The execution of Sayyid Qutb on the night of the 29th August in 1966 was met with silence in Egypt’s literary circles. Almost none of Egyptian writers has publicly objected the execution of someone who two decades ago was an important figure in Cairo’s intellectual circles. This could be certainly explained by the climate of fear that marked Egypt of the 1960s, making it costly to stand up for someone accused of the conspiracy against the State. But this could be also due to the fact that a whole new generation of writers came to dominate the literary scene to whom Qutb was no more than an Islamist. For those who happened to know him personally, he was probably a lost cause after he joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s.
An exception to that was Mahmoud Abu al Wafa, a renowned poet and a long time friend of Sayyid Qutb. They met in the Apollo Society, founded by Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi in the 1930s to serve as a forum for Egypt’s romantics, and stayed friends since then. They stayed friends even after they both abandoned romantic disposition and started calling for a revolution in Egyptian literary field. In the late 1940s, Abu al Wafa followed Qutb in the latter’s supervised journals The Arab World and The New Thought, and 1954 joined Qutb’s edited ephemeral The Journal of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their friendship had also led Qutb to write an introduction to Abu al Wafa’s diwan entitled Religious Hymns (Anashid Diniyya), in its 1953 edition. After Qutb was released from prison in 1964, and before he was re-arrested some months later, Abu al Wafa kept visiting Qutb in his home in Helwan (where he was spotted by the Qutb’s future brother-in-law.
After the execution of Sayyid Qutb, Abu al Wafa composed a poem in his honour named “Sayyid”.
يا سيدأ كان عندي أعز من اصطفيـــه
يا طاهر الطرفيــــن من أمـــــــــه لأبيـــــه
يا أبعد الناس خلقــأ عن كل فعل كريــه
أخي و من منك أولى بكل وصف نزيــــه
و ما ذكرنا عظـــيما إلا رأيناك فــــــــيه
شأوت عمرك حتـــى بلغت ما تبتغيــــــه
حتى الممات فمــــــنه حققت ما تشتهيــه
فصرت بالموت معنى حيا بغير شبيــــــه
رجوت دنيا و ديـــنا فنلت ما ترتجيــــه
العصر إن يبك شخصا فأنت من يبكيــــــه
و ما بكى أي عصــــر إلا أعز بنــــــــيه