Historical Origins of the Ideology of ISIS and other Militant Groups Who Commit Terrorism in the Name of Islam - Part 3:
The forbiddance of ideological innovation in Islam and the evident influence of communism on Sayyid Qutb
We showed in the last article that the Muslim Brotherhood and Free Officers movement in the 1940s and 50s of Egypt was comprised of many communist members, led by ideologues whose education was by Western training and not Islamic education, and that they used the same tactics and styles of communist groups elsewhere in the world to organize and ultimately overthrow the government in 1952. Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt from 1970-1981, and original member of the Free Officers cited that Sayyid Qutb was the ideological figurehead of the 1952 revolution.
It is well known and acknowledged in hagiographies of Qutb written from within in the Muslim brotherhood that Qutb had spent most of his adult life absorbing and obsessed with the ideologies of Western Europe, such as Marxism and Social Darwinism , and it is no wonder that he then spearheaded a revolution modeled after the Leninist-Bolshevik revolution of 1917 that was the inspirational source of the majority of communist revolutions in the 20th century (along with the Jacobin revolution of the later 18th century in France).
After the Muslim Brotherhood split with the Free Officers new government two years after the revolution was over due to their agreeing to allow the British to protect their commercial interests in the Suez Canal Qutb and the Brotherhood began opposing the new government in much the same fashion with which they opposed the old one; resulting in the government banning the Brotherhood and the incarceration of Qutb.
No longer able to implement the Leninist strategies of rioting, arson, and targeted assassination while within prison walls Qutb turned to producing literature to inspire revolutionary fervor in the masses of Egypt and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Having already developed literary skills via his European education style training and his familiarity with the provocative works of the ideologies of the Western world and with Lenin, Qutb went about borrowing their literary tract style and coating it with an “Islamic” fashion. The methods employed by Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood and the Free Officers during and preceding the revolution were un-Islamic actions in their nature due to their chaos-inducing and subversive nature that was wholly antithetical to the Islamic approach towards oppressive rulership of invoking patience and modest counsel. However, the much more lasting impact that Qutb would have on humanity comes with his authorship of Leninist and Marxist style tracts during his time in prison; because this is where he directly innovates revolutionary matters into a religious ideology and doctrine that is antithetical to Islam and goes on to inspire radicalism across the Muslim world in succeeding decades with often dire consequences.
Innovation into the religion of Islam is strictly forbidden in Islam
Innovating something into Islam, or inventing new matters into its ideology and claiming them to have Islamic merit when those new matters are indeed actually negated by the evidences of Islam, is no small matter. It is something strictly forbidden by the religion itself, and it is termed bid’ah in the religion. This is again clearly established throughout the centuries beginning from Islam’s very inception. Consider the following sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Every newly-invented thing is a bid'ah (innovation), and every bid'ah is a misguidance,” 
“The worst of things are those that are newly invented into the religion; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.” 
“He who innovates something into this matter of ours [Islam] that is not of it will have it rejected [by Allah].” 
“I urge you to fear Allah, and to listen and obey, even if (your leader) is an Abyssinian slave. After I am gone, you will see great conflict. I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the path of the Rightly-Guided Successors, and cling stubbornly to it. And beware of newly-invented matters, for every innovation is a misguidance.'" 
The second of these sayings by the Prophet Muhammad is read aloud by the Imam as part of the protocols of the opening invocations of every Friday congregation that takes place weekly wherever Muslims attend them. It is part of the intellectual foundations of being a believing Muslim that since the Prophet Muhammad is the messenger of God and the standard bearer of the religion, the Muslim should reject as false any idea that is propagated as being part of the religion without providing well-established evidence from the religion and its sources (the Qur’an and the Sunnah) to justify the matter.
The injunctions in Islam against innovating in the religion can often be a source of consternation and even antipathy towards Islam to the western observer as it opens the door to characterize the religion as “rigid” or “retrogressive” or “unable to modify to modern times” or labeling these injunctions as being at the root of perceived sectarian discord. While addressing the finer points of these characterizations that exist and assessing their merit and quality is the topic for another article, suffice it to say that what can often go unacknowledged is that these preventative measures in Islam against innovating into the religion have been a driving force of preserving religious unity and spirt amongst Muslims as well as social stability in the communities they encompass.
That these edicts are well established, well known, and well understood is also something to be drawn upon in making the appeal to young Muslims that ISIS and their ilk are the inheritors of a tradition whose intellectual forefathers innovated into the religion concepts and decrees that contradict unambiguous teachings of the Prophet and are furthermore borrowed from anarchic, atheistic, and purely material ideologies that are wholly at odds with Islam.
