Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Yusuf al-Qaradawi
يوسف عبد الله القرضاوي

Yusuf Al-Qardawi at an event against the ongoing Syrian Civil War, i, May 2013.
Title Shaykh
Born (1926-09-09) 9 September 1926
Saft Turab, Kingdom of Egypt (now Egypt)
Era Modern
Region Egypt
Occupation Islamic scholar
Religion Islam
Creed Ash'ari
Notable work(s) Fiqh al-Zakat, al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam, Fiqh al-Jihad, Fiqh al-Awlawiyyat, Fiqh al-Daulah, Madkhal li-Ma'rifah al-Islam and others

Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Arabic: يوسف القرضاوي Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī; or Yusuf al-Qardawi; born 9 September 1926) is an Egyptian Islamic theologian based in Doha, Qatar, and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.[1] He is best known for his programme الشريعة والحياة, al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh ("Sharia and Life"), broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide.[2][3] He is also well known for IslamOnline, a popular website he helped found in 1997 and for which he now serves as chief religious scholar.[4]

Al-Qaradawi has published more than 120 books,[3] including The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam and Islam: The Future Civilization. He has also received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship,[5] and is considered one of the most influential such scholars living today.[2][6][7] Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood,[8] an Egyptian political organization, although he has repeatedly stated that he is no longer a member[9] and twice (in 1976 and 2004) turned down offers for the official role in the organization.[2][10]

Some of al-Qaradawi's views have been controversial in the West:[11] he was refused an entry visa to the United Kingdom in 2008,[12] and barred from entering France in 2012.[13]

As of 2004, al-Qaradawi was a trustee of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.[14] He also served as a consultant scholar for an epic movie in English on Muhammad, and a 30-part series on the second caliph 'Umar b. al-Khațțāb.[15][16][17]


Al-Qaradawi, during his days at Azhari Institute at Tanta

Al-Qaradawi was born in 1926 in Saft Turab village in the Nile Delta, now in Gharbia Governorate, Egypt, in a poor family of devout Muslim peasants. He became an orphan at the age of two, when he lost his father. Following his father's death, he was raised by his uncle. He read and memorized the entire Quran by the time he was nine years old.

He then joined the Institute of Religious Studies at Tanta, and graduated after nine years of study. While in Tanta, Al-Qaradawi first encountered Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, when al Banna gave a lecture at his school. Al-Qaradawi has written of the lasting impact of this encounter, describing al Banna as “brilliantly radiating, as if his words were revelation or live coals from the light of prophecy."[18] He moved on to study Islamic Theology at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, from which he graduated in 1953. He earned a diploma in Arabic Language and Literature in 1958 at the Advanced Arabic Studies Institute. He enrolled in the graduate program in the Department of Quran and Sunnah Sciences of the Faculty of Religion's Fundamentals (Usul al-Din), and graduated with a master's degree in Quranic Studies in 1960.[19] In 1962, he was sent by Al-Azhar University to Qatar to head the Qatari Secondary Institute of Religious Studies. He completed his PhD thesis titled Zakah and its effect on solving social problems in 1973 with First Merit and was awarded his PhD degree from Al-Azhar.

In 1977, he laid the foundation for the Faculty of Shari'ah and Islamic Studies in the University of Qatar and became the faculty's dean. In the same year he founded the Centre of Seerah and Sunna Research.[20][21][22][23] He also served at the Institute of Imams, Egypt under the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments as supervisor before moving back to Doha as Dean of the Islamic Department at the Faculties of Shariah and Education in Qatar, where he continued until 1990.[24] His next appointment was in Algeria as Chairman of the Scientific Council of Islamic University and Higher Institutions in 1990–91. He returned to Qatar once more as Director of the Seerah and Sunnah Center at Qatar University, a post he still occupies today.[22]

In 1997, Al-Qaradawi helped found the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a council of important and influential Muslim scholars dedicated to researching and writing fatwas in support of Western Muslim minority communities based in Ireland, and he serves as its head.[25] He also serves as the chairman of International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS).[26]

He was imprisoned under King Farouq in 1949, then three times during the reign of former President Gamal Abdul Nasser, until he left Egypt for Qatar in 1961.[22] He returned to Egypt in 2011 in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.[27]

Al-Qaradawi is a principal shareholder and former Sharia adviser to Bank Al-Taqwa, a member bank of the Lugano-Switzerland Al-Taqwa group, a bank that the U.S. states finances terrorism and that the UN Security Council had listed as associated with Al Qaeda.[28] On 2 August 2010, the bank was removed from a list of entities and individuals associated with Al Qaeda maintained by the Security Council.[29][30]

