In response to the wave of mass anti-regime demonstrations currently taking place in several Arab countries, prominent Sunni cleric Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, joined in support for the protestors.
On January 20, 2011, he told Al-Jazeera TV in an interview that Allah does not remove tyrannical rulers, because it is the duty of the peoples to fight them, and that the security personnel who serve such rulers surely know that it is a grievous sin to protect them and to kill innocent Muslims in their names. He called on the Tunisians to continue their struggle until all members of deposed Tunisian president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali's party were removed from power – except for Interim President Mebazaa, who he said should remain so that there would be no constitutional vacuum. He concluded by urging the Tunisians to free all political prisoners and bring back political exiles, and to reinstate Islamic customs banned by Ben Ali's secular regime, such as the wearing of the hijab on university campuses (to view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2774).
Al-Qaradhawi made similar statements to the Egyptian daily Al-Shurouq, referring specifically to the demonstrations in Egypt; he also decreed that it is forbidden for security forces to fire on demonstrators.
The website Onislam.net, which is close to Al-Qaradhawi, posted a chapter from his 2009 book "Laws of Jihad," stating that jihad against corruption and tyranny in Muslim lands is the highest form of jihad – even more important than jihad against external enemies. In the chapter, Al-Qaradhawi wrote: "The laws of Islam instruct us to... oppose the tyrant... All types of oppression [including] of subjects and peoples by their rulers – are reprehensible and forbidden, and jihad must be waged against them."
The following are excerpts from the interviews and from the chapter posted at Onislam.net.
Al-Qaradhawi on Al-Jazeera: People Must Take Action to Confront the Corrupt Arab Rulers
In his January 20 interview on Al-Jazeera TV, Al-Qaradhawi said: "Oppression is the reason for corruption on Earth. It is the root of all evil – the oppression that people inflict one upon the other, as well as people's silence in the face of the oppressors. Why doesn't Allah take revenge upon the oppressors? Because people must take action. They must confront the oppressor. One must not allow the oppressor to behave unjustly, and people to follow him, applauding him, and saying: 'Long live so-and-so,' while poets venerate him, and journalists heap praise upon him. It is inconceivable that Allah will take revenge upon such an oppressor, as long as people behave this way.
"A ruler is expected to protect the people, not steal from them or kill them. It's like the fox guarding the chicken coop. The shepherd protects the sheep from the wolf, so what can be said of shepherds who have their own wolves? The shepherd should protect his herd from being devoured by the wolves. He protects his herd, and watches over it with vigilance. But when he himself turns into a wolf, devouring the herd… We are seeing more and more of this in our lives, I'm sad to say: The fox guards the chicken coop. The people will be hungry while his belly is full. People starve, while he grows fat from eating all that flesh of God's creatures.
"We have seen those rulers who transfer millions and billions from their countries to banks abroad – in Switzerland, in the US, and elsewhere. They transfer billions. This is what we are seeing in our countries, I'm sad to say. These people will get their comeuppance from Allah in this world and the Hereafter.
"If only the policemen in our Arab and Islamic countries knew that they are prohibited from killing people who have not committed any crime… Demonstrations take place in all countries throughout the world. How come people are not killed there? How come in our countries alone, people are killed because of peaceful demonstrations? Because we have brought up these soldiers upon a culture of… Not us, but these rulers have brought them up to believe that they are slaves, who must do as they are told. This is a poisonous culture, a culture that leads one astray, a culture that is wrong, which has absolutely no root in Islamic law.
"It is a sin to kill people, in order to protect a tyrant, to protect such a great idol. You kill the people in order to protect idols!? We must raise our sons in all countries upon a new culture: You are absolutely prohibited from killing an innocent person, for killing is the worst crime after polytheism. 'Whoever kills a believer intentionally – his punishment is Hell, to abide therein. The wrath and curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.'
"I advise my brothers in Tunisia to continue on their path until they realize all their demands. It is inconceivable for the people in power to be a political party that has made the people miserable for so long. The idol worshippers and priests, who used to burn incense to the Great Idol – how can they remain in power after he is gone? How can they rule? I call upon the Tunisian people… Some people may say: What do you have to do with the Tunisian people? No, I belong to the Tunisian people, and the Tunisian people are a part of me. I am from Palestine, I am from Morocco, I am from Algeria, I am from Egypt, I am from Qatar. All the Islamic countries are my country, and all these peoples are my people.
"I advise the Tunisian people not to let these people remain in the government. Only [Fouad] Mebazaa, the interim president of the republic, should remain, so that there will not be a constitutional vacuum. But none of them should be the prime minister. How can Muhammad Al-Ghannouchi, the prime minster of a government that killed and shed blood, be in power? How can the Interior Minister remain in power… They fired one interior minister and appointed one who is even worse. He continues to defend… How can Ghannouchi remain in power, after contacting Ben Ali in exile and reporting to him on the situation? How can he betray his people by contacting [Ben Ali]?