Islamic fundamentalism* is not an indigenous growth. It is an exotic hybrid, bred from the encounter of sections of the Islamic intelligentsia with radical western ideologies”
That biographers have acknowledged Qutb’s obsession with the Western ideologies through his adult life up until returning from his travels in Egypt is one thing. Generally, those biographers and his supporters who glorify him will cast that as a sort of “dark” period or as him gaining knowledge that would give him a vivid picture of the West’s corruptness. What these followers fail to see though (and they, like Qutb, will typically be individuals who are fervent about political issues but low in their education of Islam) is the borrowing Qutb does from the western ideologues and how this leads him down a path of innovating into the religion.
Even before authoring his prison tracts his borrowing from Marxist philosophy can be seen in his book Social Justice in Islam which was published in 1949 three years before the revolution with the Free Officers. Communism as a philosophy is centered on the idea of destruction of the concept of private property and private capital. In the Communist Manifesto, authored in 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles write (pg.23):
“To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.
Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power. When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.”
By common property, of course, is ultimately meant property owned by the state or the society at large, not by any individual, and this was the inevitable practice of the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other communist societies as an anarcho-communist society (more akin to the utopian-like society envisaged by Marx and Engels) could never be realized in the real world; and had been put into practice by the Soviet Union by 1949 when Sayyid Qutb published Social Justice in Islam. What is seen in Social Justice in Islam is Qutb asserting that Islam affords the state the eminent domain right to confiscate private property, exactly the same rights afforded to the state in the Soviet Union as Lenin and Stalin sought to live out the vision of Marx and Engels.
He writes in Social Justice in Islam (p. 91):
The first (elementary) principle that Islam affirms alongside private (individual) ownership is: (1) That the individual most closely resembles a trustee of this wealth on behalf of the group (society).(2) That his possession of it is simply a functional duty more than it is one of (actual) ownership. (3) That wealth in general is fundamentally the right of the group (society). (4) The group (society) is the one that is left as a successor over the wealth on behalf of Allaah besides whom there is no other Master (Owner). (5) [The notion of] individual ownership emanates from the individual's specific striving to possess something specific from this general property (wealth etc.) in which Allaah has made mankind as a species to be its successor.” 
The emboldened parts show the direct correlation to the writing of Marx and Engels in Qutb's theorization, i.e. that property, wealth, and capital ultimately belong to the society and not the individual. Islam has, and has long had since its inception, its own system of taxes, charity, property ownership, inheritance, treasury, and commercial transaction. It is an elaborate field of study that Sayyid Qutb never studied himself and that he whimsically asserts, without any evidence from Islam itself, as correlating to these Marxist notions of wealth. This is a clear indicator of his irreverence towards the religion and its sources in his writing and his preference for his own conjectural interpretations that serve his political aim. That Qutb was trying to cast the notions of Marxism onto Islam is made even more clear in a writing he did that is revealingly entitled The Battle of Islam and Capitalism. In it he writes:
Rather, it is in the power of the state to confiscate all (private) possessions and fortunes (i.e. personal wealth) and to redistribute them upon a new basis, even if these possessions had been attained (by their owners) through foundations that Islam acknowledges, and had grown (in value, quantity) by means that it (Islam) justifies. Because the repulsion of harm from all of the society or protection of expected harms to this society is more befitting to be given consideration than the rights of individuals."
It is evident here that Qutb is either unaware or willfully ignorant of the evidences within Islam that contradict these Marxist economic principles and also those that admonish the type of conjectural adjudication about Islam in which Qutb is partaking. Especially the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad where he articulates instructions that Allah said to him:
Indeed my Lord ordered me to teach you that which you did not know, from that which He taught me this day, (instructing me):
When it is said here that wealth conferred upon a person is "ALL lawful for him" it means exactly that; it belongs to him and not anyone else. There is famous narrations of the Prophet Muhammad appealing for donations to expand his mosque in the city of Medina at the time when he was the ruler of Medina in order to buy the property next to it that was owned by other people. He did not assert any rights of eminent domain to take it from them nor have Muslim societies generally ever had this anti-private property notion.
Furthermore, in other writings Qutb had all but directly stated that he was intent on borrowing ideas from communism by saying that Islam is a “mix” of Communism and Christianity; a statement that is wholly antithetical to foundational Islamic beliefs that it is a pure religion revealed by God.**
And it is necessary for Islaam to judge, since it is a unique, constructive and positivist creed which has been moulded and shaped from Christianity and Communism together, [with a] blending in the most perfect of ways and which comprises all of their (i.e Christianity and Communism's) objectives and adds in addition to them harmony, balance and justice.” 