Al-Qaradawi finished 3rd in a 2008 poll on who was the world's leading public intellectual. The poll, Top 100 Public Intellectuals, was of the readers of Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (United States).[31]

2011 return to Egypt

After the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, Qaradawi made his first public appearance in Egypt after 1981.[32] In Tahrir Square, he led Friday prayers on 18 February, addressing an audience estimated to exceed two million Egyptians.[33] It began with an address of "O Muslims and Copts", referring to Egypt's Coptic Christian minority instead of the customary opening for Islamic Friday sermons "O Muslims".[34] He was reported to have said, "Egyptian people are like the genie who came out of the lamp and who have been in prison for 30 years." He also demanded the release of political prisoners in Egyptian prisons, praised the Copts for protecting Muslims in their Friday prayer, and called for the new military rulers to quickly restore civilian rule.[35]

On 21 February 2011, he talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa permitting the killing of Muammar Gaddafi:[36]

To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God's] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftī): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha'b). As for me, I protect the people (sha'b) and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so! It is not permissible (lā yajūzu) to any officer, be he a officer pilot, or a ground forces officer, or an air forces officer, or any other, it is not permissible to obey this man within disobedience (ma'ṣiya) [to God], in evil (sharr), in injustice (ẓulm), in oppression (baghī 'alā) of [His] servants.

He also called on Libyan ambassadors around the world to distance themselves from Gaddafi's government.[37][38]

In the Jerusalem Post, Barry Rubin drew a parallel between Qaradawi's sermon and the Ayatollah Khomeini returning to Iran. He also said that Qaradawi was encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood to suppress opposition when he made reference to hypocrites in his sermon.[39] Brookings Institution member Shadi Hamid says that Qaradawi is in the mainstream of Egyptian society, and that he also has appeal among Egyptians who are not Islamist.[40] In the Eurasia Review, Princeton University student Aaron Rock dismisses claims that Qaradawi is the Khomeini of Egypt, but he does see his influence as a sign that Islam will play a significant role in the shaping of Egypt's politics. He writes, "Neither Qaradawi's popularity nor his rhetoric should distract from the fact that Egyptian revolution's grievances were based on a desire for political liberty and economic opportunity. That said, Islam remains an important framework for public debate and a reservoir of political symbolism."[41]

Views and statements

Religious and sectarian views

Muslims sects


Al-Qaradawi has written on the danger of extremist groups of Islam, in his dissertation on the subject Islamic Awakening between Rejection and Extremism. In it he warns of the dangers of blind obedience, bigotry and intolerance; rigidity—which deprives people of clarity of vision and the opportunity for dialogue with others; commitment to excessiveness, including the excessive application of minor or controversial Islamic issues to people in non-Muslim countries or to people who have only recently converted to Islam; harshness in the treatment of people, roughness in the manner of approach, and crudeness in calling people to Islam, all which are contrary to the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah.[42]

On the other hand, Al-Qaradawi himself has been accused of extremism for denouncing Jews for their "corruption" and describing Adolf Hitler as having put Jews "in their place".[43][44] While others believe Al-Qaradawi is merely "not afraid to state firmly that 'Palestinian martyr operations are a weapon of the weak'".[45]


Al-Qaradawi has been an avid caller to what he calls "Islamic Sufism", praising those who practice it as pious.[46]


Al-Qaradawi has described Shi'ites as innovators (mubtadiʿūn).[47] In 2008 warned of the "Shiitization" of the Middle East, saying Shiite Muslims were "invading" Sunni societies.[48][49] In response, the Iranian Mehr News Agency described Qaradawi as "a spokesman for international Freemasonry and rabbis".[50] Even fellow members of the International Union of Muslim Scholars such as Mohammad Salim Al-Awa criticized Qaradawi for promoting divisions among Muslims.[51]

In May 2013, al-Qaradawi denounced the Alawite sect, which many describe as an offshoot of Shia Islam and of which President Bashir al-Assad is a member, as "more infidel than Christians and Jews" (أكفر من اليهود والنصارى).[52][53]


Al-Qaradawi has called for dialogue with Non-Muslims. He also puts emphasis on conversations with the West, including Jews, Christians, and secularists. He writes that this effort should differentiate itself from a debate, for the latter does not often result in mutual cooperation. Regarding the rights and citizenship of non-Muslim minorities, Qaradawi has said, "those people who live under the protection of an Islamic government enjoy special privileges. They are referred to as 'the Protected People' (dhimmi) ... In modern terminology, dhimmies are 'citizens' of the Islamic state. From the earliest period of Islam to the present day, Muslims are in unanimous agreement that they enjoy the same rights and carry the same responsibilities as Muslims themselves, while being free to practice their own faiths."

