large observatory, but the Sultan changed his mind a few years later and had it demolished. Why? The Chief Mufti (or jurisconsult of Shari'ah law) of the Ottomans "recommended" its destruction. [2NN]

    Notes on Does Science Conflict with Religion?

    [1NN.] The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation by Sandra Mackey, 1996 p.179)

    [2NN.] Aydin Sayili, The Observatory in Islam and its place in the General History of the Observatory (Ankara: 1960), pp. 289 ff.

    The "Two Pillars of Capitalism"

    These are "usury and monopoly."

    The evil of capitalism has poisoned all life. Its abolition and the need to rid human race of its evil consequences again call for Islam. For, Islam prohibits usury and hoarding which, taken together, form the mainstay of the capitalist economy. This, in other words, means that Islam alone can effectively check the evils of capitalism as it did check them 1300 years ago. [p.23-4]

    COMMENT: Writing in the midst of the post-war socialist boom, Qutb is at pains to distance Islam from capitalism - and probably reacting to attacks by now gone-and-forgotten Marxists that Islam and capitalism were working together to hold back the Arab world. Belief then was strong that capitalism had reached its highest stage (its "morbidly evil phase") and would begin its collapse any day.

    What did Qutb say to the misguided people who thought Islam approves of capitalism?

    In answer to this accusation it might suffice to point out that capitalism cannot prosper or grow without usury and monopoly both of which were prohibited by Islam ...[p.65]
    the monstrous capitalism which is currently prevalent in the Islamic world is not a part of Islam and consequently cannot be held responsible for its evils.... [p.71]

    COMMENT: Not even the most complacent proponents of capitalism apologize for unregulated monopoly, nevermind think it "necessary" for capitalism. But belief that lenders need a return on their loan is pretty universal. Yet foreign loans to underdeveloped countries which suck up scarce income for interest payments were, and are, a serious issue in Muslim and other developing countries. So how can foreign capital be found if not by paying the lender for it? If Qutb has any alternative solution, he's not sharing it with us. Instead he invokes unnamed "leading economists" almost as a sort of a magic talisman to reassure readers.

    Economists say that the development of capitalism from its early benevolent phase to its present morbidly evil phase was accompanied by its increasing dependence on national loan. This led to the creation of banks which carried on financial operations, and advanced loans in return for some interest. ...[p.67]
    There is no doubt that usury is not an indispensable economic necessity in modern times. It may be necessary for the capitalist world because capitalists cannot exist without it. Nevertheless, leading Western economists do not approve of usury and warn that it will inevitably lead to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few people. The masses will be gradually deprived of wealth and consequently they will be enslaved by the richer people. Western capitalism could supply us with many examples which prove these facts. It is to be remembered that Islam prohibited usury and monopoly, the two pillars of capitalism, about one thousand years before the existence of capitalism. [p.143]

    COMMENT: In the decades since Qutb's proclamations, there's been an explosion in the growth of "Islamic banking." All financial institutions in Pakistan and Iran, and numerous financial institutions elsewhere, provide "Islamic" savings accounts. But these accounts don't end payment on money lent, just "interest" on it, and the "Islamic" payment (particularly Murabaha or "mark-up" in Pakistan, and Qard hasan in Iran) often "bears a suspicious resemblance" to interest, according to The Economist magazine.

    In Pakistan

    .... In a murabaha contract, the provider of capital buys, say, a piece of machinery for $1,000, and the borrower buys it back from the bank later for $1,100. According to the murabaha rules, the $100 represents a "mark-up", but it works much the same as interest in everything but name.
    Murabaha lending is likely to be the mainstay of Pakistani banks in the next year or so [2001]. From a bank's point of view, mark-up loans are a relatively easy way to lend without receiving interest. [1Q]

    It's hard to see how the "dependence on the national loan," let alone the "poison of all life," can be cured by changing the name of "interest" to "murabaha," even if a convoluted payment mechanism is added!

    Still another problem in Islamic banking arises from the universal financial principle that riskier investments must offer bigger payoffs ... and vice versa. Besides murabaha-type accounts, Islamic banking usually offers more Islamically-authentic (but less popular) types that share profits and losses with savers (for example mudarabah in Pakistan and musharaka in Iran). Unfortunately, the high (initial) rates they offer to lure depositors and offset the chance of losses (25-50% return from profit and loss accounts, for example, in Iran in the 1990s compared with 9% at Iranian state banks [2Q]), are not available from socially-conscious investing you might expect Islamic militants to champion.

    So instead of lending to people like poor Muslim farmers and stall-owners who want to upgrade and expand their operations, the banks have favored high-risk ventures like international speculation in commodities and precious metals. It was escapades like this that led to the downfall of Al-Rayan Bank, wiping out 185,000 Egyptian depositors when it collapsed in 1989. [3Q]

    These days Islamic banking is most notable as a marketing niche to appeal to pious Muslims who want to save "without sin." But there's little or no emphasis on "the creation of Islamized spaces," let alone the "a new economic order," and certainly not the abolition of capitalism. [4Q]

    Notes on The "Two Pillars of Capitalism"

    [1Q.] "Forced devotion; Islamic banking; Pakistan's banks go Islamic," The Economist (US edition), Feb 17, 2001 p.6
    Murabaha lending was judged "likely to be the mainstay of Pakistani banks in the next year or so" [2001] after Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled (in 1999) that loans with interest could not be made after July 1, 2001.

    [2Q.] In Iran "1300 Islamic credit unions `became usurers' dens`; under the influence of the market, they were regrouped into an `Organization of the Islamic Economy` and pay annual interest rates of from 25 to 50 percent that are designated as `particpation in the profits of enterprise`; they thereby pull into the speculative sector savings that the state banks, more concerned with investment, can remunerate at only 9%." (p.140, The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994)
    Also: In Egypt, the Al-Rayan Bank, founded on the Islamic concept of sharing profits, boasted profits between 24% and 30%, while the Egyptian state banks were offering 13%. (source: Liberation, June 24-5, 1989

    [3Q.] "The examples of crashes of `Islamic` financial institutions are legion. In Egypt, the Al-Rayan Bank, founded in the early 1980s on the concept of sharing profits ... boasted profits between 24% and 30%, while the state banks were offering 13%. [source: Liberation, June 24-5, 1989] It soon came to light that such revenues were drawn from speculation on international markets: the ephemeral success of the Islamic banks was founded on playing the most unstable elements of Western markets (the gold market in New York in the case of Al-Rayan); when circumstances changed (the Wall Street crash of October 1987) bankruptcy loomed." (The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.142-3) ]

    From: "Pyramid Scheme," Forbes. Apr 17, 1989, v.143, n.8; pg. 106, 2 pgs

    An estimated half-million Egyptians have lost most of their life savings in the recent collapse of a series of financial institutions called Islamic investment companies. Reasons for the collapse include fraud, bad investments, lax government regulation, and investors who believed that they could get something for nothing.

