Commemorating the 57th anniversary of the execution of the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue and revolutionary Sayyid Qutb, prominent Islamist figures and jihadi clerics took to social media to exalt his political and religious thought and enduring legacy. Through hashtags like #Sayyid_Qutb and #The_Anniversary_of_the_Martyrdom_of_Sayyid_Qutb, these individuals celebrated him as an enduring symbol of resistance against tyranny whose words have transcended his oppressors and continue to inspire Muslims worldwide. The regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt executed Qutb on August 29, 1966, for plotting against the state and conspiring to assassinate the Egyptian dictator. He remains a key figure in the ideology of Salafi-Jihadism.
This report will highlight the commentaries that glorified Qutb on social media and explore how critics of Qutb responded to these assertions.
In his tribute to Qutb, the Gaza-based jihadi cleric Nail Bin Gazi argued that Qutb's ideas have been revived since his execution and prayed to Allah to accept him and elevate his status. On August 29, 2023, he published a post on the platform X, previously called Twitter, stating: "57 years have passed since the passing of Sayyid Qutb – may God have mercy on him – and we still live within the nobility of his ideas [and] in his shadow. This is the nature of ideas; whenever they are challenged, they rise, soar, and exert influence. Truth prevails, and illusions fade away. Oh God, accept him and elevate his rank. 1966/8/29."
Describing the influence of Qutb's writings on him, Fadel Soliman, an Egypt-born American Islamic preacher and the Director of the Bridges Foundation, referred to Qutb as "the first person whom I credit the most – after Allah – with inspiring me to contemplate the Quran." On August 29, 2023, he wrote on the X platform to his 499,000 followers: "57 years have passed since the martyrdom of the person whom I credit the most, after Allah, for inspiring me to contemplate the Quran. The book Artistic Depiction In The Qur'an remains the best for those who would like to taste the sweetness of the words of Allah. The execution of Sayyid Qutb will remain a testament to how terrified his oppressors were of his words."
In an interview dedicated to commemorating the 57th anniversary of Qutb's execution on Turkey-based Islamist "Watan TV," the host asked Dr. Tal'at Fahmy, spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood, about the reasons Qutb's thoughts and legacies are neglected in Egypt while celebrated elsewhere. In his response, Fahmy stated: "They want to execute the man once more. This man was executed on August 29, 1966, but remained alive as his ideas spread. His books were translated into all the living languages worldwide, and his words continue to torment them. They have resorted to a new execution of Sayyid Qutb in order to extinguish the man's ideology."
On August 29, Canada-based pro-Al-Qaeda cleric Tariq Abdelhaleem posted a question on the X platform, asking whether Qutb needs to be remembered on the day of his martyrdom. In his response, he argued that Qutb does not need to be remembered because he is always alive in the hearts of people and through his books. Abdelhaleem also argued that Qutb should be remembered so that people can recall the extent of injustice, oppression, and disbelief that prevailed in those days, at the hands of apostate disbelievers, from the offspring of Zionist youths who disbelieved in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. They seized power with armies and rifles, humiliated the people, subjugated the servants, and ruled over Egypt for more than 60 years until the cunning Jew, Ibn Malikah, came and completed the task, destroying the nation."
Abdelhaleem further prayed for Qutb by stating: "Congratulations to you, Oh, Sheikh Sayyid, on attaining paradise, with the permission and satisfaction of your Lord. Shame, all shame, upon those who remained silent in the face of the disbelief of the disbelievers and the apostasy of the renegades after you, and those like you, martyrs by the permission of their Lord, bore witness. It is incumbent upon people to recognize that determination, resolve, and sacrifice are attainable by human beings, not by angels descended or sent prophets."
Exiled Egyptian cleric and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) member, Essam Talima, a former member of the MB Shura Council in Turkey, released a video on his YouTube channel on August 30 in which he argued that Qutb was unjustly executed and rejected the accusation that Qutb had established an organization with the intention of executing violent acts. He stated that historic documents have proven these accusations to be false.
Discussing Qutb's legacy, Talima claimed that, in addition to his books, Qutb left behind over 1,500 articles that have never been collected. Talima also noted that several people, including himself, had unsuccessfully tried to gather these articles, but so far, no one has managed to do so. He concluded by stressing that while people had been interested in reading Qutb's work during his life, the interest had grown even bigger after his execution.