In his book titled The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, al-Qaradawi wrote, "Islam does not prohibit Muslims to be kind and generous to peoples of other religions, even if they are idolaters and polytheists, ... it looks upon the People of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians, with special regard, whether they reside in a Muslim society or outside it. The Qur'an never addresses them without saying, 'O People of the Book' or 'O You who have been given the Book', indicating that they were originally people of a revealed religion. For this reason there exists a relationship of mercy and spiritual kinship between them and the Muslims."[54]


In May 2008, al-Qaradawi told visiting Rabbis from the Haredi, Anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect, "there is no enmity between Muslims and Jews.... Jews who believe in the authentic Torah are very close to Muslims." He has also expressed his belief that relations between Muslims and Jews became strained with the emergence of Zionism and the establishment of Israel. "Muslims are against the expansionist, oppressive Zionist movement, not the Jews." Reportedly, in 1998 the Associated Press quoted al-Qaradawi writing, "There should be no dialogue with these people [Israelis] except with swords."[55]

However, al-Qaradawi has made anti-Semitic statements in the past. In August 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research, of which al-Qaradhawi is president, had used the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its theological deliberations.[56] Al-Qaradawi's remarks were sharply criticized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which accused him of inciting violence against Jews.[57][58][59][60]

In a January 9, 2009 sermon during the Gaza War, shown on Al-Jazeera, Qaradawi prayed (as translated by MEMRI):

O Allah, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam. O Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. O Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. O Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, O our God. Lie in wait for them. O Allah, You annihilated the people of Thamoud (An early pagan Arab tribe) with an overpowering blast, and You annihilated the people of 'Aad with a fierce, icy gale, and You destroyed the pharaoh [of Exodus] and his soldiers – O Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. O Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people. O Allah, do not spare a single one of them. O Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.[61]

In a sermon broadcast on Qatar TV on 26 April 2013 (as translated by MEMRI), Qaradawi announced that he would not participate in an inter-faith dialogue if Jews were present, stating, "If you invite the Jews, I will not participate. I will participate in a Muslim-Christian meeting, but with the Jews there should be no debate." Qaradawi stated that there can be "no debate whatsoever with those who have committed injustice" and "Those Jews have committed clear injustice against us. They have shed our blood, killed our children, displaced our people, seized our lands, and usurped our rights." Later in his sermon, Qaradawi restated: "I cannot be a part of a conference in which wrongdoing Jews participate. They have committed great injustice, and I cannot possibly shake hands with them. Their hands are soiled with blood. They have murderous, violent, and oppressive hands. I cannot soil my hands by shaking theirs."[62]

Views on the Holocaust

In a statement that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on 28 January 2009 during the Gaza War, al-Qaradawi said the following regarding Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust (as translated by MEMRI):[63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72]

Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption ... The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them.... Allah Willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.


Al-Qaradawi says that apostasy – Muslims leaving Islam – is a grave danger to the Muslim community and that it is the duty of all Muslims "is to combat apostasy in all its forms and wherefrom it comes, giving it no chance to pervade in the Muslim world".[73]

With regards to the punishment of apostasy, al-Qaradawi supports the classical Islamic tradition on some points but differs on others. He considers execution as a penalty in principle, but the only apostates that are to be executed are those that combine other crimes with apostasy (e.g., "incit[ing] a war against Islam"). He also advocates that the apostates to be executed should be given a chance to repent. Finally, he believes that "hidden apostasy" (where the apostate does not "proclaim" his conversion) may be left to the judgement of God in the Hereafter.[74]

While al-Qaradawi believes that the Muslim community is not allowed to punish "intellectual apostasy", where the apostates do not "swagger" about their conversion, he still strongly condemns it. He says "These people are not noticed when they invade or begin to disseminate their falsehood, but they are mostly felt when they affect the minds. They do not use guns in their attacks, however, their attacks are fierce and cunning." Nevertheless, he concedes, "Erudite scholars and well versed jurists ... can not take an action in face of such professional criminals who have firmly established themselves and have not left a chance for law to be enforced on them."[75]

In February 2013, on an episode of Shariah and Life show, which broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Qaradawi stated since the 15th century, the application of the death penalty for those who leave Islam is a necessity, stating, "If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment Islam wouldn't exist today." Qaradwai also cited several speeches and writings by Muhammad and his followers, such as Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:33, which Qaradawi quoted as "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle is that they should be murdered or crucified." Qaradawi further explained, "... many hadiths, not only one or two, but many, narrated by a number of Muhammad's companions state that any apostate should be killed. Ibn 'Abbas's hadith: 'Kill whoever changes his faith [from Islam].'"[76]

Political views

Freedom and democracy

Al-Qaradawi has spoken in favor of democracy in the Muslim world, speaking of a need for reform of political climates in the Middle East specifically.[77][78] On 22 February 2011, he held an exclusive interview with OnIslam.net, dismissing the allegation that he wanted a religious state established in Egypt: "On the contrary, my speech supported establishing a civil state with a religious background, I am totally against theocracy. We are not a state for mullahs."[79]


After the September 11 attacks, al-Qaradawi urged Muslims to donate blood for the victims and said:[80]

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 that 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'idah: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, "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."

