February 3, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2162

Syrian Jihadist Scholar Abu Basir Al-Tartusi: Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi is an Apostate

February 3, 2009
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 2162

Syrian jihadist cleric 'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, better known as Abu Basir Al-Tartusi, has published on his website an essay in which he declares Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi to be an apostate.

Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi is one of the most prominent clerics in the Muslim world. He heads the International Union for Muslim Scholars , has a weekly show called "Sharia and Life" on Al-Jazeera TV, and is close to a number of Arab regimes, especially those of Qatar and Algeria. He has in the past been criticized by Arab liberals, especially over statements regarding the killing of American civilians in Iraq[1] and his support for Hamas suicide bombings.[2] He has been barred from entering the U.S. since 1999;[3] in early 2008 he was also denied an entry visa to the U.K.[4] More recently, his statements warning against Shi'ite proselytizing in Sunni countries have generated controversy.[5]

In Al-Tartusi's view, though, Al-Qaradhawi is an apostate. This position reflects the gulf that has opened between clerics close to the Muslim Brotherhood, like Al-Qaradhawi, and global jihadists like Al-Tartusi. Al-Tartusi writes that he had previously issued a fatwa declaring Al-Qaradhawi an apostate, but since the fatwa was distributed widely without the accompanying explanation, he had decided to publish an expanded article explaining the reasoning behind his fatwa. He attacks Al-Qaradhawi in particular over the latter's support for multiparty democracy and for promoting close ties between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Following is a summary of Al-Tartusi's essay declaring Al-Qaradhawi an apostate:[6]

Al-Qaradhawi Defended the Buddha Statues in Afghanistan

The first reason Al-Tartusi gives for his fatwa is that Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi tried to save the Buddha statues in the Bamyan Valley in Afghanistan from being destroyed by the Taliban. Al-Qaradhawi led a delegation of Muslim scholars to Afghanistan to try to persuade Mullah Omar that since the statues were not objects of worship, the shari'a did not require their destruction, and that destroying them would reflect badly on Islam. The delegation was sponsored by Qatar, Al-Qaradhawi's country of residence, which at the time also held the rotating presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; the initiative came in response to a request from the Japanese foreign minister. Shortly before the delegation left, Al-Qaradhawi also issued a fatwa against the destruction of the statues.[7]

Al-Tartusi writes: "This man [Yousef Al-Qaradhawi] never travelled to Afghanistan throughout the [various] stages of jihad the country went through, apart from one time, and that was when he wanted to rescue the false god, the greatest of idols that is worshipped instead of Allah, from destruction and obliteration. The blood and body parts of hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims did not move him, but for the sake of the false god and the idol he was moved, and set out [for Afghanistan]…"

Al-Tartusi argues that the attempt to save the Buddha statues is a clear act of apostasy, since it says in Koran 2:256: "One who repudiates false gods (al-taghut) and believes in Allah has clung to the firmest bond of faith that never breaks…" He then argues that this verse lays out two conditions for faith – repudiation of false gods and belief in Allah – and that Al-Qaradhawi, by defending the Buddha statues, failed to uphold the first condition, and thus became an unbeliever.

His Fatwa Allowing Muslims to Fight in the U.S. Army Is an Act of Apostasy

At the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, a Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces, Maj. Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, wrote to Yousef Al-Qaradhawi and other Muslim scholars asking their opinion as to whether enlisted American Muslims may fight other Muslims. In response, Al-Qaradhawi and his four cosignatories wrote that there was nothing wrong with Muslims fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces against those thought to be responsible for terrorism. They explained that Islam forbids killing innocent people, and that Muslims have a responsibility to bring such killers to justice, as stated in Koran 5:2: "Help one another in righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression." While this is complicated by the fact that in war it is difficult not to kill innocent people as well, this consideration is outweighed by the fact that if Muslim soldiers did not obey orders, their loyalty to the U.S. would be cast into doubt. A Muslim soldier who so desires may ask to be temporarily transferred to a non-combat role, if such a request carries no negative repercussions for himself or other Muslims; otherwise, he is forbidden to make such a request. The general jurisprudential principle behind the fatwa is that while it is forbidden to kill other Muslims, a pressing necessity makes permissible that which is forbidden.[8]

Abu Basir Al-Tartusi characterizes this ruling as "this man's [Al-Qaradhawi's] infamous fatwa which determines that Muslims in America should enlist to fight in the American Crusader army… against the Muslim mujahideen, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, claiming that this falls under [the verse] 'help one another in righteousness and piety,' and saying that in order for their national allegiance not to be called into question, they need to prefer their national allegiance – to the American nation – over their allegiance to Allah, to the faith, and to the fraternity of faith and religion!"

Al-Tartusi takes issue with Al-Qaradhawi's reasoning in the fatwa on a number of grounds. He argues that since military service in the U.S. and Europe is voluntary, one cannot speak about the Muslim soldier as though he is required to fight and could face repercussions for failing to do so. In addition, he accuses Al-Qaradhawi of accepting the U.S.'s claim that the war was directed against terrorists, when in fact the U.S. is fighting Islam and the Muslims.