Qutb's legacy has also been praised by the London-based cleric Isma'il Kalam, also known as Abu Mahmoud Al-Filastini, an ardent supporter of the Syrian jihadi group Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS). He argued that the only people who would label Qutb as a takfiri, i.e., an extremist who excommunicates people and communities, are the secularists, governments, Murji'ah groups, and Muslim Brotherhood members who believe in political parties.
On August 27, 2023, he wrote to his 10,000 followers: "May God have mercy on Sayyid Qutb, the only thinker within the Islamic movement who formulated concepts suitable to become slogans for an Islamic project. Only the secularists, regimes, Murji'ah groups, and Muslim Brotherhood members who believe in political parties would accuse Sayyid Qutb of excommunicating people and societies."
Turkey-based Egyptian Islamist historian, Mohamed Elhamy, commemorated the occasion in a post published on August 29, 2023, emphasizing that Qutb's books have become even more popular after his execution despite efforts to censor them.
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Elhamy also shared links to research papers and articles that can be accessed through his Telegram channel, including a paragraph from the book of former Guantanamo prisoner Faiz Al-Kandari quoting an interrogator stating that Qutb was the most dangerous person to the West.
Turkey-based Egyptian Islamist, Dr. Muhammad Al-Saghir, a member of the board of trustees of the Qatar-funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), described Qutb as "one of the prominent figures of thought, knowledge, writing, literature, and interpretation in the last century. Perhaps in this century, few have achieved the level of prominence, dissemination, and influence across various realms of knowledge as Sayyid Qutb, may God have mercy on him."
In the video published on his X account on August 29, Al-Saghir highlighted Qutb's transformation from a skilled writer into a member of the Islamic movement, stating that it was "a very significant addition that disturbed the Egyptian regime and continues to disturb all tyrants until now."
New York-based Egyptian anti-Christian activist Ayat Oraby argued in a lengthy post published on her X account, which has over 600,000 followers, that one of the most significant statements made by Sayyid Qutb was his criticism of the Arab armies. On August 29, she wrote: "One of the most important things Sayyid Qutb said was his statement about the Arab armies. If he said it today, some defenders of military institutions would accuse him of betraying the national army and its honorable but impoverished soldiers, just as they did with me. Perhaps one of those figures who appear on opposition programs would emerge to claim that he is driving a wedge between the people and the army so that the army does not join the people in their revolution against (((Sisi)))!!!
"In short, if Sayyid Qutb were alive, he would not have been spared by the wooden figures associated with the opponents of the coup, including some educated people. He would not have been spared even by secular Islamists with beards from the group 'Long Live the Nation' who chant slogans like 'Preserving the Homelands,' and these are just fabrications."
Using the hashtag #The_Anniversary_of_the_Martyrdom_of_Sayyid_Qutb and sharing a photo of Sayyid Qutb, Qatar-based Mauritanian professor Muhammad Al-Mokhtar Al-Shinqiti wrote on August 29: "Martyrs are rare treasures, essential for correcting the unsightly protrusions in a nation's life and for breaking through the barriers on the path to truth and justice. If you witness a nation generously giving forth its martyrs, understand that it stands at the dawn of its civilization. Conversely, if you observe a nation sparing in its martyrs, recognize that its civilization is in decline."
On Facebook, Syrian writer and author Bassam Bnayan argued that the fact that Qutb's death has been commemorated by hundreds of people across social media platforms is an indication of a looming Islamic awakening in the Arab and Muslim worlds. On August 30, he wrote: "If you were to search on social media platforms, you would see that the name 'Sayyid Qutb' is widely discussed today, encompassing his accomplishments, books, ideas, and his final stance that led to his sacrifice for the sake of God. He spoke the word of truth in the face of an unjust tyrant ruler and disbeliever. I found thousands of tweets and posts that commemorate him, pray for his forgiveness, and recall his virtues on the anniversary of his martyrdom. This is a significant indication of an impending Islamic awakening, God willing, across the Arab and Islamic world. Oh Allah, forgive him, have mercy upon him, and accept him as a martyr."
