May 21, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8076

Ramadan Religious Lesson By Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Leader Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, Published By Qatari Government Daily: The Jews Opposed Muhammad, Therefore Allah Cursed Them And Turned Them Into Apes And Pigs; The Christians Were Stricken With Ideological Blindness And Strayed

May 21, 2019
Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 8076

Every day during Ramadan, the Qatari government daily Al-Arab publishes a Quran lesson by Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, who for many years headed the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). He is considered a leading ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been protected and supported by the Qatari regime for many years.

In his lesson published May 14, 2019, Al-Qaradawi focused on the concluding verses of the first Surah of the Quran, Al-Fatiha (The Opening), which states: "Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not [the path] of those who have evoked [Your] anger or [the path] of those who are astray" (Quran 1:7). Al-Qaradawi reiterated the common interpretation of this verse, i.e. that "those upon whom You have bestowed favor" refers to the Muslims, while "those who have evoked [Your] anger" refers to the Jews and "those who are astray" refers to the Christians.[1] He stated that Chapter Al-Fatiha is "the daily prayer Muslims repeat at least 17 times [every day]," underscores the identity of the Muslim, which is different from that of non-Muslims.

According to Al-Qaradawi, the Jews stubbornly opposed the Prophet Muhammad and acted arrogantly and fanatically, and thus are deserving of Allah's wrath. He also quoted Quran 5:60, in which Allah turned the Jews into apes and pigs. With regard to the Christians, Al-Qaradawi said that they were stricken with ideological blindness and could not distinguish the truth of Islam from falsehood, and thus they had gone astray. 

It should be noted that there was a dispute in Egypt regarding this common interpretation, and that well-known sheikhs, among them 19th-century religious reformist Muhammad 'Abduh and others, had rejected this interpretation.[2] In September 2017, Egypt's Al-Azhar institution stated that the term "astray" in the Quran, traditionally associated with the Christians, does not refer to any particular sect but to anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who does not follow the righteous path. Al-Azhar's clarification made no reference to the phrase "those who have evoked [Your] anger," traditionally associated with the Jews.[3]

The following is the translation of Al-Qaradawi's lesson in the Qatari daily Al-Arab:

"Who does not need Allah's guidance? The Muslim always needs Allah's guidance so that the paths will be clear for him and so that he does not become confused... Furthermore, he also needs additional guidance [from Allah, for it is said], 'And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness.' (Quran 47:17), and in addition he needs to be set on this [straight path] by Allah... 

"From the concluding verse of Surat [Al-Fatiha, which states] 'The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray', it transpires that the people are divided into three types with regard to this path:

"The first type are those who were granted [Allah's guidance] and they are those to whom God has shown favor: the prophets, the saints, the martyrs and the righteous, as they are listed in Surat Al-Nisaa [Quran 4:69]. They are the ones whom Allah guided, who knew the truth [i.e. Islam]. [The truth] became clear to them and they distinguished between it and straying and falsehood, and therefore they went on the path out of awareness and became men [of truth], in their knowledge, faith, deeds, and preaching.

"The second type are those who evoked [Allah's] anger. They are those who recognized the truth and nevertheless did not take its path, and even stubbornly opposed it, and were hostile towards the Prophet [Muhammad] after the straight path became clear to them. [They did this] out of reliance on falsity, love of this world, following urges, blind fanaticism, arrogance, or jealousy... and thus they deserve Allah's wrath. These are the Jews, for whom the explanation is presented in Surat Al-Maida [5:60, which states]: 'Those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut – these are worse in position and further astray from the sound way'...

"The third type are those who were struck with ideological blindness, who did not distinguish between truth and falsehood, between the straight path and straying, and did not bother to seek the truth. Accordingly, they lived and died astray, far from the truth [i.e. Islam], and for this they deserve to have straying attributed to them. They are the Christians, about whom Allah said [in Quran 5:77]: 'Do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way'... With regard to [those who have gone astray,] for example among the polytheists, [Allah] said [in Quran 6:140]: 'They have gone astray and were not [rightly] guided'...

"Islam has taken care, by means of its laws and precepts, that the Muslim identity will be separate and differentiated [from that of the non-Muslims] in its internal and external essence. This is so it will not be easy to mingle it with all the other [non-Muslim identities, lest it] lose its unique traits. This is the significance of the Muslim's daily prayer that recurs at least 17 times: 'The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not [the path] of those who have evoked [Your] anger or [the path] of those who are astray' [Quran 1:7].

"On this matter, Sheikh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyya compiled his valuable book, The Necessity of the Straight Path in Distinction from the People of Hell. The straight path is a separate way [for the Muslims]; it is not the path of the Jews, who have evoked Allah's anger, nor of the Christians, who have gone astray, and also not of those who recognize the truth but have not gone in its path... This is the separate path, the path of truth, the path of Allah, the path of the believers.

"The Muslim calls on his Lord every day to guide him, bring him success, and set him on this straight path, 'the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor' [Quran 1:7]."


[1] See for example the commentary of Abu Ja'far ibn Jarir Al-Tabari (838-923), an early Quran commentator, and the classic Sunni commentary Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, composed first by Jalal ad-Din al-Mahalli (1389-1460) and completed after his death by his student Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti (c. 1445–1505 ).

[3], September 17, 2017.

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