Al-Tartusi then presents his view regarding the consequences of the fighting that Al-Qaradhawi supported: the U.S. replaced an Islamic government in Afghanistan with a traitorous puppet state and killed tens of thousands of peaceful Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. He says that Al-Qaradhawi is "an accomplice to the Crusader invasions and all the crimes they perpetrated in Muslim lands," and warns him to prepare for the Day of Reckoning. The negative consequences of these wars undermine Al-Qaradhawi's legal reasoning; He had permitted fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces only out of the principle that necessity permits the forbidden, whereas for Al-Tartusi the damage done to the Muslim world far outweighs such considerations as the soldier's professional future or the casting of his allegiance to the U.S. into doubt. In addition, the application of the principle of necessity to this question was erroneous from the outset: Not even true compulsion can justify the killing of a fellow Muslim; one is even required to be killed rather than kill another.

He then goes on to explain why he considers Al-Qaradhawi's fatwa to be not only wrong, but an act of apostasy. First, he writes that permitting a Muslim to be a soldier in an army of "unbelief and idolatry" fighting against Muslims is clear apostasy, as laid out in verses such as Koran 5:51: "Oh believers: do not take the Jews and Christians as friends. They are friends one to another, and those of you who befriend them become of them. Allah does not guide iniquitous people"; and Koran 3:28: "Let not the believers take the infidels as friends instead of the believers; one who does so has no part in Allah." Al-Qaradhawi is not only guilty of doing this himself, but he has permitted it to others, which is a separate sin known as "permitting that which is forbidden," and is in itself cause for apostasy.

In addition, Al-Tartusi writes that Al-Qaradhawi has taken the concept of nation as a false idol, by speaking of allegiance to nation and to national laws, and by preferring this allegiance over allegiance to Allah and to Islam. This is apostasy, since it violates the principle of al-wala' w'al-bara': exclusive allegiance to Allah and Islam, and repudiation of unbelief and unbelievers.

He is Making Light of Allah

Al-Tartusi then accuses Al-Qaradhawi of making light of Allah in a Friday sermon. According to Al-Tartusi, Al-Qaradhawi praised elections in Israel as fair, in contrast with elections in some Arab countries, where the ruler receives "99.99" percent of the vote; Al-Qaradhawi then added "if Allah [Himself] were in the running he wouldn't receive such a share" of the vote. Al-Tartusi further claims that when this quote was presented to the late senior Saudi cleric Muhammad Ibn Salih Ibn 'Uthaymin, he said: "… He [Al-Qaradhawi] must repent, he must repent for this; if he doesn't, he is an apostate, because he has made the created greater than the Creator. He must repent to Allah, and Allah accepts the repentance of his servants. If he doesn't, the authorities need to behead him."[9]

He Supported Multiparty Democracy

Abu Basir Al-Tartusi next attacks Al-Qaradhawi's "support for democracy, in its permissive, infidel meaning," as Al-Tartusi puts it. He writes that Al-Qaradhawi supports freedom of belief and apostasy; freedom to form infidel and apostate political parties, including atheist Communist parties; and sanctification of majority rule, even if this majority were to choose unbelief and atheism.

Al-Tartusi provides a collection of statements from Al-Qaradhawi's writings to illustrate these points. (From here through the end of the essay, Al-Tartusi quotes extensively from Al-Qaradhawi without specifying the precise source.)

According to Al-Tartusi, Al-Qaradhawi wrote: "What matters to me regarding any political party in Islamic society or in the Islamic state is two things: … that it respect all religions, and that it not be an extension of a foreign power, like America or Russia; … To say that… when we [the Islamists] assume power, we won't allow Communists or secularists to form political parties – this is against the same Islamic jurisprudence that we call for and believe in. Some say that the Islamists are the only ones with the right [to rule], and that the others don't exist; but no, we will allow the others [to be politically active]…." The quote continues to say that if Islamists come into power and implement the shari'a, and then do a bad job governing and are voted out of office, they should hand over rule to those who won the elections. Other quotations express opinions that joining political parties in the West is permitted; that the penalty for apostasy is not for all those who leave Islam, but only for those apostates who stir up civil strife; that assuring [civil] liberties is more important than implementing the shari'a; that democracy is not unbelief; and that a secular regime is to be preferred in countries like India where there is no clear religious majority.

Relations with Non-Muslims

Abu Basir Al-Tartusi accuses Al-Qaradhawi of negating the principle of al-wala' w'al-bara' – exclusive allegiance to Allah and Islam, and repudiation of unbelief and unbelievers – by relating too positively to non-Muslims. Here too Al-Tartusi provides a sampling of quotations from Al-Qaradhawi, such as "all of the problems among us [Muslim and Christian Egyptians] are common to us all. We are members of the same homeland and the same nation. I call them 'our Christian brothers'; some people condemn me for this [and say]: how can I say 'my Christian brothers'? Koran 49:10 [says] 'The believers are but a single brotherhood.' Yes, we are believers, and they are believers, in a different way… The Copts are our brothers, and we have the same rights and duties." Regarding Jews, Al-Qaradhawi says: "The war between us and the Jews is not because of belief. Some might think that we are fighting the Jews because of their belief, but this is wrong… We are fighting the Jews because of the land they usurped and its people they made homeless." Al-Qaradhawi also says that there is no reason to use the term 'infidels' (kuffar), and that one should say 'non-Muslims' instead.[10]

Al-Tartusi considers statements of this kind apostasy, because of verses like Koran 5:51 and 3:28 which forbid befriending non-Muslims, and were already cited above in connection with Al-Qaradhawi's fatwa about serving in the U.S. military.

