Sheikh Al-Albāni about Sayyid Qutb

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

This was question posed to Shaykh Al-Albaanee regarding Sayyid Qutb and his book ‘In the Shade of the Quraan’.

Questioner: The first question, both questions, are regarding the book, ‘In the Shade of the Quraan.’ Its author [i.e., Qutb] mentioned at the beginning of Surah Taa Haa that the Quraan is a cosmic/universal phenomenon like the phenomena of the heavens and the earth, what is your opinion about this statement, bearing in mind that he uses the particle of comparison [i.e., the word ‘like’], O Shaikh?

Sheikh: We, my brother, have said more than one time: that Sayyid Qutb, may Allaah have mercy on him, was not a scholar. He was just an author, a writer and he didn’t know how to express the legislated Islamic creed, especially the Salafi beliefs from it.

For this reason, it is not fitting that we drone on about his statements too much, because he was not a scholar with the meaning of the word that we want, [i.e.,] a scholar of the Book and the Sunnah upon the methodology of the Salaf as-Saalih. Many times his expressions are stylistic rhetoric and are not scholarly/knowledge-based ones, and are especially not Salafi expressions, not being from this type at all, and we do not hesitate to condemn expressions such as those nor such tahsbeeh.

The least that can be said about it [i.e., the expression you asked about] is that he did not mean that the Quraan is literally Allaah’s Speech as is the creed of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah and nor does he mean that Allaah’s Speech is metaphorical, as is the creed of the Mu’tazilah. [His statements are] rhetorical, poetic speech.

But I do not hold that we should stop too much at such statements, except to clarify that it is speech which is not permissible in the sharee’ah, and that [at the same time] it is not expressing the creed of the author regarding the Noble Quraan, i.e., is it the actual Speech of Allaah or not?

This is what I believe and this is the answer to the first question.

Questioner: Okay, O Shaikh, the second question which is also about the same book, at the beginning of Surah Naml he said about the Quraan and its words/sentences that they are, ‘musical undulations?’ [tamowwujaat musiqiyyah]

Sheikh: Same answer.

Questioner: Same answer?

Sheikh: Same answer.

Questioner: Okay, this leads us, O Shaikh, to some questions, we see in many of the writings of some authors or those associated to knowledge …

Sheikh: Sorry, before you carry on, what did you understand when he said, ‘undulations [tamowwujaat]?’ Does he mean the Speech that emanated from the Lord of the Worlds? Or from Jibreel ﷺ? Or from our noble Prophet ﷺ? You will not understand that or that or this [i.e., neither one of the three from that statement of his].

For this reason I say that it is rhetorical, poetic speech, which does not tell us much about the author’s opinion or what he means.

This is the reality; when many authors do write, they pen down expressions of stylistic rhetoric which do not give [us] solid/realistic information [lit: ‘existential answers’ [about what exactly it is they mean]].

Okay, carry on.

Questioner: Even though you say that, O Shaikh, may Allaah bless you, we still find many writers or even [people] from students of knowledge who are influenced by the methodology of the scholars of ḥadīth or who [have some knowledge], for example, in the science of ḥadīth or have knowledge in some issues, [we find that even such people] have been influenced by his [i.e., Qutb’s] methodology.

Sheikh: And what is his methodology? Does he have a methodology?

Questioner: Yes.

Sheikh: What is it?

Questioner: It’s [his] being influenced in his statements, in many statements, by the writings of Abul-A’laa al-Maududi, like in his book, ‘Social Justice [in Islaam],’ and his book, ‘At-Tasweer al-Fanni fil-Quraan …’

Sheikh: This is a literary style/way [of writing] it is not a scholarly/knowledge-based method/manner [of writing].

Questioner: There is a specific methodology regarding declaring people to be disbelievers [takfir], like slandering the Ummah and declaring [the Muslims in] it to be disbelievers, especially in the book, ‘Social Justice in Islaam.’ The author of the book, ‘Al-I’laam,’ mentioned this about him, az-Zarkashi …

Sheikh: Az-Zirikli.

Questioner: Az-Zarkashi or Az-Zirikli.

Sheikh: Az-Zirikli …

Questioner: Yes.

Sheikh: Yes.

Questioner: He [i.e., Az-Zirikli in his book Al-I’laam] mentioned this about him [i.e., Qutb], that he used to take up this methodology of slandering the entire Ummah, declaring all those around him to be ignorant. So many of the youth have now been influenced by this methodology and they have started calling to his books and his opinions and everything that he has written, so what is your opinion, O Shaikh?

Sheikh: Our opinion is that the man was not a scholar, I said that to you already. What more do you want from me? If you wish for me to call him a kaafir then I am not from those who declare people to be kaafirs, and you are not either?

Questioner: … O Shaikh, I …

Sheikh: Listen, I testify along with you, but what do you want?

It is enough for the just, impartial Muslim that he gives every person his right, and as He, the Most High, said,

… and do not deprive the people of their due and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption. [Hud 11:85]

The man is a writer, passionate for the Islaam that he understood, but he is not a scholar, and his book, ‘Social Justice,’ is from the first things he wrote, and when he did so he was nothing but an author and not a scholar.

But the reality is that in prison he progressed a lot and wrote some pieces which are as though they are written by the pen of a Salafi and not from him. I believe that prison nurtures some souls and awakens some conscience [in people]. So he wrote some words whose title is enough [to show what I just said], i.e., ‘Laa ilaaha Illallaah A Way of Life.’

But if he doesn’t distinguish between Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah and Tawhid ar-Rububiyyah then this does not mean that he doesn’t understand Tawhid ar-Rububiyyah and Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah and that he considers them to be one thing. It means that he is not a faqih, and that he is not a scholar and that he is not able to express the legislated meanings which have come in the Book and the Sunnah.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good.

Sheikh: And you, inshaa Allaah.

Questioner: Don’t you see … ya’ni, this affect and these things that he wrote, ya’ni, that he should be answered/refuted, for example?

Sheikh: Yes he should be answered/refuted, this is obligatory, but answering a person who has made a mistake is not limited to a person or people: everyone who makes a mistake in understanding Islaam, understanding it with innovated and newly-invented meanings which have no basis in the Book, nor in the Sunnah nor from our Salaf as-Saalih and the four Imaams who are followed–then it is fitting that such a person is answered/refuted.

But this does not mean that we treat him as an enemy or that we forget that he has some good deeds, it is enough that he is a Muslim, and that he was an Islamic author [writing] according to his understanding of Islaam as I said initially, and that he was killed in the way of his call to Islaam and that the ones who killed him, they are the enemies of Islaam.

As for [the fact that] he had deviated in many or a few issues in Islaam, then it was my belief before this revolution against him was fomented–I was the one who was boycotted here by the Muslim Brotherhood [Ikhwaan al-Muslimoon] under the assumption that I had declared Sayyid Qutb to be a disbeliever, and I was the one who showed some people that he used to agree with the [belief of] Wahdatul-Wujood in some of what he wrote in the same tafsir [mentioned in the question], but at the same time, I do not deny that he was a Muslim and that he was zealous for Islaam and for the Muslim youth and that he wanted to establish Islaam and an Islamic state. But the reality is:

Sa’d led the camels to water while being completely wrapped up
[with only his hands sticking out].

This is not how, O Sa’d, the camels are taken to water.

Questioner: Are his books to be warned against?

Sheikh: Those who do not have correct Islamic education are warned against his books.

Questioner: May Allaah reward you with good and bless you.

Sheikh: And you, inshaa Allaah.

Source: Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 814.