Qutbism: The Science of Islamist War

Good day to all readers of “Daily Veritatis.” Once again I have the privilege of presenting the research of one of my students. I will protect his identity by identifying him as M.T.

Please take the time to read the entire blog contribution and pass the link and research on to those in your network. I wholeheartedly support the findings in M.T.’s research. I will provide a brief comment at the conclusion of M.T.s contribution to “Daily Veritatis.” You will find my comment directly below the reference list.





The Science of Islamist War





A Research submitted to Dr. Brandt Smith

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Arts in Intelligence Studies

Academic Specialization: Homeland Security



           “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

                            — Edmund Burke


In the post September 11th, 2001 era, homeland security has been a vital field of national security. In fact, so vital that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was creates as a result of the 9/11 Commission Report in efforts to combat Islamist terrorism. However, in researching and studying Islamist terrorism, whether the focal is al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Shabaab, or virtually any other Islamist terrorist organization, such radicals seem to have parallel ideologies with extremist Islamist thought (Dale 2007, 1). This one particular ideology has evidently been built as the basic foundation and political philosophy of virtually all Islamist terrorist groups, Qutbism. Thus, the thesis and purpose of this research herein seeks to answer, what is Qutbism, what is the role of Qutbism in Islamist extremist groups, and lastly, what is the domestic threat level of Qutbism?

It is hypothesized that Qutbism is an underestimated Islamist political ideology that plays a vital role in extremists groups. It is further hypothesized that the perceived lack of knowledge of Qutbism within USIC and federal law enforcement agencies is a fallacy and a security flaw that must be addressed. Thus, it is believed that the domestic threat level of Qutbism is more concerning than it may presently seem as there does not seem to be many government publications on Qutbism. As a result of the lack of knowledge on Qutbism as a science, the threat level is perceived to be high as the enemy is not known.

The significance of the research herein can only be best articulated by Sun Tzu, “So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one…” (Cleary 2003, 85). It is undoubtedly imperil and vital to national security to know the enemies of the United States. This certainly includes their political and philosophical ideologies, especially if the same ideology is shared by many extremists groups. Understanding how Islamists terrorists think, what their goals are, and how they plan on executing their ideologies can only be beneficial to the homeland security of the United States so as to better be prepared for the future. If one does not know the enemy, how can there be preemptive preparations or counterattacks? Thus, it is deemed crucial herein as a homeland security prerequisite that Qutbism will shed light on Islamist terrorism strategies, and will therefore appropriately prepare the U.S. to implement a counter domestic Islamist terrorism strategy.

Review of the Literature

             On seeking to build the basic foundations of this research, the quest for credible sources was crucial for the integrity of the findings and conclusion of the research question. The sources sought after herein include scholarly, peer-reviewed articles of credible journals, independent research by non-profit organizations, and one government publication that all have their references available. In addition, government publication was deemed a prerequisite variable as a determent to assess the acknowledged threat level. The U.S. Army War College defines Qutbism,

Qutbism refers to the writings of Sayyid Qutb and other Islamic theoreticians, e.g., Abul Ala Maududi and Hassan al Banna that provide the intellectual rationale underpinning Islamic-Fascism. Qutbism is not a structured body of thought from any single person (despite its name), source, time, or sect; rather it is a fusion of puritanical and intolerant Islamic orientations that include elements from both the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam that have been combined with broader Islamist goals and methodologies. Qutbism integrates the Islamist teachings of Maududi and al Banna with the arguments of Sayyid Qutb to justify armed jihad in the advance of Islam, and other violent methods utilized by twentieth century militants. Qutbism advocates violence and justifies terrorism against non-Muslims and apostates in an effort to bring about the reign of God. Others, i.e., Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Abdullah Azzam, and Osama bin Laden built terrorist organizations based on the principles of Qutbism and turned the ideology of Islamic-Fascism into a global action plan (Dale 2007, 2).

In the opinion of the author, this excerpt from the writings of Colonel Dale C. Eikmeier is perhaps the best definition and brief understanding of Qutbism. In fact, from conducting academic inquiries for the purpose of this research, this definition and study of Qutbism is found to be rare among the West, particularly the United States.

