The Madness of Qutb's ‘Milestones’
by EDWARD CLINE
October 16, 2012
Reading Sayyid Qutb's Milestones to pen a serious, informative, and critical review was an intellectual and literary chore I expected to be a cinch. Having finished reading this short, 160-page encomium for Islam, it is not so much a cinch as an exercise in nausea. Imagine assigning oneself the task of comparing a set of amusement park horror houses and awarding them points on how realistic their artificial ogres, witches, and ghouls were and how successfully they caused people to scream, cringe, or have strokes.
That is, how does one go about discussing with a straight face the pathological meanderings of a very disturbed and malevolent man, knowing that his meanderings have served as an intellectual sanction for terrorism, death, destruction, and the ongoing Islamic jihad against the West? What makes it so nauseous a chore is not the English translation of Qutb's screed. I do not think the quality of the translation matters, because there is no way any translator could do the work justice other than just translating it straight from the Arabic. There are no elusive nuances to catch and objectify, there is no "poetry" or literary value to be found and captured in the work. It is the subject matter itself that is nauseous. Milestonesis the Islamic equivalent of the mental ravings of psychotic murderers such as Richard Speck, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ted Kaczynski.
Milestones, published in 1964* (Ma'alim fi al-Tariq), purports to adhere to and advance the cause and spread of a moral code that will "save" mankind. The book is actually a manifesto for nihilism that guarantees man's enslavement and the eradication of any and all who refuse to submit to Islam.
I have been writing for years saying that Islam is fundamentally a nihilist ideology (and that President Barack Obama is a practicing nihilist, as well, thus his symbiosis with Islam). Nihilism is an ideology that recognizes the good and acts to destroy the good, because it is the good. Qua nihilism, the destruction of the good is not haphazard or accidental. It is conscious and deliberate. Instances of Islam's core nihilism are legion. At the moment, I can think of no better example of it than Lara Logan's description of her ordeal in Tahir Square, Cairo, on February 11, 2011. As she describes it, her attackers, all Muslims (whether they were government goons or anti-Mubarak celebrants, is irrelevant), sought to literally pull her to pieces and to make it as painful as possible, and in the end destroy her. Nihilism is a system of negation; her attackers wished to extinguish her existence.
Sayyid Qutb would have approved. To learn why, read these two accounts of his experiences in the United States here and here.
Who was Sayyid Qutb?
Qutb was a selfless little man, a "moderate" Muslim, who came out of Egypt to absorb Western methods of education, and returned to Egypt convinced that the West needed to be educated about the true nature of Islam, even if that pedagogy meant killing, maiming, and enslaving non-believers. He developed a special animus for the United States, for that is where he went to learn about Western education. Long before any mullah deemed America the "Great Satan," Qutb's observations of the country during his two-year sojourn here (1948-1950) caused him to mark it for jihad and its cultural and/or violent conversion to Islam.
That is, he marked it for death. For that is all Islam is - a nihilist state of existence for Muslim zombies and their looted and subservient non-believers.
Qutb, born in Egypt in 1906, was an Islamic "geek" from his teen years to his death in 1966. While an adolescent, he memorized the Koran and became a kind of neighborhood savant on its content and meanings. After his formal education in Cairo, he went into Egypt's education bureaucracy. Upon his return to Egypt from America, he resigned from it and joined the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan Al-Banna in 1928. He rose to its highest position, a seat on its Shura or "guidance" council that set the means and goals of that organization's campaign for a Mideast caliphate, and eventually for a global one.
Becoming embroiled in Egypt's political turmoil, he spent two terms in jail for being a member of the outlawed Brotherhood, which was at odds with the secular nationalists. He was hanged in 1966 after a show trial. He was a "martyr" without having ever strapped on a suicide vest or learned how to pilot a plane into a skyscraper. His "bomb" was an articulated, unswerving dedication to the Koranand its commands to wage jihadagainst the secularization of the Mideast and against the West.
The Koran, he emphasized, was not just a book to consult for "culture and information." It was a command for action, a blueprint for purification and conquest.
