Recent eulogies of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi from the leaders of prominent Muslim organizations in the West reveal a glaring contradiction. Such organizations regularly invoke the principles of religious freedom and tolerance to silence their critics, but their praise of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading ideologue reveals such groups are not committed to the principles of “freedom” and “tolerance.” Instead, they are merely intent on using these words as cover for their agenda to undermine and destabilize Western democracies.
Qaradawi, who died in late September, was well-known for lamenting that Adolf Hitler didn’t finish off the Jews in the Holocaust. In addition to calling the for imposition of the death penalty on apostates and homosexuals, he called for the chopping off of limbs of thieves. He also called on Muslims to conquer the West by means of da’wah (preaching).
He also sanctioned violent jihad, affirmed suicide bombings targeting civilians and the use of zakat to fund terror attacks. He dreamed of the restoration of the caliphate , which historically has meant the oppression of non-Muslims living under Muslim rule.
Such clear expressions of Qaradawi’s anti-democratic impulse did not stop prominent Muslim leaders in the West from lionizing him after his death. Nihad Awad, founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), described Qaradawi as “The most influential contemporary Muslim scholar.” Awad, formerly a member of the Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee, who had publicly appeared with Qaradawi, indicated that Qaradawi’s reward would be in heaven, stating, “To God we belong and to Him we return.”
CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter headed by former Women’s March board member Zahra Billoo, mourned him calling Qaradawi’s passing “the end of an era in contemporary Islam.”
The Jamaat-e-Islami connected Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), called Qaradawi “one of the most brilliant minds” in Islam.
The Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., one of the most influential mosques in America linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, called Qaradawi “one of the foremost Islamic intellectuals and thinkers of our era,” adding that “He has lived in exile from his home country of Egypt due to continued persecution and passed away in his adopted country of Qatar.”
The Muslim Brotherhood-linked U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), which includes CAIR, and other American Islamist groups, adopted the sheikh’s brand of Islam as their own, describing Qaradawi’s work as “synonymous with Islamic Law in the minds of most Muslims.”
Yasir Qadhi, a prominent Salafist preacher who currently serves as the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Islamic Seminary of America located in Texas, rationalized Qaradawi’s advocacy for terrorism, declaring, “The concept of martyrdom is always valorized if you agree with the cause. The problem is when you don’t agree with the cause you are a terrorist.”
Islamists in another Western democracy, the United Kingdom, also lionized Qaradawi.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) denounced those who carried out a “smear campaign” against Qaradawi and claimed it was “being orchestrated by the Zionist lobby who are evidently angered by Dr Qaradawi’s staunch opposition to Israeli State brutality against the Palestinian people.”
British Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas al-Takriti commemorated Qaradawi on the 5Pillars video channel, recalling how Qaradawi’s program on al-Jazeera “Shariah and Life” allowed him to reach millions.
“That made him the global figure that he truly is,” al-Takriti said. “Shiekh Qaradawi was someone who took it upon himself to fight political oppression … When the Arab Spring started … he was always there telling people it was their chance for freedom and it was their chance to overthrow dictators who were aligned with the West.”
U.K.-based Roshan Salih, editor of 5Pillars, denounced the Saudi-backed “Arab News” for labeling Qaradawi as the “Preacher of Hate” upon his death. “This is how Arab News (a Saudi propaganda organ) is reporting the passing of Yusuf Al Qaradawi,” Salih wrote.
Such lionization of Qaradawi offended Muslim reformists in the West.
“These Islamist groups are chameleons,” said Zahack Tanvir, an Indian Muslim and Saudi-based director of The Milli Chronicle, an online publication in Britain. “They fake peace and harmony, while they tacitly approve the suicide bombings. Qardawi’s verdict made hundreds of young people as suicide bombers, while he lived up to 96 years and died a natural death.”
Another reformer, Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement, compared Qaradawi’s influence in the Muslim community with that of Hitler and the Nazis in the German-American community in the 1930s and 1940s.
“That’s an interesting way to talk about influence unless they really feel he had a positive impact on the Muslim community, and this guy, his influence was anything but positive,” Jasser said. “He radicalized and provided theological and academic justifications … [and] he provided a legitimacy to supremacist ideas about so-called Islamic democracy that fueled excuses by Hamas, al-Qaida and others.”
“The only difference was the techniques and the tactics,” Jasser said.
Qaradawi’s affirmation of Islamic supremacism cannot be reconciled with the principles of Western constitutional democracies that allow his admirers to operate freely within their borders.
John Rossomando, a researcher on defense policy and intelligence, is a contributor to Focus on Western Islamism.