On August 18, 2023, the Turkey-based International Organization to Support the Prophet of Islam organized a seminar sponsored by the Qatar-based and funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). The event featured notable figures including the Grand Mufti of Libya, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani, IUMS Secretary General 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi, Sudanese Islamist cleric Abd Al-Hay Yousif, and others. The purpose of the seminar was to discuss the role of scholars in defending Islamic sanctities and safeguarding the constants of Islam.
In his speech, Sheikh Al-Ghariani criticized Muslim scholars with differing perspectives from his own and accused them of withholding knowledge from Muslims while aligning with oppressive governments. Al-Ghariani further asserted that waging jihad in Palestine is a personal religious obligation for all believers and encouraged Muslims who are unable to participate physically in person to contribute through financial jihad, by donating to support the resistance in Palestine.
Other participants, such as Sheikh 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi and Hamas-connected Dr. Nawaf Al-Takruri, the President of the Scholars Association of Palestine, underscored the importance of providing financial support for the resistance. They even suggested that the IUMS should engage in fundraising efforts by reaching out to both affluent and economically-challenged Muslims to collect funds and forward them to the resistance groups.
This report will outline the main points presented during the seminar, along with the arguments and proposals put forth by the participating speakers.
In the opening of the seminar, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Saghir, the President of the International Organization to Support the Prophet of Islam and a member of the Board of Trustees of the IUMS, described the gathering as a "special scholarly seminar" inspired by the arrival of Sheikh Al-Ghariani to Turkey. According to Al-Saghir, IUMS Secretary General 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi proposed the idea of organizing a seminar under the sponsorship of the IUMS to "reassert the duty of scholars towards Muslim sanctities, whether it's the Quran, the Prophet, or Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially considering that the assaults against them are ongoing, rampant, and recurrent."
Before presenting Al-Ghariani, Al-Saghir praised him for his continued support of the resistance in Palestine and the Afghan Taliban, as well as for boycotting any country that disrespects Muslim sanctities. He then asked him why only a few countries, such as Libya, Oman, and Egypt, have issued fatwas urging Muslims to boycott nations that disrespect Islamic sanctities, and why there was not a unified fatwa from all the fatwa houses around the world.
In his speech, Sheikh Al-Ghariani started by emphasizing that the high status of scholars in Islam is tied to the high responsibility laid on them, and he stressed the danger of concealing religious knowledge from the public. According to him, the definition of concealing religious knowledge is "remaining silent about the truth to defend falsehood. The lowest level of concealment is staying quiet about the truth when there's a need to express and manifest it. As for its highest degree, it is justifying the actions of unjust rulers, acknowledging and using the scriptures and traditions to support them."
He then differentiated between the coercion faced by scholars who are fearful of losing their lives and those who fear losing their jobs, stating that these two categories are not the same. He remarked, "Those who fear for their lives are allowed to remain silent, but not those who fear losing their jobs."
SUPPORT OUR WORK
Moving on, he proceeded to criticize scholars whom he accused of being a source of disappointment to Muslims, presenting two examples of such individuals. He stated, "There is a group of people who claim to possess knowledge, and their efforts are concentrated on emphasizing the necessity of obeying the rulers, no matter how corrupt they become or how many sanctities they violate. They refrain from attempting any kind of reform, even through peaceful protests or public advice, as they view such actions as a breach of loyalty to the authority and an innovation in the religion."
He specifically highlighted that these scholars oppose jihad and remain silent, instead focusing on trivial matters, "even when Israeli forces attack and desecrate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assault Muslim worshipers."
As he continued, he noted, "The second group" consists of individuals who wait for whatever the ruler utters, "regardless of the extent of malevolence and falsehood, or the distortions it introduces into the religion. Their actions involve manipulating textual references to rationalize these distortions in the religion."
After accusing the U.S. of orchestrating the destabilization of Muslim countries and asserting that both Muslim people and rulers are the executors of these plans, he reiterated that Muslim scholars should have taken responsibility and condemned the oppressors while standing with the oppressed. Emphasizing the role of scholars, especially those who are members of the IUMS, he stated: "Scholars have the capability to achieve much. When we discuss the International Union of Muslim Scholars, it encompasses over seventy thousand scholars. If they don't raise their voices to denounce the oppressors and fail to advocate for the rights of the oppressed, then who will? Our reputation is tarnished due to our failure to condemn the oppressors. We have the potential to do more than this."
Addressing the issue of jihad, Al-Ghariani asserted: "Waging jihad in Palestine is a personal religious duty. It's true that jihad is a collective obligation, but this collective obligation applies to every individual Muslim until it is fulfilled collectively. If this collective fulfillment is not achieved, then those addressed bear the blame."
Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of engaging in financial jihad. He acknowledged the challenges and difficulties faced by those seeking to participate in physical jihad, due to oppressive rulers hindering Muslim nations from confronting the Zionists.
Expanding on his point, he stated, "Jihad now takes the form of financial contribution. The resistance in Palestine requires not only weaponry and equipment, but also substantial funds that [Muslim] countries were supposed to provide, as it is an obligation upon them."
According to Al-Ghariani, Muslim scholars have struggled to persuade people about the significance of participating in financial jihad to support the liberation of Palestine. They have also been unsuccessful in clarifying that this support is even more crucial than donations to charities or other forms of good deeds, including the construction of mosques or performing multiple Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. "This is what needs to be communicated to individuals who must comprehend the jurisprudence of priorities," he said.
Al-Ghariani was followed by Sheikh Ali Al-Qaradaghi, a Qatari citizen of Iraqi origin and Secretary General of the IUMS, who urged the Islamic ummah to take action. He specifically addressed the wealthy, saying, "For those who are unable to engage in physical jihad, they should contribute their wealth in defense of the sanctities of Islam, our holy sites, our Prophet, and the Quran."
Addressing the Muslim ummah, he stated, "The ummah must unite and recognize the scale of the grand conspiracy targeting this ummah. The conspiracy today aims at the religion itself. It is our collective duty to unite."
The third speaker, Dr. Nawaf Al-Takruri, who has connections with Hamas and is the President of the Scholars Association of Palestine, underscored the significance of defending Al-Aqsa Mosque, asserting that successfully defending it would discourage any disrespect towards the Quran or Prophet Muhammad.
Introducing what he referred to as "practical points," he directed his words to the IUMS secretary general, stating, "IUMS should dispatch delegations worldwide to gather funds, not only from the affluent but even from those less fortunate. This is to ensure that the mujahideen in Palestine and other regions remain resolute. The scope of the general union's mission is extensive and surpasses the issuance of fatwas, contrary to what some may suggest. The union possesses the capability to lead the ummah, under the guidance of its scholars, in assuming its responsibilities, upholding trust, and acquiring support. The Palestinian resistance should not rely solely on specific sources for support, and funds and support should reach them from all the sons of the ummah."
Mauritanian cleric Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hassany Al-Shinqiti praised Al-Ghariani for being a role model for scholars who speak the truth and proposed that IUMS and the International organization for the Support of the Prophet Muhammad endorse and bless the anti-France sentiment in west African nations, regardless of whether France will be replaced by Russia.
He said: "We believe that this rejection of France in itself should be commended by the scholars, and they should put forth tremendous efforts in this regard, as it will, God willing, serve the causes of the ummah in general, including the efforts to defend the Prophet and the issue of Palestine. France is among the largest supporters of Israel and is among the major supporters of defamation of the Prophet."
Lebanese cleric Sheikh Ahmad Al-'Amiri, the president of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, dedicated his speech to acknowledging the efforts of the late spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, who founded the IUMS. He described Al-Qaradawi as a "man with a courageous and powerful voice who spoke boldly in his books, sermons, and articles against regimes that imprisoned our religion, held our ideology captive, and allowed our sanctities to be disrespected by this arrogant enemy."
He further expressed his belief that "this comprehensive jihad of the Muslim scholars requires that they voice their opinions, and the outcry must be strong. How can we witness the captive Al-Aqsa Mosque being desecrated and invaded, with defenders and worshippers prevented, even stopping the Friday sermon preacher, Sheikh Akrama Sabri, from reaching the pulpit? How can we issue statements and positions in the face of such scenes? This is not enough."
Al-'Amiri then urged scholars to guide people in waging jihad, just as they lead them in prayers, saying that by doing so, "the ummah will be liberated from its captivity."
The seminar concluded with a brief speech by Sudanese cleric Abd Al-Hay Yousif, who emphasized the importance of scholars defending and speaking out against those who defame and criticize Sheikh Al-Ghariani. He urged them to remind such critics of his virtues and scholarly status. He stated: "We should also inform people that around 45 years ago, when Sheikh Al-Ghariani obtained his Ph.D. in the UK, many of those who are currently disrespecting him were not even born, and some might have still been in their infancy. Since achieving his degree, he devoted his life to issuing fatwas, educating, authoring books, and guiding people."
 Youtube.com/watch?v=zFQVqt2nvNY, August 18, 2023, and twitter.com/drassagheer/status/1692613539779707036, August 18, 2023.