Muslim Brotherhood founder, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, dies at 96
The influential Egyptian Sunni Muslim cleric, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, has died in Qatar at the age of 96.
He died on Monday, according to his website.
Qaradawi was known for founding the International Union of Muslim Scholars and was seen as a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement.
For many years, he had a religious phone-in show on Al Jazeera TV that was watched by tens of millions.
Qaradawi’s supporters described him as a moderate, but some Western and Gulf states branded him an extremist.
He condemned the 9/11 attacks in the United States by jihadist militants from al-Qaeda and backed the pro-democracy uprisings against the leaders of Egypt, Libya and Syria during the Arab Spring.
But he also called on Muslims to fight Americans in Iraq following the 2003 invasion and claimed that Islam justified Palestinian suicide bomb attacks against Israelis during the second Palestinian intifada that began in 2000.
When an uprising began in Egypt against the rule of long-time President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Qaradawi supported the protesters in his TV broadcasts and issued an edict forbidding security personnel from opening fire on them.
Upon his return to Egypt in 2011, he began to lead Friday prayers for hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square a week after Mubarak’s resignation.
“Don’t let anyone steal this revolution from you — those hypocrites who will put on a new face that suits them,” he told the crowd.
After long-time Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, Al-Qaradawi led sermons before hundreds of thousands of people spreading his ideas and believes. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 but was cleared by a higher court in 2014.
However, Al-Qaradawi was forced again into exile in 2013 when the military overthrew Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood loyalist, following mass protests against his policies.
Al-Qaradawi condemned what he described as a “coup” and appealed to all groups in Egypt to restore Morsi to what he called his “legitimate post.”
Al-Qaradawi was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court in 2015 alongside other Brotherhood leaders.
Who is Al-Qaradawi
Name: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Nationality: Egyptian-born Qatari citizen
Occupation: Spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research; co-founder of IslamOnline.net
Legal status: Banned from Egypt since 1997; sentenced to death in absentia in 2015; on the terror list of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain
Media: Hosted his own show on Al Jazeera Arabic, “Ash-Shariah wal-Hayat” (“Shariah and Life”); appearances on Al-Hayat TV, BBC Arabic, Palestinian Authority TV, Al-Faraeen TV, Al-Hiwar TV; more than 4 million Twitter and Facebook followers combined.
Some of Al-Qaradawi’s contentious fatwas
2003-2005: Issued several fatwas calling for a jihad against Israel and Jews, in which he deemed all adult Jews living in Palestine as “occupants” and combatants,” making them legitimate targets of war.
2004: Justified an uprising against the American presence in Iraq and permitted the killing of those who fight.
2010: Contended that suicide bombers do not really commit suicide, but die as an accidental consequence of carrying out their operations, which counts as a glorious sacrifice in holy war and qualifies them for martyrdom.
2013: Advocated the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s government in Egypt during the Arab Spring.
2015: Called anyone who went against the legitimate leader of the land “khawarij” (enemies of Islam) after Mohammed Morsi took office in Egypt.
In a 2019 tweet, Al-Qaradawi claimed he was not a preacher of hate and that he had spent the past 25 years promoting moderate thought.
“I stood against extremism and extremists for approximately a quarter of a century. I saw its threat to deen and dunya (religion and the temporal world), on the individual and society, and I have reinforced my pen, tongue and thought (to support) the call for moderation and reject exaggeration and negligence, either in the field of fiqh and fatwa (Islamic jurisprudence and legal pronouncement in Islam) or in the field of tableegh and da’wah (guidance and preaching),” he tweeted at the time.
He however justified suicide bombings, especially in Palestine, repeatedly spoke out against Jews as a community, and issued fatwas (religious edicts) that demean women.
In a fatwa on his website, he stated that martyrdom is a higher form of jihad. And in a 2004 interview on the BBC’s Newsnight program, he praised suicide bombings in Israeli-occupied Palestine as martyrdom in the name of God.
“I supported martyrdom operations, and I am not the only one,” he said.
He also encouraged Muslims who were unable to fight to financially support mujahideen (those engaged in jihad) everywhere in foreign lands. This could hardly be described as a stand against terrorism.
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s vocal support for suicide bombers and edicts demeaning women brought global condemnation.
In 2008, he was refused a visa by the UK Home Office to visit the country to receive medical treatment. David Cameron, the former Conservative Party leader, described Al-Qaradawi as “dangerous and divisive” in his appeal to the government to reject the visa application.
The Home Office said: “The UK will not tolerate the presence of those who seek to justify any acts of terrorist violence or express views that could foster inter-community violence.”
At the time, Al-Qaradawi was already banned from entering the US. In 2012 he was barred from entering France.
Al-Qaradawi became a familiar name in Arabic-speaking Muslim communities with his weekly appearance on the religious phone-in program Al-Shariah wa Al-Haya (Islamic Law and Life), that was broadcast to millions worldwide.
Al-Qaradawi issued fatwas authorizing attacks on all Jews. On Al Jazeera Arabic in January 2009, he said: “Oh God, take Your enemies, the enemies of Islam … Oh God, take the treacherous Jewish aggressors … Oh God, count their numbers, slay them one by one and spare none.”
Even though mass protests overthrew Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood loyalist, some Sudanese Islamists protested the death sentence handed out to him by an Egyptian court.
He held a similar disdain and deep-seated hatred of Europeans. That Al-Qaradawi was an Islamic supremacist with a total disregard for European civilization and culture could be gauged from one of his lectures on Qatar TV in 2007.
“I think that Islam will conquer Europe without resorting to the sword or fighting. Europe is miserable with materialism, with the philosophy of promiscuity and with the immoral considerations that rule the world — considerations of self-interest and self-indulgence,” he said.
“It’s high time (Europe) woke up and found a way out from this, and it won’t find a lifesaver or a lifeboat other than Islam.”
On his show in 2013, Al-Qaradawi blasted Muslim countries as weak, and called on citizens to overthrow their governments and launch a war against all who oppose the Brotherhood, describing them as “khawarij” (enemies of Islam).
Many intellectuals and commentators in the Arab world viewed his lectures as dangerous regurgitation of Islamist dogma out of touch with the modern world.
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Muslim Brotherhood founder, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, dies at 96