"These people must go. The government must be completely free of these people. All the prisoners and detainees must be set free, all the exiled should return, and things should be restored.
"Zitouna University must be restored to its former status as an Islamic university, not merely a college. It has become the Islamic Zitouna College. It was the first university – even before Al-Azhar. Zitouna University has turned into a place where girls who study Islamic law come without a hijab, wearing short sleeves and mini- and micro-skirts. It has a mixed swimming pool for boys and girls. Zitouna University must be restored to… The hijab must return. At the very least, it should be permissible.
"The hijab-clad women should be treated the same as the others. It is inconceivable that a government that prohibits the hijab and considers it sectarian clothing will remain in power. All these things must change.
"We ask Allah to bestow grace upon our nation, and to make this lesson one from which all our people can benefit, as well as the rulers – those deaf who cannot hear, those blind who cannot see, and those madmen who cannot heed reason. We would like these people to benefit from this lesson, to open their eyes the better to see, to open their ears the better to hear, and to open their minds the better to understand. There is a lesson to be learned from this major event."
Al-Qaradhawi to Al-Shurouq: It Is Forbidden To Fire on Demonstrators
Al-Qaradhawi told the Egyptian daily Al-Shurouq: "There is no doubt that what happened in Tunis is a great lesson, and there is no escaping the fact that it will be repeated, and that the Arab homelands will change for the better and will obtain their rights and freedom."
Al-Qaradhawi expressed his esteem for "the sons of free men who went out to express what they want, compelled by no one, and representing no party or political force, but representing Egypt." He added: "Those who took to the streets are the sons of Egypt; I saw them myself as I passed through the Cairo streets. They expect a better future, and that is their right."
Expressing regret over the security forces' violent treatment of the demonstrators, who he said had even been firing on demonstrators and had martyred four of them, he said: "I would like Egypt to be more like the other countries, that treat demonstrators in a civilized fashion – particularly when the demonstrators mean no violence, and when expressing an opinion is a human right."
He criticized statements by officials from the government and from Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party, saying that they "did not reflect an understanding of what is happening... but proved that they are narrow-minded and that they are not taking into account the change in the souls of Egypt's young people."
Also in the interview, Al-Qaradhawi decreed that it is forbidden to fire on demonstrators, and called on police to refuse any order to do so from their commanders: "I say to any man who claims that he is the slave of the one who gives him orders: You are the slave of Allah, and it is forbidden to kill." Likewise, Al-Qaradhawi banned demonstrators from attacking police: "They are [part of] us, and we are [part of] them, and therefore their blood is forbidden... It may be that if they get the chance they will join the masses [of demonstrators]." He also banned damaging public and private property.
From Al-Qaradhawi's "Laws of Jihad": Jihad Against Internal Corruption and Oppression Is the Best Form of Jihad
The following is an excerpt from the chapter of Al-Qaradhawi's book "Laws of Jihad" posted online by Onislam.net: "One of the forms of jihad in Islam is jihad against evil and corruption within [the Islamic lands]. This [form of] jihad is crucial in order to protect society from collapse, disintegration, and perdition – for Muslim society has unique characteristics, and if these are lost, forgotten or destroyed, there will be no Muslim society...
"According to the laws and instructions of Islam, each and every Muslim is responsible for what goes on in the society around him... He must rectify whatever is wrong or distorted... and correct those who oppress [others], until society conforms to what Allah has decreed...
"The laws of Islam instruct us to advise [others to follow] the religious [edicts], to urge them to good deeds... to oppose the tyrant, and to abolish vice, whenever it occurs, by [fighting it] with our hands, with our tongues, or in our hearts – [with the last type of struggle] being the lowest degree of faith. [The Muslim] must fend off the oppressor until he stops [his oppression], and assist the oppressed until he achieves his rights...
"Islam makes two basic demands of the Muslim: not to oppress [others] and not to aid the oppressor. Those who aid an oppressor will accompany him to Hell. That is why the Koran condemns the soldiers of tyrants just as [harshly] as it condemns the tyrants themselves...
"All types of oppression – of the poor by the rich, of tenants by their landlords, of employees by their employers, of soldiers by their commanders... of women by men... of subjects and peoples by their rulers – are reprehensible and forbidden, and jihad must be waged against them to the best of one's ability, by the hand or by the tongue, or in the heart....
"Why did the Prophet Muhammad exalt this jihad and believe it to be the best [form of] jihad?... Because if internal corruption grows, it may pose a great and terrible danger to the nation. That is why Islam [praises] jihad against internal oppression and corruption, giving it precedence over jihad against the infidels and external attacks. For in many cases, internal corruption paves the way to an attack from without..."