ordinary lay

Fi Zilal al-Qur'an

In the Shade of the Qur'an is a highly influential commentary of the Qur'an, written by Sayyid Qutb, a leader within the Muslim Brotherhood, in prison following an attempted assassination of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954. The book outlines Qutb's vision of an Islamic state and society. It also contains some racist and anti-Semitic passages. It is considered by some to be a comprehensive and far-reaching tafsir that takes a clear and lucid interpretation of the Qur'an. However, it has also been criticized by some modernists and traditional Ulema alike, as an extended personal opinion or essay rather than a well-evidenced textual commentary, and for not adhering to the traditional structure for a Tafsir. It has much influence throughout the Islamic world, especially amongst the ordinary lay practitioners of Islam in the Arab world.

The work extends to 30 volumes and has been translated into several languages, including English, French, German, Urdu, Turkish, Indonesian, Persian and Bengali.


From a social and political standpoint, some of the more important conclusions Qutb drew in his interpretation include:

  • The importance of implementing true Islamic law and danger of people who "oppose the implementation of God's law." These are people "who claim to be Muslims but perpetrate corruption,"
  • Jews as a force for evil throughout history. The danger of Jews is emphasized in Qutb's commentary on Surah 2:

The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days has raged on to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and means remains the same.

Again, in the commentary on Surah 5:

The Muslim world has often faced problems as a result of Jewish conspiracies ever since the early days of Islam. ...
History has recorded the wicked opposition of the Jews to Islam right from its first day in Medina. Their scheming against Islam has continued since then to the present moment, and they continue to be its leaders, nursing their wicked grudges and always resorting to treacherous schemes to undermine Islam.
Qutb explicitly warns against applying the expressions of tolerance and forgiveness in the Qur'an towards Jews, and maintains the sins of the Bani Qurayza have permanent effects on all Jews everywhere. Or as one author puts it, "In Qutb's interpretation, the sins and crimes of the Medina Jews in the seventh century have a cosmic, eternal quality -- rather like the sins and crimes of the Jerusalem Jews in some of the traditional interpretations of the Gospels."


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