Radical Islam and the Nation: The Relationship between Religion and Nationalism in the Political Thought of Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb

  • Paul Brykczynski University of Toronto
Keywords: Islam, HIC, 2005, Paul Brykczynski


This paper examines the respective conceptions of nationalism in the political thought of Hassan al- Banna and Sayyid Qutb, two of the most important Arab theorists of what is often referred to as “Islamism” or “radical political Islam.” While al-Banna was the chief theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, a mainstream, and today relatively peaceful, Islamist organization, Qutb’s writings have been most closely embraced by the movement’s radical and violent offshoots. By undertaking a close textual analysis of their writings, the paper attempts to examine the differences between the two theorists' ideas concerning the proper relationship between religion and nationalism in the construction of identity and to place these in a wider cultural and intellectual context. The paper also attempts to account for some of the differences in the two theorists' views concerning nationalism by looking at the respective social, political, and intellectual context in which each thinker operated. Finally, the paper offers a discussion of the possibility that the pan-Islamic ideology of thinkers like Qutb and al-Banna can itself be seen as a form of nationalism.

Author Biography

Paul Brykczynski, University of Toronto

Paul Brykczynski paulbryk@gmail.com is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, Department of Political Science. His interests range from Western and Islamic political philosophy, through questions of nationalism, religion, and identity, to Middle Eastern politics.