الأربعاء، نوفمبر 07، 2007

AbuMubarak : Message: Yvonne Ridley Speaks about Milestones

AbuMubarak : Message: Yvonne Ridley Speaks about Milestones

Milestones :
Reviewed By Yvonne Ridley

I'm often asked what or who influenced me most on my journey to Islam and without having to think twice I always say the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

But in terms of present day role models I look around and I see no truly great, inspirational leaders.In terms of scholars Britain and the rest of Europe, very much like America, is devoid of great thinkers, revolutionary figures or men and women of great Islamic knowledge.

It seems anyone can call themselves a sheikh or an alim these days and then there are the scholars for dollars ... if the price is high enough they will peddle out whatever government line they are asked.

I became a Muslim because I was inspired by the teachings of the Qur'an and great men and women of the past.

But perhaps the one book, apart from the Holy Qur'an, which has had the greatest impact on my life is Milestones, and its author would probably still be alive today if it had not been for the despotic regime in Egypt under President Abdul Nasser.

I am of course referring to Shaheed Sayyid Qutb, the doyen of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun, who continues to inspire young and old and re-born Muslims alike, even from the grave. Intellectual Western writers today acknowledge that he is probably the foremost influential Muslim thinker and activist in the last 100 years.

Qutb was a man of impeccable Islamic credentials, whose contribution to Islamic political thought and activism made him a giant among men.
His courage knew no bounds, he held fast to Islam, and in the climate of fear under Nasser's rule, he proved that his voice and his pen were mightier than any sword.

Reading Milestones taught me that my faith is my nationality and that I should fear no one but Allah (swt). The book is powerful, so powerful it cost Qutb his life when he was hanged on August 29, 1966. He could have saved himself by renouncing its contents and submitting to Nasser's authority, but instead he was tortured, imprisoned and finally executed.

Milestones also taught me that Islam stands for change despite our critics who believe that people like Qutb were fundamentalists, shackled to a mysonginistic, primitive belief.

Now, 40 years after his death, he is still the most influential writer and activist of the as-Sahwah (Islamic Revival) in the contemporary Muslim world. His distrust and, to a certain extent, disgust at Western excesses emerged from a two year period in America where he was exposed to western culture and non-Islamic ideologies when, in 1948 he went to Washington DC., and later California.

I think some of his observations about the West are a little too harsh, but may be that's because I am a product of the West! On his return to Egypt, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood or the Ikhwan which in turn gained ideological vitality from Qutb's influence and it was around that time that he revised Hassan al-Banna Shahid’s dream of establishing an Islamic state in Egypt after the nation was thoroughly Islamized.

He was arrested when the Brotherhood was accused of attempting to overthrow the government in 1954 and was jailed in Jarah prison near Cairo for about 10 years before his health rapidly deteriorated because of the brutal regime inside the jail. He was only released when Abdul Salam Arif, the Iraqi President intervened.

In 1965 he published Mallem Fittareek (Milestones), which led to his re-arrest with the accusation of conspiracy against the Egyptian President, Abdul Nasser. He was tried and rapidly sentenced to death based upon many excerpts of his book, Milestones.

Muslim academics of today who try and promote a diluted, happy clappy version of Islam, conveniently forget the high regard and respect Qutb commanded globally. There was international uproar and protests across the Muslim world with appeals to President Abdul Nasser to pardon Qutb. But the pleas fell on deaf ears.

He left behind a total of 24 books, including several novels, several books on literary arts’ critique, on the education of adults and children, and several religious books, including the 30 volume Commentary of the Qur’an. I can only write authoritively about Milestones because it has been translated into English by booksellers and publishers Maktabah in the UK and for that I thank those who have brought this great work to millions more across the English-speaking world.

In particular, this special edition, also includes many illuminating extras in the appendices for those genuinely interested in further academic research. Sayyid Qutb's legacy clearly defined the basic ideas of the Oneness and sovereignty of Allah (swt), the clear distinction between pure Islam and the association of partners with Allah (Shirk) overt and hidden.

While pundits and journalists struggling to understand Islam, describe Qutb as the father of modern Islamist fundamentalism, perhaps they should take time out to read Milestones word for word. Not only will they educate themselves, but they might revise their opinions of the man and truly understand what defines a person as a real Islamic scholar.

Milestones is studied everywhere from Malaysia to Morocco. I read my copy in Cairo ... much to the disdain of my friends over there who feared I could be arrested if I was found with a copy of the book.

I told them: "Qutb was martyred for writing this book, the least I can do is read it in the country of his execution as a tribute to him."

Clearly his words were beginning to have an impact on me, not only was I inspired by Milestones but its clarity and message gave me a feeling of courage and hope for the Ummah.

To read Milestones is to understand one of the greatest Islamic thinkers of modern times.

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