This is all to show that Sayyid Qutb was blatantly influenced by Marxism and communist ideology in his world outlook and, mistakenly or otherwise, erroneously applied those concepts to Islam when writing for political action in colonial Egypt. This influence of Marxism makes it no wonder that the Muslim Brotherhood would rebel against the Free Officer-led government when they accommodated British (capitalist) commercial interests in the Suez Canal, erroneously calling it “treason against Islam.” After that breakup and the rebelling that followed Qutb would be imprisoned in 1954 and turn to the pen as his weapon of rebellion and directly innovate his revolutionary aims into an amorphous and sundry religious ideology and doctrine. To a certain degree whether or not Qutb had complete intentionality in wanting to cast the totality of Marxism itself into Islam can be questioned in examining his writings. The very use of the term Social Justice in the title of is writing is itself borrowed from communist lingo and the coopting of societal religion into Marxism was used by other communist revolutionaries inspired by the same ideologies as Qutb such as Castro in Cuba (with catholicism) and Pol Pot in Cambodia (with Buddism - Pol Pot was of course educated in France where he became a Marxist); and in Qutb's well known prison tract Milestones (which is analyzed in depth in part four of this series) we find him asserting that the mission of the Prophet was all about class struggle and eo ipso affirming and propagating the assertion of Engels and Marx that the whole of human history is really about class struggle:
Engels writes in the Communist Manifesto:
The Manifesto being our joint production, I consider myself bound to state that the fundamental proposition which forms the nucleus belongs to Marx. That proposition is: That in every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which it is built up, and from that which alone can be explained the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes;" (pg. 8)
Qutb's affinity for and affirmation of this ideological perspective is salient throughout Milestones, take this excerpt as a clear cut example:
"At the time of the Prophet's call to Messengership, Arab society was devoid of proper distribution of wealth and devoid of justice. A small group monopolized all wealth and commerce, which increased through usury. The great majority of the people were poor and hungry. The wealthy were also regarded as noble and distinguished, and the common people were not only deprived of wealth but also of dignity and honour. " (pg. 40)
The ensuing articles will elucidate the clear inspiration that Qutb took in his writing from Marx, Lenin, and French philosopher Alex Carrel and show that his borrowings from these ideologues - all of whom can be described as either, atheist, racist, or at least anti-religionist - was an innovation into Islam; and that these facts have been clearly established and acknowledged in Western academia for some time, even though acknowledgment of this connection has yet to enter mainstream narratives pertaining the radical ideologies of terrorist groups.
*We would like for Gray to say “extremism” or “radicalism” or “reneging” or “rebelling” instead of fundamentalism, religious Muslims regularly take issue with this characterization, and it can be generally and correctly said, I think, that the use of ‘fundamental’ has waned since the early post-9/11 period and yielded to ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalism’ due much to education by Muslims. Personally I feel the latter two are more appropriate and are more consistent with the anti-ISIS/Al Qaeda polemics that exist in Islamic scholarship - as well “Islamist” would be preferable to “Islamic” - but enough about semantics. Regardless of that, Gray’s historical characterization here is spot on, the intelligentsia he refers to here is precisely the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the post-WWII era, characterizing it as “Islamic” intelligentsia however presents problems from a Muslim perspective due to the fact that insofar as the phenomena and ideology we are discussing is hybridized from “radical western ideologies” it is not Islamic, it is something innovated into Islam - which Islam rejects!
**That Qutb in his writings makes many statements that are antithetical to the foundational creed of Islam is a whole other end of his innovating into Islam apart from just the influence of Marxism upon him that is the focus of our series here and that the religious scholars tend focus on more. These links - link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, and link 5 - are some examples of the students of Islamic scholars in the English speaking world trying to get the word out to other Muslims about his statements that antithetical to Islamic creed
1 - See pages 23, 214-215, of the biography Sayyid Qutb, from Birth to Martyrdom by Salaah Abdel Fatah al-Khalidee - for English translation of the relevant parts see this link - http://www.themadkhalis.com/md/articles/edera-salaah-al-khaalidee-qutb-drank-heavily-from-the-western-materialist-philosophies-which-led-him-to-doubt-islam.cfm (written for a Muslim audience)
2 - Sunan ibn Majah: The Book of Sunnah: - English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 46 Arabic reference : Book 1, Hadith 48
3 - Sunan an-Nasa’i: The Book of the Prayer for the Two Eids 1578: In-book reference: Book 19, Hadith 23 English translation: Vol. 2, Book 19, Hadith 157
4 - Sunan ibn Majah: The Book of Sunnah: Arabic/English book reference : Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 14
- also cited in Nawawi 40 Hadith #5
5 - Sunan ibn Majah: The Book of Sunnah: English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 42 Arabic reference : Book 1, Hadith 44
6 - Published by Dar ul Sharooq 1995
7 - From the sahih of Imam Muslim. Retrieved from here: http://www.themadkhalis.com/md/articles/mesxs-the-prophetic-hadeeth-in-refutation-of-sayyid-qutbs-secularist-materialist-marxist-communist-principles.cfm
8 - This is from page 61 of the 13th edition and print of Sayyid Qutb's "Ma'rakat ul-Islam war-Ra'samaaliyyah", published in 1993. For more elaboration on the blatantly un-Islamic nature of this saying see here: http://www.themadkhalis.com/md/articles/dsppw-readings-in-elementary-communism-the-manifesto-of-karl-marx-and-frederick-engels-and-sayyid-qutb.cfm (written for a Muslim audience)