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October 3, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10243

Muslim Social Media Influencers Deeply Divided Over Legacy Of Controversial Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Leader Yousef Al-Qaradawi

October 3, 2022
Egypt, Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 10243

The death of Yousef Al-Qaradawi, one of the most controversial figures in the modern Muslim history on September 26, 2022, did not end the debate among Muslims over his contributions, affiliation, positions, and legacy. While he was mourned by many around the world, who described him as "moderate" and who praised his efforts in defending Islam, others labeled him an extremist and condemned him for his support of the Arab spring revolutions and his justification of suicide operations.

As soon as his death was announced, Muslim social media influencers began debating whether he was a praiseworthy moderate who reformed Islam and defended Muslim issues or a monster whose fatwas and support for the Arab Spring revolutions brought wrath and suffering on Muslims. Some even declared that they would not pray for mercy for Al-Qaradawi because he had prayed for mercy for Pope John Paul II.

Though he was eulogized by high-level clerics around the world and mourned by many other Muslims, the Al-Azhar institution, where Al-Qaradawi attained his academic degrees, including his Ph.D, has not issued any statement regarding the passing of Al-Qaradawi.

Under the hashtags "Al-Qaradawi" and "Al-Qaradawi, a man who equals an entire nation," pro-Al-Qaradawi Muslims from around the world and and from all sorts of professions, backgrounds, Islamic organizations, and Islamist groups such as Hamas eulogized Al-Qaradawi, prayed for mercy for him, and even called him a "martyr of Al-Quds."

Highlighting Al-Qaradawi's popularity in Qatar, Qatari writer Jaber Al-Harmi tweeted: "Mohammad Bin Abd Al-Wahhab mosque, with the capacity to accommodate over 30,000 worshippers, was filled to capacity, causing a large number of people to pray outside during the funeral prayer of Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi."[1]

In a widely shared video that was broadcast live on Al-Jazeera of Al-Qaradawi's burial ceremony, Hamas senior leader Khaled Mashal was featured alongside other leaders and scholars praising Al-Qaradawi, saying: "With regard to Palestine, rest optimistically as [from] what you have planted, including knowledge, encouragement for resistance, prayer for the resistance, for the prisoners, and for the mujahideen, Allah willing, the trees will bloom and their fruits will prove themselves by liberating Palestine."[2] He then promised to build minarets and squares that will carry Al-Qaradawi's name in Palestine. He went on to describe Al-Qaradawi as "the martyr of Al-Quds."[3]

Among those who praised Al-Qaradawi was Ethiopian writer Abd Al- Rahman Saeed, who published an article on Aljazeera.net in which he described Al-Qaradawi as the "imam of moderation" and expressed that as a child, he read two of Al-Qaradawi's books that were translated into Amharic, and that they changed his life.[4]

The severity of the online campaign against Al-Qaradawi forced some pro-Al-Qaradawi clerics to respond in condemnation. For example, Mauritanian cleric Ahmad Al-Hasani Al-Shinqiti, who is a social media influencer and the assistant secretary-general of the Arab Maghreb Scholars League, posted a tweet on September 27 in which he described Al-Qaradawi critics as "Arab Zionists," saying that those who insulted Al-Qaradawi after he passed away will be disappointed, as "Allah has preserved a group of the Ummah's scholars who will refute your arguments. Among the students and the brothers of Al-Qaradawi are those who will stand out firmly for justice and will speak the truth until judgment day."[5]

Twitter user Essam Mahmoud, who has over 12,000 followers, defended Al-Qaradawi against those who described him as "the Fatwa issuer of NATO" and wrote a tweet on September 27, saying "Sheikh Al-Qaradawi: Was banned from entering the U.S and the UK 20 years ago because of his firm positions against the Zionist occupation of Palestine and the American occupation of Iraq. Why do the insignificant people call him the sheikh of NATO? May Allah have mercy on him and grant him paradise."[6]

Muslims' mixed views on whether Al-Qaradawi was a radical or a moderate was a topic discussed by liberal Egyptian author Saied Shoaib in a video he published on his YouTube channel on September 29. In the video, Shoaib said: "Some view Al-Qaradawi as a moderate and a kind centrist and others view him as a terrorist... most of those who support political Islam view him as a reformer and a moderate. This is expected from them because they believe in the same ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideology of all Islamists that Islam is not a religion, but a state ruled by Shari'a and is an empire that should rule the world."[7] On the other side, Shoaib mentioned that Al-Qaradawi supported Hamas, which is "a dictatorial, fascist, and religious organization that is causing the suffering of the people of Gaza and that is against human rights... Al-Qaradawi also issued a takfiri[8] fatwa against regimes that he opposed such as the Mubarak regime. He deemed it a regime of unbelief and did not disagree with it politically. There is a difference. Deeming someone as unbeliever is different than a political disagreement. Deeming someone as an unbeliever is a crime..."

