This essay will compare and contrast the ideologies and vision of political Islam of Muslim intellectuals Sayyid Abuʾl-Aʿla Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb. Though Mawdudi’s ideologies and vision influenced Qutb’s, accounting for similarities in thought between them, the differences are significant. This essay will examine these similarities and differences in turn. It will demonstrate why Mawdudi was successful at changing India’s government and at spreading that change abroad while Qutb ultimately failed to change Egypt’s. Nevertheless, this essay will also show the far-reaching influence of Qutb’s thought.
Qutb was born in a small village in Upper Egypt and immigrated to Cairo to complete his education. There, he was educated in a Western style and rose in prominence as a writer and literary critic while working as a teacher and an inspector for the ministry of education. His primary concern and topic of writing at the time was the morality of the individual. This he held up to the standard of Islam as he understood it and sought to understand the reason for the lack of it around him. A two-year stint in the United States to earn a master’s degree while at the same time studying the U.S. educational system caused him to see the threat to Islamic morality in a new light.