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Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Professor Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Arabic: يوسف القرضاوي) (born September 9, 1926) is a modern Muslim scholar and preacher best known for his popular al-Jazeera program, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat ("Shariah and Life"), and his website IslamOnline. He has also published some 50 books, including The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam and Islam: The Future Civilization. His reputation is controversial; among Muslims he is widely considered a moderate conservative, while Western opponents regard him as dangerously radical or as a supporter of violence, and radical Muslim opponents see him as dangerously lax and influenced by Western ideas.



Qaradawi was born in Egypt, and attended the Al-Azhar Theological Seminary before moving to Qatar. His father died when he was two, and so he was taken care of by his uncle. His parents urged him to either run a grocery store or to become a carpenter. Instead he memorized the entire Qur'an by age ten. Qaradawi followed Hasan al-Banna during his youth and was imprisoned first under the monarchy in 1949, then three times after the Tyrant and the Scholar, poetic Islamic plays expressing a message through theme. Other works such as Fiqh-al-Zakat (Laws of the Obligatory Charity) are Islamic law treatises which go into precise details.

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

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

Religious agenda

Qaradawi's religious edicts (fatwas)

Yusuf al-Qaradawi has made many religious edicts throughout his life (see also IslamOnline). Qaradawi is known for edicts which do not compromise Islam's principles and that are meant to be compatible with everyday life. He was also noted for his political fatwas regarding the conflict in the Middle East and the use of violence against civilians.

As Qaradawi has stated a number of times that in the case of conflicting fatwas, a Muslim must follow the fatwa that his true conscience believes is closer to the truth.

Qaradawi's popularity

Qaradawi has a show on Al-Jazeera called "Sharia and Life" in which he tackles very controversial questions. Some of these questions include oral sex, being drafted into the army, and the fate of Palestinian suicide bombers. Qaradawi's vision positions himself as a leader of a moderate Islam. He has made many positive statements about democracy, such as "Islam calls for democracy and grants people the right to choose their governor" [1] and "Free integral elections should be guaranteed, where values of justice and rule of law also prevail" [2]. He frequently quotes the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad saying "Extremism destroyed those before you".

Qaradawi is very popular with his tapes and videos available as far away as Indonesia and Malaysia. Azzam Tamimi of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London has said "If Sheik Qaradawi gives a fatwa, that fatwa will be heeded tomorrow in hundreds of places around the world."

Criticism of him as being opposed to democracy and universal human rights

Some of Qaradawi's fatwas are seen by some people as against democracy and universal human rights:

  • Following the exact words of the Qur'an and the near-universal consensus of Islamic scholars, he rejects the idea of giving women the same shares as men in inheritance law , saying of people who challenge the applicability of Shariah: "Those misguided people cudgel their brains in finding out lame arguments that tend to give both males and females equal shares of inheritance." [3].
  • Like most Muslim scholars, he rejects the idea of separation of state and church. "Since Islam is a comprehensive system of `Ibadah (worship) and Shari`ah (legislation), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari`ah, a denial of the Divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. (...) the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari`ah is a downright apostasy." [4]
  • He says that "the Shari`ah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards, rather, it is the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform ..." [5]; some opponents argue that this rather orthodox Islamic viewpoint rules out the possibility of a secular democracy, insofar as it restricts what believing Muslims may vote for.
  • Qaradawi mentions that the majority view of Muslim jurists supports the death penalty for apostasy, which of course contradicts the idea of freedom of religion: "All Muslim jurists agree that the apostate is to be punished. However, they differ regarding the punishment itself. The majority of them go for killing; meaning that an apostate is to be sentenced to death." [6].
  • He also personally favors removal of the prepuce of the clitoris, or clitoridotomy (the least severe form of female circumcision) [7], while stating that this practice is not obligatory in Islam. This practice, together with more severe forms, is labelled female genital mutilation (FGM) by its opponents, and has been regarded by several United Nations agencies as a violation of human rights, and more generally by its opponents as a criminal form of mutilation. In Canada, it is prohibited as child abuse, and in the United States the risk of more extreme forms of FGM has been ruled to constitute sufficient reason for granting political asylum to young women and their families (in the Kasinga case), although clitoridotomy is legal in the US. See also: Female Circumcision Not Obligatory: Qaradawi. For a discussion of the many types of circumcision, see the relevant article(s).
  • With regards to homosexuality, he states that "The jurists of Islam have held different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for zina, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements." - The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, p. 165. Such attitudes are widely regarded in the West as constituting homophobia and endorsing murder, and he has been criticised for them by groups such as OutRage!.

