Allama Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who departed for the heavenly abode recently, was an eminent scholar, author, and leader. He was erudite yet humble and brave yet gentle. As a thinker who marshalled arguably the greatest jurisprudential insights in contemporary times, his contributions to modern Islamic thought are immense. A prolific author of 100+ academic works; winner of numerous internationally acclaimed awards (including King Faisal International Prize); cofounder and president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research – he was truly at the top echelons of greatness. Even a sketchy enumeration of his accomplishments would outgrow these limited pages and hence, I would merely concentrate here on his state of mind – the key to his success!
I think, at respective stages in life, the following questions must have struck Allama Qaradawi’s mind; now we know his answers, but I dreadfully wonder here – WHAT IF – he would have answered them differently…
- Born in a poor family, I was orphaned at two. Should I study at all?
- Alhamdulillah I am a Hafiz at nine. Should I aspire for anything else? Also, my poor uncle is asking me to learn a trade and open a shop. Shouldn’t I comply?
- The message of Hasan al-Banna is based on truth. But I am only 14, should I follow him?
- People at my village follow strict Shafi madhab; I believe that a mere touch from the wife does not invalidate the ablutions of her husband. But I am only 20; if I express my opinion, the elder shuyukh will definitely be offended. Shouldn’t I swim with the tides?
We know that despite being in different stages of penury, Allama Qaradawi studied with meagre scholarships till he earned his doctorate from al-Azhar. He followed the call of al-Banna and emerged as a great daee and leader. And he never shied away from expressing his thoughts and opinions. His decisions, choices, and answers made him who he was. As a human being, it must have occurred to him to compromise with the powers that be, but he chose not to… even at the expense of imprisonments, exile, false charges of terrorism, and a preposterous award of death sentence. No one would have blamed him if he had chosen a life of ease and comfort and had given in to the doubts and pressures – but no one would have known him either.
This provides us with paramount wisdom and a life lesson to be cherished always. The journey to greatness begins with the conquest of our own minds. Without trouncing our own excuses and trampling upon self-doubts, the journey cannot even commence, let alone be completed.