    See also: "Sequel to a Scandal" by Jeffery Phillips. The Jerusalem Report, Jun 13, 1991. pg. 48

    The company attracted over $670 million in deposits in the space of three years. Al-Rayan became the largest of over 100 Islamic investment houses, ranging from large multi-national companies to one-man storefront operations. ....
    In 1989, the Egyptian government ordered the companies to stop trading and to present audited accounts to the state's investment authority. It emerged that for the most part the investment houses had incomplete deposit records, and that their asset bases were invariably less than the declared value of deposits.
    The scandal raged for months in the columns of the government and opposition press. ... Al- Rayan had lost $100 million in currency and gold speculation; one of the Abd al-Fattah [the bank's founder] sons wore a pistol under his robe ...

    [4Q.] "Money Talks ; Major Western banks led by Citigroup are coming to dominate a booming global market in Islamic finance." by Owen Matthews. Newsweek. (International edition). New York: Aug 8, 2005. pg. 40

    ... Giant Western banks -- or, rather, their Islamic banking subsidiaries -- are leading the market for financing that complies with Qur'anic laws on money-lending. Bahrain-based Citi Islamic, a subsidiary of Citigroup that was first into the market in 1996, now leads the pack with deposits of more than $6 billion. Citi and at least 10 other Western majors dwarf the biggest locally owned rival, the Bahrain-based Al Baraka, worth a little more than half a billion. And though still a niche market, Islamic financing is booming. Sharia-compliant bank deposits now top $265 billion, estimates Islamic Banking and Finance magazine, and other investments are worth a further $400 billion. That's up 17 percent in the past year, and by almost 10 times in the past decade, according to the UAE's Sharjah Islamic Bank. ....
    The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.144

    How Do We Know Islam Will Solve
    the Problems of Poverty and Inequality?

    Writing at a time when Marxism was spreading throughout the Third World, Qutb reinterprets Qur'anic ayat and ahadith of the Prophet (p) in support of a welfare state and redistribution of wealth. His interpretation seems tenuous at best.

    The Qur'an says

    What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the peopole fo the townships, -- belongs to Allah, -- to His Messenger and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; in order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you (lix:7)
    Which means (according to Qutb) that wealth must be distributed in a "just and fair manner". (p.127) Rightfully Guided Caliph
    Omar laid it down that the ruler was fully authorised to take of the excess of the rich people's wealth and distribute it among the poor as is nowadays being done for instance in England [p.182]
    Or was done thanks to Labour governments following World War II and up until the late 1970s.

    Another hadith says

    If a person who is charged with work for us has no wife, he shall have one; if he has no dwelling place, he shall have one; if he has no servant, he shall have one, if he has not animal, he shall have one. [hadith] p.70]

    This may sound as though it means God will provide these good things to those who work for the prophet (p), or even that that people who work for the Islamic government ("us" being the government) should be somehow guaranteed a house, wife, servant and camel by the government. But to Qutb it means the "basic necessities required by every person" (not just "officials of the state") will be provided by the state. It means "the public Treasury is responsible for supporting those who are unable to work owing to old age, illness, or childhood," in fact for "providing basic necessities to persons who cannot obtain them." (p.70)

    COMMENT: Qutb doesn't explain why he reads lieutenants of the prophet (p), or employees of the Islamic state to mean every citizen of the state (if that's what he meant, why didn't the prophet (p) say "everyone in the community" instead of "a person who is charged with work for us"?) Nor does he attempt to explain how the government can guarantee everyone a servant (how do you guarantee servants to the servants, and servants to their servants, etc.???), let alone a wife.

    Another hadith says

    `A man came to the Prophet (peace and prayer of God be upon him) begging for anything to live on. The Prophet gave him an axe and a rope and ordered him to collect some wood and sell it and live by its price. He further told the man to come back and report what would happen to him.`

    Again, to the untutored (or unbiased) ear, this hadith may sound like it is telling Muslims to follow the Prophet's (p) example of helping the poor help themselves, but Qutb insists it means that "the Islamic state is required to provide work for every person who is able to work." (p.88, italics added)

    COMMENT: Is Qutb grasping at straws to make fundamentalism competitive -- or sound competitive -- with socialism? There's no dispute Caliph Umar's reported distribution of funds to the poor and calling into account high officials made rich by their corruption were exemplary deeds. But what sheikh or faqih ever interpreted Islam to be a welfare state until non-Muslims invented the welfare state?

    If Islam Is So Wonderful,
    Why Is the Muslim World In Such a Bad State?

    Qutbian Islam is wondrous almost beyond description. Under Islam, humanity was

    • "lifted ... to the lofty heights of moral refinement" in a way that can only be explained as a "miracle" (p.179),
    • "elevated ... to the highest realms of moral perfection ever witnessed in the whole range of human history" (p.180)
    • raised "from the lowest depths of slavery and serfdom to the highest and most ideal state of social justice yet experienced by mankind under any other social system it has to far tried." (p.179-80)

    ... and so on. The catch is that for every proud proclamation of one of the virtues of Islam there follows an anticlimactic disclaimer of how Muslims have fallen short of this standard except for brief intervals throughout their history:

    • Slavery. Unlike brutal, exploitive Europe, Islam "never approved of slavery in principle ... it tolerated its existence for the time being just because it had no other alternative..." (p.45)

      Why then were millions of non-prisoners-of-war taken as slaves by Muslims over the centuries?
      "As to the instances of slavery, slave-traffic, seizure and sale of Muslims ... without any regular religious wars having taken place ... in some latter periods of Islamic history, they have no relation whatsoever to Islam." (p.45) "As to the instances of slavery, slave-traffic, seizure and sale of Muslims ... without any regular religious wars having taken place ... in some latter periods of Islamic history, they have no relation whatsoever to Islam." (p.45) "... actually the abolition of slavery was ... delayed more than Islam would have desired or allowed if it had continued functioning properly in its pristine purity, unadulterated by extraneous ingredients of deviation." (p.35)

    • War. While war is "a melee of treachery, surprise, violence and enslavement of one nation to another due to its expansionist designs and the lust for exploitation ..." (p.41), Islam "prohibited all wars save the one fought in the way of God; to avert cruelty and injustice to Muslims; crush a tyrannous oppressor resorting to force and violence to prevent people from embracing true religion ..." (p.41)

      Why then are there "vicious crimes and guilts that are perpetrated by some Muslim rulers in the name of Islam at the present times"?
      Whatever the reason for them, there is no "justification and truth" in "imput[ing]" them "to Islam." (p.45-6)

