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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Arabic: يوسف القرضاوي Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwiy), (born September 9, 1926) is an Egyptian Muslim scholar and preacher best known for his popular al Jazeera program, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat ("Shariah and Life"), and IslamOnline (a website that he helped to found in 1997), where he offers opinions and religious edicts ("fatwa") based on his interpretation of the Qur'an. He has also published some fifty books, including The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam and Islam: The Future Civilization.

Although al-Qaradawi has long had one of the more prominent roles within the thought leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, he has twice turned down offers for the official directorship role of the organization. Among many Muslims, he is considered a moderate conservative, who seeks to explain and adapt the ideals of the Islamic lifestyle with those of modern society. Others consider him as a staunch Islamist, who rejects universal human rights and some of the fundamentals of democracy, and note his endorsement of Palestinian suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilian targets.


Al-Qaradawi was born in Egypt. Following his father's death, the two year old Qaradawi was raised by his uncle. His family urged him to either run a grocery store or to become a carpenter. Instead, he read and memorized the entire Qur'an by the time he was nine years old. Qaradawi was a follower of Hasan al-Banna during his youth and was imprisoned first under the monarchy in 1949, then three times after the publication of Tyrant and the Scholar. He attended the Al-Azhar Theological Seminary before moving to Qatar.

During his time at al-Azhar, al-Qaradawi oversaw the Muslim Brotherhood's (Wafd-government-approved) paramilitary training camp there, alongside fellow Muslim Brothers Ahmed al-'Asal and Abdallah al-'Aqil. The camp, along with others like it at other Egyptian universities, taught university students how to use weapons and explosives, and drilled them in a doctrine of religious war against the occupying British and Israelis.

He worked in the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, was the Dean of the Islamic Department at the Faculties of Shariah and Education in Qatar, and served as chairman of the Islamic Scientific Councils of Algerian Universities and Institutions.

He was a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has turned down offers to be the Brotherhood's leader various times. Qaradawi is the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.


Sectarian views

Qaradawi has been an avid caller to what he calls "Islamic Sufism", praising those who practice it as pious.. He has also been a staunch defender of the Ashari school of belief within Islam, going so far as to claim that the whole Muslim world follows this school as well as all Muslim religious schools in the world.

Suicide bombings

Qaradawi strongly supports Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets, including against civilians, believing they are legitimate form of resistance. Qaradawi claims that hundreds of other Islamic scholars are of the same opinion.

Defending terrorist bombing against off duty soldiers Qaradawi told BBC Newsnight that:

  • "An Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier."
  • "I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an evidence of God's justice."
  • "Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do".

At the press conference held by the organizations sponsoring Qaradawi's visit to London, Qaradawi reiterated his view that Suicide attacks are a justified from of resistance to Israeli occupation. In the past, Qaradawi has justified such terrorist actions on the basis that all Israel civilians are potential soldiers since Israel is a "militarized society."

Due to this, Qaradawi has been accused of supporting terrorism.

However, he is opposed to attacks outside of the Palestinian territories and on other than Israeli targets. For example, on March 20, 2005, Qaradawi issued a condemnation of a car-bombing that had occurred in Doha, Qatar the day before. One Briton, Jon Adams was killed. Qaradawi issued a statement that said "Such crimes are committed by insane persons who have no religious affiliation and play well into the hands of the enemies." and "I urge all Qataris to stand united in facing such an epidemic and uproot it to nip the infection in the bud, otherwise it will spread like wildfire. I, in the name of all scholars in Qatar, denounce such a horrendous crime and pray that it would be the last and implore God to protect this secure country.".

See also his comments here.