Regarding Qaradawi's views on American invasion of Iraq, The Economist described Qaradawi as one of the "Muslim scholars of a more independent stripe", adding that "Mr Qaradawi's opinion tallies with that of more radical Muslims[8]. It says that, while he "has denounced terrorism in the name of Islam", he has declared that "anyone killed while fighting to expel American forces from the Gulf would die a martyr." In another recent article, The Economist calls him "the most popular television preacher in the Arab world"[9].

Qaradawi criticised by conservative Islam

Qaradawi has been attacked by all sides of the Islamic ideology spectrum for his vision of "moderate" Islam. Qaradawi during elections in 2002 in Bahrain, released a fatwa allowing women, especially those past their child-bearing years, as candidates in municipal elections. A Saudi scholar quickly responded that this was illegal under his interpretation of Islamic law.

Qaradawi also 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".

Qaradawi's vision of moderate Islam is one that in his own words "seeks balance between intellect and the heart, between religion and the world, between spirituality and materialism and between individualism and the group."

Criticism of Qaradawi from Wahhabis and Traditional Scholars

Some Wahhabi and Salafi Muslims claim Qaradawi is a heretic, deviated scholar, and wicked jurist because of his easier more facilitative opinions. Most Wahhabis and Salafis see Qaradawi's teachings as too lax.

Some mainstream Sunni scholars such as Sidi Faraz Rabbani respect Qaradawi and his opinions but find them to be sometimes unreliable. This is because Shaykh Qaradawi inclined towards laxity and methodological ambiguity in religious matters. Their criticism is that there is a difference between making things easy and laxity: a sound understanding of the former is that it is to facilitate the path to Paradise for people, and laxity can often weaken religious resolve and actually hinder this.

However, it appears that Sunni Muslims generally respect Yusuf al-Qaradawi himself. This is especially true of American and European Muslims who associate themselves with the Islamic Movements.

The late Sheikh al-Albanee , a Wahhabi/Salafi scholar whom Qaradawi was friends with personally did not agree with Qaradawi's stance that photography and pictures were lawful. al-Albanee wrote the book "The Islamic Ruling on Tasweer (pictures)" with his arguments in a response to Qaradawi's ruling. Despite their differing opinions, al-Albanee and Qaradawi never attacked each other and maintained friendship.

Many Wahhabis/Salafis who agree with al-Albanee have attacked Qaradawi, using the words "wicked muftee (jurist)" and others. In their view, Qaradawi's opinions are sometimes even un-Islamic. Other Wahhabis or Salafis who agree with al-Albanee do not attack Qaradawi, and respectfully disagree with his opinions.

One major point of conflict between Qaradawi and the Wahhabis or Salafis is the statement by Qaradawi: "The enmity that is between us and the Jews is for the sake of land only, not for the sake of the religion..." (al-Ummah al-Islaamiyyah Haqeeqa, Laa Wahm p.70). Many Wahhabis or Salafis believe that there is enmity between the Muslims and Jews for the sake of religion. However, Qaradawi's position is closer to the moderation, respect, and tolerance of traditional Sunni scholarship.

Another point of conflict is Qaradawi's opinion of the lawfulness of some music and art. Many Wahhabis and Salafis believe that music and art are unlawful, even if Islamic music and art.

