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Sayyid Qutb
Arabic: sayid qutb

Sayyid Qutb.
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Sayyid Qutb.

(1906-1966) Egyptian Islamist theoretician, central to the development of the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Often referred to as the father of modern Islamism, his school is called Qutbism. It is often thought that he is the main inspiration for the ideas of Osama bin Laden.
All his life, Qutb believed in conservative Islamic values, but it was his experiences in the USA that formed the ideology for which he is now is remembered. The direct exposure to general freedom for women, the freedom for women to have non- or extra marital sexual relations, and racism shocked him. He saw churches as part of the problem, calling them "entertainment centres and sexual playgrounds".
He believed that Muslims needed to protect the family as an institution and prevent Western freedom from destroying their societies. From his perspective, there was no need to reject totally all things Western, Qutb was for example ready to embrace many of Western technical advances.
Qutb promoted the idea that governments led by human ideals were illegal; a society should be governed according to the laws of Islam, which he believed were manifest in the Sharia. Exactly how a true government should be organized is hard to deduct from his writings, but he stated that it is an obligation for all true Muslims to resist and initially overthrow their own government unless it ruled according to the Sharia.
He expressed great distrust for the religions which in Islam are referred to as the People of the Book; Christianity and Judaism. He wrote that these groups would never treat Islam and Muslims fairly and with good intentions, and that they all were condemned to Hell.
Qutb's legacy has been preserved by many, among whom is his brother, Muhammad Qutb, who fled to Saudi Arabia and became a professor of Islamic Studies. One of Muhammad's students was Osama bin Laden.


1906 October 9: Born in the village of Musha, northern Egypt.
1930's and 1940's: Qutb starts working as an inspector of schools for the Egyptian Ministry of Education. He also tries to start a career as a writer, and publishes some books without much success.
1948 November: Travels to USA on a scholarship to study the educational system, receiving a master's degree from the Colorado State College of Education.
1950 August: Qutb returns to Egypt, and joins the Muslim Brotherhood.
1952: First volume of his commentary, In the Shadow of the Koran, is published. There would be 29 more volumes to this work.
July: Collaborates with the coup makers of the Free Officers, but later abandons them as he felt they did little to promote ideas he supported.
—: Is forced to leave his post as the Ministry of Education, because of his attacks on the USA and its lifestyles.
1954: Together with many other members of the Brotherhood, he is arrested.
1955: Is sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.
1964: After 10 years in prison, Qutb is released.
— Publishes his main work, called Signposts on the Way.
1965 August 9: Is allegedly part of the planning of the assassination of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and is arrested again.
1966 August 29: Executed after being found guilty in the 1965 plot.

By Tore Kjeilen