In light of the criticism recently leveled against Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, the Doha Youth Center held a solidarity conference on February 17, 2005. Various Arab and Islamic personalities participated in the conference, such as the Mufti of Oman, Ahmad Al-Khalili, Sudan's Minister of Awqaf (Endowments) 'Asim Al-Bashir, and the editor of the Egyptian nationalist weekly Al-Usbu' Mustafa Bakri. The following are excerpts from the conference:
Al-Qaradhawi: Nobody in Qatar Dictates to Me What to Talk and What Not to Talk About in My Sermons
During the conference, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi noted that the Qatari authorities give him complete freedom of action, and that they never intervened in the contents of his sermons: "I can testify about the country [Qatar] that for 44 years, since I arrived there, nobody has interfered with my freedom, prevented me from giving a sermon, or dictated to me what to talk about and what not [to talk] about. Moreover, I am the one who decides what I will talk about…
"When I was only nine, the people of my village gave me the title 'sheikh [who teaches] the Koran and religious science.' I have devoted myself to religious propagation [ da'wa ] for the sake of Allah, and I have not relinquished the mission that Allah entrusted to me. I see myself as appointed by Allah. I will never withdraw from this mission. I hope my life will end with a virtuous death, like [the death] sought by warriors fighting Jihad for the sake of Allah. I do not defend falsehood or the tyrants … but I defend and am beneficial to the affairs of my nation. I will not relinquish my mission whatever accusations are leveled at me regarding terrorism or other matters."
The London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat reported that Al-Qaradhawi said: "I am not afraid of the Mossad or the Americans." He also said: "The Mossad has threatened to eliminate me, and I hope that Allah will grant me martyrdom [ shahada ] for His sake and that my life will end by my dying at the hands of the enemies of Islam." According to the daily, Al-Qaradhawi hoped to die "a virtuous death" and that this meant "that the head would be severed from the body."
London Mayor Livingstone: 'Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's Ideology is Utterly Remote from Extremism'
During the solidarity conference, a film about Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi was aired, in which London Mayor Ken Livingstone appeared. According to a report on Al-Jazeera TV 's Internet site, Livingstone said: "We were surprised by the onslaught of unbridled distortion of facts in the papers, which described this man as a wild animal and presented him as the jurisprudent of Satan... We were therefore of the opinion that it is important to conduct a comprehensive inquiry, in which we will consult with the world's ' ulema and study Dr. Al-Qaradhawi's 140 books.
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"The results of the report were astounding. It transpired that most of the fabrications that distorted Dr. Al-Qaradhawi's words come from the institute called 'The Middle East Media Research Institute,' which purports to be an objective institute interpreting the words of the Muslim ' ulema from around the world. However, we have discovered that an ex-officer in the Israeli intelligence, the Mossad, is running this institute and that the institute systematically distorts not only Al-Qaradhawi's words, but the words of many [other] Muslim ' ulema as well. In most cases, this distortion is comprehensive, and therefore we printed this document."
According to the Qatar daily Al-Sharq, Livingstone noted that after special committees had studied Al-Qaradhawi's ideology by reviewing over 140 books, as well as sermons and lectures by Al-Qaradhawi, it was found that "Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's ideology is utterly remote from extremism."
Participant: 'Yesterday It Was Garaudy, Today It Is Al-Qaradhawi'
In their speeches, some of the conference's participants recalled the fact that the center had previously held a conference in solidarity with Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy. One of the participants, Muhammad Al-Musfir, a political science lecturer at Qatar University, said: "I thank Qatar's political leadership for [the way] it has treated thinking and sensible men, despite the great onslaught against it. I also thank the youth center in Doha, which respects independent-minded people and supports them. Yesterday it was Garaudy, and today it is Al-Qaradhawi, with whom we totally identify."
Dr. Hayat Al-Hweiek 'Atiya, who is close to Garaudy and who translated one of his books denying the Holocaust, also participated in the conference. 'Atiya, the only Christian participant, said: "Muslim civilization is being targeted. As a Christian, I think we are gathering today [to honor] the supreme value that this man represents."
Al-Sharq (Qatar), February 20, 2005.
Al-Hayat (London), February 19, 2005. In his memoirs, Al-Qaradhawi noted that Hasan Al-Bana, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood movement in 1936, related to " virtuous death" as follows: "Jihad in this period is a personal duty of every Egyptian and Sudanese until the English leave his homeland. Each citizen must sacrifice whatever he can. The Muslim Brotherhood is prepared to sacrifice thousands of young men as offerings to their homeland, which is a large part of the land of Islam... Oh Allah, give me a virtuous life and a virtuous death. What is a virtuous death, oh [Muslim] brothers? Is it to die in bed next to your wife, your children, and your relatives? The virtuous death that I imagine is [one in which] this head – pointing to his own head – is severed from this body for the sake of Allah." See:
Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), February 18, 2005.
Al-Sharq (Qatar), February 20. 2005.
Al-Sharq (Qatar), February 20. 2005.
Al-Raya (Qatar), February 20, 2005.