Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part One)

Article ID: JAI155-1 | By: Charles Strohmer

This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 4 (2006). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to:


Rarely reported by the American media, an ideological civil war is occurring in Islam between scholars of the emerging Muslim reform movement and radicals who promote militant interpretations of Islam. This is a battle for the hearts and minds of mainstream Muslims in the Middle East. The reformers see Islam as a flexible, nondogmatic religion adaptable to the modern world, and some even call for the separation of mosque and state.1 The militant radicals want to squeeze followers of Islam into a tight-fisted sectarian army at war with the entire “infidel” world. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda epitomize the latter view. This two-part article examines the militant side of this ideological war in the life and writings of Sayyid Qutb, the twentieth-century Egyptian “martyr” whose theological/political dogma shapes bin Laden’s worldview, justifies violence against those who resist it, and seeks a totalitarian rule of the world.

In the West he has been regarded as “the philosopher of Islamic terror.”2 In the Muslim world, he is remembered as “the martyred scholar of Islam.”3 His views help explain terrorist acts such as the Madrid train bombings (March 2004), the suicide bombings in the London underground (July 2005), and the incendiary conduct of 19 men aboard four aircraft on September 11, 2001. He increasingly is recognized as the foremost thinker behind the worldview of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri (bin Laden’s “lieutenant”), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (deceased leader of terrorist operations in Iraq), and members of al-Qaeda. His militant views inform many other jihadi (see glossary) leaders and aid the flow of disaffected Muslim youths from the Arab street into what Jordanian political columnist Rami Khouri calls the “basement,” where terrorists are born. His name is Sayyid Qutb, a formidable Egyptian radical who was imprisoned for his views and eventually executed by hanging.

It has often been assumed that Osama bin Laden is a Wahhabi (see glossary) because he was born and educated in Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabi doctrine dictates religious and educational life and social mores, and indoctrinates students from an early age in extreme anti-American and anti-Jewish values. This is not the full picture, however; for although bin Laden certainly is steeped in Saudi Wahhabism, he and other frontline terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda, are also unquestionably Qutbists, that is, adherents to Qutb’s views. Their worldview has been shaped by both sources. In particular, their basic theological/political ideology derives from Qutb’s views as a kind of mission statement that justifies the existence and operations of their organized network (al-Qaeda means “base” or “organization”).


Born in 1906 and educated in Cairo, Egypt, the Sunni Arab Sayyid Qutb received degrees in teacher training and education in 1929 and 1933, during a period when he acquired some Western leanings and was more a man of letters than a political activist. He had interests in poetry and journalism and published literary criticism and short stories. From 1933 to 1949, he served the Egyptian ministry of education as a teacher and school inspector. Gilles Kepel, who is perhaps the first prominent Western scholar to publish extensively about Qutb (1984), writes that during the 1930s Qutb increasingly objected to British influence in Egypt and deplored Jewish immigration to Palestine. By 1945, “the principal subject matter of his articles [had] shifted from literature to nationalism, political events, and social problems,”4 and in 1948 he condemned the founding of the Jewish state.

American Secularism and Christianity

Qutb’s changing opinion of the West veered in a much more radical direction when he reached American soil in 1948. During his two-plus years studying and traveling in America, Qutb grew to hate the United States for its materialism, sexual immorality, and the freedom it allowed to women. America’s separation of church and state was repugnant to him, and he detested what he considered the prejudiced way the press reported overseas Muslim events. He thought that America’s Christian churches, at least those he visited, were not following Jesus’ teachings. For instance, while studying at Colorado State College of Education, in Greeley, he attended a local church service and, afterward, a church dance. Bruce Lincoln, a scholar of Middle East Studies, writes, “Qutb was not disturbed simply by the eroticism he took to be indecorous and improper.” For Qutb, the room “became a confusion of feet and legs; arms twisting around hips; lips met; chests pressed together.” More troubling, however, and “analytically most revealing [to Qutb], was the enabling condition of this offensive spectacle: the disconnection between the preceding ‘religious’ service and the ‘social’ event that followed.”5 By the end of his trip, Qutb had concluded that Christianity had failed in America because it had separated religious life from political and social life. This was antithetical to the whole-life Islam that Qutb now preached.