Osama bin Laden, author of 9/11, was a devoted follower of Qutb. He accused other Islamists, including the Brotherhood, of deviating from Qutb's principles of conquest and subjugation. Although how one could deviate from the Brotherhood's fundamentalist credo, beggars the imagination.
Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader. Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.
"Death for the sake of Allah" here does not mean death from natural causes, old age, or by accident. It means throwing one's life at the "enemy" with the intention of causing his death and one's own. Compare that with the official Nazi oath of loyalty required to be taken by all officers and ranks of the Wehrmacht in August 1934:
"I swear by God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath."
The comparison is legitimate. Hitler found Islam a symbiotic ideology; the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini, found Nazism symbiotic. Modern Islamist leaders, spokesmen, and paramilitary armies emulate the histrionics, tactics, and even salutes of the Nazis. Hitler's written "struggle" or "striving" (otherwise known as jihad), Mein Kampf, is a popular book in countries ruled by Sharia or countries yearning to be Islamist. Dutch politician Geert Wilders suggested it was the Nazi Koran. In terms of the Nazi oath, one could argue that Hitler was the objective, as well as the leader, that aggression was the Nazi way, and that death for the Fuhrer was the highest aspiration a German soldier could entertain.
Qutb could just as well have written one expression of the Brotherhood'smeans and ends:
Enablement of Islam in North America, meaning: establishing an effective and stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims' causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims' efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic state, wherever it is.
Dr. Mohsen El-Guindy on October 9th published a long apologetic about Islam (nearly half as long as Milestones) together with a call for censorship of critics and mockers of Islam and Mohammad, which included an attack on Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch. It echoes Qutb's theme:
The purpose of life is to know Allah, to believe in Him and to worship Him according to how He wants to be worshipped, this includes that we live our lives according to His commands. In the Koran, Allah tells us that since the Messages of all prophets before the Prophet Muhammad have been distorted, none of these objectives could be achieved correctly except through His last and final Message, and therefore He will judge people on the Day of Judgment based on whether they believed and followed Islam.
Rather laughably, among other non-sequiturs, El-Guindy advises that a Muslim should "use his logic, reasoning and intellect. Allah in the Quran stresses the importance for people to think, to reason and to use their mind and intellect," when Islam requires the surrender of logic, reason, and intellect - in short, of men's minds - in favor of blind, submissive faith. In essence, Islam does not want men who think. It wants men who obey without thought.
Qutb's Milestones is a document that reveals an obsession with Islam as a political as well as a religious system. The Koran, Qutb writes, is a mandate for action, not merely a book of verse and virtues dictated to Mohammad for Muslims to hear and recite every Friday.
"...If they had read the Qur'an only for the sake of discussion, learning and information, these doors [to action, or jihad] would not have opened. Moreover, action became easy, the weight of responsibilities became light, and the Qur'an became a part of their personalities, mingling with their lives and characters so that they became living examples of faith - a faith not hidden in intellects or books, but expressing itself in a dynamic movement which changed conditions and events and the course of life. (p. 18)
Translation: The true, devout, genuine Muslim is one who does not merely answer the muezzin's call to prayers, but answers the call to action. Which means: Waging war on the infidel, to slay, convert, or enslave. Until all the earth is ruled by Islam, not just Egypt, or Iran, or Indonesia, or Britain or France.
There is also a great difference in the idea that Islam is a Divinely-ordained way of life and in the idea that it is a geographically-bounded system. According to the first idea, Islam came into the world to establish God's rule on God's earth, to invite all people toward the worship of God, and to make a concrete reality of its message in the form of a Muslim community in which individuals are free from servitude to men [that is, free from man-made laws and governments] and have gathered together under servitude to God and follow only the Shari'ah of God. This Islam has a right to remove all those obstacles which are in its path so that it may address human reason [!] and intuition with no interference and opposition from political systems....(p. 74)
Indeed, Islam has the right to take the initiative. Islam is not a heritage of any particular race or country; this is God's religion and it is for the whole world. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions which limit man's freedom of choice [the sole choice being limited to submitting to Islam]...It is the right of Islam to release mankind from servitude to human beings so that they may serve God alone, to give practical meaning to its declaration that God is the true Lord of all and that all men are free under Him....(p. 75)
The Islamic notion of "freedom" is the freedom to submit to Allah, so that all men are "free" to worship him. It is a pseudo-volitional Hobson's Choice, that is, no choice at all. And Islam has taken the "initiative," that is, it is waging an aggressive campaign to subvert and conquer Western civilization.