The reason Qutbism is named after Sayyid Qutb, although it is a combination of Islamist thought of several radical authors, Qutb is accredited to be the father for combining the works of the other authors along with his, thereby laying the foundations of the thoughts as a condensed science. In fact, “It was his disillusionment with the corrupt parliamentary democracy of pre-Revolution Egypt that led him to turn to Islam as the solution to all problems” (Soage 2009, 1). Turning to Islam, Qutb sought after his religion and in doing so studied the works of Abul Ala Maududi and Hassan al Banna (Dale 2007, 1). Coming across this information, it was crucial to study such basic foundations utilized by Qutb. Such include Jihad in Islam, by Abul Ala Maududi,

In reality Islam is a militant ideology and programme which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals…. Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. It must be evident to you from this discussion that the objective of Islamic “Jihad” is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of State rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single State or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution (Maududi 1930, 8-9).

Parallel, “al Banna… believed, like Maududi, that a revival of ‘pure Islam’ was the antidote to Western domination and a cure for the malady infecting the Muslim World” (Stanley 2005). At this point of the research, the basic foundation of Qutbism was defined, and thus, laid were the foundations of the first section of the research question.

Seeking to answer the second section, on the role of Qutbism in Islamist groups, Fawaz A. Gerges, a Christian Middle Eastern scholar on Islamist terrorism, after interviewing various Muslim terrorists, explained that Qutbism taught Jihad to Islamists and was the driving force of al-Qaeda as it was utilized by Abdullah Azzam and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who first introduced Qutbism to Osama bin Laden as they were disciples of Sayyid Qutb (Gerges 2005). This is crucial to understanding the role of Qutbism as a tool of both thought and practice. Qutbism utilizes the Quran and Muhammad’s Hadith as their sources to practice and implement its beliefs. But if Qutbism is utilized as a tool, what is its current threat level? To answer this part of the research question, it was crucial to understand to what extent is Qutbism a tool? In other words, what practical methodologies does Qutbism teach?

Evidently, Qutbism laid the foundations of the “far enemy first” after the “near enemy strategy” (Faraj 1979). Al Banna and Qutb’s Qutbism taught that local state governments should first be targeted. For example, local Islamists such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad would target the secular government of Sadat which ended with the death of the Egyptian president. Such similar incidents are paralleled across the Muslim and Arab world, the Greater Middle East. Local terrorist cells would target their own secular governments, although predominantly managed by Muslim administrators. Over the long term, however, the “near enemy strategy,” while having immediate operational successes, proved to be not as effective as “far enemy first” strategies. In fact, the “near enemy strategy” often ends in government crackdowns on the local terrorists’ cells. Realizing this was problematic, al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden built on Qutbism, thereby refining it, to implement the “far enemy first” strategy, which was thereby observed in the Afghan mujahedeen conflict that prevailed over the Soviets (Faraj 1979).

On the progression of answering the research question, to adequately assess the threat of Qutbism, if fully implemented, what would life be like under Qutb’s belief? In other words, what is life under Sharia law as quested by the purpose of Qutbism? Qutb taught that Islam is “… an ‘integral’ or ‘total’ system that controls all aspects of life and responds to all human needs. He believed that the Sharia is not limited to laws, but includes everything God has dictated to organize human life: creed, government, ethics, behavior, knowledge” (Soage 2009, 4). In other words, life for all under Sharia law would be strictly Islamist, those who steal will have their arms cut, those who kill, shall be killed, while those who read will be mandated to read only Islamist texts (Soage 2009, 4). Children can only be taught Islamism, there will not be freedom of speech, nor the right to appeal or protest, and all non-Muslims must convert or pay the jizya, infidel tax paid by non-Muslims to the Muslim state or community so as continue practicing the non-Muslim faith (Soage 2009, 4). Failure to pay as asked results in swift Sharia justice, death.

In understanding more on the threat of Qutbism, its offensive jihad must be diligently studied. Qutbism teaches that “…the entire world, including the Muslim, was in a state of jahiliyah, or ignorance where man’s way had replaced God’s way… since jahiliyah and Islam cannot co-exist, offensive jihad was necessary to destroy jahiliyah society and bring the entire world to Islam. Until jahiliyah is defeated, all true Muslims have a personal obligation to wage offensive Jihad” (Dale 2007, 5). Evidently, terrorism through jihad herein is not out of frustration, Western colonialism, or Western imperialism as perceived in West, but rather, as an Islamist duty to offensively wage war against all non-Muslims in efforts to expand the Umma, the Muslim world (Qutb 1964).

