Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, passed away on Monday. With his Islamist sermons, he helped inspire the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 and upset Egyptian and Gulf rulers. He was 96.
Qaradawi was born in Egypt but spent most of his life in Qatar. He became one of the most well-known and influential Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world because he appeared on Al Jazeera on a regular basis.
His sermons, which were broadcast into millions of homes, fueled tensions, which led Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf to blockade Qatar in 2017 and label Qaradawi a terrorist. (Islamist champion of Arab)
On his official Twitter account, his passing was announced.
Supporters frequently referred to Qaradawi as a moderate who provided a counterweight to al-Qaeda’s radical ideologies. He attended Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. He supported democratic politics and strongly opposed the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
However, he also authorized violence for his own purposes.
He supported attacks on coalition forces in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, as well as Palestinian suicide bombings of Israeli targets during the 2000 uprising.
He was denied entry into a number of Western nations.
He called for Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, to be killed during the Arab Spring uprisings and declared jihad against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
As a young man, Qaradawi joined the Muslim Brotherhood. Since its 1928 founding in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna, whom Qaradawi knew, the Brotherhood has been viewed as a threat by autocratic Arab leaders because it promotes Islam as a political agenda.
He turned down the opportunity to lead the group and instead focused on preaching, studying Islam, and gaining a large following outside of the group.
His stature increased following the Arab uprisings of 2011.
When he went to Cairo after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled, he told a packed Tahrir Square that Egyptians were no longer afraid because they had overthrown a modern pharaoh. (Islamist champion of Arab)
With long-repressed Islamists enjoying new freedoms and a Brotherhood member, Mohamed Mursi, being elected president in 2012, the appearance captured the magnitude of the change that appeared to be sweeping the region.
Qaradawi criticized the new, army-led order that unleashed a ferocious crackdown on the Brotherhood when the military toppled Mursi a year later, supported by mass protests.
He advocated for boycotting the 2014 presidential election, in which army commander Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected president.
Qaradawi stated, “The responsibility of the nation is to resist the oppressors, restrain their hands, and silence their tongues.”
David Warren, a Washington University in St. Louis research fellow and contemporary Islam scholar, stated, “He’s somebody who was committed to democracy and popular sovereignty from an Islamic perspective.”
He continued, “But being a democrat doesn’t mean that someone has to be a pacifist; therefore, in the context of a civil war like that of Libya and Syria, he could hold those positions while similarly saying that Gaddafi is a tyrant who should be killed….”
As a young man, Qaradawi was imprisoned multiple times in Egypt. In 2015, an Egyptian court gave him, Mursi, and 90 other people, the death penalty in absentia. Qaradawi said the decisions, which connected with a mass escape in 2011, were hogwash and disregarded Islamic regulation, taking note that he was in Qatar at that point. (Islamist champion of Arab)
He criticized Riyadh for supporting Sisi, and his attacks on Sisi and support for the Brotherhood exacerbated tensions between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, another supporter of the new Egyptian government.
In 2014, the Muslim Brotherhood was classified as a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Qaradawi stopped preaching on Fridays in 2014 when Riyadh and its allies withdrew ambassadors from Doha. He said he wanted to ease some pressure on Qatar, his adopted country since the 1960s.
However, in statements, he continued to criticize Egypt’s new ruler.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) was chaired by Qaradawi, who had memorized the Koran by the time he was 10 years old. He opposed takfiring, an Islamic militant ideology in which non-believers are used as justification for the murder of Muslims who disagree with them.
In addition, Qaradawi was against the ultra-radical Islamic State organization, stating that he completely disagreed with Daesh “in ideology and means.”
The IUMS stated that IS did not represent Islam in any way when it killed a captured Jordanian pilot in 2015.
However, he dismissed the United States’ participation in the group’s fight as self-serving. Critics noted that his tacit support for U.S. action in Syria in 2013 when Washington considered but never carried out strikes on the Syrian government over the use of chemical weapons appeared to be in contrast to that position.
At the time, Qaradawi suggested that God was using foreign powers to exact revenge.
Qaradawi turned against the Lebanese Shi’ite organization Hezbollah, which he had once praised for fighting Israel, during the war in Syria, where Sunni rebels fought the Alawite-led state supported by Shi’ite Iran. He referred to it as “the devil’s party.”
He stood by the Palestinian struggle against Israel wholeheartedly.
Qaradawi stated the following during a 2013 visit to Gaza, which was hosted by the Islamist group Hamas that is in charge: We ought to strive for incremental liberation of Palestine, including its entirety.”