By Elder Yinka Salaam
The death of Sheikh Yusuf Abdullah Al Qaradawi, though not unexpected, hit the entire world – both Ummah and non-Muslims – like a thunderbolt. The world has indeed lost an illustrious and outstanding scholar who had about 200 publications to his credit.
The Sheikh of the Century, as he is fondly called, even at 96 published a book three months ago and another was recently published just three weeks before his death.
The Emeritus Professor, who lost his father at age two memorized the entire Qur’an along with the Science of Tajweed at age 9 and started delivering Friday Khutbah from age 18.
The uncommon genius graduated as overall best graduating student in all the institutions he attended – primary, secondary and higher institutions. The year he graduated from Al Azhat University, among the brilliant 500 students of the Faculty, he was the best graduating student. He had a distinction in his doctorate degree (Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt). His research centred on the institution of Zakat and its application in resolving socioeconomic problems.
The Egyptian-born but Qatari based Scholar was famous for memorising any book that came his way – the Qur’an, books of Tafseer, all the Books of Hadith as well as other books, be they ancient and modern writings. Hence, he hardly needed to gather reference texts anytime he needed to write books or whenever he wanted to embark on research being a ‘moving encyclopedia’ himself!
His title as the undisputed Sheikh of the Century was attested to by all the Scholars and Activists that have traversed this earth within the last century, including Sheikh Abul Ala Mawduudi and Sheikh Nasirudeen Al Bani (may Allah bless their souls and grant them al Jannah), (Amin). Al Qaradaawi was the subject of the book The Global Mufti: The Phenomenon of Yusuf al-Qaradawi published by Columbia University Press.
Al-Qaradawī finished 3rd in a 2008 poll on who was the world’s leading public intellectual. The poll, Top 100 Public Intellectuals, was of the readers of Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (United States).
The most influential Sheikh of the Century did not just emerge as the President of the International Union of Islamic Scholars uniting them all – irrespective of different Schools of Thought – his scholarship towered above all his contemporaries. He is a genius and an authority in virtually all fields of human endeavours – religious and mundane. Qaradawi’s writings covered all aspects of life: – Sciences, Technology, Humanities – social, economic, finance, politics, religion etc.
Al Qaradawi was reputed for addressing complex ancient, modern and emerging issues that were either not hitherto addressed by the Shar’ah or yet to be comprehensively addressed by previous and contemporary scholars.
His writings covered areas like Finance, Banking, Economic Security, Mortgage, Insurance, women’s rights vis a vis the Western orientation, Fiqh al Awlaawiyaat (Understanding Priorities), extremism, terrorism, Artificial Intelligence, medicine (such as cloning, IVF, surrogacy etc), homosexuality, human rights, politics etc.
Among his major works that have been translated into English are: Fiqh al-Zakat: a Comparative Study : the Rules, Regulations and Philosophy of Zakat in the light of the Qurʼan and Sunnah (considered by some as the most comprehensive work in the area of Zakat. Abul Ala Maududi commented on it as “the book of this century in Islamic Jurisprudence; Fiqh al-Jihad; Islam; Modern Fatwas on Issues of Women and the Family (Fatawa Mu’asira fi Shu’un al-Mar’a wa al-Usrah); Auspices of the Ultimate Victory of Islam; Towards a Sound Awakening; The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam (al-Halal wal-Haram fil Islam); The Desired Muslim Generation; Diversion and Arts In Islam – Non Muslims in the Islamic Society; Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase; Contemporary Fatawa: Current Issues in Islamic Fiqh.
Others include: Time in the Life of a Muslim; Sincerity: The Essential Quality; Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy; Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism; Islam: An Introduction; Economic Security in Islam; Understanding Moderation of Islam and Reformation (Fiqh al-Wasaṭīyah al-Islāmīyah wa-al-Tajdīd: maʻālim wa-manārāt);
Sheikh Al-Qaradawi also published some excerpts of his poetry in the book Nafahat wa Lafahat.
Compilation of Al Qaradaawi’s Encyclopedia of Islam was 50 percent complete before his death.