    • Feudalism. Unlike Europe where lords exacted forced labor, gifts, perpetual serfdom, etc. from their peasants, "there is no serfdom in Islam." (p.56)

      Why then do we "find feudalism in the Islamic countries in the modern history" which "still continues to linger"? (p.63)
      Because the "headsprings of Islamic faith had dried up in the hearts of Muslims." "Laws imported from various European countries" are responsible. (p.63)

    • Exploitation by a ruling class: Unlike brutal, exploitive Europe, "Islam does not recognize the existence of a ruling class. In Islam laws are not made by a specially privileged class; these had been made by God who created all classes." Monarchy does not exist in Islam because "According to Islam, the ruler is freely elected by all the Muslims" (p.45)

      Why then did "government degenerate into a hereditary monarchy" (p.61) in Muslim lands and last for centuries?
      "Islamic rule with all its justice and idealism remained in force only for a brief era ... We do not refer to the periods when corruption changed the system of rule into a monarchy ..." (p.75)

    • Rights of Women. Unlike (until very recently) in Europe, the woman in Islam "is a respectable being" (p.96), and has "independent economic status" (p.98), and has "perfect equal status as human beings" (p.99)

      Why then "is the position of woman in the East [i.e. not China or Japan but the Muslim world] so low that one cannot but protest against it"? Why does she "live a life similar to that of animals; her whole existence is but another name for mean earthly desires; she suffers privations ..." and so on? (p.124)
      Because "man treats woman roughly and persecutes her as a reaction to that harsh and rough treatment and persecution that he himself suffers." (p.125) But Islam is blameless because tradition tells us "Islam made the community so rich that as happened in the days of Umar bin Abdul Aziz [i.e. for the three years of his reign] there remained not even a single man in it who was poor enough to deserve or receive alms." (p.127) With true Islam, "political injustice" would be vanquished, as Islam "preaches revolt rather than obedience to injustice." (p.127)

    • Corruption and self-seeking by the clergy. Unlike Europe, where "churchmen stupefied the people and tried to divert them from the path of revolution by administering to them dopes of promises of an eternal heaven ..." (p.162); "in Islam there are no churchmen such as the European church had ... all people are equal ..." (p.157)

      Why then did "Al-Azhar men" (the scholars of the leading Islamic school), "kiss the hands of kings and interpret the provision of the glorious Qur'an to their [the rulers'] satisfaction and falsify the spirit and principles of Islam in order to ... prevent the hard working people from revolting against them..."? (p.163)
      Well, simply because the "professional men of religion" were not "really acting in accordance with the word of God and the principles of the Islamic faith". (p.163)

    • Capitalism. Unlike Europe where "The evil of capitalism has poisoned all life," [p.23] "Islam would not have allowed capitalism to grow into the monstrous forms which are presently prevalent in the `civilized` West." (p.70)

      Why then is there a "monstrous capitalism ... currently prevalent in the Islamic world"? (p.71)
      "Capitalism was imported into the Islamic world." (p.65), "Islam cannot be held responsible for its evils." (p.71)

    So when was Islam free of capitalism, feudalism, slavery, corruption, mistreatment of women, etc.? Towards the end of the book Qutb explains virtue prevailed from 622 to 644 AD (during a "short period stretching over the life of the Holy Prophet and the ... first two caliphs" p.176), and during Omar bin Abdul Aziz's three year reign (717 to 720 A.D. -- "Islam was never enforced in its true form except during the short period of Omar bin Abdul Aziz after the early caliphate.") In other words, over 1400 years, the model of perfection existed for about 25 years.

    Anticipating demands from doubting "communists and their like" to know why this perfection didn't last (p.177), Qutb is ready with an answer.
    "Islam spread with such a lightning speed in the world that there is hardly any parallel to it in the history of the different historical movements ..." So "it was not possible for the Muslims government of the time to arrange for the doctrinal instruction or moral education of these converts." Now we can provide that instruction, so that "what happened once might happen again and again." (p.178)

    COMMENT: Needless to say, his "answer" doesn't really help.

    • The "lightning speed" spread of Islam certainly diluted its religious power, but haven't fourteen centuries been enough time to "arrange for doctrinal instruction," if that's the problem? It's not like the current Islamic revival movement is Islam's first. Oscillation "between periods of strict religious observance and others of devotional laxity" is a characteristic of Islamic history. [0P] Rulers and preachers instructing Muslims and enjoining them to return to the pure days of the early Muslims include the Almoravids and Almohads dynasties in Maghreb (1042-1269), Sayyid Barlevi's Ahl-i Hadith movement of the 19th century, preachers Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), Shah Wali Allah (1702-1762) and ibn Abd al-Wahhab (d.1792) (to name some of the more famous). Why did none of these revivalists recreate "moral perfection"?

    • And it's not like the current Islamic revival movement just started up and hasn't had a chance to try and reinstitute Islam's perfect system. The Salafiyya movement started almost a century and a half ago. The original Muslim Brotherhood, to which Qutb belonged, was founded in 1928. Islamist takeovers and attempted takeovers in Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan and Algeria have brought bloody disasters, not moral perfection.

    Then there are doubts about whether the 25 years were perfect...

    • Is it possible oral history may have exaggerated the moral perfection [1P] of caravan raiding, invasion, conquest and slave-taking? Both of the two Umars Qutb heaps praise upon -- al-Khalifa Rashid Umar ibn al-Khattab and Umar bin Abdul Aziz -- died at the hands of murderers. How "perfect" was that?

    ... and if they were, whether a system was responsible ...

    • Muslims were busy fighting wars, expanding their empire, and taking booty during their first 22 years. What fiscal budgets, police forces or general administration they presided over were inherited from the conquered Persians and Byzantines. So in what sense was the early Muslim era of Islam really an Islamic political and economic "system", or even a system at all? [2P]

    • This is especially relevant when you consider what seems to be an almost universal human tendency to start projects full of energy and idealism and gradually compromise, sacrificing ideals and become more interested in personal gain.

      Political activists in the U.S., it is joked, "come to Washington to do good" (as idealistic volunteers) "and stay to do well" (as highly-paid but unidealistic lobbyists).

      More interesting to Islamists may be the striking rise and fall over just a few decades of Communism, another revolutionary anti-capitalist movement with worldwide ambitions. Its insurgents in Russia, China and Cuba startled the world, overthrowing bigger, more experienced (and foreign-backed) regimes, but ended with collapse in Russia, the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, and a drab, stagnant, tourist-dependent society in Cuba. Now, in Iran, are we not seeing something very similar with pious, determined Islamists (more than a few of whom eagerly sacrificed their lives in overthrowing the Shah), transforming themselves before our eyes into power-loving political operators willing to sacrifice almost anything (their country's power and prosperity, their people's happiness and freedom) to stay in power?