Another Facebook user, Mohamed Saif Eldin, who is based in Paris, France according to his profile, denied the excommunication charges against Qutb and described him as an Islamic revivalist. Using the hashtag Sayyid Qutb, Saif Eldin wrote on August 31: "He did not declare society as unbelievers, nor did he accuse it of living in the time of jahiliyah [i.e., pre-Islamic ignorance]. Instead, he was a renewer of this faith, reviving its principles, and an advocate for liberation from tyrants. He possessed a firm and steadfast belief in accordance with his original path. He had a tender heart filled with faith, showing loyalty for the sake of God and enmity for His sake."
Qutb's critics have responded to the Islamists' glorification of Qutb and reiterated widely held charges against his ideology, including the promotion of violence and advocacy for terrorism. In a video published on the Red Corner Facebook page, which has over 9,000 followers, Egyptian political researcher Sameh Fayez Metwally accused the MB of disseminating falsehoods and misinformation about Qutb and his legacy. According to Metwally, the MB had organized a conference in Europe about Qutb "in an attempt to absolve him of being the theorist for global terrorism."
Accusing the MB of trying to revive the ideas of Qutb among their members after losing influence in Egypt and the entire Arab region, Metwally mentioned that two years ago, the group reprinted the first edition of Qutb's book In The Shadows Of The Quran, which was released before Qutb's imprisonment. Emphasizing why the group chose to reprint that version, Metwally noted that they did so based on their assumption that Qutb started expressing radical takfiri views as a result of the torture he experienced in prison.
Evaluating Qutb's thought, Metwally stated: "Sayyid Qutb did not bring anything new. All the extremist ideas he propagated were simply echoes of the same ideas as the first terrorist and the founder of terrorism, Hassan Al-Banna, and the same ideas as the founder of the Islamic Group in Pakistan, Abu Al-A'la Al-Maududi. Most of the ideas Sayyid Qutb promoted, he had already promoted before his trip to America."
Metwally further explained that despite the Muslim Brotherhood dividing into groups under various leaderships, they all agree on the importance of reviving Qutb's ideology for the future of the organization. Mocking the Muslim Brotherhood for describing Qutb as a "martyr," Metwally said: "Sayyid Qutb is not a martyr. He is an extremist who advocated for terrorism and excommunication, and his theories turned into practical actions on the ground."
Metwally concluded by saying that while the Muslim Brotherhood has been suppressed inside Egypt, the group, buoyed by foreign funding, is actively trying to revive itself globally by promoting Qutb's ideology to the younger generation through the reprinting of his literary works, which include his extremist views.
 This is a reference to one of Qutb's most famous books, In The Shadow Of The Quran.
 Twitter.com/dr_naelgazy/status/1696495407981892064, August 29, 2023.
 Twitter.com/FadelSoliman/status/1696624360021196858, August 29, 2023.
 Youtube.com/watch?v=i3gb9tckEVc, August 30, 2023.
 Twitter.com/DMTAH/status/1696486931243172079, August 29, 2023.
 Derogatory description of the current president of Egypt Abd El-Fatah El-Sisi
 Youtube.com/watch?v=vbtaGiE6sVY, August 30, 2023.
 Al-Murji'ah is known for their belief in the concept of "irja'," which emphasizes the postponement of judgment on a person's faith until the Day of Judgment, regardless of their actions or deeds in this world.
 Twitter.com/abumahmoud222/status/1695883648862449801, August 27, 2023.
 Twitter.com/melhamy/status/1696558788453585339, August 29, 2023.
 Telegram.me/melhamy/4452, August 29, 2021.
 Twitter.com/drassagheer/status/1696535041923498468, August 29, 2023.
 Twitter.com/ayaa00/status/1696718673161912728, August 29, 2023.
 Twitter.com/mshinqiti/status/1696648720849264970, August 29, 2023.
 Facebook.com/bassam.bnayan.1/posts/pfbid02cQUG1J23UmQ9XiVq5FT6AJYUjUKv3BoPzzDbHXhDG91uhG33bMM4fZVVTa1n5haMl, August 30, 2023.
 Facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=pfbid02SqTvbLTPWJ6uiEwGD4BF896AgfnQEUWrnThHzCUuZoxddA2pfTch5jveVjzgiTtFl&id=100080267547658, August 31, 2023.
 Facebook.com/100085897751987/videos/682393593391823, August 31, 2023.