On July 6, 2013, three days after Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi was ousted by his opponents and by the Egyptian military, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, who heads the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), issued a fatwa determining that Mursi's removal by Egyptian Defense Minister 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi was a mistake, both constitutionally and according to Islamic shari'a.
Al-Qaradhawi ruled that Mursi must return to office, and that everyone must support him. He presented quotes from the Koran and Sunna to justify his ruling, and stressed that even if the ruler makes mistakes he must continue in his post, and that it is up to the people and the political forces to correct him, advise him, and be tolerant of him.
Also in his fatwa, Al-Qaradhawi attacked Al-Sisi, the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Coptic patriarch, and the Salafis and other political forces who supported Mursi's ouster.
In response to the fatwa, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Qaradhawi, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi's son, published a letter to his father titled "Sorry, Father, Mursi Has No Legitimacy, in which he opposed his father's fatwa and justified Mursi's removal. In his letter, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Qaradhawi claimed that his father's fatwa contradicts what he had written in one of his own books – i.e. that the ruler is bound by the opinion of the majority that swears loyalty to him. He further claimed that it was his father who taught him that freedom comes before the shari'a, and complained that his father had utilized a fatwa to present his view on a political matter.
Following are excerpts from Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's fatwa and from his son's letter:
Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's Fatwa: Mursi's Ouster – A Constitutional And Shari'a Mistake
"...This is a fatwa I am issuing for the Egyptian people, with all its groups and elements... When matters become complicated, problems weigh heavily, and people turn to the left and to the right. [In this situation,] people will find nothing better or more pure than Allah's book [the Koran] and the Sunna of his Prophet [Muhammad]...
"This fatwa is joined by many scholars in Al-Azhar, the Arab and Islamic world in general, and members of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which I head...
"For 30 years – and even for 60 years – Egyptians have been prevented from electing their own president... until Allah bestowed upon them a president whom they themselves elected of their own free will – President Muhammad Mursi. They undertook to obey him for better or for worse, and all sectors – military and civilian, rulers and subjects – acknowledged him, including Gen. 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi, who was the minister of defense and military production in the Hisham Qandil government. Al-Sisi swore loyalty to President Mursi before our eyes, and continued in it until we suddenly saw him change and upgrade [his status] from that of a minister like any other to that of someone with supreme authority – [authority] which he used to explain the removal of his legitimate president. He violated his oath of loyalty to the president and joined one side of the citizenry against the other, claiming that he backed the larger camp.
"Gen. Al-Sisi and those who supported him in this move erred in both the constitutional and shari'a aspects. As for the constitutional aspect – the president, who was elected democratically, and about that there is no argument or doubt – should continue [to serve out] his full term of four years... and if he has made mistakes, which he himself acknowledged, the people and its various political forces should correct him, advise him and be patient with him, but he still remains the president of everyone.
"However, a group of people disobeying the president and claiming authority over the people and [the authority] to oust the president, rescind the constitution, and impose a new president and constitution – all this has no legal standing. This is because [this group] invented a regime that the people did not establish. On the contrary – they violated their commitment to Allah and the people, and undid the work of a mighty revolution carried out by the entire people, [which] established the democratic regime of which people had dreamed [for] generations... Therefore, the constitution and the democratic regime reject all the declared unconstitutional moves [to oust Mursi].
"As for the shari'a aspect – Islamic shari'a, which Egypt's residents want as their source of authority in a civil state, and not a religious theocratic one – requires all those who believe in it and rely on it to obey a legitimately elected president, and to carry out his orders in all walks of life, under two conditions:
"The first condition – he must not order the people to explicitly violate Islam... This is verified by common hadiths by the Prophet as they were relayed by [the reliable hadith collectors] Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others (as specified below):
"- 'Listen and obey [your ruler], even if an Ethiopian slave whose head is like a raisin becomes your ruler.' – Anas ibn Malik.
"- 'Those who see something obscene about their ruler [i.e. those who see the ruler acting inappropriately] – should endure it patiently, because those who grow distant from the group [the Muslim community], are destined to die as infidels.' – Ibn 'Abbas.
"- 'Listening and obeying [your rulers] are a Muslim's duties, whether he likes it or not, unless he receives an order [from the ruler] to transgress against the religion, and then he must not listen or obey.' Ibn Umar.
"- 'The duty of obedience only applies to good deeds [that are not forbidden by the religion]'. 'Ali.
"This is confirmation of the Koranic text regarding the women's oath of fealty: '...nor will they disobey you in what is right...' [Koran 60:12]
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"There is no proof of [a single] case in which President Muhammad Mursi ordered [a single] citizen to explicitly violate the laws of Islam. Moreover, the protests and counter-protests that we are witnessing in Tahrir Square are to Muhammad Mursi's credit."
