Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, Islamist Backer of Arab Revolts, Dies at 96
Sheikh Youssef, a spiritual guide to the Muslim Brotherhood that championed the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 as well as the unsettled rulers in Egypt with his Islamist preaching, Died today Monday, at the age of 96.
Born in Egypt, Sheikh spent most of his life in Qatar. He became among the most recognisable Sunni Muslim clerics ever known in the Arab world.
Transmitted into millions of homes, In 2017, His sermons powered tensions that caused Saudi Arabia and its Gulf associate to impose Qatar a blockade and declare Qaradawi a terrorist.
His death was announced via his official Twitter account.
Qaradawi studied at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. He was often described by his advocates as an average who provided a counterweight to the radical ideologies adopted by al-Qaeda.
He strongly condemned the attacks of September 11, 2001, in the United States while supporting democratic politics.
Sheikh also sanctioned violence in causes he favoured.
After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, he backed attacks on coalition forces and supported the Palestinian suicide bombing against the Israeli targets in the course of an uprising that started in 2000.
He was banned from entry by several Western States.
In the Arab Spring uprisings, he called for Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, to be killed and also declared jihad against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President’s government.
Sheikh joined the Muslim Brotherhood as a young man. The Brotherhood advocates Islam as a political program. The autocratic Arab leaders have seen the Brotherhood as a threat since 1928 when it was founded in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna, someone Qaradewi knew.
He turned down the opportunity to lead the organisation and instead put his focus on Islamic scholarship and preaching, and building a following that expanded well beyond the group.
His fame grew after the 2011 Arab revolts.
When he visited Cairo after President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall, he told the people at Tahrir Square that the Egyptians had been lifted from fear after toppling a modern-day Pharaoh.
David Warren, who is a scholar of contemporary Islam as well as a research fellow at Washington University, said, “He’s somebody who was committed to democracy and popular sovereignty from an Islamic perspective.”
“But being a democrat doesn’t mean that someone has to be pacifistic, so in the context of a civil war like Libya and Syria, he could hold those positions while similarly saying that Gadaffi is a tyrant who should be killed,” he said.
He has been jailed numerous times in Egypt and was reported dead in exile at age 96.