      Might not this pattern, rather than lack of religious education, be a more plausible explanation for the briefness of early Islam's moral perfection?

    • Non-muslims would want to know if 25 years of just, prosperous, militarily successful rule out of 1400 was really that remarkable. Qutb makes no attempt to prove the superiority of the "lofty", "ideal", "highest realms" of Islam over the high points of Christianity Buddhism or Hinduism throughout their millenias of history. Evidence of the miraculousness of the 25 years is limited to anecdotes passed down orally about the mercy, generosity, thrift, etc. of the three caliphs.

    ... and if it was, whether that system would still work perfectly today.

    • And if those 25 years were absolutely perfect, can a life of tribal connections, caravans, archery, swordsmanship, horsemanship, and caravan raiding have much to teach people living in an era of cell phones, microchips, biotechnology, traffic control, hygiene, 16+-year-long terms of school education, etc.? General principles of goodness and charity sure, but "codes of civil, criminal as well as international law ..."? (p.ix)

    Notes on If Islam Is So Wonderful, Why Is the Muslim World In Such a Bad State?

    [0P.] Roy Olivier's comment on "the call to fundamentalism, centered on the shariah" (from: The Failure of Political Islam by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.4):

    this call is as old as Islam itself and yet still new because it has never been fulfilled, It is a tendency that is forever setting the reformer, the censor, and tribunal against the corruption of the times and of sovereigns, against foreign influence, political opportunism, moral laxity, and the forgetting of sacred texts.

    The "oscillate between periods of strict religious observance and others of devotional laxity" in Islam was striking enough for "the great Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun" to ponder its causes 600 years ago, and speculate that it could be "attributed ... to features of ecology and social organization peculiar to the Middle East," namely the tension between the easy living in the towns and the austere life in the desert.
    From: "September 11 and the Struggle for Islam" by Robert W. Hefner,


    Age of oral histories: The oldest and probably the most authoritative collection of Ahadith is by Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad Al-Bukhari who researched Ahadith up until his death or (close to it) in 876 A.D., some 244 years after the prophet's death.

    Questionable perfection of the 25 years:

  • Booty: Qutb says nothing about looting and taking of slaves by Muslim conquerors but there is little doubt this both caused great suffering among the conquered non-Muslims and was a major incentive for Muslims warriors -- not what most people would call "moral perfection" or an "ideal state of social justice" these days.

    When Caliph Abu Bakr (632-634) wanted to raise an army to conquer Syria he emphasized booty for warriors, not their reward in heaven

    He wrote to the people of Mecca, Tayef, and Yemen, and to all the Arabs in Najd and Hejaz, calling on them for jehad. He described the abundant and rich spoils which they can expect from this campaign against Syria and the rich Byzantine provinces. The Arabs responded favourably and arrived in large numbers to Medina
    [source: Tabari, Abu Ja'far ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rosol Wal Moluk (The History of Prophets and Kings), vol.4, p.428; and ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamel Fil Tarikh (The Complete History), vol.3, p.293]
  • Caliph Umar Omar ibn al-Khattab. Lebanese author Jebran Chamieh points out that fundamentalist stories of Caliph Umar's "asceticism, his care for the poor, and his concern for public money," appeared centuries after his death and don't square with more contemporary histories.
    Tradition claims that he had a single threadbare dress thawb which he patched with leather whenever it was torn. The purpose of these tales was to emphasize his piety and abnegation, and that he did not take money from the treasury. It is difficult to reconcile these with the fact that Caliph Omar received from the spoils of the conquered lands a share at least equal to that of the other leading Companions who amassed great wealth. History books do not mention that Omar donated his share to the treasury or to the poor.
    [from Traditionalists, Militants and Liberal in Present Islam by Jebran Chamieh, Research and Publishing House, [no date give, probably 1994] ]
  • Caliph Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, is an almost mythical paragon of virtue for, amongst other things, his allegedly benevolent treatment of conquered dhimmi. But was he as kind as advertised? Some admonitions of Umar II quoted by Muslim scholars
    .... do not allow any cross to be exhibited without smashing and destroying it; no Jew or Christian may be allowed to ride upon a saddle, but must use a pack-saddle ....

    source: pp.195-6, of Kitab al-Kharadj (Le Livre de l'impot) by Abu Yusuf (d. 798, One of the founders of the Hanafi school of law.) Translated by E. Fagnan. Paris, 1921)

    O ye who believe! The non-Moslems are nothing but dirt. Allah has created them to be partisans of Satan; most treacherous in regard to all they do ...

    quoted by Ghazi b. al-Wasiti (alive in 1292) in R. Gottheil, "An Answer to the Dhimmis" Journal of American Oriental Society 41 (1921)]

    [2P.] Was the early Muslim era of Islam really a political and economic "system"?
    For example, when rebels from Egypt and Mesopotamia were fed up with Caliph Othman ibn Affan's favoritism toward his own Umayyad clan and the palace-building and harsh taxation that followed, they simply came to his house in Medina and killed him, there being no effective bodyguard force for the ruler to stop them, let alone police force to protect the average person.

    The caliphs did not establish an administration, a fiscal system, or a budget ... In the conquered lands, they retained the previous Byzantine and Persian administrative systems and kept the local employees to administer the country.
    The first caliph Abu Bakr ruled two years and three months during which he was totally occupied in fighting the tribes that rejected Islam after the death of the Prophet. The caliphate of Omar lasted eleven years [and was] devoted to the conquest of neighboring countries. ... Islamists allude to the vague principle of `consultation` shura but are careful not to define it or describe how the [first] four caliphs exercised it. Subsequent caliphs and sultans simply applied Caliph Othman's theory of absolute [God-given] power, until the Ottoman Caliph Abulhamid II enacted the first Islamic constitution in 1876.
    [from Traditionalists, Militants and Liberal in Present Islam by Jebran Chamieh, Research and Publishing House, [no date give, probably 1994] p.57, 225]

    What Ought Muslims To Do?

    Qutb emphasizes (several times) the need to follow the example of early Muslims ...

    There is ... only one way to attain the Islamic goal ... Faith ... Our stand and position today as Muslims is not in the least different from that taken up by the early Muslims. [p.196]

    We stand exactly where the early Muslims stood when they were hemmed in from right and left by two of the most powerful countries of that time. [p.199]

    In the world today [Islam] is destined to play as glorious a role as it played in the first days of its history. [p.199]

    ... how the early Muslims conquered their more powerful neighbors:

    They were just a handful of men but were out to fight against two of the most powerful and proud states of that time, the Roman Empire on their left and the Persian to their right. Both of these adversaries were far superior to them in men, material wealth, art of war, military science... but despite this the handful of Muslims overpowered [them] in less than half a century. They captured their vast territories stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. [p.196]

    And how important it is for Muslims to eagerly sacrifice their lives for victory:

    We know that the path we have chosen for ourselves is not strewn with flowers. It is rather a way that calls for sweat, blood and tears. It demands sacrifices, self-immolation, tribulations ...[italics added, p.197]

    When there are half a million men ... ready to lay down their lives for Islam ... there will be no Christian or heathen imperialism to strut abroad. [p.198]

    Faith enables the good Muslim to "advance toward the battlefield as light-heartedly as if he were going to embrace his bride." (p.196)

    He dismisses the idea that "the spread of communism" and its attendant atheism is a greater menace to Islam than the people-of-the-book-dominated West. The European non-Muslim world is all much the same.