Al-Qaradawi has suggested the legitimate use of (defensive) suicide bombings against enemy combatants in modern times if the defending combatants have no other means of self-defense.[21] The Oxford-based Malaysian Islamic Scholar, Dr. Afifi al-Akiti, rules that there is no Islamic legal precedent for this view and that female soldiers can only be killed in direct combat. With regards to suicide bombings he says that they are "breaching the scholarly consensus ... because to endanger one's life is one thing and to commit suicide during the attack is obviously another".[81] With regards to male soldiers he states, "It goes without saying that they are considered combatants as soon as they arrive on the battlefield even if they are not in direct combat – provided of course that the remaining conventions of war have been observed throughout, and that all this is during a valid war when there is no ceasefire."[82]

Western governments have met al-Qaradawi to request release of European civilians kidnapped in Iraq and have thanked him officially, praising his cooperation. The French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier wrote to al-Qaradawi: "With such a clear condemnation of the abduction of the French hostages you have sent a clear-cut message demonstrating respect for the tenets of Islam."[83]

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Al-Qaradawi condones Palestinian attacks on Israelis. A resolution issued by The Islamic Fiqh Council affiliated to the Muslim World League in its 14th session, held in Doha (Qatar) on 11–16 January 2003 has upheld his views on the matter.[84] Defending bombings against Israeli civilians, al-Qaradawi told BBC Newsnight in 2005 that:

He supports suicide attacks on all Israelis, including women[85][86] since he views the Israeli society as a "completely military" society that did not include any civilians.[87] He also considers pregnant women and their unborn babies to be valid targets on the ground that the babies could grow up to join the Israeli Army.[88]

At the press conference held by the organizations sponsoring his visit to London, al-Qaradawi reiterated his view that suicide attacks are a justified form of resistance to Israeli occupation of the rightfully Palestinian Territories. He has also justified his views by stating that all Israeli civilians are potential soldiers, since Israel is a "militarized society". Because of these views, al-Qaradawi has been accused by Western countries and Israel of supporting terrorism.

Commenting on suicide bombings conducted by Palestinians against Israelis al-Qaradawi declared during an interview with the newspaper Al Raya in April 2001: "They are not suicide operations. These are heroic martyrdom operations, and the heroes who carry them out don't embark on this action out of hopelessness and despair but are driven by an overwhelming desire to cast terror and fear into the hearts of the oppressors."[89]

Al-Qaradawi is opposed to attacks outside of the Palestinian Territories and Israel, and against non-Israeli targets. For example, on 20 March 2005, he condemned a car bombing that had occurred in Doha, Qatar the previous day. One Briton, Jon Adams was killed. Al-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 ... 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.

According to IslamOnline, Qaradawi released a fatwa on 14 April 2004 stating boycott of American and Israeli products was an obligation for all who are able. 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.

On 8 May 2013, Qaradawi visited Gaza and gave a speech in support of Hamas. He asked all of the Palestinian people to work with other Arab people and Muslims around the world to destroy Israel, saying inflammatory things such as "Our wish should be that we carry out Jihad to death" and "We should seek to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine, inch by inch."[90]

More recently, al-Qaradawi published a message in Arabic on his website which was translated by The Investigative Project on Terrorism in which he called on Muslims to join the “greatest battle of liberation” against Israel and against the Jews in general.[91] The preacher allegedly protested the closure of Temple Mount after the assassination attempt that killed an Israeli activist, where the third holiest shrine for Islam is located, namely Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.[91]

Along the same line, in January 24, 2011 al-Qaradawi had voiced his desire to see Jerusalem conquered in a fatwa in which he claimed that it was the Muslims’ duty to "defend" Jerusalem with "their lives, their money and all they pos-sess, or else they will be subject to Allah's punishment.”[92]

In July 2015, al-Qaradawi argued on the TV show Ala-Masouliyati (I Am Responsible) that it is permissible for suicide bombers to self-detonate if requested by a group. Conversely, individuals are prohibited from carrying out suicide bombings on their own.

