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What will be Sheikh Qaradawi’s next bold move?

Jamal Khashoggi

Published: Updated:

Not a single week passes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and all the Muslim countries of which Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi is fond of without a suicide bombing happening. A religious man washes up, prays to God, wraps an explosive belt around his waist, then a cleric or someone alleging to be a cleric or a preacher embraces him bidding him farewell and reminding him of the hereafter and the bliss awaiting him. They cry together, and the alleged cleric tells him: “We meet in heaven…we meet in heaven” and then he lets him go to blow himself up among other Muslims just because they are affiliated with the opposing camp.

The people he might blow himself up amongst may be guards at a checkpoint or even people praying at a mosque in Pakistan or Iraq. Religious places where Shiites gather became a favorite destination for suicide bombers even if the people targeted are civilians, women and children. Of course, Sheikh Qaradawi will never issue a fatwa allowing such action. I dare say that he would even issue a fatwa forbidding them and describing them as a crime worthy of punishment.

Returning to a state of bloodshed

The Muslim world has been living in an unprecedented state of bloodshed ever since al-Qaeda emerged with its doctrine that violates the rules of Sunnah. The Muslim world hasn’t witnessed such a state except during the days of Kharijities and Qarmatians. The sheikh, like other scholars, has confirmed the prohibition of shedding a Muslims blood, but we still see unhesitant violations in Muslim countries witnessing war and chaos. The recent weeks have carried some hideous images that distort Islam. A boy was executed in Aleppo without a trial and a boy was slaughtered in Deir az-Zour in front of his father because he was a Shiite. Shiite men were killed in cold blood in Egypt. A suicide bombing killed an Afghani family of six, including two children. Even the sheikh’s friend and companion in jihad, Burhaneddine Rabani - who set the precedent of jihad against the Russians - was killed in a suicide bombing.

Amidst the magnitude of violence and the bloodshed caused by ignorant Muslims, the time has come for the sheikh to adopt the stance of his Saudi scholar brothers

Jamal Khashoggi

Al-Qaeda looked for someone to sanction such actions, which became its distinguishing feature and a source of power and threat. It found in Sheikh Qaradawi’s fatwa allowing martyrdom operations for Palestinians and used it as an excuse to carry out its actions. That fatwa was issued by Qaradawi and other scholars in the mid-90’s and it was based on the jurisprudence of the necessity and upon the basis that necessities allow prohibitions. But al-Qaeda didn’t abide by this fatwa and its conditions, instead it shallowly interpreted it and began to prepare suicide bombers and exhorted them to blow themselves up among civilians in mosques, airplanes, funerals, markets and political gatherings.

The sheikh raised scholars’ value and confirmed that they side with what’s right when he publicly appeared last month in a rally in Qatar in support of the Syrian opposition and said that he had formerly supported the Lebanese party Hezbollah and became rivals with Saudi scholars for that reason. He added: “It turned out I was deceived and the kingdom’s scholars were more mature than I was when it comes to this party’s [Hezbollah’s] truth. The Syrian revolution exposed the truth and exposed the truth of Hezbollah [Party of God] and its Shiites whom the devil took over and made them forget to mention Allah.”

Standing up

Amidst the magnitude of violence and the bloodshed caused by ignorant Muslims, the time has come for the sheikh to adopt the stance of his Saudi scholar brothers, particularly the most prominent ones such as late sheikhs Abdelaziz Bin Baz and Mohamed Bin Othymin. These sheikhs both decisively refused to allow suicide bombing despite many pressures they were subjected to at a time when such operations were the Palestinians’ weapon of choice against Israeli occupation. Their stance was not based on politics but on Islamic doctrine. They acknowledge the duty of jihad against Israel but are committed to the strict rules prohibiting suicide even if it’s for noble causes such as weakening the occupying Israeli enemy. His eminence Qaradawi agrees that the Islamic Muslim Movement stopped its martyrdom operations years ago, and he didn’t deny this in a fatwa published on his website and he didn’t deny that the movement replaced these operations with targeting settlement with rockets. He said: “They resort to them when necessary as I said. If the necessity disappears, these operations stop.” So the dispute between the sheikh and Saudi scholars is regarding the issue of “necessity.” What if stating that these operations are no longer a necessity but instead harm Islam and its reputation? Islamic doctrine has, after all, preceded the Geneva Agreement with regards to formulating the moral rules for war. And the sheikh has thoroughly discussed these rules in his book “Fiqh al-Jihad.”

Had these suicide operations been a necessity, Hamas wouldn’t have given them up. Hamas gave them up after it was proven that these operations cause more harm than good. But Hamas is a political movement. The sheikh, however, is a “fakih” who takes stances upon evidence and not upon interest.

What is required from his eminence, the jurist of vast knowledge, is to lead a movement, along with Saudi’s mufti, Al-Azhar's sheikh and other prominent Muslim scholars, in a public conference and revive the moral rules of the war as per the Islamic sharia in order to put an end to people claiming religious knowledge and tampering with religion such as al-Qaeda supporters and extremist movements who corrupted “fiqh” books and rules and interpret texts as per their interests to quench their thirst for blood and hatred.

The sheikh and a group of scholars issued a fatwa on the duty of jihad in Syria. Therefore, angry Muslim men there must find in Qaradawi’s and other scholars’ support the proper spiritual leadership and direction. If they fail to do so, then malicious men who recently became religious and who are poor leaders will pave the way to become leaders. What happened in Lebanon’s Sidon and the general dragging of Muslims towards a strife with the army led to the bloodshed of dozens in an absurd confrontation. This incident would not have happened if it hadn’t been for the “fiqh” of facilitating murder and shedding blood.

If only the sheikh would make another bold move in which he retracts the fatwa on suicide operations - a fatwa that opened a loophole from hell - and then makes a speech on the prohibition of shedding a Muslim’s blood, spreads the correct jihad jurisprudence and makes a strict speech against extremism reminding us of his famous book “Islamic Awakening between Rejection and Extremism,” then he, along with some other Muslim scholars, can save what can still be saved.

This article was first published in Al-Hayat on June 29, 2013.

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Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels.

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