January 31, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7308

Senior Saudi Journalist Al-Rashed: Al-Qaradawi's International Union Of Muslim Scholars Encourages Jihadi Discourse, Supports Terrorists, Fights Moderate Islam

January 31, 2018
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 7308

As part of the boycott declared on Qatar some six months ago by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt,[1] these countries drew up three lists of organizations and people who they say have ties to terror and are supported by Qatar. One of the organizations included on the third list, issued in November this year, is the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), headed by Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, who serves as an important source of authority for the Muslim Brotherhood.[2] Al-Qaradawi himself, who was born in Egypt but has been living in Qatar since the 1960s, is included on the first list, issued in June this year.[3]

In his column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the daily's former editor, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, justified the inclusion of the IUMS on the terror list, and in fact stated that this should have been done long ago.[4] He accused the IUMS, and Qatar, which sponsors it, of spreading jihadi discourse, encouraging terror organizations by providing them with ideological justification for their actions, and fighting the voices of moderate Islam. As an example he noted that, unlike the Saudi Salafi clerics, who prohibited terror operations as early as the 1990s, the IUMS and its head, Al-Qaradawi, have justified these operations and continue to do so. He added that, were it not for this encouragement and for Qatar's sponsorship, organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS probably wouldn't have existed today.

It should be mentioned that MEMRI has published extensively on the extremism of Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi. The European Council for Fatwa and Research,[5] founded in 1997 by Al-Qaradawi and his then deputy, Sheikh Faisal Maulawi,[6] incited to commit suicide operations,[7] and Al-Qaradawi himself condoned such operations, and even expressed a hope to "die a virtuous death like a jihad warrior, with the head severed from the body." [8]Al-Qaradaw and the council were supported by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who defended the sheikh and claimed that his ideology was far from extremist.[9]  

Symbol of the IUMS

 The following are excerpts from Al-Rashed's recent article:[10]

"Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain have added two extremist Islamic organizations and 11 extremist individuals to their terror list. The truth is that the designation of the International Union of Muslim Scholars [IUMS], which was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood and cultivated by Qatar, [as a terrorist organization] comes very late. One would have expected [countries] to ban any contact with these two organizations [much] earlier, especially [contact] with the IUMS, since it has posed a danger to Muslim societies throughout the world ever since it was founded. The timing of its establishment, which coincided with the founding of Al-Qaeda;[11] its location [i.e., Qatar], and the identity of its leaders constituted a clear declaration of war on traditional and moderate Islam in the region and the world.

"The IUMS was born as part of a takeover plan led by the extremist religious organizations... which acted on several levels: [spreading] inflammatory jihadi political discourse, and [founding] armed organizations and parallel religious institutions that legitimize their activity and refute [the positions of] the moderate institutions.   In 2004, just as Al-Qaeda was bombing and killing, and [the brutal commander of Al-Qaeda in Iraq] Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi was beheading people in the name of Islam, the IUMS emerged in Qatar to serve the very same purpose, namely the same extremist Islamic plan. For the sake [of this plan,] the [IUMS] members prepared fatwas, justified violence, launched an ideological war, and discredited jurisprudents and scholars who are accepted in their countries [by] mocking them in their fatwas.

"Let us not forget that, already in the 1990s, the traditional Saudi Salafi scholars ruled that jihad operations were forbidden because they constituted defiance of the ruler, namely of the state. This infuriated the IUMS jurisprudent [Al-Qaradawi], who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Qatar, which justified the martyrdom operations and sought to find a religious basis for them. The IUMS acted to destroy [the reputations of] large jurisprudential institutes across the Muslim world, such as Saudi Arabia's Supreme Clerics Council and Egypt's Al-Azhar. 

"Historically, the emergence of the terrorist enterprise that cloaks itself in an Islamic mantle coincided with the consolidation of all the extremist fatwas. And like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, these jurisprudential organizations declared their opposition to local [affiliation] and proclaimed themselves to be intercontinental and global.

"The establishment of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan coincided with the establishment of the European Council for Fatwa [and Research] in 1997 in London. Is it a coincidence that this organization, too, is headed by Al-Qaradawi and his deputy 'Ali Qaradhaghi, two figures who have been involved in [spreading] extremist ideology in the last 20 years? And just as Al-Qaeda has grown branches throughout the Middle East and Europe, the extremist jurisprudential unions and associations have opened braches in the UAE, Iraq, Lebanon, North Africa, France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and Ireland.

"The location [of the IUMS, i.e., Qatar], the national diversity of its members, and its positions, announcements and activities [all] reflect how, throughout the dangerous years of chaos, it fulfilled the role of religious authority for the extremist organizations...

"If we understand that the most dangerous aspect of terrorism is extremist thinking, we must [also] understand that [this thinking] would never have emerged and spread, and spawned armed organizations throughout the world, if it were not for these clerics, unions and councils that cultivate the extremist jurisprudents. [Also, it would not have happened] were it not for Qatar, which offered these [clerics, unions and councils] a safe haven and continues to fund them with astronomical sums that have allowed them to spread in the media, [promote] their ideology and gain support, perhaps even of people who do not agree with them or are afraid of their influence." 


[2] According to recent reports, Al-Qaradawi even serves on the board of the Muslim Brotherhood university that has been founded in Istanbul with Qatar's support. Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), September 11, 2017.

[3] On these terror lists, see Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), June 9, 2017; 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), July 25, 2017;  Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 23, 2017. In response to the publication of the third list, Al-Qaradawi tweeted on his personal account:  "In the last decades we have shouldered [the task of] opposing the extremist tendencies... that are creating chaos in the Islamic arena, and now we are included on the terror lists?", November 24, 2017.

[4] Rashed has been writing against Al-Qaradawi's extremism for years. See for example MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 794, Reactions to Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's Fatwa Calling for the Abduction and Killing of American Civilians in Iraq, October 6, 2004.

[5] A Dublin-based organization which aims to bring together Islamic scholars in Europe and issue fatwas for Muslims living there, among other goals. 

[6] Lebanese Sheikh Faysal Maulawi (1941-2011) also served in the 1990s as the secretary-general of Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiyya in Lebanon, and was the ideologue for the Islamist organizations in France. See, October 3, 2004.

[7] On incitement to suicide operations by this council and Al-Qaradawi, see MEMRI reports: Special Dispatch No. 542, Al-Qaradhawi Speaks In Favor of Suicide Operations at an Islamic Conference in Sweden, July 24, 2003; Special Dispatch No. 5316, Al-Qaradhawi's Support For Jihad And Martyrdom During Gaza Visit And In Biography Of Hamas Bomb Maker Yahya 'Ayyash, May 28, 2013; Special Dispatch No. 6530, Gulf Officials Blast Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi: He Is The 'Mufti Of Suicide Attacks,' Should Be Prosecuted, July 19, 2016.

[9] Livingstone served as London's mayor in 2000-2008. On his ties with Al-Qaradawi, see MEMRI Clip No. 497, London Mayor Ken Livingstone On Memri And Sheik Al-Qaradhawi, January 17, 2005.

[10] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 26, 2017.

[11] Sic. In actual fact, the IUMS was founded in 2004, and Al-Qaeda in 1988.

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