Qaradawi's response to criticism

Qaradawi responded on his website to criticism: ...Sheikh Al-Qaradawi maintains that as having different views on any issue is something natural, one should not concentrate on controversial matters, nor should one focus on refuting others' opinions on slight matters, because this contradicts the syllabus of the righteous predecessors, may Allah be pleased with them. Rather a true believer should be tolerant even if he has a different point of view and be cooperative in applying agreed upon matters. By tolerance he means not to be fanatic in judging controversial matters, doctrines or Imams. Rather a Muslim should be tolerant, as Sheikh Rashid Rida states in his famous magazine Al-Manar saying: “We ought to excuse one another and show tolerance to each other's view regarding controversial issues.”

Qaradawi's new initiatives

His reach is felt in Europe through his presidency of the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research, an organisation described by The Economist as comprising "32 leading scholars, from Europe and the Middle East, whose self-appointed task is to ponder the dilemmas, moral, personal, and political, faced by European Muslims". (The Herald)

Qaradawi has been involved in 2 separate major initiatives at the start of 2004. The first being threatening to take international legal action against France if the proposed hijab (or Muslim headscarf) ban in public schools takes affect. Qaradawi has sent a letter to President Chirac saying "Mr. President, we have felt resentful over your considering Hijab is aggression on others. It is just worn out of commitment to religious principles, no more, no less."

Qaradawi's other initiative is the female genital mutilation in Africa. On February 7th 2004, the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilations, Qaradawi stated "Muslim countries differ over the issue of female circumcision; some countries sanction it whereas others do not. Anyhow, it is not obligatory... whoever chooses not to do it is not considered to have committed a sin". However, while reiterating this point, he has also expressed his personal preference for the least severe form, removing the prepuce of the clitoris[10].

On April 29th 2004 Qaradawi announced a new initiative to form a all-inclusive world union of Muslim scholars "with the aim of preserving the Islamic identity, promoting religious awareness, confronting 'destructive trends' and giving advice to leaders of Muslim countries." Qaradawi said the new body would use direct and indirect means to realize its objectives, including newspapers, radio and television networks as well as internet.

Qaradawi on Terrorism

After the September 11 attacks, Qaradawi, urging Muslims to donate blood for the victims of the attacks, stated that:

"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'," the prominent scholar said.

He added that "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."[11]

Qaradawi's opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Suicide bombings

Qaradawi supports Palestinian suicide bombing attacks, including against civilians and claim there are legitimate form of resistance. Qaradawi also claims that hundreds of other Islamic scholars are of the same opinion. In this respect, he is very much in tune with what the vast majority of people in the Arab world believe.

Defending suicide bombing against Israeli civilians 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 "martyrdom operations" are a justified from of "resistance" to Israeli occupation . In the past, Qaradawi has justified such actions on the basis that all Israel civilians are potential soldiers since Israel is a "militarized society."

Due to this, Qaradawi has been accused in support of terrorism by Jewish groups and a group of liberal Muslims.

On the other hand, on March 20, 2005, Qaradawi issued a condemnation of a suicide car-bombing that had occurred in Doha, Qatar the day before. One Briton, Jon Adams was killed. Qaradawi issued a statement[13] 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.”.

Qaradawi's reaction to the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin

On March 23rd 2004, in reaction to the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin, Qaradawi released the following statement calling for unity in violent resistance against Israel:

"Only force and jihad work with those aggressors. The assassination of Sheikh Yassin proved that the [moribund] peace talks with the Israelis are nothing but lies. This is the true face of Zionism, which pays no attention to any humanitarian value. My heart breaks for Yassin and I offer my heartfelt condolences to my brothers in Hamas, Palestine and Muslims worldwide. He was assassinated by blooded hands as he was returning from dawn prayers. He met his Creator satisfied and pleased [with his decades of resistance and struggle]. Truly, dying a martyr is the best death a Muslim can get. His martyrdom will not bring in security and peace to Israel as Sharon thinks. The assassination of Sheikh Yassin will rather put a curse on Israel and ushers in its end. All Palestinians should now unify ranks and heal rifts to avenge the killing of Yassin and his companions."

Qaradawi on the Israeli operation in Rafah

On May 19th 2004, Qaradawi released a statement appealing to Muslims to help the victims of Israeli military operations in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. Qaradawi said "The tyrant Zionist state has demolished the houses of your Palestinian brothers, particularly Rafah, scooped up their farms, and destroyed their properties. Palestinians are left homeless and penniless and they need your help" he stressed that this was not a "voluntary act" but an obligatory Islamic duty.