Ironically, even among Islamists, there are groups and individuals who are against Al-Qaradawi and refused to pray for mercy for him and condemned his approval of joining political parties, women's education, and employment and of taking interest-based loans from banks to buy houses for those living in the West. For example, Lebanese-born British Islamist Dr. Abdur-Rahman Dimashqiah posted a tweet on September 28, saying: "I will not pray for mercy for a man who prayed for mercy for the Pope and asked Allah to grant the nation of Christianity a new Pope to continue the journey of the cross. He [Al-Qaradawi] died without issuing a statement of repent to rectify the damage he had made. It is impermissible to pray for mercy on him... " In the same tweet Dimashqiah added in English "I can't ask mercy to the one who was seeking mercy to the pope, then died without repent [sic] from that."[9]

The Canada-based pro-Al-Qaeda Islamist Sheikh Tariq Abdelhaleem also commented on Al-Qaradawi in a September 26 post on his website. In the post, Abdelhaleem accused Al-Qaradawi of being "intellectually submissive to the West and its culture..." Condemning Al-Qaradawi, Abdelhaleem wrote: "The man was a supporter of the multi-party [system] and sees nothing wrong with the establishing of Communist parties or secular parties under the banner of democracy, which he spent his life defending as he equated it to a Shura [consultative council or assembly] and the difference between them is known to any high schooler from Al-Azhar."[10] Abdelhaleem went on to condemn Al-Qaradawi's support for women's education and employment, including becoming president of a country, and said that Al-Qaradawi issued strange fatwas to make life easier for Muslims regardless of whether the fatwa violated the teachings of Islam and its principles "as he issued a fatwa saying it is permissible to take bank loans with interest in the West to buy a house or start a business."

Among the critics of Al-Qaradawi was the Emirati imam and preacher Ahmed Mousa, who shared a video and posted a tweet addressing those defending Al-Qaradawi, saying: "If your father, your mother, your son, your daughter or your wife died at the event of the Arab Spring because of the incitement of Al-Qaradawi, you would not have dared to defend him."[11]

A Saudi Twitter user named Tuwa1q, who has over 8,700 followers, tweeted in English on September 26: "Let us all not forget that #alqaradawy was an extremist who legitimized suicide bombing. Thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims have lost their lives because of him #القرضاوي. Some are trying to whitewash his dark violent image after he died."[12]

Egyptian journalist and expert on security and political issues Muhammad Al-Daysati tweeted on September 26: "Yousef Al-Qaradawi was the Mufti of terrorism and he distorted Islam and created strife in Syria, Palestine, Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia and made Muslims kill Muslims so that the Muslim Brotherhood come to power... the Muslim Brotherhood has failed and they were rebelled against and Al-Qaradawi has died..."[13]

 

[1] Twitter.com/jaberalharmi/status/1574745484698296320, September 27, 2022.

[2] Twitter.com/Koshish_Bestani/status/1574796540400525315, September 27, 2022.

[3] Qudspress.com/index.php?page=show&id=82771, September 27, 2022.

[4] aljazeera.net/blogs/2022/9/27/دموعٌ-من-الحبشة-تبكي-إمام-الوسيطة, September 27, 2022.

[5] Twitter.com/Alhasniy23/status/1574802075841593346, September 27, 2022.

[6] Twitter.com/Esaam1y/status/1574864287721455617, September 27, 2022.

[7] Youtube.com/watch?v=o7GECYKxqgU&t=1s, September 29, 2022.

[8] Takfiri means associated with takfir, which is the practice of declaring a particular Muslim to be an unbeliever.

[9] Twitter.com/DrDimashqiah/status/1575133691923374081, September 28, 2022.

[10] Tariq-abdelhaleem.net/ar/post/73412/كلمة-عن-الشيخ-القرضاوي, September 26, 2022

[11] Twitter.com/AhmedMousa_1/status/1574359185969627138, September 26, 2022.

[12] Twitter.com/Tuwa1q/status/1574427005130522628, September 26, 2022.

[13] Twitter.com/yehia5yehia/status/1574548937188380672, September 26, 2022.

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