Friday, August 8, 2014

Comparative Approaches Between Sayyid Qutb and Sayyid Abul A'la al-Mawdudi In Explaining The Worldview of Islam

I write this topic to analyze the approaches in explaining the Islamic worldview from the angel of two Muslim scholars. The scholars that I have chosen are Sayyid Qutb and Sayyid Abul a'la al-Mawdudi. First, I will analyze Sayyid Qutb's view according to his work, entitled Basic Principles of Islamic Worldview. Then, I will analyze al-Mawdudi's Islamic worldview according to his book entitled The Islamic Way of Life. Finally, I will do the conclusion. 

What is a worldview ?
A worldview is the English version for the German word, Weltanschauung which is first known use of it in 1858.[1] The worldview is a framework or set of fundamental belief through which we view the world and our calling and future in it.[2] From the perspective of Islam, the worldview of Islam is the 'Aqidah of Islam' itself as it projects the vision of the one reality and truth. The worldview of Islam defines the way in which people relate to their creator Allah in the act of submission, worship and obedience to Him.[3] Furthermore, Islamic worldview is seen as revealed guidance.[4]

The Muslim scholars in the 20th century using the specific terms towards understanding worldview, though different from one another. Sayyid Qutb used the Arabic expression al-Tasawwur al-Islami while al-Mawdudi used the Arabic expression Islami Nazariyat which both referred to the Islamic vision.[5] Worldview is important because the understanding of worldview helps the idea connected to the fundamental of the other religions. The contents of worldview consists the belief system, the view of reality, the view of nature happiness, success and also the nature of human being. 

Worldview of Islam According To Sayyid Qutb 
I begin my analysis with Sayyid Qutb. Sayyid Qutb is one of the leading Muslim scholars in 20th century. He was born in small town, Musha located in Upper Egypt in 1906. Sayyid Qutb died as he was executed by hanging on August 29, 1966.[6] Sayyid Qutb interpreted al-Tasawwur al-Islami as the accumulation of human beliefs formed in the mind and hearts of every Muslim, who gave a special picture of the shape and what there is behind it.[7]

According to Sayyid Qutb, Islam was the religion brought by every messenger, for the sense of Islam is submission to God alone, adhering to the path He has prescribed in every area of life, serving Him through following His laws and worshiping Him both in ritual devotion and in the actualities of life. The definition of Islamic concept is also needed because the Islamic, deen [8] was revealed in order to initiate a special kind of ummah, unique, distinctive, namely an ummah came to lead mankind. In fact, to establish the way of Allah on earth and to save people from the misery brought about my misguided leadership or erroneous ways and false concepts. The worldview of Islam is differs further from other belief-concepts due its Divine origin. It is not a concept originated by man, but comes directly from Allah. 

Sayyid Qutb classified the basic principles of Islamic worldview into seven elements which consists of [1]divinity, [2]stability, [3] comprehensiveness, [4] balance, [5] positive orientation, [6] realism, and [7] the Oneness of God. However, Sayyid Qutb appointed the Oneness of God and divinity is the first principle of Islamic concept and all other principles follow from it. This is because the Islamic concepts rests on this basic principle, the Oneness of God as it is most important characteristic and the source of all other characteristics. 

Another example to be cited from Sayyid Qutb is his ability to define the Oneness of God "known as Tauhid, is the first and foremost Islamic concept as it is the fundamental truth of the Islamic faith. Among all of the belief systems and philosophies currently prevailing among human beings only the Islamic faith can be characterized as having a pure form of monotheism. This is why we have included, the Oneness of Allah as one of the characteristics of the Islamic concept. (Qutb, 1960) 

Furthermore, he is able to formulate a correct worldview of Islam when he says that Islam "would remain incomplete if we did not mention our description of the concept of the Oneness of Allah. The Oneness of Allah is a characteristic of the Islamic concept because the truth of the Divine Oneness includes all aspects of the Islamic faith and practice. It concludes the concepts, morals, manners, and all types of dealings among people in a truly Islamic society. Therefore, this is a clear proof that this is the chief characteristics of the Islamic concept."[9] 

Sayyid Qutb represented his Islamci worldview in a general way as he did not discuss specifically about the method, roles and law in his book. He included the discussion of knowledge, revelations, nature, life and human in a general way which all of the discussion related under the roof of the Oneness of God. As he pointed out his worldview in a general way, therefore it is not enough detail and differ like the other scholars did such as Prof Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas. For instance, Prof Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas pointed out his worldview into several elements which consists of (1) the nature of God, (2) the nature of revelation based on the Holy Quran and Sunnah, (3) the nature of human soul, (4) the concept of happiness, (5) the nature of existence and (6) the nature of knowledge. Probably, there's also another work of Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi entitled al-Khasa'is al-'Ammah li al-Islam [10] which explained and detailed more about Islam in a specific way regarding to Sayyid Qutb's original work entitled al-Khasa'is al-Tasawwur al-Islami wa Muqawwamatuhu. 