The Muslim Brotherhood

After returning to Egypt, in the early 1950s, Qutb joined the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which had become that nation’s leading political alternative, founded in 1928 by Egyptian-born Hasan al-Banna (1906–1949). In the 1940s, the Brotherhood began espousing political violence as a means of social transformation. During the 1950s, Brotherhood members were arrested for sedition and several Brotherhood leaders were executed by hanging after being accused of the failed 1954 assassination attempt on Egyptian prime minister Gamal Abdel Nasser. Many of the group’s key figures fled to Saudi Arabia, where they found warm camaraderie with state-sponsored Wahhabism and where they were put to good use. Essayist and political critic Paul Berman writes,

The Saudi princes were determined to keep their own country on a path of pure adherence to Saudi Arabia’s antique and rigid version of Islam; and Egypt’s intellectuals, with their stores of Koranic knowledge, had much to offer. The Egyptian exiles took over professional chairs in Saudi universities. And their impact was large. Qutb’s younger brother, Muhammad Qutb, a distinguished scholar in his own right, fled to Saudi Arabia and became a professor of Islamic studies. One of his students was Osama bin Laden.6

After joining the Brotherhood, Qutb quickly gained status as its leading ideologue and became the editor of its radical newspaper. In 1954 he was jailed with others who were accused of attempting to overthrow Nasser’s government and was sentenced to hard labor in what some have called Nasser’s concentration camps, where torture was not uncommon. Except for two short periods, Qutb spent nearly 12 years in prison, where he studied and wrote many books, including most of his 30-volume commentary on the Qur’an, In the Shade of the Qur’an. He was executed by the Egyptian government in 1966.

Al-Banna’s Uniquely Islamic Worldview

Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna had a decisive, shaping influence on Sayyid Qutb’s worldview. The late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century had seen the birth of the movement now known as political Islam, which preached a return to the totality of Islam for all of life, including nonseparation of religion and government. Al-Banna had become its most influential proponent after studying the life of Muhammad and his companions and examining the original vision and first decades of Islam. Islamic scholar Noah Feldman writes that for al-Banna,

Do you like what you’re reading? Take a look at this.

Islam was not merely a faith but a comprehensive worldview that covered the whole field of human existence.… It provided a blueprint for a just society, organized along Islamic principles.… The mature Banna’s Islam was therefore both political and fundamentalist: political in refusing to be relegated to the sphere of the private or the personal, and fundamentalist in the technical sense that it went back to the most basic, fundamental elements of Islam—the divine message of the Qur’an and the sayings and actions of the Prophet and his followers.7

Al-Banna popularized the term Islamic as an adjective to distinguish his worldview from Western and other worldviews, including nationalist Muslim ones. The terms Islamism and Islamist also arose from al-Banna’s system of thought to describe “not just Muslims but people who see Islam as a comprehensive political, spiritual, and personal worldview defined in opposition to all that is non-Islamic.”8

In 1949, when Qutb was in America, al-Banna was murdered by the Egyptian secret police. His sudden death devastated the Brotherhood and further radicalized Qutb. By the time of Nasser’s rule (1954–1958), the Brotherhood had reorganized as a major political player in Egypt, with chapters springing up outside Egypt, a process that Feldman believes “was the single most important institutional element in the diffusion of political Islam.”9

In his writings, Qutb developed al-Banna’s Islamic worldview in ways that further radicalized the Brotherhood and kindled the intellectual struggle in the Muslim world between those who desire peaceable relations with the West and those who desire a world without the West. Qutb’s many books, most of which still have been published only in Arabic, have had a major influence since the 1960s on Muslim youths as they have come of age. His radical doctrines have inspired and emboldened countless Muslim dissidents, who have had both time and opportunity to grow more politicized, organized, and clandestine. Today, through several English translations of Qutb’s seminal works, we in the West find passage into a concise, black and white, absolutist worldview, one that has empowered bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, members of al-Qaeda, and many other frontline terrorists.


There is a philosophical and theological intelligence behind Qutb’s criticisms of, and prescriptions for, whatever aspect of life was in his sights. Berman noted, “Qutb is not shallow. Qutb is deep.”10 Besides his extensive knowledge of Islam and the Qur’an (he is said to have memorized the Qur’an in its entirety by age 10), Qutb was familiar with Greek philosophy, Judaism, Christian theology, church history, and church councils. He studied Constantinianism (i.e., the formal alliance of church and state first employed by the Roman emperor Constantine) and the Renaissance and Reformation periods and criticized as “lamentable” the intellectual climate and institutionalism of modern Western Europe. He mounted significant criticisms of American life, liberal democracy, communism, socialism, Marxism, fascism, Nazism, and capitalism and was conversant with the ideas of many Western thinkers, politicians, and Christian religious figures of his day. He developed a simple, straightforward style of writing to communicate his way of thinking about Islam—Islamism—which appealed to Muslim youths. It was very different from the “complex rhetoric” of the Islamic scholars, writes Kepel. “Qutb spoke directly to his readers, using the modern idiom to get simple points across.”11

