By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief
What the Prophet of Allah (s) did not do, Yusuf Qaradawi did.
He declared a group of Muslims heretic, called their party the party of Satan and called upon the followers of the so called Sunni sect to engage in armed struggle against the Syrian regime and Iran. He is playing with the religious sentiments of the Sunnis when he said: â€œHow could 100 million Shiites (worldwide) defeat 1.7 billion (Sunnis)?â€ he exclaimed, â€œonly because (Sunni) Muslims are weak.â€
Scholars like him would turn people away from Islam. Our younger generation is not interested in the Shia and Sunni conflict. They are more decent than most scholars though their knowledge might be at a lower level.
In Syria, it is a war between the US and USSR-China interests. It is neither Muslim liberation war nor a Sunni-Shia conflict. Iran or Hizbullah are proxy of USSR interests and the fighters in Syria are playing the game of USA and its proxies in the Gulf. None of them care about human life. The Muslims among them do not even understand the essence of their faith when they indulge in senseless killing of each other.
To give twist to a regional political war and associate it with Islam is an insult to Prophet (s) and offensive to the message of Allah.
Rather than asking the two warring parties to come to terms and stop the bloodshed, the so called scholar is preaching violence.
He would never want his children or grandchildren to go to war and offer their lives. He would want others to die for his glory.
His scholarship is of no value to Islam and Muslims and we reject his profane call of jihad. Scholars like him are in fact responsible for the chaos in the Muslim world today.
Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi is considered one of the leading Muslim scholars of our times. He is from Egypt but now settled in Qatar. He has authored several books including the one on permissible and non permissible in Islam. At one time, he was an advocate of Shia-Sunni unity. However, in 2008 he issued statements that questioned Shiaâ€™s commitment to Islam. His views were summarized by the Los Angeles Times in the following words.
â€œA popular Sunni Muslim cleric with a television show and a website that churns out religious edicts and dieting tips agitated centuries-old animosities in the Islamic world recently by referring to Shiite Muslims as heretics seeking to invade Sunni societies. The bitter, often bloody, divide between the two main branches of Islam has been an undercurrent since the 7th century, but Sheik Yusuf Qaradawiâ€™s vitriol comes at a fragile time, when Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt are wary that the predominantly Shiite nations of Iraq and Iran could destabilize the region. With populist fervor, Qaradawiâ€™s comments intertwined religious mistrust with political suspicion. Iranâ€™s nuclear program and influence with the Shiite-led government in Iraq and the radical group Hezbollah in Lebanon have agitated Sunni governments. Fighting between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, which left tens of thousands dead since the U.S. invasion of 2003, has calmed, but the Sunni Arab minority worries about its future. â€œShiites are Muslims but they are heretics and their danger comes from their attempts to invade Sunni society,â€ said Qaradawi, who was quoted in the Egyptian independent daily Al Masry al Youm. â€œThey are able to do that because their billions of dollars trained cadres of Shiites proselytizing in Sunni countries. . . . We should protect Sunni society from the Shiite invasion.â€ Those opinions were first published Sept. 6. Since then, Qaradawi, a man with a polished voice and a gray beard who hosts a show on Islamic law on TV channel Al Jazeera, has been chastised by Shiite scholars and writers in what has turned into a war of polemics and personal attacks played out on websites and in newspapers from Doha to Cairo.â€
It is unfortunate that a prominent scholar of Islam would go this level of ignorance to describe Shias as heretics. Who knows who is next on his list. This is not scholarship and this is not Islam either. It is pure politics, I would argue racial politics. In the Arab world Shia are generally associated with Iran even though the numbers of Shia in the Arab world is significant. Iran with its emerging prowess is considered a potential threat to the regimes of the Middle East. Qaradawi, despite claims to be a sincere Islamic scholar, has always taken sides of despotic rulers in the Gulf. He sees Iran as a potential threat to Gulf regimes and hence he does not shy away from turning the racial politics into a religious battle cry.
This is unfortunate and Qaradawi must be asked by his followers to clarify his stance clearly. Who gave him the right to declare anyone a heretic?
One can have differences with Shias on their understanding of history. One can even have theological differences on issues pertaining to imamat. One can question them on various other issues that other sects of Muslims would not approve. But to declare someone a heretic is nothing but an ignorance that can not be justified. It is time that Muslims should take a stand on such issues and say to their leaders that the division among Muslims is not in the best interests of the ummah.