When the late Sayyid Abul-A‘la Maudūdī first visited the US in the mid-1970s for the purposes of medical treatment, his supporters intended to keep his secret low-key and out of the public eye in order to facilitate an environment conducive to rest and treatment. Upon his arrival in NY, a local brother was instructed to host a special guest for the night before heading to Syracuse for treatment. The host, totally unaware of the guest’s identity, later commented to his friends that he was struck by this person’s modesty and two unique things had stood out.
First, the guest had asked for a copy of the New York Times and demonstrated a deep awareness of political affairs in his conversations, even more so than the host who was from New York! The host did not expect this from a Maulana (traditional religious scholar). Secondly, he insisted on carrying his own bags and refused all the customary perks usually enjoyed by guests, especially those who were religious leaders. It was only later that the host was informed that the guest was none other than Maulana Maududi, but his visit and manners had left an indelible mark.
[Narrated by me, Abu Zayd, from my father who spent quite some time with Maududi in those days]
This is a reply to the enlightening article on the blog muslimmatters.org [link] on the subject of Muslims living in secular Western societies. While the issues raised were engaging and highly relevant, the presentation of the thought of Syed Qutb and Syed Maududi was over-simplified and far from accurate.
Contributing to the Dialogue
This is not a rebuttal, refutation or response to the article by my teacher and shaykh Yasir Qadhi, but an informed contribution to the discussion he helped jumpstart.
The founders of the contemporary Islamic movements, including Hasan al-Banna, Syed Qutb and Abul A‘la Maududi are among the most misunderstood personalities in modern times- and that doesn’t exclude Muslims. The Al-Qaeda hysteria and the global chaos caused by terrorism, both real and imagined, both individual and state-sponsored, has rendered a sound understanding of Islamic religion, history and thought extremely challenging if not impossible. This preoccupation keeps leading to outlandish conclusions that we have all heard all too often, and attempts to link contemporary violence to Qutb, Maududi, al-Banna, or even to earlier figures such as Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab, Ibn Taymiyyah and others.
I believe it is more than obvious, from the thoughts, writings and works of these figures, that there is no need to theorize whether they would have agreed with contemporary extremist tendencies or not. The answer is resoundingly clear to all those who have any rudimentary familiarity with their life work. Continue reading