On the subject of the Western Wall, Qaradawi said:

The Jews' claim to Al-Buraq Wall dates back only to recent times. The longest reign of the Jews lasted for 434 years. Their reign in Palestine dates back to the times of Kings Saul, David and Solomon. Solomon's sons split after his decease: Jude headed for Jerusalem while the state of Israel was established in Shechem, that is Nablus. The Jewish state in Nablus lasted for 298 years and the former for 434. This is the longest period that the Jews reigned. So those who claim that they have a long history in Israel are liars. That history lasted for only 434 years. The Arabs, on the other hand, have been present in Palestine since the days of the Jebusites and the Canaanites, that is 30 centuries before the birth of Christ. Their history under the umbrella of Islam lasted for more than 14 centuries or even longer. Before the advent of Islam, there had been no Jews in Palestine because since 70 C.E. there had been no trace of Jews or Israelis in Palestine.

Iraq war

In 2004 the International Union of Muslim Scholars, an organization chaired by al-Qaradawi which counts a great number of prominent individual affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas among its members, ruled that “resisting occupation troops in Iraq is a ‘duty’ on able Muslims in and outside the war-torn country and that aiding the occupier is impermissible.”[93]

In an address aired on Qatar TV on 5 January 2007, al-Qaradawi questioned the trial of Saddam Hussein under American supervision in Iraq, but agreed to it if it were conducted by the Iraqi people "after liberating Iraq from American colonialism". He also suggested that the trial was "an act of vengeance by the Americans" for his missile attacks on Israel. He strongly criticized the way Saddam was hanged:[94]

A human soul must be respected. These people did not respect the human soul. The man was calm and kept his cool. He refused to be blindfolded, and insisted upon facing death with open eyes.. and said the two parts of the shahada.... The man died saying: 'There is no God but Allah'.... Anybody whose last words are 'There is no God but Allah' goes to Paradise. The thing that improves [the record] of Saddam Hussein is that in his final years – as the brothers in Iraq tell us – he was a changed man. He began to strictly observe the prayers, to read the Quran, and to do charitable work. He would hasten to do anything that may help people. He would help build mosques, and would say that if anybody wants to build a mosque, the government should pay half the cost of the building materials. When they entered his secret hideout and caught him, they found a prayer carpet and an open Quran.

Hizb Allah (Party of God)

In 2006, in response to Muslim scholar Abdullah Ibn Jibreen's fatwa declaring that it was forbidden for Muslims to support or pray for Hezbollah because they are Shia, al-Qaradawi said that supporting Hezbollah is a religious duty for all Muslims and that resistance, whether in Palestine or Lebanon, is the most noble act. He added "Shias agree with the Sunnis in the main principles of Islam while the differences are only over the branches" and also called upon the Sunnis and Shia of Iraq to end the civil war.[95]

Seven years later, during the Syrian Civil War, Qaradawi urged all Sunnis to fight Hezbollah, attacking Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iran: "The leader of the Party of Satan comes to fight the Sunnis.... Now we know what the Iranians want.... They want continued massacres to kill Sunnis."[96] Qaradawi also stated that he now regretted having advocated rapprochement between Sunnis and Shias and his 2006 defense of Hezbollah.[96] this furthers the assumption by some scholars that al-Qaradawi is no longer coherent, given his old age.

Arab Spring

Qaradawi declared his support for the rebels led by the National Transitional Council in the 2011 Libyan civil war, urging Arab nations to recognize them and "to confront the tyranny of the regime in Tripoli". He suggested weapons be sent to the rebels to assist the, and said "Our Islamic nation should stand against injustice and corruption and I urge the Egyptian government to extend a helping hand to Libyan people and not to Gaddafi."[97]

In response to the 2011 Bahrain protests, Qaradawi was reluctant to give support: "The protests in Bahrain are sectarian in nature. The Shias are revolting against the Sunnis." He claimed that Shia protesters attack Sunnis and occupied their mosques. He acknowledged that the Shia majority had legitimate concerns in regards to fairness with the Sunnis: "I want them to be real citizens of their country."[98]

Qaradawi said that all Arabs should back up the protesters in the 2011 Syrian uprising, saying "Today the train of revolution has reached a station that it had to reach: The Syria station," and "It is not possible for Syria to be separated from the history of the Arab community."[99] He declared his support for the protests against what he called Syria's "oppressive regime", claiming "atrocities" were committed by it. He called for victory against the ruling Ba'ath party and claimed the army would be the major factor in the revolt. He claimed that when he offered to mediate negotiations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian government, someone deliberately sabotaged it. Qaradawi also expressed his support for the No Fly zone put in place by western nations over Libya, saying "The operation in Libya is to protect the civilians from Gaddafi's tyranny" and slamming Arab League leader Amr Moussa for criticism of it.[100]

Women and gender issues

Commenting on the role women played in social active issues:

Although over sixty years have passed since the Movement emerged into existence, no women leaders have appeared that can confront secular and Marxist trends single-handedly and efficiently. This has come about as a result of men's unrelenting attempts to control women's movement, as men have never allowed women a real chance to express themselves and show special leadership talents and abilities that demonstrate their capability of taking command of their work without men's dominance.