    The countries under communist control at present are what formed a part of Christendom before the advent of communism and were as such as hostile to Islam and Muslims as they are today. Europe ... fought crusades against the Muslim world in the past and is still engaged in that war. [p.199]

    And concludes:

    Islamic forces are gathering strength day by day....
    God will certainly aid those who aid His (cause): for verily God is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (Able to enforce His Will). xxii: 40, (p.196-99)

    COMMENT: Throughout his book Qutb has alternated between attacks on "communism" (whose bloc of countries was located mainly to the northeast of Qutb's Arab Muslim world) and on "the West". So it takes little imagination to read a call for today's Muslims to imitate the Muslim conquerors of the Byzantine Empire and Persia, as a call to conquer the current "two most powerful and proud states" to the West and the East of the Muslim world. Not to make things too obvious, Qutb not only doesn't specifically say, "conquer Europe as the early Muslims conquered Byzantium," he even avoids using the directions "West" and "East." Instead he describes Byzantium and Persia as being located to the "left" and "right" of the early Muslims.

    What Does It All Mean?

    COMMENT: Though advertised with fairly bland descriptions like "an introduction to Islam ... from a civilizational/ideological point-of-view, comparing various social systems against Islam," or a protection for "the mind of unwary Muslims from the influence of anti-Islamic concepts" [1R] ... Muhammad Qutb's book is much more than that. It's outrageously and comically ignorant of the Western countries it describes and oozing with hatred for them

    Some observations about Islam, the Misunderstood Religion

  • Qutb's earnest goal is to replace existing Muslim regimes (and the ex-Soviet and Western countries) with Islamist rule, but it's doubtful many serious people would want him running a market stall, let alone a nation state. His flights of fantasy soar and wheel through imaginary throngs of slutty teenage or shiftless AWOL Americans, orgy-loving Communists, horny European war-spinsters in hot pursuit of stingy bosses, slave-owners in "spiritual bond" with their slave girls, masochistic wives begging for nice, light beatings -- wherever his insecurity, hatred, ego and identity lead him. Never mind the injustice of his system, he lacks a basic grasp of reality (even allowing for a cultural background prizing honor far more than facts) needed by anyone making decisions or solving problems.

  • Rather than being disdainfully aloof from inferior Western civilization and its ways, Qutb seems obsessed with it. Perhaps this isn't really surprising. Much of what the educated Western or Westernized enemy considers the most basic and uncontroversial human rights -- legal sex between consenting unmarried adults, or women walking around outside whenever they feel like it -- Qutb considers an "odious form of animalism" or "mere folly."
    And what Qutb believes to be "moral perfection" -- Muslim warriors advancing "toward the battlefield as light-heartedly as if he were going to embrace his bride" (p.196-99), conquering "vast territories", or threatening atheists and Muslims who have left the faith with death -- are what modernists might call odious and animal-like.
    Maybe the only thing both Qutb and his followers, and the educated Western or Westernized enemy, can agree on is that the other is "evil" and "primitive". That, and perhaps that helping the poor is virtuous.

  • The cowardice of the West and courage of Muslims is important (though Qutb doesn't talk about it as much as other vices and virtues), as it should be if Muslims are going to conquer the West. There's
    • the imaginary 120,000 American deserters.
    • the story of how "a handful of inspired fighters who total strength did not exceed a hundred men at the most ... so perturbed the leaders of senile old empire that they preferred leaving the country [Egypt?] ... rather than conquer[ing] them." [p.197]
    • and how "during the last World War the Italians possessed most effective and deadly weaponry, but still ... they excelled in one thing only : running away from the battlefield leaving all their weapons in the hands of their enemies," lacking the "faith and inspiration" of Islam.

  • His book shows a flexibility in fundamentalism (or a lack of unity) supporters claim fundamentalism doesn't have. Qutb appeals to a love of certainty -- or, as he puts it, "peace and tranquility" (p.2) -- comparing fundamentalist Islam to the "ever-changing and constantly shifting positions" of science (as Newton replaces Aristotle and Einstein replaces Newton, sub-atomic particles multiply and age of the cosmos changes). "We see [science's] `worshippers` doomed to a fate of perpetual restlessness and anxiety," denied "rest and peace of mind" that fundamentalist believers know. (p.2) ... or rather would know if Islamists all interpreted the Qur'an and Ahadith the same way. "Restlessness" afflicts the fundamentalist movement too, as can be seen comparing popular Islamic revival positions with Qutb's. [1aR]

    1. Confining women to the home: Qutb (and other old-line Islamists like Maulana Sayyid Abul A‘la Maudoodi), preached the need for women to stay inside their home as much as possible, working outside it only in emergencies. The idea had a resurgence of popularity as a solution to unemployment when oil prices collapsed in the 1990s. In Algeria, Abbassi Madani, founder of the formerly massive and popular Islamist FIS party, preached the idea of paying women to quit their jobs and stay home, citing a hadith that insisted a woman should leave her home only three times: "when she is born, when she is married, and when she goes to the cemetery," [2R]
      These days Islamists are more likely to listen to less traditional Islamist thinkers like the Sudanese Hasan at-Turabi: "Today in Sudan, women are in the army, in the police, in the ministries, everywhere, on the same footing as men." [3R] More and more women work and fill city streets in Muslim countries, making it less and less likely Muslim women would stand for enforced confinement. There is little talk about confinement of women, and even the "well known" hadith Madani quoted is hard to find on the internet.

