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سيد قطب Sayyid Qutb

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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One of the members of الإخوان The Brotherhood was Sayyid Qutb, a novelist and critic and longtime civil servant in the Ministry of Education who began as a political moderate and devotee of English literature and became the leading theoretician of radical Islam -- the founder of Sunni fundamentalism. Like Mohammed Atta and his 9/11 collaborators, Sayyid Qutb also lived in America for a time. Sent by the Ministry of Education to study at a Colorado State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley in 1948, he earned a master's degree in education, turned down a chance to study for a doctorate, and returned to Egypt in 1951. He was also revolted by the American way of life, turning to Islam as a complete ideology.

Imprisoned for his political views, he wrote the letters collected as the Islamic manifesto, Signposts along the Road (Milestones). He was driven beyond the nonviolent reformist stance of الإخوان The Brotherhood, beyond even his influential Pakistani contemporary Abul A'la Mawdudi (the first to call for a universal jihad as a revolutionary struggle to seize state power). Qutb agreed with univeral jihad, but even beyond that to abolish secular systems and governments and find freedom in the realization of Islam in society under the authority of God.

Signposts circulated around al-Azhar University in Ciaro, the oldest Islamic university in the world. It soon reached Kabul University when young Burhanuddin Rabbani (future president of افغانستان Afghanistan) returned from al-Azhar as a professor of Sharia law and translated it into Dari. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar read Signposts in Dari at Kabul University. Osama bin Laden studied it in Arabic in classes at Jedda, where سيد قطب Sayyid Qutb's brother Mohammed was one of his teachers. Mohammed Atta must have read it to.