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Qaradāwī, Yūsuf al-

By:
Peter Mandaville
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Qaradāwī, Yūsuf al-

Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī (b. 1926)is an Egyptianreligious scholar and global media figure. Widely regarded by Sunnī Muslims as a pre-eminent jurist of the contemporary era and a major intellectual figurehead in the Islamic awakening (ṣaḥwah) movement, Qaradāwī's views have become influential throughout the Muslim world through prolific publication and translation, and via new media outlets such as satellite television and the Internet. Born in Egypt, Qaradāwī received training and early employment within that country's religious establishment, eventually graduating from al-Azhār University. A longtime follower of Ḥasan al-Bannā and the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Qaradāwī was jailed several times by the Egyptian government before leaving Egypt and taking up residence (and citizenship) in Qatar as Dean of the Faculty of Shariah at Qatar University. He rose to mainstream prominence in the 1990s through a religious program on the satellite television station Al-Jazeera, “al-Sharīʿah wa al-Hayāt” (Shariah and Life). Qaradāwī's willingness to engage modern issues and controversial questions (e.g., medical ethics, sexuality, world politics) soon won him a large following in the Arab world and beyond. Among the better known and widely circulated of his books is a manual for living a modern life in accordance with Islamic law, al-Ḥalāl wa al-Ḥarām fī al-Islām (The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam). Other outlets that expand his reach beyond the Middle East include the website “Islam Online” and the European Council for Fatwa and Research based in Ireland. Qaradāwī's pragmatic approach to Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) has made him a popular figure with younger Muslims, particularly among those living in Europe and North America. Widely regarded in the Muslim world as a conservative moderate, some of his views on issues such as Palestinian suicide bombings and his strong Islamist credentials have made him a controversial figure in the West. In 2004 he was offered, but refused, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qaradāwī is significant in a number of respects. His embrace of information and communication technologies has established him as a major authority figure in the Muslim world, and also indicates the capacity of traditional religious scholars (ʿulamaʿ) to remain relevant in the age of global media. A consistent critic of highly liberal as well as ultra literalist interpretations of Islam, both of which he regards as forms of extremism, Qaradāwī's work can be understood as an attempt to articulate a moderate, conservative Islam of the middle. His quest for a worldwide audience also speaks to another dimension of his life's work: to reinvigorate the traditionally universal mandate of the ʿulamaʿ. To this end he has convened a number of conferences bringing together senior scholars from various sectarian persuasions in Islam with the aim of reasserting the authority of mainstream ʿulamaʿ as the sole voices of religious authority in the Muslim world. Unconstrained by territorial borders and outside the reach of government censors, Qaradāwī has also been able to speak and issue legal opinions (fatāwā) on a range of issues well beyond the scope of most local and national religious authorities.

See also BANNā, ḤASAN AL-; JAZEERA, AL-; and MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, subentry on MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN EGYPT.

Bibliography

  • Kurzman, Charles. Liberal Islam: A Source-Book. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Some may question whether Qaradāwī belongs in this collection, but it provides an example of his writings in Section V.
  • Mandaville, Peter. Global Political Islam. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007. Chapter 9 contains an extended discussion of Qaradāwī and global religious authority in the Muslim world.
  • Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob. “The Global Mufti.” In Globalization and the Muslim World: Culture, Religion, and Modernity, edited by Birgit Schaebler and Leif Stenberg, pp. 153-165. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004.
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