Opinion on the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

In response to Muslim scholar 'Abdullaah ibn Jibreen's fatwa declaring that it was forbidden for Muslims to support or pray for the terrorist group Hezbollah because they are Shia, Qaradawi issued a contrary fatwa, stating that it was mandatory for all Muslims to support Hezbollah in its fight against Israel, claiming that "Shias agree with the Sunnis in the main principles of Islam while the differences are only over the branches." In this fatwa, he also called upon the Sunnis and Shia of Iraq to end the civil war.[31]

Boycott fatwa

According to IslamOnline, Qaradawi released a fatwa on April 14 2004 stating boycott of American and Israeli products was an obligation for all who are able.[32][17]The fatwa reads in part :

"If people ask in the name of religion we must help them. The vehicle of this support is a complete boycott of the enemies' goods. Each riyal, dirham …etc. used to buy their goods eventually becomes bullets to be fired at the hearts of brothers and children in Palestine. For this reason, it is an obligation not to help them (the enemies of Islam) by buying their goods. To buy their goods is to support tyranny, oppression and aggression. Buying goods from them will strengthen them; our duty is to make them as weak as we can. Our obligation is to strengthen our resisting brothers in the Sacred Land as much as we can. If we cannot strengthen the brothers, we have a duty to make the enemy weak. If their weakness cannot be achieved except by boycott, we must boycott them.

American goods, exactly like "Israeli" goods, are forbidden. It is also forbidden to advertise these goods. America today is a second Israel. It totally supports the Zionist entity. The usurper could not do this without the support of America. "Israel's" unjustified destruction and vandalism of everything has been using American money, American weapons, and the American veto. America has done this for decades without suffering the consequences of any punishment or protests about their oppressive and prejudiced position from the Islamic world."

Pokemon fatwa

In 2001, Saudi Arabia banned the game of Pokemon as a Zionist plot; Qaradawi issued a fatwa endorsing this in December 2003, saying that Pokemon not only uses Jewish and Masonic symbols, but teaches evolution. Not only do Pokemon evolve, they do so "in battles where the survivors are those who adapt better to the environment; another of Darwin's dogmas." In addition, both depiction of imaginary animals and card-games are contrary to the Koran. Qaradawi also notes that some Japanese expressions squeaked and gibbered by Pokemon may mean "I am a Jew" and "Become a Jew," but admits the matter is controversial and he isn't certain.

Mecca Time

In April 2008, at a conference in Qatar titled "Mecca: the Center of the Earth, Theory and Practice", Qaradawi advocated the implementation of Mecca Time to replace the Greenwich Meridian as the basis of the world time zone system.[34]

Controversy and Criticism

Criticism from conservative Muslims

Qaradawi urged the Taliban to reconsider its decision to tear down the Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001. He was quickly criticized for supporting "idol worship". Upon meeting with leaders from the Taliban, Qaradawi reversed his position and praised the act of the destruction of the statues.

The late Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albaanee disagreed with Qaradawi's stance that photography and pictures were lawful, even authoring a book in response to those positions.

Qaradawi also came under heavy criticism for a comment during a sermon in which he stated, regarding Benjamin Netanyahu's victory as the Prime Minister of Israel by a large margin, that "Allah himself would not achieve this." Fellow Muslim scholar Muqbil bin Haadi al-Waadi'ee also authored a book criticizing Qaradawi titled Silencing the Hounding Dog in which he questioned this statement as possible disbelief. Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen reacted similarly when the statement was played for him from an audio tape, stating that it was obligatory for Qaradawi to repent from the statement or otherwise he should be "killed as an apostate."

Democratic perspective

Qaradawi has at times spoken in favor of democracy in the Muslim world,[38] speaking of a need for reform of political climates in the Middle East specifically.[39] However, his statements and positions have been criticized as essentially incompatible with democracy, or even contrary to democracy.

Allegations of Anti-Semitism

Qaradawi is currently president of the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research. In August 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Council had used the infamous anti-Semitic forgery known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its theological deliberations.

Danish cartoon controversy

Qaradawi called for a "Day of Anger" over the cartoons,[41] but condemned violent actions in response to them.


