Sayyid Qutb was executed in 1966 for his role in a failed conspiracy against the Nasser regime. Yet his call for Muslims to replace the sovereignty of man with that of God continues to haunt Egyptian state authorities. On Feb. 8, 2010, following a controversial election for the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide post, Egypt’s Husni Mubarak regime arrested three prominent Brothers belonging to the movement’s conservative wing — ‘Isam al-‘Aryan, Muhiy Hamid, and ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Barr — accusing them of belonging to a radical organization inspired by the thinking of Sayyid Qutb, the prominent ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost certainly, the arrested men did not belong to a clandestine organization dedicated to violent political change. Nevertheless, by their own admission they upheld Qutb as the embodiment of the Islamist movement. In so doing, they allowed the Egyptian government to peg the Muslim Brotherhood as a movement that harbors revolutionary intent. Given these risks, why do significant numbers of Muslim Brothers, including many in leadership positions, continue to invoke the example of Sayyid Qutb? Certainly, there are many politically engaged Brothers who would prefer to keep Qutb’s thought under wraps. A large part of the reason has to do with the weight and complexity of his thought. The diversity of Qutb’s ideas (Qutb’s thought traversed several stages), coupled with his status as a martyr make it difficult for the Muslim Brotherhood to cast a negative judgment on him. As a result, his influence persists — despite reservations on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s reform-minded political pragmatists.
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For information on Sayyid Qutb, go here.