Milestones by Qutb is one of the key texts in understanding the recent rise of puritanical (and sometimes violent) movements within Islam.
I read the first chapter today and a few things caught my attention:
His view of the first generation of Islam is totally unrealistic. After the death of Muhammad tons of Muslims left (or tried to leave) Islam, and it was only after being 'convinced' (beaten in battle) that they came back to the fold.
I found his extensive concern with the scientific and military power of the West interesting. He says basically that the Muslim world won't catch up, so it has to offer something of a totally different category. For him that is the life-giving values of Islam. (And genuine freedom, but that's for another post.)
He also reminds me a little of Jospeh Smith with his ridiculous "the church disappeared from 100 AD through 1840 or so" thing. Qutb actually does not say that Islam has been polluted. He says that it has disappeared. It's not that the Ummah needs to be reformed. It's just gone. Pretty strong medicine.
So what is the project? To purify a community which will drink only from the clear streams of the Qur'an (and nothing else) and form a vanguard (how European of him!) that will demonstrate in some Muslim country the glory of Islam. And when people see this community with its blessings and live-giving properties, they will adopt the same kind of life style.
"...the beauty of this new system cannot be appreciated unless it takes a concrete form. [...] In order to bring this about, we need to initiate the movement of Islamic revival in some Islamic country." (p 11)