    2. Economics: In other ways the Islamic revival has become more traditionalist since Qutb wrote his book in the 1950s. Back then Marxism was the reigning anti-imperialist ideology (as noted earlier), expanding into East Asia and Eastern Europe. Qutb proclaimed Islam to be a sort of more moderate, sensible version of "communism and the like" - promising to "eliminate" capitalism, redistribute wealth with inheritance taxes and profit sharing, and guarantee everyone employment (p.88), housing, and other "basic necessities" (p.70), but accepting private property and a certain level of natural inequality (p.72-82). He even went so far as to proclaim the kafir "Scandinavian states .... closer than any other state in the world - to a realization of some aspects of Islam." (p.77)
      Now, 50-odd years later, Marxist competition has vanished, and few Islamists see guaranteed housing, jobs or redistributive inheritance taxes in their reading of the Sunna. And nobody talks about Sweden as a "model." [4R]

    3. Science and Technology: "Muslims should make use of all good scientific achievements," (p.141) but of course the early Muslims that Qutb and other Islamists want to follow had no scientific achievements, which is why the Salafi brand of Islamist Muslims often distain modern technology along with tooth brushes, toilet paper, trousers, shirts, etc. In Afghanistan the Taliban had zero interest in economic development or modernity of any sort [5R]; bin Laden forbade the use of electricity in his household and rewarded his children for memorizing the Qur'an by giving them their own horses. [6R]

    4. Polygamy: The justification Qutb gave for polygamy was that it provided women with husbands, companionship and children when there's a shortage of males following a war. (p.119) But today an estimated 10+% of Muslims currently practice polygamy worldwide, and it's found in places with no shortage of male Muslims. (In London a judge on the Finchley Mosque "family panel" dealing with marriages and divorces estimates "he has between ten and 15 cases of polygamy brought to him every month." [7R])
      Ironically, normalization of traditional Islamic polygamy may now be creating a situation where well-off fundamentalist Muslim males with multiple wives soak up a significant fraction of the supply of marriageable women, leaving large numbers of young (poorer) Muslim males unable to marry. (For example, Osama bin Laden's traditionalist multi-millionaire father reportedly had 54 children by "more than 20 different mothers." Being limited by religious law to four wives, he divorced old wives to make way for the new ones. [8R])
      The frustration of pious young Muslim men unable to marry should not be underestimated (to quote the hadith: It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah said: "When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion ..." ), nor should the consequences. As a Saudi ex-fundamentalist put it,
      You can't have a girlfriend in this society. It's too expensive to marry and as a young man, all you're thinking about is sex. So the teachers tell us, 'Don't worry, no need now, when you kill yourself you'll have plenty of girls in heaven.' [9R]
      (Saudi Arabia is now thought to be one of the leading suppliers to suicide terror bombers in Iraq. [10R])
      In other words, instead of being a solution to a surplus of unmarried females caused by wars, polygamy may now be a cause of male surpluses, contributing to bloodshed.)

    5. The need for "humbling" of people of the book: Qutb quickly brushes over this infamous injunction in 9:29, claiming "it should be pointed out that his verse refers to non-Muslims who wage war against Islam." But what constitutes "waging war against Islam?" In Egypt, the Islamic revival inspired a similar revival among the Christian Coptic minority. Islamists preachers responded by ranting against the Egyptian
      government's criminal negligence; has it not permitted them to build new churches, though there are more than enough of them in a country where over ninety percent of the inhabitants are Muslims; has the regime not let them parade their religious affiliation in public (for example, crosses on car stickers and dresses), which is a sheer provocation to Muslims? [11R]
      This rather loose definition of "provocation" -- failure to show humility to Muslims -- has led to the killings of many Copts -- over 100 between 1992 and 1998, according to the U.S. State Department. In the Cairo shantytown of Embaba, for example, Coptic
      shops were looted, their churches were torched, and they themselves were systematically beaten. All this was justified by the `hunting down of evil.`
      In the town of Minya, 150 miles south of Cairo,
      five churches, two charity organizations, and 38 mostly Christian-owned businesses had been torched. Witnesses said the destruction was carried out by gangs of young Muslims wielding iron bars and Molotov cocktails and shouting `God is Great!` [12R]
    6. Charity: One of Qutb's untraditional interpretations that seems to have taken hold is charity in the form of what westerners would call economic development aid (schools, hospitals, "cooperative societies,"), rather than food or cash handouts. Qutb reckoned this would disprove those "enthralled by colonialism" who "accuse Islam of letting the common people lead a life of dependence on the alms given by the rich") (p.85). Judging from websites of many Muslim aid groups like ICNA Relief-Helping Hand, they differ little from Red Cross and CARE except in their focus on Muslims (and the aid to jihadis by some, like Holyland Fund )

  • But what most people really care about is whether Qutb's rant sheds any light on what makes radical Islamists (like his ex-student) tick, and how to stop them from killing. It may offer a ray or too.

    In the debate over how to deal with bin Laden and al Qaeda, one major fault line runs between

    • those who think him/them monsters who "hates us for our freedom," (in the words of President Bush), and
    • those who think bin Laden and al Qaeda extremely ruthless, but rational and sincere Muslims with straightforward and limited demands - that the US get out and stay out of the Middle East - Iraq, Israel/Palestine and Saudi. [13R]

    At least a couple of quite knowledgeable terrorism experts (journalist Peter Bergen and Ex-CIA analyst Michael Scheuer) hold the later view, scoffing at the idea that bin Laden has any interest in "Madonna's midriff" [14R] or our "R-rated movies". [15R] Scheuer argues that far from being a primitive loony, Bin Laden has many virtues -- discipline, patience, bravery, "professionalism, piety" and sense of "personal responsibility" -- strengthening his effectiveness. [16R]

    Scheuer and others have pointed out it's unlikely to be a coincidence that the Western countries bombed by al Qaeda and its affiliates -- U.S., U.K., Spain -- all have (or had) troops in Iraq. As bin Laden said in reply to Bush

    ... free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain to us why we don't strike, for example, Sweden." [17R]

    Added all together -- Al Qaeda's formidable ability and limited demands, its considerable popularity among Muslims, Europe's growing young Muslim and shrinking native population -- might it then be advisable to give serious consideration to addressing Al Qaeda's demands? If bombings by its affiliates continue to spread in Europe and Asia, why not just remove the bone of contention and withdraw Western military forces from the Middle East? Or heed the call of the The Guardian newspaper, following the 3/11 Madrid bombings, for "an international conference, to bridge the divide between Muslim and Christian communities"? [18R]

    This, of course, is where Qutb comes into the picture, appearing very much to provide ammunition to the other side of the argument. Qutb's "demands" of the West are anything but limited or rational, and if he has had an influence on bin Laden (and, interestingly, both Bergen and Scheuer agree he has [19R]), then attempts to negotiate or appease might not be advisable at all. A Qutb-influenced bin Laden may be limiting his comments and demands to U.S policies in the Mideast out of (his celebrated) patience and professionalism, not a lack of interest in what happens elsewhere. It may mean jihad in Western countries with no military presence in the Mideast (like Sweden) is not absurd, just low on the list of priorities -- waiting, for example, until young European Muslims are inspired and energized by the success of a higher priority (the defeat and retreat from the Mideast of the cowardly, decadent, life-loving imperialists Bush and Blair). Then, instead of crossing a new bridge of peace spanning Europe's cultural divide, al-Qaeda and other Islamist cadre may move on to rouse and cheer on many thousands of Muslims to lightheartedly capture "vast territories" to the "left" of Arabia, and to put an end to the "odious forms of animalism" like bare midriffs and profane movies polluting the land. [20R],

    Notes on Epilogue

    [1R.] [ NOTE:

    Muhammad Qutb's popular introduction [sic] to Islam for non-Muslims approaches the subject from a civilizational/ideological point-of-view comparing various social systems against Islam.

