Sayyid Qutb

Sayyid Qutb (rahimuAllaah) was hanged by the Egyptian government on August 29, 1966.

You can read Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaki’s thoughts on Sayyid Qutb’s work “In the Shade of the Qur’an” here.

I also encourage everyone to check out this post on Sayyid Qutb by sister Marryam Haleem.

Here is an excerpt from Qutb’s tafsir of Surat Al-Burooj from “In the Shade of the Qur’an,” translated by Adil Salahi.

“Reference to the event starts with a declaration of anger with the tyrants: “Slain be the people of the pit.” (Verse 4) It also gives an impression of the enormity of the crime which has invoked the displeasure and anger of God, the All-Clement, and which makes Him threaten the perpetrators. We then have a description of the pit: “The fire abounding in fuel.” (Verse 5) The literal meaning of ‘pit’ is a hole in the ground, but the surah defines it as ‘the fire’ instead of using the term ‘trench’ or ‘hole’ in order to give an impression that the whole pit was turned into a blazing furnace.

“The perpetrators aroused God’s wrath for the evil crime they committed: “When they sat around it, watching what they did to the believers.” (Verses 6-7) They sat over the fire, in the actual vicinity of the horror, watching the various stages of torture, and madly enjoying the burning of human flesh in order to perpetuate in their minds this ghastly scene.

“The believers had not committed any crime or evil deed against them: “They took vengeance on them for no reason other than that they believed in God, the Almighty, to whom all praise is due, to whom the dominion of the heavens and the earth belongs. But God is witness of all things.” (Verses 8-9) That was their only crime: they believed in God Almighty who deserves praise for every situation even though ignorant people do not do so. He is the Lord who deserves to be worshiped, the sole sovereign of the kingdoms of the heavens and the earth. As He witnesses all things He has witnessed what the tyrants did to the believers. This verse reassures the believers and delivers a powerful threat to the tyrants. God has been a witness and He suffices for a witness.

“The narration of the event is completed in a few short verses which charge our hearts with a feeling of repugnance towards the terrible crime and its evil perpetrators. They also invite us to contemplate what lies beyond the event, its importance in the sight of God and what it has aroused of God’s wrath. It is a matter which is not yet completed. Its conclusion lies with God.

“As the narration of the event concludes we feel overwhelmed by the magnificence of faith as it exalts the believers and attains its triumph over all hardships, and indeed over life itself. We feel the elevation of the believers as they rid themselves fo the handicaps of human desire and worldly temptation. The believers could easily have saved their lives by accepting the tyrants’ terms. But what a loss humanity as a whole would have incurred! How great the loss would have been had they killed that sublime concept of the worthlessness of life without faith, its ugliness without freedom and its baseness when tyrants are left free to exercise their tyranny over people’s souls after they have exercised it over their bodies. But they have won a very noble and sublime concept while the fire burned their flesh. Their noble concept has triumphed as it was purified by the fire. They will, later on, have their reward from God and their tyrannical enemies will have their retribution. The surah then goes on to explain both…….

“With this conclusion justice is restored and the whole question is finally resolved. What has taken place on earth is no more than one part; the matter remains unfinished here. This is the fact emphasized by this initial comment on the pit event, so that it may be fully comprehended by the few believers who have accepted the faith in Makkah, and by every group of believers subjected to trial and tyranny during any period of history.”

A translation of In the Shade of the Qur’an covering the last 30th (Juz’ ‘Amma) can be read here.

May Allaah (swt) accept Sayyid Qutb as a martyr forgive him any mistakes, sins and shortcomings.  May Allaah (swt) show his mercy to all the Muslims and to all of the oppressed during the blessed month of Ramadan.

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5 Responses to “Sayyid Qutb”

  1. fairuza Says:

    We boxed up our “In the Shade of the Quran” when we realized what a raging anti-Semite Sayyid Qutb was.

    Much of his commentary can be extremely hard to digest.

    I am not the type of person who can tolerate “the good with the bad” when it comes to those I seek knowledge from.

  2. abunooralirlandee Says:


    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr for your comment. You say you “realized” what an anti-semite Sayyid Qutb was, was this from reading “In the Shade of the Qur’an”?

    Are there other parts of his commentary that you find hard to digest, or is it just this issue? You don’t see any benefit in what I have quoted above? Do you see any harm?

    Without agreeing with nor arguing with your criticism of Sayyid Qutb, I will say this. No doubt there are certain faults which might make one reluctant to read an author or take knowledge from a person and I can understand that….however every human being who is not a Prophet has “bad” with their “good.” If you truly could not take knowledge from anyone who has bad from whom can you take knowledge?

    There is so much I admire about Sayyid Qutb and his writings. Still, like all humans, he is a product of his time, environment, and experiences, he is also a product of his own particular strengths and weaknesses.

    In any event, I share your sensitivity to the problem of anti-semitism amongst the Muslims in general and I appreciate those Muslims who try to guard against this.

    Allaah knows best.

  3. fairuza Says:

    My only problem is that most Muslims that we have run across simply refuse to believe that Sayyid Qutb was less than perfect. Yes, he has made some brilliant commentary on other subject matter, no denying that. The issue is that we have found most Muslims unable to “call a spade a spade” and because of their unwavering love for him they will go right into defending his blatantly antisemitic statements. God knows nobody is perfect. He certainly was a product of his time. I am frankly just sick of the overwhelming masses in the community who buy into and wholeheartedly accept his antisemitism without hesitation. That has been my husband and I’s general frustration with the community as a whole: the inability to break from the boundaries of groupthink. You can’t say “boo” about Qutb to most Muslims without risking ex-communication. No joke!

    Hate to say this, but I swear sometimes that Muslims make the best damn cult members the world has ever seen.

    May Allah guide us all.

  4. abunooralirlandee Says:


    From what you are saying I think I’m in agreement with you. I know I myself may sometimes get a little defensive about Sayyid Qutb because he is a martyr inshAllaah and he is someone who since 9/11 especially has taken a lot of undeserved and uninformed criticism from non-Muslims. Saying that we have to criticize him where he may have made mistakes or more importantly (since he has returned to Allaah and whether we criticize him or not really makes no difference) making clear that we should not adopt or follow any of his views that were incorrect is completely right and appropriate. I don’t think we have to box up his tafsir and not benefit from the good in it is all.

    Anyways, I think dealing with anti-semitism among Muslims in general is extremely important and more difficult than it might seem at first. Many Muslims carry anti-Jewish prejudices that have nothing to do with Islam but at the same time Muslims are routinely called anti-semitic simply for opposing Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians or even for believing in the Qur’an and hadith of the Prophet (saw). InshAllaah people like yourself can be at the forefront of trying to improve this situation. I, myself, love to learn about and have dialogue with Jews. Unfortunately it is a real phenomenon that most Jews with political views about Israel that we would find appealing are not very religiously observant, while most religiously observant Jews are completely in support of everything that Israel does. Of course there are exceptions to this but I’m just trying to give more indication of why I think this is a difficult and complicated issue.

    I think there is a lot more potential for dealing with these issues here in the United States than there is in most of the Muslim world, so inshAllaah ta’ala may Allaah give us all success in doing that.

    Allaah knows best.

  5. Back to Islam » eBook: Milestones by Sayyid Qutb Says:

    […] Sayyid Qutb « Abu Noor Al-Irlandee […]

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