While many people are familiar with the concept of jihad, most are not familiar with a parallel Qutb concept, although it is often heard on jihadi execution videos, takfir. Takfir herein is the excommunication of apostates, Muslim government administrators and religious scholars who do not follow Qutbism (Dale 2007, 5). Such individuals, while they are Muslim by name, are not considered friends of Islam, and thus, their death is not only a duty, but often glorious as a sacrifice to Allah. As the U.S. Army War College explains, “The takfir concept along with ‘offensive jihad’ became a blank check for any Islamic extremist to justify killings against anyone” (Dale 2007, 5). Clearly, Qutbism is the language of extremists for not only radicals, but simply those who follow Islam as mandated by Muhammad. Radicals have not created Qutbism as a different Islamic thought, but rather, used the Quran as their source.

Methodology and Research Strategy

In seeking a methodology to appropriately conduct the present research to answer the focal of the present study, a systematic and qualitative approach was deemed crucial for implementation. First the research question was divided in three parts respectively, what is Qutbism, what is the role of Qutbism in Islamist extremist groups, and lastly, what is the domestic threat level of Qutbism. Each segment was a variable in question. The objective was to gather the appropriate sources that were perceived to answer all three segments appropriately. Thus, in finding the sources, the objective was not to simply seek out sources that solely elaborated on Qutbism, but rather, the different parts of the research question required different forms of sources. In addressing the first segment of the research as an independent variable, what is Qutbism, it was difficult to find the proper sources as many discussed Sayyid Qutb as the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, yet it was difficult finding credible sources that defined his thought process as the science of Qutbism. Some of the best sources utilized for this segment of the research question were books and articles written by the founders of Qutbism, Qutb, al Banna, and Maududi.

On addressing the second segment of the research question, the sources sought after needed to be practical and not simply theoretical. The role of Qutbism is surprisingly a dependent and not an independent one as it is contingent on in depth knowledge of the authors of the sought after sources. For instance, different authors may depict the role of Qutbism differently. It was therefore crucial to find published works of the founders of Qutbism, Qutb, al Banna, and Maududi. The role of Qutbism is a variable based on the understanding and is not only a school of thought, but also a way of implemented practice. Thus, as mentioned in the literature review, a brief case study was utilized on explaining how Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda employed Qutbism. This required sources that studied al-Qaeda under a Qutbist lens. Lastly, assessing the overall domestic threat level of Qutbism was the last segment of the research question because it required significant knowledge of the adversary’s ideology, from its basic definition and founding radicals, to its practical methods of terrorism and strategies.

Other variables herein were slightly difficult to identify as they were not measurable, but rather, perceived. Public federal sources were rare, and thus, the lack of public sources from federal civilian intelligence and law enforcement agencies questioned to what extent did the federal civilian government acknowledge the threat of Qutbism given its lack of geographic boundaries? Thankfully, the U.S. Army’s War College explained that Qutbism was under the Department of Defense’s microscope, at least to a certain point. While the understanding of Qutbism was not difficult from an academic lens, understanding the role of Qutbism required in depth research of not the “what” of Qutbism, but rather the “how.” The qualitative data discovered was truly eye opening although considerable knowledge of Qutbism and Sayyid Qutb was a prerequisite. Nevertheless, the knowledge proved significant to answering the research question, including perhaps the most important segment of the research question, what is the domestic threat level of Qutbism.

The limitations discovered herein through this research are undoubtedly the lack of government publications on Qutbism as a science. There were a lot of government sources that studied Sayyid Qutb, but only one accessible studied his ideology as a school of thought for terrorism implemented by virtually all domestic and international Islamist groups. This is a flaw, not only for this research, but as elaborated greater in the analysis and findings of this research. The lack of government sources is evident of the lack of acknowledgement of Qutbism as a threat to national security. The inevitable question at this point is to what extent can a research such as the present influence the U.S. government, and perhaps, generally the West, of the threat of Qutbism?

