Throughout the course of history, some individuals have actively engaged in doing things that have made a huge impact to our collective human history. From Jesus Christ to Adolf Hitler, these individuals have inspired the thoughts of many, leaving an indelible mark on the world stage.
Undoubtedly, these individuals have utilized all kinds of means – good or bad – in their pursuit to influence the masses and transform their way of thinking (Farrell, 2001 p. 32). It is the purpose of this essay to critically analyze Sayyid Qutb, Mohammed ibn Abd al Wahhab and John Wesley in the context of reformers, revolutionaries and reactionaries.
Sayyid Qutb represent the most mistaken and evil position. Due to his fundamentalism, Qutb can easily pass as “the ideological grandfather of Osama bin Laden and other extremists who surround him” (Cline, 2009 p. 1). Indeed, many analysts believe that Qutb’s works and teachings as a poet, author and educator helped shape terrorist organizations such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These networks have continued to destabilize the world peace to date.
Although Sayyid’s political views seems rather mature, his philosophy and radicalism is largely responsible for espousing the concept of Jihad and the enactment of Sharia law that is viewed as dictatorial. Indeed, he is to blame for contemporary offensive jihad. He wanted to revolutionalize Islam by incorporating every aspect of life into the religion (Cline, 2009 p. 2).
Each of the three men cherished different hopes for the future. Clearly a fundamentalist, Sayyid Qutb would have cherished to see a world where there were no governments or secular laws since they interfered with the sovereignty of God (Cline, 2009 p. 2). In short, he cherished a world where Sharia law will guide every single aspect of life of Muslims. He was anti-modernist and anti-reformist, and detested democracy despite its mention and practice in the Quranic institution.
Mohammed ibn Abd al Wahhab, considered by many as the chief architect of Wahhabism, would have cherished to purify Islam by leading the Muslim faithful towards the original principles and doctrines of Islam (HIF, n.d. para. 12). He propagated reformist ideas, but disliked Muslims who practiced innovation in Islam. In short, Abd al Wahhab would have cherished to see a Muslim society that is free of corrupt beliefs, and that engages in practices which reflects the true fundamentals of Islam.
John Wesley, a Christian theologian and the founder of the Methodist movement, would have cherished to see a Christian society where all faithful possess Christian perfection, signifying the holiness of both heart and life (Tomkins, 2003 p. 32). He wanted to see a Christian community that held the love of God in high esteem. Wesley would also have cherished a just society judging by the fact that he fought for the rights of gays and prisoners.
Of the three men, only John Wesley contributed to the emergence of democracy. Sayyid Qutb propagated dictatorial orientations, and even advocated for the dissolution of governments (Cline, 2009 p. 1). He was a religious fundamentalist who wanted to tie every single aspect of life of individuals to religion through strict Sharia laws.
Indeed, he was finally executed by the Egyptian government due to his hard-line stance on religious and secular matters, and could not stand the secular lifestyle practiced in western countries. Although Abd al Wahhab was a reformist, his democratic orientation was not any different.
He could not stand the sight of his Muslim brothers who chose to practice an alternative form of Islam known as innovative Islam, preferring to call them infidels (HIF, n.d. para. 15). However, John Wesley clearly contributed to the emergence of democracy. First, he was viewed as controversial when he went public advocating for the rights of gay members of society (Tomkins, 2003 p. 34).
Although homosexual behavior is largely viewed as unchristian, the Anglican cleric went ahead to advocate for their rights in accordance to democratic principles.
He went further to advocate for prison reforms in the United Kingdom. John Wesley was a true champion of the rights and freedoms of the people as he went further to advocate for the rights of abolitionism movements (Tomkins, 2003 p. 39). Contextually, Wesley did not despise sinners or unbelievers the way Qutb and Abd al Wahhab did, but welcomed them into the kingdom of God with open arms.
John Wesley’s contribution to democracy was unintended in as far as the available literature seems to suggest. His was a spiritual vocation that was practiced in a democratic and open approach rather than a democratic calling practiced in a spiritual approach. Wesley greatly assisted in the formation and organization of Christian communities in the UK for evangelical and discipleship purposes (Tomkins, 2003 p. 23).
However, according to available literature, the Anglican cleric was a greatly gifted individual who advocated for equal rights of all people, including gays. Democratic principles advocates for the guaranteeing of the rights of majority while ensuring that the rights of the minority are safeguarded (Chalfant, 1997 p. 128). This is what the cleric did albeit unknowingly.
All in all, the three men had their personal and religious convictions, beliefs and philosophies that galvanized them to their followers. The impact of their religious teachings is still felt today, with Jihads and terrorist networks clearly following the teachings of Sayyid Qutb and contemporary Methodists following the teachings and religious doctrines of John Wesley. Wahabism is also a way of life for many Muslims around the world today. However, only John Wesley practiced and contributed to the emergence of democracy.
Chalfant, J. (1997) Abandonment Theology. Hartline Marketing. ISBN: 0965607402
Cline, A. (2009) Sayyid Qutb: Father of Modern Islamic Extremism. Viewed
http://atheism.about.com/od/islamicextremismpeople/a/qutb.htm [5 December 2009]
Farrell, W. (2001) The Myth of Male Power. Berkley Trade. ISBN: 9780425181447
Hidaayah Islamic Foundation. (n.d.) Wahabism Exposed: Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd
al Wahhab. Viewed http://www.sultan.org/articles/wahabism.html [5 December 2009]
Tomkins, S. (2003) John Wesley: A Biography. Michigan: WM. B. Eardmans Publishing.