In Terror and Liberalism, Berman draws convincingly from twentieth-century Western history and literature to show that, in principle, Qutb’s worldview is not unprecedented when seen in the light of other totalitarian enemies of democratic liberalism, especially fascism and communism. These were “irrational, authoritarian, and insanely murderous, a politics of mass mobilization for unachievable ends.”12 For Berman, therefore, the “Terror War,” as he calls it, is not really new, but rather is just another totalitarian ideology with legs and arms. Berman arrived at this conclusion after studying all of Qutb’s writings that he could find that were published in English. Regarding three English volumes of In the Shade of the Qur’an, Berman writes, “Qutb explains that a proper understanding of the Koran can be achieved only in an atmosphere of serious struggle, and only by someone who is engaged in a ferocious campaign for Islam, not by someone at ease in his chair. The Koran, he observes, does not merely offer a body of knowledge, to be plucked at will, as if from a tree. The Koran offers a way to live.”13

Within Qutb’s totalitarian worldview, Islam, or at least Qutb’s view of Islam, is the totality. Qutb’s doctrine of the sovereignty of God is the theological starting point for this notion. Berman observes, “Every page of In the Shade of the Qur’an can be seen as a commentary on the single affirmation, ‘There is no God but Allah.’ Every new theme and topic offered Qutb a fresh opportunity to demonstrate that nature, man, and man’s obligations come from a single source, which is God. And Islam is the acknowledgment of that one overwhelming reality.”14 This doctrine also drives what I call Qutb’s radical view of history and of history’s fatal flaw. This view provides the theological/political wedge that bin Laden and al-Qaeda use for dividing the world into antithetical camps. A short account follows.


Whether he looked east or west, or at the Soviet bloc, or even at the contemporary Muslim world, Qutb saw an unbearable crisis: “Everywhere man was ill at ease and alienated from his own nature.”15 It was all sliding downward, as Qutb put it in Islam: The Religion of the Future, employing a powerful image that is reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s postmodern appraisal of a pending future in which “the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and it has overturned the order of the soul,” therefore, things will “slide in all directions.”16

History’s Fatal Flaw

Starting from his conclusion about the sorry state of his contemporary world, Qutb swept back through time seeking to identify what went wrong. He found it in Jewish history, specifically in what he perceived as Judaism’s eventual reduction of God’s total reign from one that rules over all of life (in the Law of Moses) to one that rules over ceremonial and individual moral concerns only. Qutb viewed this as fatal for history because it produced the secular/sacred split in life. He analyzes the effects of this reductionism extensively in his books. Using a language and a way of reasoning not unlike that of Christian philosophy and worldview analysis today, he speaks in terms of various organizing principles functioning as “gods” that rule and shape people’s beliefs and behavior in different areas of life. In Qutb’s view, Judaism had lost its founding vision of God’s rule over the totality of life. God, in Qutb’s estimation, ruled only Jewish religious and private life because, over time, gods from pagan nations had wheedled in to organize the other aspects of Jewish life (e.g., social, economic, political), and the Jews thereby became idolatrous, embracing polytheism while claiming to be monotheists. Having identified history’s fatal flaw, Qutb now had a starting point for his radical view of history.

Jesus, Qutb believed, was a true messenger of God sent to restore aspects of Jewish life and practice back under God’s rule, but because of His untimely death and the persecution and scattering of His disciples, neither Judaism nor Christianity was able to recover in any systemic sense the original unitary vision of the Mosaic Law. Then came a worse historical disaster: the official conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity in the fourth century. In his books, Qutb ranges through the domestic life, social policies, and foreign relations of the Holy Roman Empire, lambasting church councils, condemning the Crusades, and interpreting hundreds of passages in the Qur’an to justify his radical criticisms. Christianity during this era, for Qutb, had become lost to idolatries. He shows some sympathy for the faithful Christians who were horrified by Roman immorality, imperialist debaucheries, and pagan influences but who could do little about them, although he had no patience for the monasticism that arose to counter those tendencies. It is tellingly ironic, however, that the man who preached nonseparation of religion and government scandalized Christianity for its matrimony with government.