    Liberates the mind of unwary Muslims from the influence of anti-Islamic concepts inculcated by former colonists from the West.

    [1aR.] Partly this is the drift from political Islam to not-so-political "neofundamentalism," spelled out in the The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994,

    Toward the end of the 1980s, the failure of the Islamist revolutionary idea brought about the drift of a revolutionary, political, Third World type of Islamism, incarnated in the Iranian revolution, toward a puritanical, preaching, populist, conservative neofundamentalism, financed until recently by Saudi Arabia but violently anti-Western, particularly since the end of the East-West confrontation has ceased to cast communism as a foil. The Algerian FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) is the proptype for this sort of group: a conjunction of the poltical heritage of Islamism, Saudi money (until 1990), and the influence of a more pious than political return to Islam." The distinction "is a difference in emphasis. [p.25]

    [2R.] Abbassi Madani in 1989. quoted in Inside the Arab World, by Michael Field, 1994, p.142)

    [3R.] from "The Western Mind of Radical Islam" by Daniel Pipes
    First Things 58 (December 1995): 18-23. Pipes also points out that "... one of the late Ayatollah Khomeini's "granddaughters attended law school and then lived in London with her husband, a cardiac surgeon in training; another [granddaughter] organizes women's sporting events."

    [4R.] see
    and Inside the Arab World by Michael Field, Harvard University Press, 1995; p.251-2

    [5R.] from Taliban : Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, p.93:

    The Taliban ... accept[ed] no concept of doubt except as sin and considering debate as little more than heresy. ... the Taliban are vehemently opposed to modernism and have no desire to understand or adopt modern ideas of progress or economic development. ... This has created an obscurantism which allows no room for debate even with fellow Muslims.

    [6R.] According to a sympathetic account of bin Laden by al Qaeda defector Abdurahman Khadr in Frontline PBS TV program episode `Son of Al Qaeda,` March 28, 2005.

    [7R.] From two stories on Polygamy.
    "The Suicide Bachelors of Polygamous Islam" by William Tucker. The American Spectator, Jun 2004. V.37, Iss. 5; p. 50 (3)
    estimates 12% of marriages in "contemporary Islamic societies" are polygamous.

    among Muslims in UK

    `... in the Midlands, Ayesha had been living with her husband for 30 years when he secretly married a woman in her twenties. Her husband, a professional man with some standing in the local Muslim community, had brought her into the country on a work visa. Apparently, this is quite widespread. Ayesha knew of two Asian men who'd married ten wives each as a way of getting immigrants in. She had complained bitterly to the local Muslim community, but nothing had been done about it and she'd been ostracized. One of the family panel judges at the Finchley Mosque told Yaqub that he has between ten and 15 cases of polygamy brought to him every month.
    "Islam and polygamy" by Michael Vestey. The Spectator.
    Oct 23, 2004.Vol.296, Iss. 9194; pg. 68, 2 pgs]

    [8R.] Quote is from Yeslam bin Laden, one of Osama's half brothers talking to Newsweek, Nov. 9, 2001. (found in Osama by Jonathan Randal).

    "... The large number of bin Laden siblings is the result of polygyny; his father was married ten times, although to no more than four women at a time per Islamic law ...`
    from: "Osama bin Laden ... From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."]
    (In theory the older divorce women could provide a source of eligible women for unmarried males, but traditional Muslims prize virginity in a bride and remarriage by women with children is not common among them. (Kepel, Gilles. Muslim extremism in Egypt : the prophet and pharaoh. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1985))

    [9R.] Saudi Arabian dissident Mansour Al-Nogaidan, quoted in New York Times Magazine, Mar 7, 2004. "The Jihadi Who Kept Asking Why" by Elizabeth Rubin.]

    [10R.] "'Martyrs' In Iraq Mostly Saudis : Web Sites Track Suicide Bombings," By Susan B. Glasser Washington Post, May 15, 2005; Page A01.

    .... Who are the suicide bombers of Iraq? By the radicals' account, they are an internationalist brigade of Arabs, with the largest share in the online lists from Saudi Arabia and a significant minority from other countries on Iraq's borders, such as Syria and Kuwait. ...

    While some have argued it makes little difference to a potential Muslim terrorist whether they are can marry or not because many jihadi suicide terror bombers are married, no less an authority on jihadism than Osama bin Laden has pointed out that when a man has "family commitments ... a wife and children ... his ability ... to wage jihad ... becomes weaker." He explains while holding forth on the demographics of Saudi Arbia it in a interview broadcast on Al Jazeera December 1998 after the Kenya and Tanzania embassy attacks that killed over 200 people ... including a handful of Americans.

    .... As is known, from birth to 15 years of age people do not look after themselves, nor are they really aware of great events, and from the age of 25 and above people enter into family commitments, they go out and have working commitments. A man will have a wife and children, so his mind becomes more mature, but his ability to give becomes weaker. He tells you: `Who can I leave the children to? If I leave, who will look after them?', and so on. And if we're really honest we find that this section, between the ages of 15 to 25, is when people are able to wage jihad. In Afghanistan most of the mujahidin are of this age. [quoted on p.91 of Messages to the World, The Statements of Osama Bin Laden, Verso, 2005.]

    [11R.] from cassette audiotape by Sheikh Ahmad al-Mahalawi, "al-Fitna at-Ta'ifiya fi Misr", translated in "Eavesdropping on Radical Islam" by Emmanuel Sivan Middle East Quarterly March 1995,

    [12R.] 127 Copts killed in acts of terrorism between 1992-1998:U.S. State Department annual reports on `Human Rights Practices in Egypt.` (Quoted in Passion for Islam : Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience by Caryle Murphy, p.329)
    Embaba: Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam by Gilles Kepel, Harvard University Press, 2002. p.290
    Minya: Islamist takeover and attacks happened in the mid-1980s. Passion for Islam : Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience by Caryle Murphy, p.242)

    [13R.] That the U.S.

