Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts






qutb’s, sayyid, milestones, thesis, qutb


This thesis examines the radicalization of Sayyid Qutb’s ideological discourse between his birth in 1906 until his execution in 1966. This study relies on a combination of translated primary sources from Sayyid Qutb’s published writing and secondary sources from 20th century scholars analyzing the impact of Qutb’s writing. Translated primary sources include Sayyid Qutb’s Social Justice in Islam, A Child from the Villiage, and Milestones. Additionally, various translated selections were used from his works of poetry, a travel account detailing the time he spent in the United States, and a poem he wrote in English, The World is an Undutiful Boy. The thesis argues that Sayyid Qutb’s ideology was formed via a gradual process, influenced by several factors. For the purpose of this thesis, these influences have been grouped into four time periods – The social, economic and political conditions in Egypt in the 1930s and 40s, Qutb’s trip to the United States between 1948 and 1951, Qutb’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1950s, and his arrest and imprisonment until his execution in the 1960s. During this last period, Sayyid Qutb wrote a book titled Milestones, which was heavily influential in shaping the ideology of several militant-jihadist groups which formed after Qutb’s death. The rise of terrorism inspired by Milestones has lead several international authors to characterize Qutb as “the father of Islamic Terror.” While these authors are usually content to merely describe Sayyid Qub as universally “radical”, the thesis first defines the difference between “radical” and “violent extremist.” Although Sayyid Qutb certainly developed radical ideas over the first half of the 20th century, his works did not convey a violent undertone until the publication of Milestones in 1965.