I believe that women's Islamic work will succeed and prove itself in the arena of the Islamic Movement only when it gives birth to female Islamic leaders in the fields of Call, thought, science, literature and education.

Accordingly, women as well as men can dedicate themselves to Allah, and play a role in jihad.[101]

I do not think that this is impossible or even difficult. There are genius women just as there are genius men. Ingenuity is not a monopoly for men. It is not in vain that the Holy Quran tells us the story of a woman who led men wisely and bravely and made her people fare the best end: it is the Queen of Sheba, whose story with Solomon is told in Surat Al Naml. I have observed in the University of Qatar that girls make better students than boys.


In 2004 The Daily Telegraph reported that IslamOnline was asked the following question "Are raped women punished in Islam?", and a panel headed by Qaradawi replied: "To be absolved from guilt, the raped woman must have shown some sort of good conduct.... Islam addresses women to maintain their modesty, as not to open the door for evil.... The Koran calls upon Muslim women in general to preserve their dignity and modesty, just to save themselves from any harassment.... So for a rape victim to be absolved from guilt, she must not be the one that opens ... her dignity for deflowering."[102]

Officials from IslamOnline.net, however, denied that al-Qaradawi wrote the answer and reported that the article by the Sunday Telegraph was challenged by the Muslim Association of Britain, who also believed the article falsely attributed the comments to al-Qaradawi and was part of a "right-wing media" attempt to "stoke up the flames of hate" against al-Qaradawi. They demanded that The Telegraph issue a full apology as well as the resignation of the two writers of the article.[103]

Wife beating

Al-Qaradawi told The Guardian that wife beating was neither "obligatory nor desirable" but that he "accepts it as a method of last resort – though only lightly".[104] He stated on Channel 4 News that it was justifiable in certain circumstances[105] but the "ideal was for Muslim men never to beat their wives, and if husbands wrongly beat their wives, they have the right to fight back".[106] The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph writes that al-Qaradawi, in his book The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, states that wife-beating is permissible after the failure of all other means of persuasion. In such circumstances, a husband may beat his wife "lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas".[105][107][108][109]

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

While stating that female genital mutilation is "not obligatory", in his 1987 book Modern Fatwas, he wrote, "whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world."[110]

In March 2009, he however changed his mind. After a meeting with Rüdiger Nehberg and Tarafa Baghajati in Qatar, he gave a fatwa issued by the recognized legal scholars, stating the genital mutilation of girls is referred to and forbidden as "devil's work" because it is directed against the ethics of Islam. "Since factual examination by neutral experts and specialists […] has proved that female genital mutilation […] causes bodily and spiritual damage to the female sex and seriously harms a woman’s married life, this custom must be stopped…" he stated and explained his change of mind: "If scholars before our time had found out what we now know, they would have changed their minds because they always sought the truth"[111][112]


On 5 June 2006, on the Al Jazeera program Sharia and Life, al-Qaradawi (a regular on the program) reiterated orthodox views on homosexuality.[113] 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).[114] The punishment for fornication is lashing.

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Qaradawi said that his attitude towards homosexuality is the same as that found in Christianity. In the interview he stated, "One year ago, there was a demonstration against me in London because I spoke out against homosexuality. People seem to have forgotten that it wasn't me who came up with this mindset. It's part of God's order spoken of by Moses and even mentioned by Jesus."[115]

Other views

Mecca Time

In April 2008, at a conference in Qatar titled "Mecca: the Center of the Earth, Theory and Practice", al-Qaradawi advocated the implementation of Mecca Time to replace the Greenwich Meridian as the basis of the world time zone system.[116]

Muhammed Cartoon Controversy

Al-Qaradawi called for a "Day of Anger" over the cartoons,[117] but condemned violent actions in response to them.

