Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by leading Sunni scholar Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on January 20, 2011.
Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: 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.