Political Theology and Sovereignty: Sayyid Qutb in Our Times

Mustapha Kamal Pasha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the political-theological nature of Sayyid Qutb’s theoretical design, specifically its relation to non-Western understandings of sovereignty and its principal anomalies arising from the struggle of reconciling the notion of the modern state with undefined territorial imaginings of a religious community. Repudiating reformist variants of modernist Islam, Qutb’s writings afford an alternate reading of modern sovereignty as it is reconfigured in the language of hakimiyyah (God’s sovereignty). A political reading of sovereignty in Qutb complicates the assumed separation between political and non-political spheres. The argument recognizes a basic distinction between the idea of sovereignty in a theological sense and its political counterpart. In Qutb’s design, however, the absence of determinate lines between the theological and the political leaves few autonomous social spheres outside God’s law. While Qutb’s vision does not exhaust political Islam–a fairly heterodox field of diverse perspectives and commitments–the appeal of his writings remains forceful, especially under conditions of Islam’s perceived defensiveness in the face of secularist global modernity and its institutionalized forms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheology and World Politics
Subtitle of host publicationMetaphysics, Genealogies, Political Theologies
EditorsVassilios Paipais
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030376024
ISBN (Print)9783030376017
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021

Publication series

NameInternational Political Theory
ISSN (Print)2662-6039
ISSN (Electronic)2662-6047


  • Islam
  • Modernity
  • Political theology
  • Sayyid Qutb
  • Secularization
  • Sovereignty


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