Analysis and Findings

The purpose of the analysis and findings of this research inevitably seeks to implement change, both in academic thought on Qutbism, as much as federal implementation and reform of intelligence and security hardening policies as a countermeasure. Understanding Qutbism from an academic lens is a matter of in depth research. However, from an empirical lens, seeking to grasp the totality of the circumstantial threat level is far more perceptive as an art than a science. Some Islamist organizations openly disclose and accredit their current ideologies as either completely based on Qutbism, or as its derivative, after refining certain tactics and strategies for contemporary usage. Nevertheless, the ideologies of Qutbism have been witnessed within all Islamist terrorist organizations, including by those who openly seek to spread it as much as those who conceal it (Dale 2007, 1). It may be slightly harder to understand the ideologies of various Islamist terrorist organizations, but indeed, their actions speak louder than words. Islamists terrorist organizations may not necessarily preach or implement Qutbism as a conscious science, but regardless, their ideologies have been based on Qutbism. It must be noted though, that most terrorist organizations do study Qutbism as their root foundation. The role of Qutbism in Islamist terrorist organizations has been well perceived and understood in this research, but the focal of understanding its role was to assess its threat level and this is truly the more concerning of the finding.

If Qutbism is a radical Islamist thought threatening all non-Muslims and secular Muslims under takfir as discussed earlier, to what extent is it a threat to the United States? A study of the more than twelve hundred mosques in the United States concluded that roughly eighty percent of them preach Qutbism (U.S. Mosques 2013). This is undoubtedly frightening. This raises many more questions, mostly questioning the lack of effective measures by the U.S. federal government on their lack of actions that permit such radicals to enter, regroup, and execute radical preaching. Is there a difference between freedom of speech and legal loopholes that Islamist terrorist organizations utilize to implement Qutbism? But there is more to Qutbism than radical preaching as described earlier. Since the horrendous attacks on September 11th, 2001, there have been thirty four terrorist attacks by Islamist terrorists on the contiguous United States (ITAOAS 2013).

At this point, one may ask, what is more concerning, the existence of a threat, or the lack of knowledge of the existence of that same threat? When searching for sources on the subject of Qutbism for the purpose of this research, the first sought after sources were government publications on Qutbism. Unfortunately, however, there were sources on Sayyid Qutb but only one on Qutbism as a science by a DOD branch, the U.S. Army War College. No such public parallel sources seem to exist in any federal civil law enforcement or intelligence agency. It is hoped that the U.S. federal government may have such knowledge but may be concealing. As expected, there are no such sources on Qutbism, or even Sayyid Qutb, by state, county, or local law enforcement or intelligence task forces. If local law enforcement is the first responders, should they not be aware of Qutbism? The findings of Qutbism are far more than just organized terrorists cells and extremists groups, it is often more dispersed. Sayyid Qutb taught that all Muslims are to attack the non-Muslims and secular Muslims under offensive jihad and takfir. This is not only an Islamic duty of organized Islamists terrorist organization and parties, but rather the struggle, jihad that every Muslim should personally pursue independently, thereby creating lone wolves to, “…rally ordinary Muslims to global jihad…” (Dale 2007, 7). Evidently, the more one researches on the role of Qutbism in contemporary Islamist terrorism, the more one can understand how contemporary Islamist terrorism has come to be what it presently is. What is more concerning though, what Islamist terrorism is, or the lack of knowledge of their existence as a threat which presently leads to failing to act appropriately?

This research has found that Qutbism is the basis of all Islamist terrorism and failure to study it diligently is predicted to be the key reason why the United States is on a road to demise from within since the threat has been proven to have entered the United States. The understanding of Qutbism through this research in collaboration with the findings that the U.S. federal government is not properly and fully informed of Qutbism is proving to be a key reason on the failure of preventative measures by federal and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Preemptive measures is the key to addressing any enemy, and the United States cannot do so if it does not know the mindset of the enemy, the tactics utilized, and the existence of the enemy in the United States, both organized and dispersed.

The objective of Qutbism is a way of life as explained earlier, seeking to implement a Sharia Umma where the following would immediately be reformed in the U.S., those who drink would be whipped, husbands are not only permitted to hit their wives, but rather they are encouraged to do so as commanded by Mohammed, an eye for an eye justice system ensures that all robbers must be crucified or mutilated, homosexuals must be executed, unmarried fornicators and adulterers are to be stoned to death, non-Muslims are to convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or be put to death, and last but not least, an offensive jihad is a religious duty (Qutb 1964). This is only a small fraction of the fullness and unethical laws of Sharia to be implemented through Qutbism.   While most Americans would certainly not wish such laws to be fulfilled, and since the government is a representation of the American people, is the U.S. government presently fulfilling its duties in protecting the American way life?


