Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual (Oxford University Press), by James Toth
Sayyid Qutb is the mid-century Egyptian reviled as the intellectual father of militant Jihad. In his groundbreaking biography, anthropologist James Toth comes “neither to belittle nor applaud,” but to understand. He examines Qutb in the context of population shifts from country to city and the shock of modernity that led to rampant fundamentalism across the world—and not just in Islam. Toth finds that many groups inspired by Qutb’s writings were more radical than their author. However, he is overly optimistic by concluding that the “advance toward Qutb’s Islamic state” in post-Mubarak Egypt “need not spell mayhem.” It already has.