Qaradawi and Tyrants
It is however pertinent to note that the global tyrants, oppressive governments, imperialists, neo-colonialists, autocratic monarchies as well as their lackeys and apologists had issues with Sheikh Qaradawi. He defied the threat of President George Bush Jnr. of the United States after the 9/11 attacks because of his stance on the alleged involvement of Osama bn Laden in the incident, as well as his opposition to the unjust US invasion of Afghanistan when most Scholars across the world had been cowed into silence. Little wonder why Al Qaradawi practically negotiated and midwifed the resolution of the Afghan crisis between US and Taliban. He equally leveraged his highly revered personality to facilitate peace among warring groups in many Muslim countries, with the Qatari government facilitating the meetings.
Until his death, Sheikh Al Qaradawi unapologetically stood firmly in support of the Palestinians and the two-state solution as the way to end Israeli occupation of Palestine. He identified with Hamas and other freedom fighters in Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem being oppressed, suppressed and decimated by the Apartheid Israeli Zionist regime. It is not surprising therefore that Qaradawi incurred the wrath of the Saudi Arabian government (renowned for killing, suppressing and incarcerating critics and Scholars who hold divergent views) her puppets and apologists such as the Sisi-led autocratic government of Egypt and Salafist movements across the globe.
Qaradawi and Extremism
Despite being an activist and a freedom fighter, Shiekh Al Qaradaawi refused to embrace extremism, Salafism or Madkhalism. He believed firmly in peaceful resolution of crises, except on self defense; just as he rejected resorting of extrajudicial means in resolving issues.
As a result of his liberal stance and his call for moderation in religion, Sheikh Qaradawi found himself in the black books of extremists and terrorists like Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, ISWAP (and their Ilks who condemn liberal scholars) that subscribed to extrajudicial killings.
Consequently, Shiekh Al Qaradawi was profiled as one of the leading liberal voices in contemporary Islam in Charles Kurzman’s book Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, published by Oxford University Press.
Except for the enlightenment of the likes of Sheikh Al Qaradawi, particularly with his book: Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism published in the mid-70s, many regions, including SouthWest Nigeria would have been overwhelmed by the extremists and the self acclaimed Saved Sect. Thanks to moderate Islamic organisations and young vibrant youths who subscribed to Al Qaradawi’s call for moderation which is the hallmark of Islam as referenced in Qur’an 2:143.
Condemnation by extremists, overzealous youths
No Muslim should therefore be bothered about the uncouth comments or needless criticisms against this global icon by extremists, those whose fancied scholars are not equally saved from their criticisms. Their da’wah only thrives in condemnation. If they could maul and emasculate their own scholars, what wouldn’t they do to others’. The Sheikh in question is undoubtedly the greatest Muslim scholar that ever lived in this century and doesn’t need the endorsement of the divisive elements, dead or alive. Hence, unjust comments of few misguided and inconsequential deviants whose business is to speak ill of upright Muslims and weaken the Ummah with their divisive inclinations should simply be ignored.
The renowned Grand Mufti of Europe was the same Imam who led the Jannazah of Sheikh Abul Ala Mawduudi amongst other many great scholars. In the words of Hamudah Abdal ‘Ati: “Failure to see (acknowledge) the truth does not mean there is no truth, and denial of reality does not make it unreal”. So, no amount of effort could make the blind to see. Engaging such unattractive side attraction amounts to sheer distraction and time wastage which Sheikh Qaradawi himself warned us against in his famous book: Time in the Life of a Muslim. The best way to honour Sheikh Al Qaradawi in death is to simply ignore these irritants, the time wasters.
Muslim youths in particular are advised to seek knowledge and get informed, but not to malign Muslim personalities and destroy the Ummah from within through their divisiveness.
The great Al-Qaradawi, a special blessing for the Ummah and the world at large has indeed gone to meet his Lord. May Almighty Allah populate the Ummah with his likes and grant him Al Jannatu Firdaus, Aameen.
Yinka Salaam writes from Osogbo, Osun State, Southwest Nigeria
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