In Defense of Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi
A couple of weeks ago, a semi-official Iranian news agency lashed out at Dr. Yousuf al Qaradawi, widely considered one of the most eminent living Muslim religious scholars. The agency, called Muhr, castigated the great Alim, or religious scholar, for an interview he had given to an Egyptian newspaper in which he warned against organized efforts by some Shiite circles to convert Sunni Muslims to the Shiite branch of Islam. The Iranian news agency went as far as accusing al-Qaradawi of playing into the hands of Zionists and Jewish rabbis!!
I don’t usually write on religious matters, especially Sunni-Shia affairs. However, I do believe that a clear and unmistakable message should be sent to the Shiite circles in Iran and elsewhere, namely that Sunnis are not about to become Shiites and that public support for Iran and Hezbullah in some Sunni countries doesn’t indicate that Sunni Muslims are infatuated with the Shiite faith.
The Sunni masses support Hezbullah because this is the right thing to do. Hezbullah after all is fighting Israel, the evil brat of Zionism which is the ultimate enemy of Islam and Muslims.
The same thing applies to public support for Iran against the Zionist-controlled American administration which is trying so hard to deprive Iran of its right to develop nuclear technology.
However, Sunni support for Iran against American hegemony doesn’t mean that the Sunni masses, which constitute more than 94% of Muslims worldwide, are coming to terms with the despicable Shiite habit of cursing the Companions of Prophet Muhammed, such as Abu Bakr, Omar Ibn al Khattab and Othman Ibn Affan.
Let us be very clear about this, cursing the Sahaba, as far as Sunni Muslims are concerned, is and will always remain the ultimate redline.
There can be no Muslim unity unless the Shiites brothers, especially in Iran, abandon this hateful and provocative ritual.
Luckily, some Shiite Ulema or scholars have realized this fact and adopted positive positions toward showing respect to the feelings of their Sunni brothers.
This writer has always supported Iran against Western, especially American predators.
While studying in the United States nearly three decades ago, I regularly took part in anti-Shah demonstrations on American campuses.
We shouted aloud “Tau Margi Shahi Kha’en, Nehzat Idameh dorat” (until the death of the treacherous Shah, the struggle will continue), and “ Istiklal, Azadee, Hokomati Islamee” (Indepence, Freedom, Islamic Government.”
I have also written numerous articles in support of Iran and Hezbullah and will continue to do so for reasons having to do with the moral principle of siding with the weak and the oppressed against the unjust and the insolent.
Hence, the Iranian brothers, especially the people at Muhr, shouldn’t think that this defense of Sheikh Qaradawi is coming from a “Zionist agent” as they are almost innately tempted to dismiss criticisms of some of their objectionable practices and attitudes.
I had the honor to meet with Sheikh Qaradawi many years ago. And I have ever since been following up rather closely his pronouncements and positions which I have found to be quite rational and wise.
Sheikh Qaradawi has been a fierce critic of Israeli criminality and the Nazi-like oppression the Zionist regime is meting out to the helpless Palestinians. However, he has never voiced hatred or hostility toward Jews as Jews, as Zionist propaganda circles claim.
He has been a constantly loud voice urging Muslims and Arabs to show solidarity with the Palestinians.
Indeed, one would exaggerate little by saying that had it not been for Qaradawi’s efforts, the Palestinian ordeal would have been much worse.
As to his positions on Iran and Shiites, al- Qaradawi has always adopted decidedly moderate positions in this regard.
He had warmly welcomed the Iranian revolution back in 1978 as the vast bulk of Sunni Muslims did. He also stood against the Iran-Iraq war, calling it a catastrophe.
In recent years, al-Qaradawi stood against extremist Sunni groups such as al-Qaida which adopted a radical theological stance viewing Shiites, especially the Ithna Ashari Shiites (followers of the Twelve Imams) as heretical.
This position invited hostile reactions from some of the Salafi groups (fundamentalist puritanical Orthodox Sunni Muslims) especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.
Indeed, Qaradawi’s uncompromising views on Israel, American imperialism, the Palestinian plight and the ongoing American war on Islam, dubbed deceptively as “the war on terror” have prompted many western governments such as the US and UK to declare him a persona non grata.
So how could a man as such be serving Zionist interests when the Zionists themselves have spared no efforts vilifying and inciting against him?
Shiites circles in Iran and elsewhere miss no opportunity urging Muslims to get united in the face of Israeli aggression and expansionism. This is certainly a commendable and admirable stance.
However, true Muslim unity can’t be achieved while some influential Shiite circles in Iran and probably elsewhere retain the old repulsive practice of cursing the Sahaba of Rasullullah, or companions of the Prophet.
Is Shiism a religion based on cursing?
A few months ago, the highest-ranking Shiite Marjie (religious scholar) in Lebanon, Rev. Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadulullah issued a fatwa or religious edict prohibiting the cursing of the Sahaba.
Sunni Muslims warmly welcomed the fatwa and many Sunni intellectuals and religious leaders hoped that it would lead to a genuine reconciliation between the two camps.
However, that fatwa was eventually met with widespread opposition by some influential Shiite ulema in Iraq and Iran who couldn’t abandon the malicious canard that Sunni Muslims were Nassibi or Nawaseb (enemies of Imam Ali), the First Shiite Imam who is also the Fourth Sunni Caliph.
In truth, Sunni Muslims don’t hate Ali and his family. On the contrary, they love them so much. Don’t Sunni Muslims, as do all Muslims, recite at the end of their daily prayers “O God, may thy Peace and blessings be upon Muhammd and the family of Muhammed as Thou had bestowed thy peace and blessing on Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim.”?
Besides, history shows that Imam Ali had an active working relationship with the very people many Shiites claim they hated him and dispossessed him of his divine right to become the leader of Muslims after the death of the Prophet.
Not only that, Ali actually had his own daughter married to Omar Ibn al Khattab, the man many Shiites hate most.
Well, does a man have his own daughter married to the man he hates most?
In addition, Imam Ali had three of his sons named after Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman, the first three Caliphs. Hence, one is prompted to seriously question the Shiite claims that Ali hated these caliphs. Well, a man doesn’t name his own children after his worst enemies.
Ali was known of his exemplary bravery and courage. This is why it is highly unlikely that his collaboration with the caliphs occurred under duress. Ali was not the type of man who would cower under duress. He was not the type of man who would play the role of a hypocrite. His heart and his tongue were the same.
In a nutshell, the Shiite brothers should realize that Muslim unity can’t be achieved while certain Shiites keep up reviving ancient hatred by cursing and vilifying historical figures Sunni Muslims glorify and love.
Such behavior would only perpetuate Muslim disunity. It would also prove that some Shiite religious circles are not really serious about Muslim unity.