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JEDDAH: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, who died Monday at the age of 96, left behind a poisonous legacy of hatred and Islamic supremacy.

Al-Qaradawi was officially president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a post he held for 14 years since its establishment in 2004.

More importantly, he was one of the beachheads of the Muslim Brotherhood, a politico-religious organization that was sanctioned and outlawed by the Gulf States and many Western countries.

Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood established itself in the middle of the 20th century as the main opposition movement in Egypt, as well as in other countries in the region. Cairo blacklisted the movement as a terrorist organization in 2013.

A 2004 BBC News website report, citing an Arabic-language website, said Al-Qaradawi was born in a small village in the Nile Delta in 1926 and studied Islamic theology at Al-Qaradawi University. Azhar in Cairo, where he graduated in 1953.

Between 1949 and 1961, he was imprisoned several times in Egypt for his links with the Muslim Brotherhood and charges of ordering the assassination of political figures.

Supporters of the Brotherhood were seen across the Islamic world as stirring up religious hatred and promoting a cult of violence in order to gain political power.


2003-2005: Issues several fatwas calling for jihad against Israel and the Jews, in which he considers all adult Jews living in Palestine as “occupiers” and combatants,” making them legitimate targets of war.

2004: Justifies an uprising against the American presence in Iraq and allows the murder of those who fight.

2010: Argued that suicide bombers do not actually commit suicide, but die as accidental consequences of performing their operations, which counts as a glorious sacrifice in holy war and qualifies them for martyrdom.

2013: Advocated for the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s government in Egypt during the Arab Spring.

2015: Labeled as “khawarij” (enemies of Islam) anyone who opposed the country’s rightful leader after Mohammed Morsi took office in Egypt.

In a 2019 tweet, Al-Qaradawi claimed he was not a hate preacher and had spent the past 25 years promoting moderate thought.

“I have opposed extremism and extremists for about a quarter of a century. I saw its threat to deen and dunya (religion and temporal world), to the individual and society, and I strengthened my pen, my tongue and my thought (to support) the call for moderation and reject exaggeration and negligence, either in the field of fiqh and fatwa (Islamic jurisprudence and legal pronouncement in Islam) or in the field of tableegh and da’wah (guidance and preaching)”, he had tweeted at the time.

However, his track record revealed the exact opposite. He justified suicide bombings, especially in Palestine, repeatedly spoke out against Jews as a community, and issued fatwas (religious edicts) that demean women.

In a fatwa posted on his website, he said martyrdom is a higher form of jihad. And in a notorious 2004 interview on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, he hailed suicide bombings in Israeli-occupied Palestine as martyrdom in the name of God.

“I supported martyrdom operations, and I’m not the only one,” he said.

He also encouraged Muslims unable to fight to financially support mujahideen (those engaged in jihad) everywhere in foreign countries. This could hardly be described as a stand against terrorism

In 2008, the UK Home Office denied him a visa to travel to the country to receive medical treatment. David Cameron, the former leader of the Conservative Party, described Al-Qaradawi as “dangerous and divisive” in his appeal to the government to reject the visa application.

The Home Office said: ‘The UK will not tolerate the presence of those who seek to justify acts of terrorism violence or express views which may foster inter-community violence.’

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s vocal support for suicide bombers and edicts degrading women has drawn worldwide condemnation. (AFP)

At the time, Al-Qaradawi was already banned from entering the United States. In 2012, he was banned from entering France.

Al-Qaradawi became a household name in Arabic-speaking Muslim communities with his weekly appearance on the religious phone show Al-Shariah wa Al-Haya (Islamic Law and Life), which was broadcast to millions around the world.

Al-Qaradawi issued fatwas authorizing attacks against all Jews. On Al Jazeera Arabic in January 2009, he said: “Oh my God, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam… Oh my God, take the traitorous Jewish aggressors… Oh my God, count their number, kill them one by one and spare none.

He had a similar disdain and deep hatred of Europeans. That Al-Qaradawi was an Islamic supremacist with complete disregard for European civilization and culture could be gauged from one of his talks on Qatar television in 2007.

“I think Islam will conquer Europe without resorting to swords or combat. Europe is unhappy with materialism, with the philosophy of promiscuity and with the immoral considerations that rule the world – considerations of self-interest and self-indulgence,” he said.

“It is high time that (Europe) wakes up and finds a way out, and it will find no lifeline or lifeboat other than Islam.”

On his 2013 broadcast, Al-Qaradawi called Muslim countries weak and called on citizens to overthrow their governments and launch a war against anyone who opposes the Muslim Brotherhood, describing them as “khawarij” ( enemies of Islam).

Many intellectuals and commentators in the Arab world saw his lectures as a dangerous regurgitation of Islamist dogma out of touch with the modern world.

Even as mass protests toppled Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood loyalist, some Sudanese Islamists protested the death sentence handed down to him by an Egyptian court. (AFP)

When an uprising began in Egypt against the regime of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Qaradawi supported the protesters on his television broadcasts and issued a decree banning security personnel from opening fire on them.


Name: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Nationality: Qatari citizen of Egyptian origin

Profession: Spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; President of the European Fatwa and Research Council; co-founder of

Legal status: Banned from Egypt since 1997; sentenced to death in absentia in 2015; on the terrorist list of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain

Media: hosted his own show on Al Jazeera Arabic, “Ash-Shariah wal-Hayat” (“Shariah and Life”); appearances on Al-Hayat TV, BBC Arabic, Palestine Authority TV, Al-Faraeen TV, Al-Hiwar TV; over 4 million Twitter and Facebook followers combined

Upon his return to Egypt in 2011, he began leading Friday prayers for hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square a week after Mubarak resigned.

“Don’t let anyone steal this revolution from you – these hypocrites who will take on a new face that suits them,” he told the crowd.

Following the resignation of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Qaradawi delivered sermons to hundreds of thousands of people spreading his ideas and beliefs. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 but was cleared by a higher court in 2014. (AFP)

However, Al-Qaradawi was again forced into exile in 2013 when the military overthrew Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood loyalist, following mass protests against his policies.

Al-Qaradawi condemned what he described as a “coup” and called on all groups in Egypt to restore Morsi to what he called his “legitimate position”.

Al-Qaradawi was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court in 2015 alongside other Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Kevin E. Boling