In retrospect, the purpose of this study herein sought to answer the following research question, what is Qutbism, what is the role of Qutbism in Islamist extremist groups, and lastly, what is the domestic threat level of Qutbism? It was hypothesized that Qutbism is an underestimated Islamist political ideology that plays a vital role in extremists groups. It is also rightfully hypothesized that the perceived lack of knowledge of Qutbism within USIC and federal law enforcement agencies is a fallacy and a security flaw that must be addressed. This was the focal of the research paper, keeping in mind the embedded words to Sun Tzu, “So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one…” (Cleary 2003, 85). Understanding how Islamists terrorists think, what their goals are, and how they plan on executing their ideologies can only be beneficial to the homeland security of the United States so as to better be prepared for the future. If one does not know the enemy, how can there be preemptive preparations or counterattacks?

Qutbism is the basis of all Islamist terrorism, a way of life to all. Failure to acknowledge it as a science utilized by Islamists is predicted to be the leading cause of the failure of the United States’ efforts in combating domestic and international terrorism. One cannot adequately fight an enemy whose tactics, ideologies, and weapons are unknown. All must be equally studied so as to grasp the empirical image of the adversary. This research sought to address different variables of Qutbism, sub variables within Qutbism, and hypothetical situations if Qutbism was to be successful, the implementation of Sharia law.

As a result of this research, many questions have been asked that would make exceptionally prudent studies to homeland security. A great future research would conduct a case study of the full implementation of Sharia law. Such a study would examine under a close lens of what life is like under Sharia law in the Greater Middle East. Such a study would further seek to predict the outcome of Sharia law if implemented in the United States. The significance of such a research would seek to better depict the life of the future threat in efforts to educate the general public in addition to federal and local law enforcement and intelligence professionals. Another future research may seek to question the influence of the media on Qutbism. The media is predicted to play a vital role in the spread of terrorism, and its success. For example, if the media did not broadcast terrorist attacks, would terrorists truly be successful if no fear was instilled in the lives of the living and survivors? This is certainly based on the general academic definition of the success of terrorism, seeking to instill fear in the living and not the dead. In the end, the research studied varying avenues of Qutbism, and it is planned that a future research will be built on the present study, utilizing the information obtained herein for supplementary findings. One is left to ponder, however, if Qutbism is the implementation of Islam, utilizing the Quran and teachings of Muhammad, are Islamist terrorists truly radicals or are they simply devout Muslims?    






2013. “Islamic Terror Attacks on American Soil.” The Religion of Peace (Accessed October 1, 2013).

2013. “U.S. Mosques.” The Clarion Project (Accessed October 1, 2013)

Abd al-Salam Faraj. 1979. The Neglected Duty. Egypt.

Cleary, Thomas, trans. 2003. The Art of War. Boston: Shambhala Publications.

Dale, Eikmeier. 2007. “Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism.” U.S. Army War College Quarterly. Accessed October 1, 2013. https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=472225

Gerges, Fawaz. 2005. The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. New York: Cambridge University Press

Maududi, Abul Ala. 1930. Jihad in Islam. Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publications

Qutb, Sayyid. 1964. “Milestones on the Road.” Accessed October 1, 2013. http://www.izharudeen.com/uploads/4/1/2/2/4122615/milestones_www.izharudeen.com.pdf

Soage, Ana Belen. 2009. “Islamism and Modernity: The Political Thought of Sayyid Qutb.” Totalitarian Movements & Political Religions 10, no. 2: 189-203. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed October 1, 2013).

Stanley, Trevor. 2005. “Hassan al-Banna: Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwan al-Muslimun.” Accessed October 1, 2013. http://www.pwhce.org/banna.html.


Comments by Brandt: There is generally always backlash and criticism when new information is presented. I expect to receive some of these comments. However, criticism does not negate the information presented in this research. I hope you will circulate my blog to all your social media network friends as well as the link to anyone you want to read this information.

Our days are numbered if we refuse to engage and become active in the affairs of our nation.

Best wishes,

Brandt Smith


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