My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Qutb (1906-1966) was born in Egypt and was, and still is, a guiding light for the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the Muslim Brotherhood now controls Egypt and Gaza, it is a good time to become more familiar with his ideas. In this book he formulates his position that all the world, including so-called Muslim states, are in a state of jahiliyya or ignorance. He proposes a way to resolve this problem and see the entire world, eventually, submitting to the benevolent will of its Creator in the form of the shari’a.
I can see why this book ended up being so influential for Muslims around the world. It is certainly a call to arms and a return to Qutb’s erroneous and fantastic version of early Islam. His main problem is history–he has little understanding of what actually occurred in the days of the so-called Rightly-guided Caliphs (al khulafa’ al rashiduun). His mythical ‘golden age’ is not so different than how fundamentalist Christians view the Apostolic Church. The difference between those two origin myths though can be summarized in one phrase: the sword of the religion (sayf id diin).
The originality of Milestones is Qutb’s incorporation of the (imported) revolutionary concept of the vanguard, so important to, for instance, the Bolsheviks. He proposed the formation of a vanguard which by its example and piety and voluntary submission to the will of Allah would attract people to itself, eventually resulting in the rebirth of a true Islamic civilization in dar al islam, which would eventually spread throughout the entire world. The Muslim Brotherhood was the first such vanguard. And today it controls Egypt and Gaza and has outposts throughout the world, including in the form of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) in the USA.
This short book is well worth your time. Not because it is particularly well-written, but because it has been extremely influential and continues to shape our world today. If Qutb is right, the time of jahiliyya for the most populous nation in the Middle East is now over, and the true reign of God has come.