The Arrival of Islam

History, as Qutb saw it, had been sliding quickly to its nadir when, at last, the arrival of Islam in the seventh century fully implemented God’s unitary message. That totality was in place only for a few decades, however, before, in Qutb’s view, “the Muslim world, having seized the leadership of mankind, lost its grip on Islamic principles, and went into decline,” even though “the Islamic Empire (which Qutb declined to describe as an empire: he preferred ‘community’) continued to spread.”17 In his writings, Qutb explains what he perceives as the internal and external reasons for the empire’s decline, beginning not long after Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. A few words about Qutb’s understanding of Muhammad’s religious/political methodology and the first decades of Islam are necessary here in order for us to understand Qutb’s proposed remediation of history’s fatal flaw.

The Rise of Islam

In AD 622, after preaching monotheism with some success for more than a decade among the polytheistic tribes in and around Mecca, Muhammad traveled 280 miles north to Medina, a city of well-established Jewish settlers and polytheistic Arabs. The city was wild and unruly, without a stable government, and Muhammad had accepted the city fathers’ invitation to become the arbiter of Medina’s social and political disputes. “Islam was useful to them,” writes acclaimed Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, “not so much as a new religion, but as a system that could give them security and discipline. Unlike the Meccans, they had no vested interest in paganism and could accept the religious aspect of Islam on approval, provided it satisfied their political and social needs. The full religious conversion of the Medinese did not take effect until much later.”18

It was in Medina that the fledgling faith of Islam became politicized, marking a turning point for Muhammad and for those whom Muslim history calls his companions. “In Mecca,” writes Lewis, “Muhammad was a private citizen, in Medina the chief magistrate of a community. In Mecca he had had to limit himself to more or less passive opposition to the existing order, in Medina he governed. In Mecca he preached Islam, in Medina he was able to practice. The change necessarily effected the character, activities and doctrines of Muhammad and of Islam itself.”19 In particular, the Medina transformation created a rudimentary political Islam that first ruled Medina, then fought and subdued the Meccans, and then spread into Central Asia, across North Africa, and into Spain during an era of devastating wars known as “the age of the conquests.” Muslim armies conquered cities, provinces, lands, and all sorts of Jewish, Christian, Arab, and pagan tribes that were then part of the ruling Byzantine and Persian empires of the Near and Middle East.

The emerging and new Arab empire considered itself next in the succession of great empires, from Persian to Greek to Roman to Byzantine to Islamic; but how was the new empire to rule its conquered but widespread and diverse lands? The empire would set up state rule around the religious caliphate (i.e., the central ruling institution of Islam until the twentieth century, see glossary), a process begun in earnest in the mid to late-seventh century. Through this historical process, Muslim religion and politics became fused and instituted as a unity that Westerners today find hard to imagine. It is, however, as normal for Islamists to believe in the uniting of mosque and state as it is for secularists to believe in the separation of church and state. The facts of history, then, show that Muhammad and his companions established a unitary vision of Islamic religion and politics and, with each Muslim conquest, spread that fusion of religious rule over all of life.

The Fall of Islam

Qutb’s interpretation of history, however, is that despite the rule of the caliphate, Islam, after the seventh century and as it spread, did not adhere to the unitary Islamic vision of Muhammad and his companions. Seeing only a few brief historical exceptions, Qutb concludes that Islam continually fell prey to idolatry, allowing false gods to rule many aspects of life, as Judaism and Christianity had done by not complying with God’s vision for all of life. The world by Qutb’s day, therefore, already had well more than a thousand years to become a complete write-off. His conclusion follows logically from his premise: when an original unitary vision of life goes bad, all of life, including religion, ends up down the drain.

In Islam: The Religion of the Future, Qutb describes the secular/sacred split—the fatal flaw—as having reached such a pitch of idolatry by his day that it had become “the hideous schizophrenia.” It was “leaving its destructive traces in Europe, and from there to the whole world wherever Western views, institutions, and ways of life have conquered other human societies. Once people deviated from God’s system, they had to continue following fatuous ideologies of their own invention, leading predictably to their miserable state wherein individuals suffer the terrible consequences of their ideological shortcomings, moaning from the pain inflicted on them by their fellowmen.”20 Worse still for Qutb was “their ineffectiveness in ridding themselves of their abominable manmade Hell.”21 No matter how people and nations had tried, they had failed.