Mursi's Ouster Is Against The General Consensus Of The Nation
"The second condition – [the ruler] must not give the people an order that removes them [from Islam] and enters them into clear and undoubted heresy... This appears in a hadith by Ubada [who said]: 'The Prophet called us to pledge allegiance to him, which we did... We shall listen and obey whether we are in difficulty or at ease, and even when somebody is given preference over us, and that we shall not contest the authority of our rulers.' The Prophet of God said: 'You can only rise against them if you witness outright Kufr [heresy] in any matter from them, in which you have clear evidence from God.'
"There is no doubt that the legitimate President Mursi did not order such violations of Islam and did not commit clear heresy... On the contrary – he is a man who fasts and prays and is obedient to Allah, so he must remain president and no one can claim to the people that he has the right to oust him. Al-Sisi's claim that he did it for the good of the people and to prevent a split into two [rival] factions does not justify his support for one side against the other.
"The people whom Al-Sisi used do not represent the Egyptian people, but [only] a minority. [The Sheikh of Al-Azhar] senior Imam Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the head of the Supreme Council of Clerics – of which I am a member – did not consult with us and was not authorized to speak for us. He was mistaken to support the opposition to the legitimate president, because this contradicts the general consent of the nation [Ijma'a]. He did not base his position on the Koran or on the Sunna; on the contrary – the Koran and Sunna both support President Mursi... I wish Al-Tayeb had treated Mursi like he treated Hosni Mubarak! Why does he use such a double standard? This is a destruction of the role of Al-Azhar, which always stands by the people and not by the tyrant ruler.
"As for the Coptic Patriarch Tawadros – the Copts did not authorize him to speak for them, and some of them had even joined the [MB's] Freedom and Justice Party and the Islamic parties. As for [Mohamed] ElBaradei – The National Salvation [Front] did not authorize him [to speak for them]. He has only a small group of people on his side, and the opposition forces do not claim that he represents them. As for the person who speaks for the Al-Nour [Salafi] Party – he represents a small known group of people, [while] all the Salafis, Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, the independent nationalist parties, and respectable people oppose these [moves], which will bring the country and the state of human rights in it to a bad and bitter end."
Is It Reasonable That We Were Patient With Mubarak For 30 Years But Will Not Be Patient With Mursi For One Year?
"With all love and honesty, I call on General Al-Sisi and those who support him, on all parties and political forces in Egypt, on all my brethren clerics around the world, and on all lovers of freedom, justice, and liberty to stand as one to defend truth and for restoring President Mursi to his legitimate status...
"For 30 years, Hosni Mubarak corrupted the country, humiliated the people, stole money and smuggled it abroad, and hired thugs to defend his men, until eventually everyone saw him as a corrupt tyrant when he gave his successor a country in a state of total ruin. And despite this, the military did not oust him, but rather allowed him to order the army to take power from him.
"Is [it reasonable] that we were patient with Hosni Mubarak for 30 years but will not be patient with Muhammad Mursi for one year? The flaw lies not with the democratic regime but rather with those who implement it. Fixing [this flaw] is done by actions that are in line with [the principles of democracy] and not their fundamental destruction.
"Egypt must not do this and [must not] disrespect its constitution, its elected president, and Allah's shari'a, since it will bring about only loathing and divine punishment. 'And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do.' [Koran 14:42]
"From the depths of my heart, I call on the entire Egyptian people – whom I love, for whom I am willing to sacrifice myself, and from whom I demand neither payment nor thanks, but only Allah's respect. I call [on the people] in upper and lower Egypt, in the cities and villages, in the deserts and the Nile Delta; on the men, women, young people, and elderly; on the rich and poor, clerks and workers, Muslims and Christians, liberals and Islamists, to stand as one to preserve the achievements of the revolution: freedom and democracy, the liberation from all dictatorship, and not abandoning it in the hands of a tyrannical ruler, whether military or civilian, since this has been the cause of the fall of several nations who lost their liberty and got it back only years afterwards...
"By Allah, protect our Egypt and our people, and lead us not to our doom because of what the foolish among us have done. Amen.
"Head, International Union of Muslim Scholars."
Al-Qaradhawi's Son: In Contrast To Your Generation, Our Generation Will Not Permit Tyranny
On July 7, 2013, Al-Qaradhawi's son, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Qaradhawi, published an open letter to his father in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', which is close to the opposition to the Mursi regime:
"My dear father, the honorable scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi... Before being your son, I am your student, and it seems to me and to many of your fans and students that the current period, with all its difficulties and complexities, is new and totally different from the experience of your generation – a generation that did not know true popular revolutions, and did not [intimately know] the 'will of the people' and the novel ideas of the youth, which is perhaps the reason you have written something that I never learned from you...
