Further to “The Two Sides of Yusuf Qaradawi”

Note to Al-Muhajabah: the new trackback is because of the new blog.

Al-Muhajabah, in her blog “veiled4allah” links to an article by anti-Bush blogger Juan Cole attacking Yusuf al-Qaradawi for endorsing attacks on Americans, whether civilians or military, in Iraq. She calls him “a man of many faces”, on account of his condeming atrocities like 9/11 and the Bali bombing while endorsing suicide bombing in Palestine. This isn’t to defend suicide bombing as it’s not my place to do so, except to point out that it’s a point of disagreement among Muslim scholars. Those who disagree with it do so largely on the grounds that it involves self-inflicted death, and suicide is clearly haraam. One shaikh said that most of the “victories” involving such actions were in fact “propaganda victories”, which gave others excuses to kill Muslims elsewhere, and that the killing of women and children is haraam (citing Omar ibn al-Khattab, radhi Allahu ‘anhu, and “let no one mistake that noble caliph as a wimp!”). Those who agree with it say that the intention is the bombing, and not the suicide, and that the haraam suicide is that which is motivated by personal despair.

I see no inconsistency in condoning such actions in Palestine and condemning 9/11 and Bali, because both the circumstances and the actions were absolutely different, beyond comparison. As for Iraq, I can think of circumstances where attacking foreign (occupying) personnel might be justified, but I suspect that many of those responsible belong to groups seeking power for themselves, like Baathists. Nobody disagrees that many of the governments in the Arab world are disgusting, but the people seeking to overthrow them are often a whole lot worse.

The BBC London presenter Jon Gaunt made this one of the topics of his phone-in programme this morning (3rd Sept), because our mayor, Ken Livingstone, met al-Qaradawi when he visited London. What people fail to mention is that al-Qaradawi’s importance among the Muslim community in London is overstated; in fact, I would guess that a large number of the religious Muslims in London, have in fact never heard of him. He is well-known in the Arab world and a popular figure in the Arabic media, but most Muslims in London (outside the Regent’s Park community) are of Asian origin and do not speak Arabic. Shaikh al-Qaradawi does do valuable work with organisations like the European Council for Fatwa and Research, but politicans do the Muslims in London a disservice if they treat him as the only representative of religious Muslims.

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