No political system or material power should put hindrances in the way of preaching Islam [dawa]. It should leave every individual free to accept or reject it, and if someone wants to accept it, it should not prevent him or fight against him. If someone does this, then it is the duty of Islam to fight him until either he is killed or until he declares his submission. (p. 57)
The irrational, dualist nature of Islamic doctrine, in which things can be A and non-A at the same time (just as the latter verses in the Koran abrogate the earlier ones, which, however, are not to be removed or contradicted) is explained by Qutb:
When writers with defeatist and apologetic mentalities write about "jihad in Islam," trying to remove this "blot" from Islam, then they are mixing up two things: first, that this religion forbids the imposition of its belief by force, as is clear from the verse, "There is no compulsion in religion (2:256), while on the other hand it tries to annihilate all those political and material powers which stand between people and Islam, which force one people to bow before another people and prevent them from accepting the sovereignty of God. These two principles have no relation to one another nor is there room to mix them. (p. 57, Italics mine.)
What a formula for ideological schizophrenia! Or a very serious bipolar condition. See the video"Three Things You (probably) Did Not Know About Islam" at minute 1:50 for a brief description of the significance of the contradictory verses.
Qutb employs a term throughout Milestones to designate "the state of ignorance of the guidance of God," jahiliyyah. A society governed by jahiliyyah is described as jahili, is outside the bounds of Islam, and is fair game for conquest and forced submission.
The jahili society is any society other than the Muslim society...a society that does not dedicate itself to submission to God alone, in its beliefs and ideas, in its observances of worship, and in its legal regulations. (p. 80)
Qutb inveighs against Communism as a form of jahiliyyah,claiming that "the communst ideology and the communist system reduces [sic] the human being to the level of an animal or even to the level of a machine." (p. 81) What does he say Islam does to men? Nothing. But Islam creates and values a human being who has sunk to the level of an animal by having surrendered his mind and self-identity to blind, unquestioning, unthinking faith in Allah. Qutb, and countless Islamic spokesmen, emphasize that a good Muslim is just such a creature, but instead claims he is enlightened and deserving of "respect."
Islam, he claims, unlike Communism, is for all people, is classless, and does not appeal to economic or social groups. Yet its doctrinal proponents boast that it will indeed create an upper class of "superior" Muslims who will be accorded preferential status in politics and economics, and a lower class of humble, deferential, jizya-paying dhimmis. This is Qutb's notion of a just society.
Nihilism in any form must be fought by calling it what it is, an ideological pathogen, and not pussy-foot delicately around its essence because it is disguised as a "religion" or a means to "save mankind." Islam, like communism, socialism, fascism, or any other collectivist ideology that seeks power over men, must be treated as essentially anti-man and anti-life. That is the only way it can be defeated and sent back beneath the rocks where it resides. Evil, after all, never admits it is evil. Its real and potential victims must be brave and perspicuous enough to call it out. Otherwise, it will never be defeated.
Sayyid Qutb was a selfless, sexless, empty little man, a mad and maddened creature who annihilated himself and advocated the annihilation of anyone or anything that had an identity. A desolate world of ruins and corpses and bowing figures is the only world such a creature could feel comfortable in.
*Milestones, by Sayyid Qutb. Dar Al-Ilm, Damascus, Syria. No copyright date (or copyright page) or actual publisher name or any other information is to be found in the copy I purchased. Amazon Books notes its ISBN numbers, ISBN-10: 0934905142 and ISBN-13: 978-0934905145, published by Kazi Publications in 2007, but this information is absent from the copy.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.