The only solution, accordingly, was a return to the original unitary vision, and the secret for achieving this lay in following an unorthodox interpretation of Islam that Qutb had read into the first decades. “For thirteen years after the beginning of his Messengership,” Qutb writes in Milestones, “[Muhammad] called people to God through preaching, without fighting…and was commanded to restrain himself and to practice patience and forbearance. Then he was commanded to migrate [from Mecca to Medina], and later permission was given to fight.”22

In Muhammad’s journey from religious prophet to political ruler to military conqueror, Qutb posited two nonnegotiable attitudes and phases to his radical view of history and its remediation. The Meccan period was a time when Muhammad held his warriors in check under intensive study of the Qur’an only. It was a time when Allah cleansed them inwardly and they received “initial stages of training” from “that one source of guidance,” for only after having achieved spiritual purity would victory be granted when they went out to conquer and subdue.23 That is how Qutb read the early decades. He saw every political failure to establish Islam’s totalitarian rule as the result of premature fighting, that is, of struggle before sanctification.

Berman believes that by offering a completely Muslim way of viewing history and its remediation, Qutb had put his finger on a universal experience within the modern Muslim world: “the prevailing feeling of being two instead of one, the pain of living in two worlds at once.”24 Qutb’s totalitarian view was indeed revolutionary for a generation of twentieth-century Muslim fundamentalists who saw in Western religion, philosophy, theology, law, culture, and politics not the redemption but the end of history.

Qutb, however, was now also shaking his fist at modern Christianity. Muslim lands were, of course, suffering because, according to Qutb, European and American imperialism was forcing the hideous schizophrenia on them externally; but Muslims could fix blame “not on anything vague such as modernity or human nature,” writes Berman, “but on something specific and identifiable—namely Christianity, and its doleful influence on modern culture, as exported by the power of the Western countries. Qutb trembled in fear at the hideous schizophrenia. He thought the crisis was enormous and incomparably profound. Deep currents of theological and ecclesiastical deviation, two thousand years of Christian error, were bearing that crisis atop the roiling waves. And the tide was rushing forward, across the Muslim world.”25

The Muslim Vanguard

Backed into a corner that he perceived to be of world-historical significance, Qutb took a stand, writing voluminously from prison and calling into being a new breed of Muslim leadership, a militant vanguard, to stand with him, backs to the wall, to fight against the flood of idolatry by pioneering the unitary vision of Islam. Bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and other militant Islamists, such as al-Qaeda sleeper-cell operatives, would consider themselves among this vanguard.

Osama bin Laden, however, born in 1957, never met Sayyid Qutb. Qutb’s influence on bin Laden was therefore indirect, from a number of sources. One, already noted, was from his university classes under Muhammad Qutb. There also were at least two other key figures. One was the Palestinian Qutbist Abdullah Azzam, who was an influential representative of the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s and 1970s and later became bin Laden’s ideological mentor, a close association that lasted for many years. Bin Laden was one of Azzam’s university students in Saudi Arabia and the two later became partnership leaders in Afghanistan as they fought the Soviets.26

The other figure was the Pakistani intellectual Mawlana Mawdudi (sometimes “Maududi”). Kepel writes that the theoretical basis for the Islamist movement itself “was devised…by the ideologists Mawdudi in Pakistan, Qutb in Egypt, and Khomeini in Iran.… Mawdudi and Qutb thought along similar lines and exercised influence among the Sunni Muslims, [while] Khomeini operated within the framework of the Shiites.”27 When bin Laden lived and traveled in Pakistan among the jihadi-salafists (see glossary) around Peshawar in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he would have been with followers of Mawdudi (who died in 1979), whose extremist writings, in which “religion was turned into an ideology of political struggle,”28 were well established throughout the region.

Bin Ladenism, a totalitarianism that many Westerners find so perplexing (evidenced in the common question, “Why do they hate us?”), thus did not arise in a social and political vacuum, nor is it the result of mere irrational fanatics acting willy-nilly. The methodologies and goals of the political and religious actors it produces are sometimeslabeled“irrational” byWestern analysts, but nevertheless it is something of a coherent and calculated worldview, one that is based on a particular set of religious, political, and historical assumptions that lie at the heart of Sayyid Qutb’s writings. Part two of this series will consider the ramifications of Qutb’s militant political theology, which energizes bin Laden and the al-Qaeda vanguard.