Amman Message

Al-Qaradawi is one of the Ulama signatories of the Amman Message, which gives a broad foundation for defining Muslim orthodoxy.[118]

Salman Rushdie

Al-Qaradawi said, "Rushdie disgraced the honor of the Prophet and his family and defiled the values of Islam," but he never backed the fatwa calling for his death.[119]

Muslim Brotherhood

In 1997 al-Qaradawi was expelled from Egypt because of his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt.[120]

Al-Qaradawi was a follower of Hasan al-Banna during his youth and a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood.[21] He has twice turned down offers to be its leader.[121] In an interview on the Dream channel, al-Qaradawi states the following about his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB):[122]

I joined the Muslim Brotherhood Group and worked with Imam al-Banna. I was influenced by al-Banna's moderate thoughts and principles ... (Later) MB asked me to be a chairman, but I preferred to be a spiritual guide for the entire nation.... MB consider me their Mufti, but I don't have a relation with the organization, because being an MB chairman is something difficult requiring a highly sophisticated wisdom, and I prefer to be devoted to the entire nation, and I feel comfortable with this decision. I like MB and consider them the nearest group to be righteous.

On May 16, 2015 al-Qaradawi has been sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court along with the ousted President Mohamed Morsi and over 100 other Egyptians affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.[123] As reported by the Interpol website, Qaradawi is wanted by the judicial authorities of Egypt for “Agreement, incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping the prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft.”[124]

Reception in the Muslim world

In 2004, 2,500 Muslim academics from 23 countries condemned Qaradawi, and accused him of giving "Islam a bad name and foster[ing] hatred among civilizations" and "providing a religious cover for terrorism".[125][126] In 2012, Qardawi traded barbs with fellow Muslim cleric Abu Abd al-Rahman Ibn Aqil al-Zahiri due to what Ibn Aqil perceived as hypocritical positions of Qardawi during the Arab Spring,[127] a charge he denied.

Pakistani scholar, Muhammad Taqi Usmani stated, "There is no doubt that I—as the lowest student of Islamic Fiqh—with my benefitting from the books of the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī to a very large extent, and my supreme wonderment at the majority of [his works], have found myself, in some particular issues, not in agreement with him in the results that he has arrived at, but these sorts of differences (ikhtilāf) in views based on juristic judgement (ijtihādī) are natural, and cannot be the [sole] basis for judging [their author] so long as the people of knowledge do not deem [the bearers of such opinions] to be weak intellectually, or in religion, and [in any case] the importance of these books and their value in scholarship and da'wa are not affected by this to even the slightest, most insignificant degree."

In addition, he refers to some modern scholars by writing, "What we see today, very unfortunately, is that the one who brings forward elevated ideas in his writings and lofty theories in his speech and his sermons often does not rise above the level of the layman" but exempts Qardawi by saying, "As for the outstanding, erudite scholar, Dr Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī, may God (Most High) preserve him, God (Most High) has indeed made me fortunate enough to accompany him in travels and in residence, and sit with him and closely associate with him in long and repeated meetings. [From this] I found him manifest in his personality exemplary Islamic qualities, for he is a human being before he is a Muslim, and a devoted Muslim before he is a caller to Islam (dā'i), and a caller to Islam before he is a scholar and jurist."[128]


On Syria and Russia

Qaradawi stated that Russia is an "enemy of Islam" due to the country's military relations with the Syrian regime.[129]

His remarks drew harsh criticism from Muslims in Russia. According to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, "Qaradawi's statements had given rise to amazement among the Muslims of Russia." Kadyrov asserted that Qaradawi's statements are mainly "directed against the Muslims of Russia, who are citizens of this country, were born here and live here, and who care about their country".[130]

Kadyrov claimed that "It is not Russia that is supplying weapons and money for the thousands of mercenaries from all over the world who have flooded Syria and are committing daily terrorist attacks, in which the blood of women, old people and children is shed,"[130]

Entry into western countries

Al-Qaradawi has been banned from entering the United States since 1999 and the United Kingdom since 2008,[12] though he visited London in 2004.[131] 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, calling the fight against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories a "necessary Jihad".[132] France announced in March 2012 it will not let him enter.[133]

Fatwa controversy with MEMRI

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) (citing Asharq Al-Awsat), alleges that al-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.[134]

Al-Qaradawi, however, denies this allegation:

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.[135]

Shaker Al-Nabulsi, a former Muslim[136] who writes for the liberal site Ethal, 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.[136]

Alcohol fatwa controversy

Al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa in 2008 stating that the consumption of tiny amounts of alcohol (<0.5% concentration or 5/1000) was acceptable for Muslims.[137] The statement was made regarding energy drinks, where fermentation occurs naturally as part of the production process. This does not contradict the widespread view that consuming alcohol is totally forbidden to Muslims. The fermentation in this process is natural and unavoidable, similarly it is an extremely small proportion.