Worldview of Islam According To al-Mawdudi 
Now, I would like to proceed with al-Mawdudi. Sayyid Abul a'la al-Mawdudi was a Pakistani scholar, journalist, theologian, Muslim revivalist leader and political philosopher, also a controversial 20th century Islamic thinker. He was born on September 25, 1903 and he died on September 22, 1979.[11] 

According to al-Mawdudi, the Islamic worldview begins with the concept of the Oneness of God as man recites as-Syahadah (kalima) that carries over to the whole life in the world.[12] The code of life was Islam, the attitude of complete submission to Allah, the Creator of man and the whole universe. Islam is actual submission, the way of surrender to the Will of God in all aspects of life and behavior. The view point of Islam, al-Mawdudi stated that, "this universe is the Creation of God Who is the One. He created it and He alone is its unrivaled Master, Sovereign and Sustainer. The whole universe is functioning under His Divine Command, He is All-Wise, All Powerful and Omniscient.[13]

Furthermore, the Islamic way of life is based on this unique approach to life and peculiar concept of man's place in the universe. This is the reason why Islamic way of life is necessary as we should have a clear idea of the Islamic concept of life. al-Mawdudi also emphasized more on Shari'ah, as he stated "to understand the plan of life envisaged by the Shari'ah which the main objective of Shari'ah is to contrast human life on the basis of Ma'rufat (virtues) and to cleans it of the Munkarat (vices)."

Besides that, al-Mawdudi also discuss the nature of knowledge, revelation, the nature of soul, and human which includes Shari'ah, economic, social, politic and moral system. He developed the Islamic worldview as he formulated, "the basic postulates of Islam which is revealed God's plan for providing guidance to man in this world and defined the nature, position and status of man in it. Therefore, the foundations on which the revelations help to develop man's relationship with Allah."

In similarities, both of the scholars were deeply convinced that Islam provides an ideal framework for all human existence included individual and social, political and economic, intellectual and spiritual in the general way. They did through the concise presentation of Islamic worldview though abundantly illustrated with citation of relevant Quranic verses to proof their opinion. In fact, Sayyid Qutb and al-Mawdudi in the discussion of worldview appointed the concept of Oneness of God as the first fundamental element.

In the discussion of worldview, I found Sayyid Qutb's writing about worldview is much clear than Abul a'la al-Mawdudi, probably because of the title of the book shows definitely the discussion about worldview. Therefore, al-Mawdudi doesn't emphasize clearly on worldview, so that I have to think and find more on how the concept of Islamic worldview is presented in his writing. Apart from that, the use of the language also influenced my understanding towards their work. Probably, both of their books were translated from the original version. The original book of Sayyid Qutb was first in Arabic language entitled Khasa'is at-Tasawwur al-Islami wa Muqawwamatuhu while al-Mawdudi's original book entitled Nizam al-Hayah fil Islam. 

Thus, the view above from Sayyid Qutb and al-Mawdudi were pretty well describes the characteristics of Islam as a way of life that distinguishes it from another view of life. However, I examined the whole idea behind the definition and concepts showed that Sayyid Qutb is more likely to understand it as a set of doctrinal beliefs while al-Mawdudi is more directed to the power of God that characterizes all the activities of human life. This topic written gave me a brief idea about Islamic worldview as it is giving the same framework of worldview that can be used to understand the religion. It is clear that Muslim scholars whatever they wrote of they talk, they will bring up together the discussion about the worldview of Islam.


[1] Worldiew. In Merriam-Webster. An
[2] H.Olthius, James. On Worldview. Christian Scholar's Review Vol XIV, No. 2. Retrieved from
[3] Wan Daud, Wan Mohd Noor & Uthman,Muhammad Zainiy (eds.) 2010. Knowledge, Language,
      Thought And The Civilization Of Islam : Essay In Honor of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas. Johor
      Darul Takzim : Penerbit Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. p.85-86.
[4] Berghout, Abdul Aziz. 2006. Concept of Worldview Between Assumption and Truth : Observations On
      Selected Western and Muslim Views. Journal Usuluddin, Bil 23-24. 117-138. p.124. Retrieved from
[5] Hamid Fahmi Zarkasyi. 2007. Pandangan Hidup dan Tradisi Intellektual Islam (Eksposisi Awal
      Pemikiran Islam). p.3. Retrieved from com_filecabinet
[6] Murr, Virginia. 2004.The Power of Ideas : Sayyid Qutb and Islamism. Rockford College Summer
      Research Project. pp. 7-9. Retrieved from
[7] Sayyid Qutb. 2006. Basic Principles of Islamic Worldview. Rami David.(trans). United States of
     America : Islamic Publications International. (Original Work Published 1960). p.41.
[8] The Arabic word, deen is often translated as "religion" but this is misleading because the term "religion" in
     the English language is usually restricted to personal worship, whereas deen refers to every aspects of
[9] Ibid. (Qutb, 1960). p.41.
[10] Dr Mohd Rumaizuddin Ghazali. March 2013. Buku-buku Karangan al-Qaradhawi Siri Ke-5. Retrieved
[11] Zebiri, Kate. Review od Maududi and the Making of Islamic Fundamentalism. Bulletin of the School of
       Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol 61, No 1.(1998). pp.167-168. Retrieved from
[12] Syed Abul a'la al-Mawdudi. The Islamic Way of Life. Khurshid Ahmad & Khurram Murad. (trans).
       (Original Work Published). p.36.
[13] Ibid. p.36.



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