An Islamist ideologue credited with inspiring al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden is "misunderstood," a California State University professor claimed in a speech last week.
Imad Bayoun claimed Sayyid Qutb's writings, such as his manifesto Milestones, were "largely misunderstood" in remarks at the Muslim American Society of Greater Los Angeles' 20th Annual "Agents of Change" convention last week.
Federal prosecutors in 2008 described MAS as the "overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America."
Bayoun, whose biography describes him as a "lecturer for the Muslim American Society," lamented Qutb's execution in 1966 by Egypt's Nasser regime. He praised Qutb's explanation of how the Quran was revealed to Muhammad. Bayoun's talk closely follows Qutb's own words in Milestones, saying that Muhammad "liberated" the Arab world from occupation by the Byzantines and the Persians for Allah.
The 9/11 Commission Report describes Qutb as a major inspiration for bin Laden.
Qutb declared that the Islamic world entered a state of apostasy; that jihad needed to be waged to end this state of affairs; and that apostate rulers should be toppled. He wrote in Milestones that shariah was the only acceptable form of law.
His commentary, In the Shade of the Quran, taught that the violent verses in the Muslim holy book take precedent over peaceful verses. In contrast with many Muslim apologists, Qutb believed that a jihad of the sword should be fought to spread Islam throughout the world.
"Therefore prepare for Jihad and be the lovers of death. Life itself shall come searching after you," Qutb concluded in Milestones.
Bayoun also praised Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, saying he worked to restore Islam at a time when religion was looked upon as backward.
Bayoun is not the only MAS speaker to invoke al-Banna recently. Kifah Mustapha, of Chicago's Mosque Foundation mosque and a speaker at last month's MAS-Islamic Circle of North America convention, invoked al-Banna in an Oct. 8 sermon posted on his Facebook page.
Al-Banna agreed with Qutb that jihad was not just for defense. In his tract On Jihad, he wrote that it meant "the slaying of the unbelievers, and related connotations, such as beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their shrines, and smashing their idols."
"...[It] is obligatory on us to begin fighting with them after transmitting the invitation [to embrace Islam], even if they do not fight against us," al-Banna wrote.
This holding up the founder fathers of modern jihadism as authorities on Islamic thought tells observers all they need to know about MAS.