Sheikh Yusuf bin Abdullah Al-Qaradawi, a great Muslim scholar of global repute and founding Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, breathed his last on September 26. He was 96.
Born on September 9, 1926 in the village of Saft Turab, Egypt, which was still under British colonial rule, Qaradawi went to study at the Al-Azhar University, Cairo. He studied religious sciences during his youth, in which he combined his Islamic education with anti-colonial activism. He was arrested several times throughout the 1950s as a result of his political activism, as well as his association with the Muslim Brotherhood. That eventually led him to move to Qatar in the 1960s, where he acquired the position of Dean of the Faculty of Shari’ah at Qatar University.
Qaradawi was a supporter of the Palestinian cause. He was a strong participant in international conferences and events related to the Palestinian cause. His book, Jerusalem is the Cause of Every Muslim bears testimony to his strong commitment to Palestine.
He was also one of the prominent figures of Islam in the present era in science, thought, advocacy and jihad in the Islamic world. Over the years, he was named a “moderate Islamist” by some, due to his reinterpretations of matters relating to Muslims in the West and positive advocacy for democracy while, at the same time, being highly criticised by others for vocally supporting suicide bombings against Israeli military targets and opposing the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Qaradawi was vocal on the conflict in Syria over the past decade, where the Bashar Al-Assad regime brutally cracked down on peaceful protestors, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, detained and tortured to death tens of thousands. For events in Egypt, too, he also openly condemned the 2013 military coup against the democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi and opposed the new government under Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Following his condemnation, he was unable to return to Egypt for a second time, after his first exile prior to the 2011 revolution.
Qaradawi is best known for his programme al-Shari’a wa’l-Haya (Sharia and Life) broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 40-60 million worldwide. He has more than 120 books to his credit, including The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, Islam: The Future Civilization and Fiqh al-Zakat (The Jurisprudence of Zakat). Through his bilingual Arabic-English website Islamonline.net, he issued over 150 fatwas. He received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship, and is considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars of his time. He also sought to reinterpret historical rules of Islamic law in order to better integrate Muslims in non-Muslim societies.
His death sparked strong reactions across the Muslim world, as people took to social media to mourn his death.
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hasan bin Al-Diddu Al-Shanqiti led the funeral prayer of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi at Imam Muhammad ibn Abd Al Wahhab Mosque, Doha on September 27. Thereafter Sheikh Qaradawi was laid to rest at Mesaimeer Cemetery.