Radical Islamic politics seems destined to be part of the Middle East landscape for years to come. Thus, any serious study of the ideological origins of today's militant movements is welcome. The author focuses on the Egyptian Islamic thinker Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), who became a fierce critic of traditional Islamic scholars, Islamic "modernists," the West and secular nationalist governments in the Middle East. Qutb sometimes comes across as simply an obscurantist, but the virtue of this study is that it shows the evolution of his thought, the targets of his polemics, the intellectual content of his philosophy and where he differs from other Islamic thinkers. The author is better at describing Qutb's thought than analyzing it, but Qutb's stark insistence on his interpretation of the Koran comes through, along with the political implications of rejecting all sources of authority that stand between man and God.
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