[Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi speaking to a crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Feb. 2, 2014 (AP File)]
Doha (Qatar): Yusuf al-Qaradawi, known in the Indian Sub-continent as Allama Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Islamic scholar, author of over 120 books and spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood, has passed away.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, as his disciples in the Arab World would like to call, died in Doha, Qatar on Monday at the age of 96.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a hero to some and villain to others, was born in 1926 in Egypt that was under the British colonial rule at the time. He combined religious education with anti-colonial activism during his youth. His activism against the British occupation and later, his association with the Muslim Brotherhood, led to his arrest several times during the 1950’s.
[Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in a file photo.]
Al-Qaradawi moved to Qatar in the early 1960s when he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Shariah at Qatar University. He was later granted Qatari citizenship. Based in Qatar, he established the International Union of Muslim Scholars and became its Chairman.
As spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood, he was credited to have actively worked for the victory of Mohamed Morsi in the 2012 Egyptian elections. Naturally, he was highly critical of the coup that overthrew Morsi, in 2013.
Al-Qaradawi was unable to return to Egypt following Morsi’s ouster due to his opposition to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. In 2015, he was tried and sentenced to death in absentia in Egypt.
Al-Qaradawi was held in a very high esteem by Arabs and non-Arabs across the Muslim World. He was also a regular invitee to all regional or international conferences attended by top Saudi and other Arab scholars.
So respected was Al-Qaradawi in Saudi Arabia that he was conferred the Kingdom’s prestigious King Faisal Award (King Faisal International Prize) in acknowledgment of his scholarship, and academic and literary work.
Things started to change with the rise of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the “Arab Spring” that started to spread beyond Egypt.
The members of Muslim Brotherhood wanted to replicate their “Egyptian Model” in other Arab states, despite the damages and destruction that Iraq and Libya – two flourishing countries where the United States and its allies wanted to establish “democracy”, witnessed after the ouster of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi.
The ambitions of Muslim Brotherhood to spread its wings in the Arab World invited the wrath of the monarchies, and a crackdown to cleanse the Arab World of Brotherhood started. Al Qaradawi, a hero till now, became a villain overnight.
Besides his association with Muslim Brotherhood, some of his fatwas were also cited as the reason why Yususf al-Qaradawi lost the affinity and support of Arab leaders. Two most cited are his fatwas in favour of suicide bombings, especially against the Israeli Zionist forces, and his call to overthrow “anyone” who opposes the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qaradawi condemned the 9/11 attacks in the United States, but also called on Muslims to fight Americans in Iraq following the 2003 invasion. Some of his fatwas that his critics say demean the women also are used to criticise Al-Qaradawi.
Few years ago, pro-government Arab News profiled a number of scholars and religious figures – Muslims and non-Muslims both, and published a series of articles under the title “The Preachers of Hate”. The newspaper believed Yusuf Al-Qaradawi was also one of them.
The leading Saudi daily used the same attribute while reporting Al-Qaradawi’s death Monday. One doesn’t know how the newspaper forgot the Islamic preaching that prohibits Muslims from calling the deceased by bad names.
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi was based in Qatar and most of his activities were limited to the Middle East. However, he also has a huge fan-following in the Indian sub-continent – especially in India and Pakistan.
The Urdu translation of his books and other scholarly work are easily available in the two counties, and people read them with a lot of interest. There was also a time in the nineties when his books were distributed free of cost by some Muslim organisations.
[A rare picture of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi leading the funeral prayer of Syed Abu Al-A'la Al-Maududi, founder of Jamaat e Islami and Islamic Scholar, at Lahore City Stadium on September 22, 1979.]
When the table turned on Al-Qaradawi in the Middle East, in the Indian sub-continent too Muslims got divided in two – some supporting him and others becoming his critic.
Interestingly, among the supporters and critics of Al-Qaradawi in the Indian sub-continent, very few could claim his ideology – right or wrong, as the reason for support or criticism. Among his critics in India and Pakistan, a good majority is of the people who oppose Al-Qaradawi merely because he lost the favour of the Arab rulers.
On the other hand, those supporting him are doing this solely because they share with him the hate against the Saudi Kings, and the UAE and other Middle East rulers.
Despite all the ups and downs in his life, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi remained the darling of the rulers of Qatar till his last breath on Monday September 26, 2022.
[The writer, Aleem Faizee, is Founder Editor of ummid.com. Write to him via e-mail address email@example.com. With inputs from agencies.]
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