Following are excerpts from an interview with Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on August 31, 2006.
Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Eight years ago, I visited Iran, in the days of President Khatami. He held a grand reception for me, as did all the officials and ayatollahs in Iran. They received me in a great way, and welcomed me, but I said to them: If we really want to get closer, several things are unavoidable. For one, we must avoid provocations, about which we cannot reach an agreement. One such thing is that you must stop saying that the Koran is incomplete. Most of the Shiites believe that the existing Koran is the word of God, and they interpret it, and rely on it in their jurisprudence and everything. But they say that this Koran is not the entire Koran. They say that the Koran was twice the size of this Koran, that the Al-Ahzab chapter was twice the size of whatever, and this or that chapter was twice the size of whatever... All this talk about the Koran is unacceptable. Some of them reject these things, while others believe in them. I said to them: We must be quiet about the Koran and about the Sunni imams - Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Hanifa, Al-Maalik, Abu Hanbal. Even more important is to refrain from cursing the Prophet's companions.
Sheik Al-Ghazali, may he rest in peace, was told once by some Shiites that Ali was more worthy of become a Caliph than Abu Bakr and Omar. He said to them: Ali is dead, Abu Bakr is dead, and Omar is dead. All of this is now history, and we are ruled by foreigners. The colonialists rule us, whether directly or behind the scenes, so why are we talking about these things? Cursing the Prophet's companions is part of their belief. They get closer to Allah by cursing the Prophet's companions. A Shiite cannot be called Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman, or Aisha.
In addition, I told them that in order to become closer, one must refrain from preaching one's doctrine in the countries that completely adhere to the other doctrine. I will not go and preach the Sunni doctrine in Qom or in a purely Shiite country. I told them it was unacceptable to preach the Sunni [sic] doctrine in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, and so on. These are purely Sunni countries.
I asked them: What will you gain? You will gain one person? Two, ten, or twenty, a hundred, two hundred, or even a thousand or two thousand, but this will create antagonism towards your doctrine. The entire country will be hostile to it.
In recent years, the Shiites have penetrated Egypt. Two years ago, I wrote a book, Lies Told about Our History.
Someone decided to respond to this book. Several months ago, one of the brothers asked me: "Did you see this book?" I said: "No, what book is that?" The book was called Al-Qaradhawi, Agent of Allah or Agent of the Umayyad Dynasty? He said this was a response to my book, Lies Told about Our History. I thought it must be someone from Iran, Iraq, or Lebanon, but at the end of the book, it was written: Egypt, Al-Mansoura, phone number such-and-such, e-mail such-and-such. Al-Mansoura?! Egypt?! There is a Shiite there who has the audacity to respond to Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi?! I told my secretary to call Al-Mansoura and ask about this catastrophe. He called, and they said that one brother had become Shiite, and had begun to to back and forth between Egypt and Tehran. Brothers, I advocate closer ties between Sunnis and Shiites, and I support the resistance of Hizbullah, but under no circumstances will I allow it to serve as a reason for Shiite penetration of Sunni countries, because this will lead to civil strife and a fire that will consume everything.
We Egyptians are not familiar with this. Egypt is a Sunni country, and we have never known any conflict. Hanafi, Shafi, and Maliki – they are all Sunni doctrines. But the conflict now raging in Iraq – the daily massacres among Sunnis and Shiites... The same could happen [in Egypt] if this continues. If there is preaching of the [Shiite] doctrine, the others will stand up against them. Then there will be civil strife and endless massacres. Therefore, I say we must be vigilant.