Ideology of Fundamentalist Islam Explained Essay

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This essay concerns itself with exploring the Islamic and political orientation of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), an Egyptian civil servant turned political and religious activist, inspired by fundamentalist Islam. To gain an understanding of what influenced and formulated Qutb’s ideas it has been necessary to provide some background information relating the history of modern day Egypt and the emergence of reformist and fundamentalist Islam, from the 19th century until Qutb’s time. The essay also seeks to give some biographical information in order to provide a fuller picture of Qutb the man.

Qutb’s involvement with Egyptian religious politics caused him to come into conflict with the Nasser government of 1950s’ Egypt and
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The latter is the focus of this essay, however he cannot be discussed without some understanding of the historical and political background to the tensions which are now evident between some aspects of Islamic and Western thought. Yet the designation ‘fundamentalist’ also deserves brief consideration. For the purpose of this essay the term refers to Muslims who believe it is necessary to return to the fundamentals of Islamic belief in order to express ‘true’ Islam, this necessitates a narrow interpretation of Qur’anic texts and tradition. The term is problematic in that it is drawn into the conflicting territory of description and taxonomy, especially when, as is often the case, fundamentalism blurs the division between religion and politics. Is fundamentalism religion in the service of political ideology or ideology veiled as religion? (Moussalli (ed) 1998: 1, 27-28). A detailed discussion of these issues is not possible here, however discussing the political and religious views of Sayyid Qutb may be of assistance in discerning the political and religious dimensions of fundamentalism.

Islam, during its early years, was a dynamic force engendering rapid social change in the Arabian peninsula and its environs during the 6th and 7th centuries, therefore its
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