  • has troops in Saudi Arabia,
  • has caused "one million deaths" in Iraq from its UN sanctions, and
  • gives aid to Israel,

  • are the three listed reasons bin Laden gives in his 1998 fatwa for why Americans must be killed and their property plundered.
    But note that these are reasons for Muslims to kill and plunder, not demands for Americans to stop wrong doing. There is no quid pro quo addressed to the kuffar - leave the Mideast or such and such will happen. Bin Laden and his "World Islamic Front" do not condescend to address the people he is urging be robbed and killed. Does this mean Americans may not be off the hook if they comply with the fatwa? That a new fatwa might find additional reasons to kill and plunder? It certainly means bin Laden can't be accused of breaking his word if he does. ]

    [14R.] Interview with Michael Scheuer, ex-CIA bin Laden expert by TONY JONES of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Lateline ABC 08/02/05. ]
    or our "R-rated movies".

    [15R.] Holy War Inc. by Peter Bergen, 2002

    [16R.] Through Our Enemies' Eyes : Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America Anonymous (later revealed to be Michael Scheuer), Washington, D.C. : Brassey's, c2002. p.69-71].

    Monday 01 November 2004, 16:01 Makka Time, 13:01 GMT

    [18R.] "Homage to the dead," March 13, 2004,3604,1168548,00.html

    (So far as I know neither Peter Bergen or Michael Scheuer are in favour of any conferences with jihadis, but negotiating or trying to negotiate with jihadis, becomes a much more defensible position if you hold their views.)

    Bergen: Bin Laden started "attended Jeddah's prestigious King Adul-Aziz University" when he was about 18

    from which he received a degree in economic and public administration in 1981.

    It was there that bin Laden first became associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, and first came under the spell of two prominent teachers of Islamic studies, Abdullah Azzam and Muhammad Qutb. The influence of these men on bin Laden cannot be underestimated - it's as if Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman's brother had taught him about capitalism. Azzam would go on to create the modern world's first truly international jihadist network, and Muhammad Qutb, himself a well-known Islamist scholar, was the brother of Sayyid Qutb, author of Signposts, the key text of the jihadist movement. After Sayyid's execution in Egypt in 1966, Muhammad would become the keeper of his brother's flame and the chief interpreter of his written works. Holy War Inc., Peter L. Bergen 2001, p.47-8) [source Kepel, Gilles Muslim Extremism in Egypt

    Scheuer: Through Our Enemies' Eyes : Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America, by Anonymous (later revealed to be Michael Scheuer), Washington, D.C. : Brassey's, c2002. p.84

    COMMENT: Why do Bergen and Scheuer both recognize Muhammad Qutb's importance in influencing bin Laden, but think bin Laden demands are limited to the Middle East? Perhaps because they haven't read him. Bergen gives as his source for Signposts (aka Milestones) (edited and published by Muhammad), a chapter in Gilles Kepel's book on Jihad, not Signposts itself. Scheuer not only hasn't read the book, he mixes up Muhammad and Sayyid, crediting Muhammad with writing Sayyid Qutb's Signposts, not realizing there were two brothers!

    Mohammed Qutb, who is revered today by many Islamists, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was its leading theoretician, and argued after a three-year stay in the United states that Western civilization had led humanity `to corruption and irreligion from which only Islam can save it.` Qutb was imprisoned and then executed in 1966 for his role in `an ill-defined plot against Nasser's government.` While in prison, Qutb wrote a book titled Signposts along the Road in which he argued that jihad - or struggle - should be waged not only defensively in the protection of Muslim lands, but offensively against the enemies of Islam. [Through Our Enemies' Eyes, Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam and the Future of America by "Anonymous" aka Michael Scheuer, p.84]
    Sayyid, not Muhammad Qutb, was the brother who visited America and was executed in 1966, etc.


    But could bin Laden have slept through Professor Qutb's jihad class, and all this be speculation?

    That still leaves other major influences in favor of aggressive jihad. Abdul Azzam, father of international jihad in Afghanistan, inspired bin Laden (and thousands of other Afghan Arabs) to go to Afghanistan. Below is a brief comment from his fatwa calling on

    Offensive Jihad (where the enemy is attacked in his own territory).

    Where the Kuffar are not gathering to fight the Muslims. The fighting becomes Fard Kifaya the minimum requirement of appointing believers to guard borders, and the sending of an army at least once a year to terrorise the enemies of Allah.

    (Once found at, along with a picture of bin Laden. Now at and other places.)

    Then there's Muhammad Qutb's brother Sayyid Qutb, who preached that Muslims were "commanded to fight against all the polytheists," (which he defined to include all non-Muslims) and that

    It is immaterial whether the homeland of Islam - in the true Islamic sense, Dar ul-Islam - is in a condition of peace or whether it is threatened by its neighbors. When Islam strives for peace, its objective is not that superficial peace which requires that only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remain secure. The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e. the Law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone, and that some people should not be lords over others.
    (Lest you think being "Lords over others" means dictatorship, Qutb explains it means Christians and Jews tendency to "obey laws which were made by ... priests and rabbis" and are "not permitted by God.")
    (source: Milestones, Sayyid Qutb, Mother Mosque Foundation in 1981. p.64, 63, 82)

    Finally, there are al-Qaeda statements that have come out since Bergen and Scheuer wrote their books:

    bin Laden in his so-called "letter to the American people" (,11581,845725,00.html Observer Worldview Sunday November 24, 2002 ) Which does deviate from a Mideast-politics-only message, saying amongst other things.

    (Q2) As for the second question that we want to answer: What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
    (1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam ....
    (2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.
    (a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest....
    For this reason, some have questioned the letter's authenticity, but it's significant there has been no denial of it by bin Laden in interviews that have been authenticated.

    A lower level al-Qaeda operative, (Mu'ataz Al-Ghamidi of the "Ambush Squad"), in a video clip from Al-Qaeda's Jihad Media Battalion ( website lists two of the three original fatwa demands, but then adds a couple much more ambitious ones:

    .... The basic cause of all sectors of the nation, in which they invest their efforts and for which they spill their blood, is the liberation of their holy places -- the Al-Haram Mosque [in Mecca], the Mosque of the Prophet [in Al-Madina], and the liberation of the third mosque of the Prophet's nocturnal journey, from the hands of the Jews who occupy it. Their cause is also to erase any manifestation of heresy and apostasy in the countries of Islam, and to instate the Law of Allah throughout the world." [italics added]
    [Clip found at: ]. Naturally good Muslims like bin Laden and Mu'ataz Al-Ghamidi would be needed to instate this law world wide.

    Why would bin Laden be dishonest about his plans? He's unlikely to feel many twinges of conscience about lying to people he considers to have literally declared "war on God"

    ... All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on Allah, his messenger, and Muslims.
    [from: "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders World Islamic Front Statement 23 February 1998 Shaykh Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin]

    Nor would he have to be particularly devious or disciplined to understand the enemy is much more likely to do what he wants if he keeps his mouth shut about worldwide Islamic shari'ah law and sticks to talking about withdrawl of the enemy from a region far from its homeland.