Sayyid Quṭb Conception of Jihād against the Ṭawāġīt of the NewJāhiliyyah

Riccardo Amerigo Vigliermo, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE), FSCIRE, Italy
IQSA International Conference 2021 “Giorgio La Pira” Library, Palermo, Italy
Panel 9. Striking Back at the Empire: Anti-imperialism in Contemporary Qur’anic Exegesis

Colonialism and European nation-state ideology generated a strong cultural dependency that caused the gradual loss of national independency and consciousness, but also the general Islamic radicalization process of society and religion. Sayyid Quṭb’s thinking has been developed in a context of retreating colonialism and national identity building; a period of transition from the British protectorate to the building of a new Egyptian modern state. Through Qur’anic exegesis of jihād verses as commented in his Fī ẓilāl al-Qur’ān (1951–9), and then used in Maʿālim fī al-ṭarīq (1964), Quṭb conceptualizes the jihād as the instrument intended to eradicate the newly formed Arabic political systems, which he considers non-Islamic and similar to the pre-Islamic idols (ṭāġūt, plur. ṭawāġīt). This conception is explained for example in his tafsīr of surat al-Baqarah where two main points are analyzed: the relationship with Jews and the spread of Islamic message (daʿwah) in Medina. In the Medinan phase, theory becomes practice in a dynamic fashion (ḥarakiyyah) where the Book is considered the real soul of the early Islamic community. So, the early ‘Ummah moved away (from Mecca) to establish a divine system (manhaj) on earth by using jihād after a complete detachment (insilāḫ) from jāhiliyyah system. Jihād in Quṭb’s view is then considered in the context of a continuous struggle against the cyclic revival of the jāhiliyyah period which places the human being in a condition of constant subordination to other humans diverting themself from the path of establishing the word of Allah and his sovereignty (ḥākimiyyah).