Muhammad Qutb

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Muhammad Qutb, (/ˈkʌtəb/; Arabic: محمد قطب‎;‎ 1919 – April 4, 2014) was a Sunni Islamist author, scholar and teacher best known as the younger brother of the Egyptian Islamist thinker Sayyid Qutb. After his brother was executed by the Egyptian government, Muhammad moved to Saudi Arabia where he promoted his older brother's ideas.[1][2]


Muhammad Qutb was the second eldest of five children born in the Upper Egyptian village of Musha near Asyut, and is several years younger than his elder brother Sayyid, born sometime after 1906. Little is known in English sources about his upbringing and education but it is known that he lived with his famous brother, their two sisters and mother in Helwan near Cairo for several years starting in 1926. He was arrested a few days before Sayyid (on July 29, 1965) for his alleged co-leadership along with his brother in a plot[3] to kill leading political and cultural figures in Egypt and overthrow the government. His life was spared (although his brother died on the gallows in 1966), and in 1972 he was released from prison.[4] Subsequently he took refuge, with other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Saudi Arabia.

There he edited and published Sayyid's books[5] and taught as a professor of Islamic Studies at (according to different sources) either Mecca's Umm al-Qura University,[4] and/or King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and that either Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri (al Qaeda's #2 and leading theorist), was a student. Osama bin Laden recommends to Muslims the book "Concepts that Should be Corrected by Sheikh Muhammad Qutb," in a 2004 videotape.[6] According to Lawrence Wright, who interviewed Muhammad and bin Laden's close friend in college Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden "usually attended" Muhammad Qutb's weekly public lectures at King Abdel-Aziz University.[7]

In addition to making available his brother's work, M. Qutb worked to advance his ideas by "smoothing away" differences between his brother's radical supporters and more conservative Muslims, particularly other members of the Brethren. Muhammad took a less literal interpretation of his brother's famous statement that the Muslim world and Muslim governments were jahiliyya (returned to pagan ignorance, and thus no longer Muslim). He denied that the country that had given him refuge was jahiliyya,[4] and in 1975 came out publicly against Takfir, or judging Muslims as unbelievers.[8][9] He also worked to reconcile the doctrine of the Muslims Brothers with "the salafism that prevailed in his host country" Saudi Arabia.[4]

In 1986, Safar Al-Hawali defended his dissertation under Muhammad Qutb's supervision. "His defense was so impressive" that M. Qutb "declared in public that the student had surpassed his teacher".[4] Al-Hawali went on to become one of the "two main figures of the sahwa" (Islamist awakening), which "mingled radical Wahhabism with Sayyid Qutb's ideas".[4]

Muhammad was an author in his own right and his writings are widespread in the Arab world and nearly as prolific as his brother's. Jahiliyya in the Twentieth Century is perhaps his best-known work,[4] and gained notoriety as an alleged terrorist handbook (along with his brother's Milestones) when the government claimed to find the two in police searches of plotters' homes and environs.[10]

Another very popular work, Islam: the Misunderstood Religion, expands on his brother's ideas, describing the ways in which fundamentalist Islam is superior to the "perverted ... inhuman ... crazy ... savage and backward" Western world.[11]

Muhammad Qutb died at a hospital in Mecca on 4 April 2014 at the age of 95.[12]


  • Shubuhāt Hawla al-Islām (literally "Misconceptions about Islam") (Islam: The Misunderstood Religion) ISBN 0-686-18500-5
  • Dirāsāt fī al-nafs al-insānīyah.[1963?] (Studies in human psychology) BP166.73 .Q8 Arab
  • Hal nahnu Muslimūn (Are we Muslims?) al-Qāhirah : Dār al-Shurūq, 1980, ISBN 977-705-981-7
  • al-Insān bayna al-māddīyah wa-al-Islām. (Man between the Material World and Islam) B825 .Q8 (Orien Arab)
  • al-Sahwah al-Islāmīyah (The Islamic Resurgence)(al-Qāhirah : Maktabat al-Sunnah, 1990)
  • Jahiliyat al-qarn al-`ishrin (Jahiliyya of the Twentieth Century), 292 p.; 23 cm. al-Qahirah : Dar al-Shuruq, ; ISBN 977-733-606-3
  • The Concept of Islam and Our Understanding of It
  • The Future is for Islam
  • Islam and the Crisis of the Modern World 28 p.; published by The Islamic Foundation, 1979. ISBN 0-86037-047-X
  • Waqena Al -moaser, 527 p.; published by Dār al-Shurūq, 1979. ISBN 977-09-0393-0


  1. ^ Kepel, War for Muslim Minds, (2004) p.174-5
  2. ^ Kepel, Jihad, (2002), p.51
  3. ^ Kepel, Gilles, [Muslim] Extremism in Egypt, the Prophet and Pharaoh, University of California, 1985, p.39, 32
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Kepel, Gilles, The War for Muslim Minds : Islam and the West Belknap Press, 2004, p.174-5
  5. ^ Kepel, Gilles, Jihad : the Trail of Political Islam (2002), p.51
  6. ^ January 4, 2004, videotape delivered to al-Jazeera, quoted in Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden, Verso, 2005, p.229
  7. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright, NY, Knopf, 2006, p.79
  8. ^ Sivan, Emmanuel, Radical Islam : Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, Yale University, 1985, p.111
  9. ^ Kepel, Gilles, Le Prophete et Pharaon, Editions Le Decouverte, 1984, p.61-64
  10. ^ English translation published in 1986, University of California Press. Original French edition published in 1984, Le Prophète et Pharaon, Editions Le Decouverte. p.34
  11. ^ Abou El Fadl, Khaled, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, Harper San Francisco, 2005, p.298
  12. ^ "Muhammad Qutb, brother of Sayyid Qutb, passes away". Madhyamam. April 4, 2014. 

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