On September 26, 2005, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi gave an interview to the German weekly Der Spiegel; parts of the interview were published simultaneously in the Qatari daily Al-Raya. The next day, the director of Al-Qaradhawi's office in Doha, Akram Qassab, denied some of the statements made by Al-Qaradhawi in the interview, and released presented a different version.
In a communiqué posted on Al-Qaradhawi's website www.qaradawi.net which is hosted in Canada, and published in the Qatari press, Qassab claimed that some of the sheikh's statements had been "distorted" and quoted only in part: "[It] is like quoting in part partially quoting [from the Koran 107:4], 'Woe to those who pray,' as proof that Islam forbids praying [while the full Koranic text is 'Woe to those who pray but are not mindful of their prayers']."
In the denial, Al-Qaradhawi referred specifically to two questions in the interview: whether non-Muslims can enter Paradise, and whether bin Laden should be declared an infidel and brought to trial.
The following are excerpts from the version in Al-Qaradhawi's communiqué, intended for Arabic speakers, as a "correction" to the Der Spiegel version that was intended for European readers.
Those Who Refuse Islam's Message Will Not Enter Paradise
The communiqué posted on Al-Qaradhawi's website denied the statement attributed to Al-Qaradhawi in Der Spiegel that non-Muslims are entitled to enter Paradise: "Al-Qaradhawi never said… that whoever pleases God enters Paradise regardless of whether he is a Muslim or a Christian."
According to the communiqué, the true version was as follows:
"Question: Last summer, one of the imams in Germany [uttered the] inciting [statement] that non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Paradise. What do you think of this?
"Answer: This is not accepted at all. There are restrictions and limitations in these matters. We believe that Judaism and Christianity are [monotheistic] religions, and we believe in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Our Islamic faith is not complete unless we believe in every book that descended [from God] and in every prophet who was sent [by God]...
"But Islam is a universal message, and Muhammad was sent to all people, [as written in the Koran]: 'We sent thee not, but as a mercy [for all peoples]' [Koran 21:107], 'that he may be a warner to the peoples.' [Koran 25:1], 'I am the messenger of Allah to you all' [Koran 7:158]...
"The Muslims must make an effort so that Islam's message will reach the world in an accurate and attractive manner.
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"A person who receives this message but refuses to follow this Messenger [Muhammad] – whose coming is heralded in the Bible and the New Testament – and whose refusal does not [stem] from doubt but from desire for worldly things and material interests – [he] will not enter Paradise."
Al-Qaradhawi further claimed that Christianity and Judaism, like Islam, maintain that members of other religions will not enter Paradise. But Islam places certain conditions upon this fate of non-Muslims: "... [One] condition is that the righteous way has been brought to the knowledge of the person and explained to him, [and despite this he rejected the message.] Allah said: 'If anyone opposes the Messenger [Muhammad] even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of Faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and make him enter Hell – what an evil end!' [Koran 4:115]."
The communiqué attempts to explain away a religious epistle that Al-Qaradhawi wrote in the past, in which he declares Jews and Christians to be unbelievers:
"Sheikh Qaradhawi also holds the view that the Jews and Christians are unbelievers, just as the Jews and Christians hold the view that the Muslims are unbelievers. The Sheikh [wrote] a short epistle entitled 'The Position of Theological Islam on the Unbelief of the Jews and Christians.' [In this epistle], he did not introduce [any] innovations regarding the takfir [accusation of unbelief] of the Jews and Christians, but followed his predecessors [the Muslim scholars].
"However, when the Sheikh referred to the unbelief of the People of the Book – the Jews and the Christians – he mentioned several facts that cannot be ignored:
"1. The unbelief of the People of the Book is not like atheism... [which is worse].
"2. When we talk of the unbelief of the Jews and Christians, we should not address them [with the words] 'Oh ye unbelievers,' since the Koran did not use this expression at all, but rather [expressions like] 'Oh people' and 'Oh ye Children of Adam'..."
Bin Laden Should Not Be Declared an Unbeliever; He May Defend Himself by Saying that He Has a Fatwa Approving His Deeds
Al-Qaradhawi also denied the statements attributed to him in Der Spiegel regarding Osama bin Laden. The communiqué claimed that "the journalist tried to accuse Osama bin Laden of unbelief, and the Sheikh [Al-Qaradhawi] rejected this."
According to the communiqué, he was asked the following two questions:
"Question: After the war, Germany tried some high-ranking officials who were war criminals. Are there Muslim ulama who demand that bin Laden and his associates be prosecuted for the crimes they have committed?"
"Answer: This issue has not yet come up, but after things calm down, there may be a trial. However, there will be some conditions [for such a trial, such as] who the judge will be, when and where it will take place. He must be tried by an Islamic court consisting of Muslim ulama... Bin Laden [also] has the right to defend himself and say that he has a fatwa [issued] by sheikhs and ulama [which approves of his actions]."
"Question: Do the Muslim ulama condemn Osama [bin Laden] for [his] actions and say that he is not a Muslim?"
"Answer: The Muslim people condemn these actions, but do not say that he is not a Muslim or that he is an unbeliever, no. This issue is dangerous, since takfir is the basis of extremism. We do not want to be like bin Laden and his associates [in accusing others of unbelief]. But we [do] say: this action [bin Laden's action] is not permitted according to the Shari' a, since Islam is very strict regarding the sanctity of human life, [and states that] human life is inviolable both in times of peace and [in times of] war. The Muslim ulama have not declared even the khawarij to be unbelievers, even though they allowed the killing of other Muslims."
Der Spiegel (Germany), October 26, 2005.
http://www.qaradawi.net/site/topics/article/asp?cu_no=2$ite_no=4039&version_no=1&template_id=116&parent_id=114, October 27, 2005. The communiqué was also published on September 28, 2005, in the Qatari dailies Al-Raya, Al-Sharq and Al-Watan.
 Khawarij, the first religious opposition in Islam, was formed when a group of Muslims left the camp of the Fourth Caliph 'Ali bin Abu Taleb at the Battle of Sifin in 657.