Terrorist allegations

In October 2004 over 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries signed a petition addressed to the United Nations to raise awareness on the use of religion for incitement to violence. Al-Qaradawi was mentioned among “the sheikhs of death,” as the signatories defined those who manipulate religion to incite violence, for “providing a religious cover for terrorism.”[138]

The sheikh’s extremist views had costed him the possibility to access the U.S. since 1999. In 2008 the UK Home Office stated that al-Qaradawi was denied a visa to enter Britain for medical treatment because of fears that his preaching “could foster inter-community violence.”[139] In March 2012 the French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared his decision to block the entry of extremists in the country after the Tolouse attacks, and specifically mentioned al-Qaradawi as those barred from entering France.[140]

Moreover, Qaradawi chairs the Union of Good (UG), a coalition of Islamic charities supporting Hamas’ infrastructure and terrorist activities banned by Israel in 2002 and designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2008.[141][142]

In December 2014 the International Union of Muslim Scholars led by al-Qaradawi was expelled from the Cairo-based International Islamic Council for Da'wah and Relief based on the allegation that the group mixed religion and politics and supported terrorism.[143]

The Consortium Against Terrorist Finance also reports that in 2010 the ideologue was listed as the chairman of the Sharia supervisory board of Qatar Islamic Bank, one of the Qatari sharia-compliant giants which has allegedly a long history of cooperation with controversial financial entities.[142] Finally, al-Qaradawi is a former Sharia adviser and shareholder to Bank al-Taqwa, once listed by the U.S and the UN as a terrorist financier associated with al-Qaeda but delisted in 2010.[142]

Personal life

Al-Qaradawi was born in Eqypt but lives in Qatar.[1] He has three sons and four daughters,[144] three of whom hold doctorates from British Universities.[9][145] His daughter, Ilham Yousef Al-Qaradawi, is an internationally recognized nuclear scientist.[146][147] His son, Abdurrahman Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is a poet and a political activist in Egypt.[148]

Awards and recognition

Al-Qaradawi has been awarded by various countries and institutions for his contributions to Islamic society. Among them are

The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, part of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, instituted the "Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi Scholarships" in 2009, awarding them to five students each year for post-graduate studies.[153] It also named after him its newly established research centre, The Qaradawi Center for Islamic Moderation and Renewal.[154][155]

He is a trustee of the Oxford University Center for Islamic Studies[14] and has been named as the technical consultant for a multimillion-dollar English-language film about Mohammed, produced by Barrie Osborne.[15][16] A 2008 Foreign Policy online poll put him at No.3 in the list of the Top 20 Public Intellectuals worldwide.[156]


Al -Qaradawi has authored more than 120 books[3] and his academic style and objective thought are considered to be some of the main characteristics of his works.[9] His most famous work is The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam. Professor Mustafa al-Zarqa declared that owning a copy of it was "the duty of every Muslim family".

Fiqh al-Zakat

His book Fiqh al-Zakat is considered by some as the most comprehensive work in the area of zakat. Abul Ala Maududi commented on it as "the book of this century in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)"[9][20] The prominent Deobandi Islamic scholar Muhammad Taqi Usmani, said this about the work:[157]

The first book that read in its entirety of his works is his valuable book Fiqh al-Zakat, and I benefitted much from this great, encyclopedic, rewarding work through which the author did a great service to the second of the pillars of Islam, in a way that the umma needs today, when it comes to the application of zakat at the level of the individual and the group. Indeed this work manifested the genius of its author, and his inventive methodology, not only in the clarification of issues pertaining to zakat and their compilation, but in stimulating research in contemporary topics that no one before him had touched upon, and basing them upon the principles fiqh and its jurisprudential theory.

Fiqh al-Jihad

His book Fiqh al-Jihad has been widely commented on. The Guardian writes:[158]

Instead Qaradawi encourages a "middle way" conception of jihad: "solidarity" with the Palestinians and others on the front line, rather than violence, is an obligatory form of jihad. Financial jihad, which corresponds with the obligation of alms giving (zakat), counts as well. And Muslims should recognise that technological change means that media and information systems are as much a part of the jihadist repertoire as are guns. Indeed, as long as Muslims are free to use media and other resources to press their case, there is no justification for using force to "open" countries for Islam.

This book has also been analyzed by University of Southern California professor Sherman Jackson and Tunisian Islamist scholar-politician Rachid Ghannouchi.[159]

His views on jihad have attracted criticism from some hard line groups.

Major works

Yusuf al-Qaradawi wrote many books, some of which were translated into English:

Amongst his dozens of works in Arabic, we cite:

He has also published some excerpts of his poetry in the book Nafahat wa Lafahat. Al-Qaradawi has also been the subject of the book The Global Mufti: The Phenomenon of Yusuf al-Qaradawi published by Columbia University Press.[160] He is also profiled as one of the leading liberal voices in contemporary Islam in Charles Kurzman's book Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, published by Oxford University Press.[161]

See also


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