Sayyid Qutb was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, poet, and a leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, he was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and was executed by hanging.
Author of 24 books with around 30 books unpublished for different reasons (mainly destruction by the state), and at least 581 articles, including novels, literary arts critique and works on education, he is best known in the Muslim world for his work on what he believed to be the social and political role of Islam, particularly in his books Social Justice and Ma’alim fi al-Tariq (Milestones).
During most of his life, Qutb’s inner circle mainly consisted of influential politicians, intellectuals, poets and literary figures, both of his age and of the preceding generation. By the mid-1940s, many of his writings were included in the curricula of schools, colleges and universities.
Even though most of his observations and criticism were levelled at the Muslim world, Qutb is also known for his intense disapproval of the society and culture of the United States which he saw as materialistic, and obsessed with violence and sexual pleasures. He advocated violent, offensive jihad. Views on Qutb vary widely. He has been described by followers as a great thinker and martyr for Islam, while many Western observers see him as a key originator of Islamist ideology. Some western commentators believe Qutb is an inspiration for violent groups such as al-Qaeda. Today, his supporters are identified by their opponents as “Qutbists” or “Qutbi”.