Glossary for Part One

Caliphate: The central ruling institution of Islamic religion and politics that began after the death of Muhammad, in which mosque and state were one and the caliph (the official title of the political successor to Muhammad), considered the rightful ruler of Islam, was its head. The institution over time provided an organizing authority over the many diverse lands and peoples of the new empire. It was abolished in the aftermath of World War I by Mustafa Kemal, who called himself Ataturk (Father of the Turks) and who established in Turkey the first secular government in a Muslim society. Osama bin Laden and others want to see the restoration of a strict caliphate over Muslim lands.

Jihadi: A militant religious extremist who practices jihad (“holy war”). The designation “jihadi groups” has emerged to describe “the cults of Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden of al Qaeda, and Juma Namangani of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” (Ahmed Rashid, The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia [New York: Penguin, 2003], 3).

Salafism: A sect of Islam that advocates a return to the traditions of Islam’s devout ancestors, who were thought to embody Islam’s doctrinal purity. “In the eyes of the militants…, salafists were those who understood the injunctions of the sacred texts in their most literal, traditional sense…. The salafists were the real fundamentalists of Islam; they were hostile to any and all innovation, which they condemned as mere human interpretation” (Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, 219–20).

Shiite: One of the two religious branches of Islam that emerged in the late seventh century following the great schism over who should be the rightful caliph. The Shia (or Shiites) claim descent from the family of Muhammad and believe that only descendents of that family should have been the caliphs. They represent about 15 percent of Islam, with many in Iraq and Iran where they greatly outnumber the Sunni. In Iraq they hold the reigns of political power for the first time in an Arab country (the Sunni ruled Iraq previously). They differ from the Sunni only in the political realm.

Sunni: One of the two religious branches of Islam that emerged in the late-seventh century following the great schism over who should be the rightful caliph. To be accepted by the Sunnis, caliphs needed to be religious authorities, but they did not have to be descended from Muhammad’s family. They are far-and-away the Muslim majority in the world. They differ from the Shia only in the political realm.

Wahhabism: A very strict sect of Islam founded in the eighteenth century by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in reaction to what he perceived as Islam’s adulterated original vision. It grew as a result of a religious alliance that it formed in the eighteenth century with the Saud monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism in the twentieth century became a vast extremist fundamentalist education system, financed by Saudi petrol dollars, that built mosques and schools everywhere across Saudi Arabia. (Its widespread national influence is analogous to that of the U.S. public-school system.) It teaches strict implementation of Islamic laws in religious, political, legal, moral, and private life and is shockingly anti-America and anti-Israel. Wahhabist doctrine is also spread by many of the 1500 mosques that Saudi public funds have built around the world. Since 9/11, Washington and other capitals have pressured the Saudi monarchy to reign in the Wahhabi clerics and deradicalize that educational system. Results are mixed.


1. Charles Strohmer, “Change Agents: The Voices of Muslim Reformers,” Christian Century, August 9, 2005; and Charles Strohmer, “Muslim Women on Islamic Reform,” Sojourners, October, 2004.

2. Paul Berman, “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror,” New York Times Magazine, March 23, 2003, 26.

3. Zafar Bangash, “Remembering Sayyid Qutb, An Islamic Intellectual of Rare Insight and Integrity” (for the 23rd anniversary of Qutb’s death, August 1999),,

4. Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and the Pharaoh (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986), 40.

5. Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 4.

6. Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism (New York: W. W. Norton, 2003), 63.

7. Noah Feldman, After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), 41–42.

8. Ibid., 42.

9. Ibid., 43.

10. Berman, “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror,” 26.

11. Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 26.

12. Berman, Terror and Liberalism, 23.

13. Ibid., 65.

14. Ibid., 66.

15. Ibid., 68.

16. Leonard Cohen, “The Future,” More Best of Leonard Cohen (Sony Music, 1997).

17. Berman, Terror and Liberalism, 74.

18. Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History, rev. ed. (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1966), 41.

19. Ibid.

20. Sayyid Qutb, Islam: The Religion of the Future (Salimiah, Kuwait: International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, n.d.), 35.

21. Ibid.

22. Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Damascus, Syria: Dar-al-Ilm, n.d.), 53.

23. Ibid., chap. 1.

24. Berman, Terror and Liberalism, 76.

25. Ibid.

26. Kepel, Jihad, 144–47, 314–15.

27. Ibid., 5, 23.

28. Ibid., 34.