"Heretical" Jurisprudence

Al-Tartusi sees the root of the problem with Al-Qaradhawi as being in the latter's use of a "heretical" jurisprudence which substitutes whim for divine law. "Under the rubric of 'the jurisprudence of balances,' which he subjects to his own whim and nothing else, he permits and forbids of his own accord, without rule from Allah; he ratifies heresy and idolatry, and sacrifices the interest of Allah's unity for the least supposed material interest…" Such a jurisprudence led to rulings like the defense of the Buddha statues, allowing churches to be built in the Arabian Peninsula, and support for apostate rulers. In Al-Tartusi's view, one can weigh benefits versus drawbacks in jurisprudence, but first one must be able to assess them correctly, and the principle of Allah's unity must always be placed first and foremost. He also accuses Al-Qaradhawi of raising leniency to an independent principle, whereby he permits mixing of the sexes, women's singing, the sale of wine and pork in some circumstances, and some interest-bearing transactions, as well as allowing a Muslim wife to remain with her non-Muslim husband.

Al-Tartusi is particularly incensed by an explicit call by Al-Qaradhawi to review older religious texts in light of the modern age, expressed in his essay "Islam Considers Humanity One Single Family": "[We need] to cleanse our public culture, which we instill in students in the schools, and in the masses through the media, of some of the erroneous concepts found in old books, which carry the imprint of their age and the environment [in which they were written]. We cannot generalize these concepts to all generations, as they ended together with the conditions [that produced them]…[We need] to inaugurate a new moderate culture, based on mutual recognition, not mutual refusal of acknowledgement… based on love, not hatred; based on pluralism, not on isolation; and based on peace, and not on war."[11]

Al-Qaradhawi Is an Infidel, an Apostate, and a Heretic

Al-Tartusi concludes his essay: "Because of all of the above, and in order to discharge my duty, and in order to advise the Islamic nation [of this matter], I ruled – and I still hold to this ruling – that Yousef Al-Qaradhawi is an infidel, an apostate, and a heretic. All of the laws applying to infidels, apostates, and heretics apply to him, until he repents of the aforementioned beliefs.

"I did not issue this ruling on a whim or out of a desire for revenge, or in the manner of those who are rash and careless. [I did not issue it] before examining the conditions for takfir and the impediments to it. I went back and reexamined myself time and again before issuing this ruling, and I scrutinized these matters, and reexamined them from every side and angle. For a long time I refrained from broaching [the issue of] this man, until no escape route of [lenient] interpretation or [justified] excuse was left…

"I was worried about incurring the sin of suppressing what I have an obligation to make clear regarding this man… [This was necessary] especially since the corrupt media, for whatever ugly aim is in their souls, have created [an aura of] awe for this man among the people, and among some scholars and their students, and this led many of them to refrain from speaking the truth about him…

"'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, a.k.a. Abu Basir Al-Tartusi

"3 Dhu Al-Qi'da, 1429 / November 1, 2008."


[1] See 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, Reactions to Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's Fatwa Calling for the Abduction and Killing of American Civilians in Iraq.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 968, "Leading Progressive Qatari Cleric: By Permitting Suicide Operations, Al-Qaradhawi and His Ilk Have Caused a Moral Crisis in Islam," August 25, 2005, Leading Progressive Qatari Cleric: By Permitting Suicide Operations, Al-Qaradhawi and His Ilk Have Caused a Moral Crisis in Islam.

[3] See MEMRI Special Report No. 30, "Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi in London to Establish 'The International Council of Muslim Clerics'," July 8, 2004, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi in London to Establish 'The International Council of Muslim Clerics'; this report also provides a summary of Al-Qaradhawi's positions on contemporary issues.

[4], February 7, 2008.

[5] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 481, "Recent Rise in Sunni-Shi'ite Tension (II): Anti-Shi'ite Statements by Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi," December 16, 2008, Recent Rise in Sunni–Shi'ite Tension (Part II): Anti-Shi'ite Statements by Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi.


[7], March 9, 2001.

[8] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 8, 2001.

[9] Al-Tartusi does not give a source for this accusation. A number of jihadist websites have posted what is purported to be an audio recording of Ibn 'Uthaymin's response to Al-Qaradhawi's sermon; see, for example,

[10] It may be noted that Al-Qaradhawi is also against calling Jews descendants of apes and pigs; see MEMRI TV Clip No. 1691, "Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, Recently Barred from U.K., Reiterates His Position on Suicide Bombings and Declares: Jews Are Not the Offspring of Apes and Pigs," February 15-18, 2008,

[11] Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, "Islam Considers Humanity One Single Family," October 18, 2005,

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