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Milestones Paperback – July 31, 2006
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- Item Weight : 2 pounds
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 817231244X
- ISBN-13 : 978-8172312442
- Dimensions : 5.63 x 0.39 x 9.06 inches
- Publisher : Islamic Book Service (July 31, 2006)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #470,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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First off I was surprised to see the similarities between Qutb and other writers throughout this area. Some of this work reads like it could have come from Ali Shariati's School of Thought and Action. What is interesting to see is how these men were coming to similar conclusions even though they were looking at the problems from different geographical, social and religious locations. One can see why this book had and has such an appeal because it very much is about empowerment and taking control of people's societies and their lives, political and religious. This is not a passive treatise but a call to action, and this call can be answered by any and everyone. The popularity of this work is easily understood in its historical context. This book was written when Middle East was being dominated by corrupt secular and religious authorities that were doing, seemingly, nothing to combat the western domination of their nations. Secular ideologies had failed to empower the people or improve their lives in any significant way, so this simple call that gave people an avenue to take back control of their lives in an Islamic context that was uniquely void of any "Western" influence is very understandable.
With that said these same reasons that gave this book such a popular appeal and major following is the same things that make this work so scary as well. The problem is the work has some logical problems that don't get rectified which basically makes it a call to arms with no real leadership. The book castigates the corrupt religious leadership and tells people to ignore them and look to the Quran to recreate the mythical perfect society that existed under the prophet at the time of his leadership. The book is a strange mix of attacking the traditional Islamic leadership, while at the same time never replacing this leadership with anything. The author calls on his readers to follow the Quran and Hadith rather than blindly following the Mullahs, but the author pulls back from approving of the individual ijtihad. Basically the books call is for the individual to practice ijtihad only as long as it lead the individual to exact same conclusions as the author. He takes liberties for himself that he refuses his readers. His readers are only supposed to follow Mullahs who aspouse his own brand of Islam. The problem is he, much like all religious texts, leaves a lot open to interpretation.
As far as Non-Muslims go his message should be extremely frightening. For Qutb Islam's goal is to conquer the world, and it is the duty for every Muslim to work toward that goal. For Qutb freedom for the individual is only acheived in an Islamic dominated state. Freedom is the ability of each person to decide to be a Muslim or to reject Allah in an Islamic state. Whether a person wants to be a Muslim or not is totally up the individual only when the State, and all that encompasses, is an Islamic state. That means it is the duty of every Muslim to ensure the freedom for everyone to either accept their message or reject it within a state dominated politically, socialy and religiously by the Sharia. Freedom is to submit or not to submit and live as a second class citizen.
One of the most interesting things about this book is that it displays a very skewed way of viewing the world. History and the "West" is just seen in a different context. The best example of this is given when the author discusses prohibition in the U.S. he juxtaposes this with the banning of alcohol in Islamic states as if the two are anlagous which they are not. The idea that banning a substance in a state that is democratic with elections and the rule of law is the same as banning the same thing in a theocratic state is ridiculous. The problem is that within the author's context of freedom he can't understand this.
Lastly Qutb falls into the all too familiar pattern of the conspiracy theorist. He discusses the Jewish world cabal, and the "West's" persecution of Islam and the Muslim as if the world is allied with the believers against the heathens. It is disturbing how deep this paranioa runs. It creates this Manichean world where the world is divided into the two camps creating nothing but enemies and allies when the reality of the situation is that most of the world doesn't even notice.
This is an interesting book to read. If one understands the history and where this book comes from then they will understand its popularity. It is dangerous and as such it needs to be read and understood so that its ideas can be better combatted.
Milestones is meant to a be a handbook for a vanguard of "true Muslims" ready and willing to fulfill God's plan for humanity - a plan that was clearly elucidated and even demonstrated in Medina under Mohammed in the late seventh century. Qutb forcefully argues that this first generation of Muslims in Medina was also the last generation of true and pure Muslims. "They [the first generations of Muslims at Medina] became the bearers of this trust when no promise was made to them of worldly benefits which they could have demanded, nor were there sights fixed on acquiring such benefits. They were dedicated servants of God from the day they knew of no reward except his pleasure."
Qutb calls for a new generation of Muslims willing to sacrifice worldly pleasures, throw off loyalty and commitment to their families and nations, and perhaps give their lives to join a new generation of Muslims modeled on those who lived with Mohammed. A critical objective to achieving God"s Will is to remove all social, economic and political structures that impose the rule of one man over another and thus usurps God's sole and unabridgable authority to sovereignty over mankind. The end game is not to forcibly convert humanity to Islam, although it is difficult to imagine any other way for the vanguard to complete their mission.
This extended quote from Milestones is illuminating:
"It is not the intention of Islam to force its beliefs on people, but Islam is not merely 'belief'...Islam is a declaration of the freedom of man from servitude to other men. Thus it strives from the beginning to abolish all those systems and governments which are based on the rule of man over man and the servitude of one human being to another. When Islam releases people from this political pressure and presents to them its spiritual message, appealing to their reason, it gives them complete freedom to accept or not to accept its belief. However, this freedom does not mean that they can make their desires their gods, or that they can choose to remain in the servitude of other human beings, making some men lords over others. Whatever system is to be established in the world ought to be established on the authority of God, deriving its laws from Him alone. Then every individual is free, under the protection of this universal system, to adopt any belief he wishes to adopt."
In other words, you don't have to convert to Islam, but Sharia law must be imposed and obeyed on earth and you cannot worship other gods nor submit to the authority of any government or other social, religious or political institution. Other than that, you're free to believe and behave however you want.
In closing, this is a highly informative and eye-opening read. The text is painfully repetitive and the message is obviously assertive and didactic. Nevertheless, for anyone who believes that Bin Laden and his fellow travelers are motivated exclusively or even mainly by US foreign policy in the Middle East ought to read this book.