|As Qutb explains
Islam, “no one is allowed to devise a law on his own and then claim
that it accords with the Shari’ah unless Allah is accepted as
the sole legislator and source of authority, rather than a nation, a
party or an individual.”
Man should obey none but God alone, for He alone is
sovereign. All other systems
are doomed to failure at the outset.
Islam alone will prevail. “Allah
does not forgive any association with His person, and likewise He does
not accept any association with His revealed way of life.”
To elevate any human being to God’s sovereign status cannot be
viewed as anything but sin. Democracy
is only idolatry disguised.
“Complete submission to Allah comes by submitting to Him through
belief, practice and observance of the law.
No Muslim can believe that any other being can be a god, or that
one can ‘worship’ a creature of Allah or that it can be given a
position of ‘sovereignty.’”
Worship, under Islam, is expressed as submission to Islamic
principles covering “belief, principles of administration and justice,
principles of morality and human relationships, and principles of
Or, put another way, the citizen of Islam worships God by obeying
the state. “There is only
one way to reach Allah; no other ways lead to Him.”
According to Qutb’s logic, when men obey the laws of men they are
the slaves of men. When men
obey the laws of God, they are free.
Eventually there would be “no need to enforce the limits and
punishments that Allah has prescribed, because now conscience is the
law-enforcer and the pleasure of Allah, the hope of Divine reward, and
the fear of Allah’s anger takes the place of police and law
The Divine law that must now be enforced externally will become
such a natural part of human thought and action, mankind will be in
complete harmony with the universe, and thus heaven and earth will
become one and the same.
What is Freedom?
At the heart of this conflict between Islam and the western world are
two vastly different conceptions of freedom.
In western thought, political organization is seen as a necessary
evil brought into existence in order to protect individual rights to
life and property. The
extent to which government may intrude on an individual’s liberty in
order to protect liberty for all is strictly limited.
Thus, the power of the state and the power of the individual
balance one another, each having its own limits.
Like communism, Islam focuses purely on the collective.
The power of the Islamic state is unlimited, for the state
represents the will of God for the collective good.
The concept of individual rights, or that individuals even have
the right to do wrong, does not exist.
The Islamic “system” covers all aspects of life from cradle
to grave and the state has total authority to impose its will upon the
individual. When westerners
speak of the “will of God,” they are often talking about God’s
personal involvement in the life of an individual, but a personal
relationship with God is not found in Islamic thought.
In Islam, God deals with the community as a whole and only dealt
with one individual personally, Muhammad.
So, “whoever obeys the Prophet, obeys Allah.”
According to Islamic doctrine, it is man’s duty to fear and
obey God; it is not necessary to love Him.
Men are servants and subjects of God; they are not His sons.
On this point, Qutb and the west would agree.
“This secret of man’s identity and his relationship with the
creator and with creation, is the great question upon which man’s
existence depends and will continue to depend until the end of time.”
It is in answer to this question, where Islam and the West come
to totally opposite conclusions. The
notion that government should facilitate mankind’s pursuit of
happiness, is alien to Islam. In
its place, Islam offers the individual guaranteed Divine guidance.
Individual desires, opinions and aspirations are all vanity and
caprice, leading only to destruction.
To rebel against the Islamic system is to rebel against God.
Freedom is only found by losing oneself in the harmony of the
collective; a community in which the designing of ones own destiny
cannot be tolerated.
Consider the following, “Some enemies of Islam may consider it
expedient not to take any action against Islam, if Islam leaves them
alone in their geographical boundaries with some men lords over others
and does not propagate its message of universal freedom within their
domain. But Islam cannot
agree to this unless they submit to its authority by paying the jizyah,”
[the poll tax placed on non-Muslims within an Islamic government]
“which will be a guarantee that they have opened their doors for Islam
and will not put any obstacles in its propagation through the power of
the state. . . . Indeed, Islam has the right to take the initiative.
Islam is not a heritage of any particular race or country.
This is Allah’s din and it is for the whole world.
It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of
institutions and traditions that restrict man’s freedom of choice.
It does not attack individuals nor does it force them to accept
its beliefs. It attacks
institutions and traditions in order to release human beings from their
pernicious influence, which distorts human nature and curtails human
Qutb goes to great pains to explain that Islam does not overtly force
conversion; however, since one is not “free” to live as a Muslim
outside the Islamic system, Islam must seize the levers of power in
order to provide men the freedom to choose Islam.
Furthermore, he rails against those apologists for Islam who
describe Islamic holy war as a purely defensive reaction to outside
aggression. “If we insist
on calling Islamic jihad a defensive movement, then we must change the
meaning of the word ‘defense’ and mean by it ‘the defense of
man’ against all those forces that limit his freedom. These
forces may take the form of beliefs and concepts, as well as political
systems based on economic, racial, or class distinctions.”
Qutb quotes at length from the works of Ibn Qayyim (1292-1350) who
speaks of jihad as having been revealed to the first Muslims in stages.
“For thirteen years after the beginning of his [Muhammad’s]
Messengership, he called people to Allah through preaching, without
fighting or jizyah, and was commanded to restrain himself and to
practice patience and forbearance. Then
he was commanded to migrate, and later permission was given to fight.
Then he was commanded to fight those who fought him, and to
restrain himself from those who did not make war against him.
Later he was commanded to fight the polytheists until Allah’s din
was fully established.”
Muhammad issued his own “manifesto” as follows:
“Different prophets,” said he, “have been sent by God to
illustrate his different attributes: Moses his clemency and providence;
Solomon his wisdom, majesty, and glory; Jesus Christ his righteousness,
omniscience, and power -- his righteousness by purity of conduct; his
omniscience by the knowledge he displayed of the secrets of all hearts;
his power by the miracles he wrought. None of these attributes, however,
have been sufficient to enforce conviction, and even the miracles of
Moses and Jesus have been treated with unbelief. I, therefore, the last
of the prophets, am sent with the sword! Let those who promulgate my
faith enter into no argument nor discussion, but slay all who refuse
obedience to the law. Whoever fights for the true faith, whether he fall
or conquer, will assuredly receive a glorious reward.”
“The sword,” added he, “is the key of heaven and hell; all
who draw it in the cause of the faith will be rewarded with temporal
advantages; every drop shed of their blood, every peril and hardship
endured by them, will be registered on high as more meritorious than
even fasting or praying. If they fall in battle their sins will at once
be blotted out, and they will be transported to paradise, them to revel
in eternal pleasures in the arms of black-eyed houris.”
Most Islamic scholarship would agree that, “After the
Prophet, peace be upon him, only the final stages of the movement of
jihad are to be followed; the initial or middle stages are not
applicable. They have
Qutb further criticizes those who would
Qutb, Sayyid, Milestones (American Trust Publications,
Indianapolis, IN. 1990) pg. 70
Qutb, Sayyid, Milestones, (American Trust
Publications, Indianapolis, IN. 1990) pg. 51