Qaradawi's opinion on the War on Terrorism

Qaradawi on Arab reform

Recently, on May 20th 2004, Qaradawi was interviewed by al-Jazeera on his stances on Arab reform. Qaradawi said that Islam welcomes reform which he defined as "turning the thing that is corrupt into something upright." He said reform combats 3 types of corruption: political, economic and moral.

"First there is political corruption, the deceiving of the masses to serve authority; an example would be a journalist who uses his pen to tout for a leader, or an occupier who invades a country and revamps its political structure to serve his interest.

...You also have economic corruption, a subject that the Qur'an has addressed as well. Those who misuse public funds for their own purposes while their people are undergoing extreme poverty are an illustration of this.

Moral corruption is another problem that must be confronted and reformed. It can extend to engulf an entire society turning it into a nepotistic, nihilist and morally loose one.

There are also other forms of corruption that would include environmental corruption, the destruction of the beautiful Earth that God has created, and so on."

Qaradawi stated that Muslims loathe corruption and should strive to initiate reforms. He clarified that each nation is responsible for reforming itself, rather than other's reforming it (a response to the U.S. "Greater Middle East Initiative"). Qaradawi said there are 5 conditions to reform in Islam:

  1. The principles of Islam are used to fulfill Islamic interests and not outside interests.
  2. The methodology of reform must come from Muslim scholars and not outside influences.
  3. Reform must be implemented by the will of the people, and by the people themselves.
  4. Reforms must come from within and not from outside influences.
  5. Gradualism while implementing reforms.

Qaradawi's London Visit

On July 6th 2004, a Jewish British MP called for denying Qaradawi a visa to visit London. One day later, on July 7th, 2004, the mayor of London rejected the attack against Qaradawi. On July 10th 2004, after Qaradawi had visited London, the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was no legal ground to prosecute Qaradawi.

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

Qaradawi's website, released the following news release on July 10th 2004

"The swift decision of the CPS indicates that the so-called dossier of evidence submitted by the Metropolitan police commissioner Sir John Stevens did not contain grounds for legal action, said the Guardian. The British daily described the decision as "a setback for the Board of Deputies of British Jews which initially sent the material to the police."

However, the Jewish lobby criticized the CPS decision. "We regret the decision by the CPS," Henry Grunwald QC, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

He claimed that "Al-Qaradawi is being very careful about what he says publicly whilst he's in the UK."

Addressing 3500 worshippers during Friday prayers at London's central mosque, the scholar said

"If they are really after the truth, and think they are fair, why don't they find the truth about me, instead of indulging in this attack on me." He also stated "It is not the first time I have visited London. It is not the 10th time or the 100th time. For over a third of a century I have been visiting London. London is an open city, so why is there this row when I visit London today?".

The BBC World News reported on July 10th 2004 that "Doctor Azzam Tami, translator for the Sheikh, said he had been bewildered by how he had been treated.

He added: "He is really quite angry. He felt on the first of his visits when he allowed some journalists to interview him that he had been totally misrepresented"."

Qaradawi's boycott fatwa

On April 14th 2004 Qaradawi released a fatwa stating boycott of American and Israeli products was an obligation for all who are able. The fatwa reads:

"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."

Qaradawi's alleged fatwa calling for abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq

According to MEMRI, which cites Ash-Sharq al-Awsat , Qaradawi issued a Fatwa following Operation Iraqi Freedom and the wave of insurgents attacks against coalition forces 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." [14]

He, however, denies this, 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." (MEMRI as above, citing al-Hayat )

This alleged Fatwa arosed a wave of reactions. Certain Islamic scholars issued similiar verdicts, while one Shaker an-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. [15]


See also


Fraternal groups and personalities

Groups also mentioned in relation

Islam-related topics

External links

Profile of Qaradawi

Books by Qaradawi online

Sheikh al-Qaradawi's websites

Anti-Qaradawi opinions

Other resources

Last updated: 10-14-2005 09:44:41
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