"My honorable father, the comparison [you drew in your fatwa] between Mursi and Mubarak is unacceptable to our generation... Our generation did not show forbearance during 60 or 30 years of tyranny, as you wrote. It was your generation that did this, in the name of self-restraint. As for us, we are a generation that learned not to allow a single seed of tyranny to take root, and have decided to uproot it in its first year before it grows, since it is a despicable tree that must be removed from the earth. Had Mursi done even one percent of what his predecessor had, we would never have remained silent, which is our right..."
Mursi Did Not Fulfill His Obligations To The People
"I learned from you that Muslims fulfill their obligations. Was it not you who said: 'If the Imam undertakes to agree to the will of the majority and if the oath of loyalty to him was delivered on that basis, then according to the shari'a, he is bound by that obligation and must not disregard it after ascending to power... since fulfilling this obligation is a commandment of the Koran and one of the moral principles of Muslims'... [?] [That is a quote from your book] "Political Islam In Light Of Shari'a Texts And Their Goals," page 116...
"This man [Mursi] undertook before us that there should be mutual agreement regarding the constitution and [the composition of] the government, and did not fulfill his obligation. He promised to include us in running the country, as opposed to [him] dominating, and did not fulfill this. [He undertook] to be the president of all Egyptian citizens, and did not fulfill this... In that case, according to what obligation to Allah do you ask us to leave him in power? ...
"Oh, my father and teacher, I remember something you said to me that I shall not forget as long as I live... a saying that has become my... [key] to understanding Islam and Islamic politics. You said to me and to our entire generation: 'Freedom comes before the shari'a.' On the basis of this statement, I was and still am one of the revolutionaries demanding freedom for all people, and based on it I was in [Tahrir] Square on January 25 [2011, the onset of the Egyptian revolution], and June 30 [2013, the day of the Tamarrud protests against Mursi]. [On those days,] I did not engage in demanding to implement the shari'a, and I did not think I had the right to impose the shari'a on anyone. Moreover, I engaged in encouraging the people to be free men, since freedom and shari'a are equal in my eyes...
"My honorable father, in your fatwa you called on Gen. Al-Sisi and all the political forces... to restore Mursi to power and o advise him... What if I told you that among his advisors, chosen by he himself, are people who can be trusted for their knowledge, their religious piety, their loyalty, and their nationalism, and that all these people nevertheless abandoned him when they saw that they were nothing but democratic trappings for a new tyranny? This is because the man [Mursi] listened to none but the men [of the MB] and the [MB] general guide... who pushed him to bring about a confrontation between the people and the [MB] movement in order to justify and make decisions on his own – which led to great [bloodshed] and to fitna in the country. It was not for this that the Egyptians and the revolutionaries swore loyalty to him..."
It Is Time For This Nation To Complete The Difficult Mission And Separate Religion And State
"In times of crisis, we sat with all sides, and no one doubted the president's legitimacy. [The difficulties] could have been overcome with simple concessions. But unfortunately we did not see responsible statesmen there, but rather a group of people who strive for regime exclusivity at all costs. We had all hoped that the president would serve out his term, and that the first experience of an elected civil president would be successful – but he insisted on revoking his own legitimacy...
"What actually happened in Egypt in the past year is that the MB treated the presidency like a chapter of [its own] movement, and we all paid and will pay a price for it in blood and hostility among the sons of the same homeland!
"My teacher, I respect every word you wrote, and I am aware of your good intentions, but my reservations [regarding your statements] stem from the fact that this is not a political position... penned by 'citizen' Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, but rather a fatwa issued by the leader of the Wassatiyya [the middle road of Islam], Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi. This astounded me, embarrassed me, and saddened me. It is time for this nation to complete the difficult [mission] and separate religion and state, so that we know when the ones who are speaking are clerics or statesmen!...
"At Rabi'a Al-'Adawiyya Square [in Cairo] are hundreds of thousands of honest and pure young people who constitute a tremendous national resource, whom interested parties and the merchants of blood could engage in a campaign that has nothing to do with them – a campaign that is not national, not Islamic, not against an enemy, and not one whose victory is desired – and all of whose participants are defeated [before they begin]. Millions of honest people will be thrown into the fire for to a certain group's lust for more authority.
"How desperately we need now measured and truthful words that will prevent the senseless shedding of this pure blood..."