On June 5 2006, on the Al Jazeera "Sharia and Life" programme he regularly features on, al-Qaradawi reiterated orthodox views on homosexuality. When asked about the punishment for people who "practise liwaat (sodomy) or sihaaq (lesbian activity)", al-Qaradawi replied: "The same punishment as any sexual pervert - the same as the fornicator." (MEMRI translation)


After the September 11 attacks, Qaradawi, urging Muslims to donate blood for the victims of the attacks, stated,[45]

"Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, this is backed by the Qur'anic verse which reads:
Who so ever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind," (Al-Ma'dah:32).
"The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said, 'A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn't kill another person illegally'"
"Islam never allows a Muslim to kill the innocent and the helpless." He denies that Palestinian suicide bombing attacks constitute terrorism, claiming that "when Palestinians face such unjust aggression, they tend to stem bloodletting and destruction and not to claim the lives of innocent civilians", but qualifies that with "I do agree with those who do not allow such martyr operations to be carried out outside the Palestinian territories."

Qaradawi said it was a duty upon Muslims to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks: "It is a duty on Muslims to participate in this (War in Afghanistan)effort with all possible means".

In modern times, Yousef al-Qaradhawi has suggested the legitimate use of suicide bombings against enemy combatants if the defending combatants had no other means of self-defense.[47]

In the context of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, al-Qaradhawi has argued that killing innocent Muslims, being used as human shields by the enemy, is permissible. He considers the sacrifice of a few Muslims, in order to save the entire Muslim community, as a legitimate tactic.[48] However, the statements made by al-Qaradhawi are not true to the ethics of Islamic military jurisprudence. The killing of innocents, regardless their beliefs, is prohibited in Islamic law. Therefore, sacrificing the lives of few Muslims is prohibited as well as the killing of non-Muslims civilians. Hence, al-Qaradhawi's ideology is incorrect to the Islamic principles.

Entry into western countries

Qaradawi has been banned from entering the United States of America since 1999 and the United Kingdom since 2008, though he visited London in 2004. In July 2003 he visited Stockholm, Sweden, for a conference at the Stockholm Mosque arranged by the Muslim Association of Sweden. During the conference al-Qaradawi expressed his support for suicide attacks against Israeli civilians which he called a "necessary Jihad".

Fatwa controversy with MEMRI

Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), citing Asharq Al-Awsat, alleges that Qaradawi issued a Fatwa following the Iraqi insurgency, saying,

"...all of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately. The mutilation of corpses [however] is forbidden in Islam." [52]

Qaradawi, however, denies this allegation, having "disowned" that which was said in my name in the media on the subject of the killing of American civilians in Iraq":

I have not published a Fatwa on this issue. At the Egyptian Journalists' Union a few days ago I was asked about the permissibility of fighting against the occupation in Iraq, and I answered that it is permitted. Afterwards I was asked concerning the American civilians in Iraq and I merely responded with the question – are there American civilians in Iraq? It is a matter of common knowledge that in Fatwas such as these I do not use the word "killing" but rather I say "struggle," which is a more comprehensive word than the word "killing" and whose meaning is not necessarily to kill. In addition, I have condemned the taking of hostages on a number of occasions in the past and have demanded that they be released and that their lives not be threatened."

According to MEMRI, this alleged fatwa raised a wave of reactions. Certain Islamic scholars issued similar verdicts. Shaker Al-Nabulsi called for the creation of a petition to the UN calling to put Qaradawi and his like on trial for incitement and support of terrorism. [54][55]

Alcohol fatwa controversy

Qaradawi issued a fatwa in recent months stating that the consumption of small amounts of alcohol (<0.5% class="external autonumber">. The statement was made regarding energy drinks, where fermentation occurring naturally as part of the production process. This contrasts with the widespread view that consuming alcohol is totally forbidden to Muslims. (chapter 5: verses 90-91).

Books (will be uploaded soon)

  • Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase
  • Towards a Sound Awakening
  • The Status of Women in Islam
  • Islamic Awakening between Rejection and Extremism
  • The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam
  • Diversion and Arts In Islam (in progress)

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