Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Yusuf al Qaradawi is an Egyptian scholar. Articulate and widely read, he is one of the most widely commented on scholars of Islam. Al Qaradawi is a founder of the website IslamOnline, one of the intellectual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and the most influential leader associated with the movement since Mahdi Akef stepped down from his position as Supreme Leader in January 2010.

Leading Figure of the Muslim Brotherhood
Qaradawi is incredibly influential as an intellectual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood - one of the most important modern movements in Islam. He has twice turned down offers to be their leader - in 1976 and 2004 - preferring to be free of institutional restrictions. Qaradawi grew up and matured with the Muslim Brotherhood but has distanced himself from the movement in recent years. As early as 1997 he went out of his way to explain his independence from any organization, stating categorically that he was not a member of the Brotherhood. Earlier in his life Qaradawi was jailed three times for his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and subsequently stripped of his Egyptian citizenship in the 1970s - driving him to seek exile in Qatar. The Muslim Brotherhood remains the main opposition force in Egypt. Although he has no formal relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, his writings make him an important intellectual figure in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Popular Influence
Qaradawi is incredibly influential as a vociferous voice of criticism of the West and of Israel. Much of Qaradawi’s influence over the past decade has been a product of his forthright views on combating social injustice, especially concerning Israeli-Palestinian relations. His view that suicide bombing is a legitimate form of self-defense has landed him in trouble, especially in Western Europe, but is reflective of an underlying sentiment among many in the Middle East that oppression deserves such a response - however Qaradawi goes against the grain of most leading Islamic thinkers by supporting suicide bombing as a tactic of war.

Scholar for Modern Times
Qaradawi’s ability to combine the traditional knowledge of Islamic law with a contemporary understanding of the issues that Muslims face today, has led him to become one of the best known and most influential contemporary Muslim clerics of our time. He uses a variety of means to connect with people. He is well known for his popular Al Jazeera program 'Ash- Shari‘ah wal-Hayat' (Islamic Law and Life) that is watched by an estimated 40-50 million people worldwide. Despite his popularity, Qaradawi is often criticized by fellow scholars regarding his methodology and his occasionally unusual opinions. He does, however, continue to be respected as a knowledgeable scholar and has been praised for his condemnation of the September 11th attacks.

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