|Portion of the million-plus crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square|
listening on February 4, 2011 to a Qaradawi sermon: A powerful
voice [Image Source]
The Hamas regime - terrorists of the bomb vest wearing sort - this week played host in Gaza to a world-famous Islamic scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The author of more than 120 books including "The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam" (Amazon: "This popular book dispels the ambiguities surrounding the honorable Shari'ah, and to fulfill the essential needs of the Muslims in current age") and "Islam: The Future Civilization" (Goodreads), he is a past-trustee of Oxford University's Centre for Islamic Studies, and the current president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
He has been awarded eight international prizes [source] for his contribution to Islamic scholarship and, in a word, is one of the most influential Islamic scholars living today. Part of that influence stems from his television program, al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh ("Shariah and Life"), broadcast on Al Jazeera to a world-wide audience of 60 million worldwide. He is a founder of IslamOnline (renamed OnIslam), a website with a huge global following, and serves as its Chief Religious Scholar. The Guardian called him a "complex, international figure, whose religious pronouncements address the dilemmas confronting Muslims in the modern world... [and who] does not fit into the common stereotype of fundamentalist, militant preacher".
While there is no shortage of political pundits and politicians urging Israel to engage in 'painful' dialogue with the Islamists of Hamas, there are far fewer who appear to factor into their analysis what the Hamas people say about dialoguing with Israel (hint: not exactly in favour) or what they tell their subjects about Jews, Israelis and Zionists.
Qardawi, a man of undoubted influence and standing, is the perfect address for examining the ideological underpinnings of the official Hamas rejection of anything connected with their accursed enemy. He's also an invaluable resource for confronting what Islamic Gazans think and say about their enemy.
Some of those Qaradawi statements and ideas:
- He has praised Hitler for what he led the Germans to do to Europe's Jews (video), saying: "Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them—even though they exaggerated this issue—he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."
- He advocates the beating by a man of his wife (source): "Because of his natural ability and his responsibility for providing for his family, the man is the head of the house and of the family. He is entitled to the obedience and cooperation of his wife, and accordingly it is not permissible for her to rebel against his authority, causing disruption. Without a captain the ship of the household will flounder and sink." Detailed guidance on how to carry out the beatings is included.
- Concerning female genital mutilation, he disingenuously terms it circumcision and concedes that it is not "obligatory". But in his book, Modern Fatwas, he writes: "I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it." In case anyone thinks female circumcision bears some relationship to the male version, we point out that it involves the removal of part of the clitoris to reduce female interest in sex before marriage and encourage faithfulness afterwards.
- "There should be no dialogue with these people [Israelis] except with swords." [Based on an AP report from 1998]
- He means it. In the past two weeks, he has made multiple public pronouncements explaining why an interfaith conference held annually in Qatar is not for him. Interviewed by the Qatari Al-Arab newspaper on April 22, he said as clearly as a person can: “I decided to not participate, so that I would not sit with the Jews on one platform..." He went a lot further (as this interview on Qatar Television on April 26, 2013 shows) criticizing all efforts to have interfaith dialogue between Islam and other religious groups since "they are useless" [source].
- Concerning murderous human-bomb attacks like the one that caused the death of our daughter Malki, he said: "They are not suicide operations…These are heroic martyrdom operations." [See "Islamic Debate Surrounds Mideast Suicide Bombers", Los Angeles Times, 2001] His definition stuck; the media are filled with the self-justifying reports from terror-apologists who have adopted his sickening quasi-theological terminology.
- He prayed that "Allah take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one." It's an especially clear and explicit televised sermon from January 2009, translated to English courtesy of the invaluable MEMRI team. Ten minutes of dropping the mask and educating whoever is willing to look classical religion-based Jew hatred in the face.
- As for female suicide bombers, al-Qaradawi encourages such acts: "The martyr operations is the greatest of all sorts of Jihad in the Cause of Allah." [IslamOnline]
The high-profile visit is seen as a major victory for Hamas and its supporters and a severe blow for Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and his "moderate" Fatah faction. Al-Qaradawi... came to the Gaza Strip to urge Palestinians to continue the struggle against Israel... Al-Qaradawi's visit has further bolstered Hamas's standing, enabling it to tighten its grip over the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the visit has granted legitimacy to Hamas's rule in the Gaza Strip and turned it, in the Arab and Islamic countries, into an acceptable Islamic party... During his visit, al-Qaradawi also urged Palestinians not to give up one inch of land to non-Muslims. He also warned against making any concessions on the "right of return" of millions of Palestinians to their pre-1948 villages and towns inside Israel. "Palestine was never Jewish," the 86-year-old sheikh told Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. "Palestine has always been Arab and Islamic." [Gatestone Insitute]His 50-person delegation from 14 different countries was received formally by Hamas 'prime minister' Ismail Haniyeh. The 'other' Palestinian goverment, the PA, had demanded that its supporters in Gaza boycott Al-Qaradawi's visit for internal Palestinian Arab political reasons. Still, thousands turned out and provided him with a regime-sanctioned hero's welcome. His standing in Gaza is enhanced by his well-earned reputation for robust anti-Semitism and explicit encouragement of Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.
Qaradawi's visit doesn't change much, of course, in itself. But it may be a catalyst in helping reshape the perceptions of outsiders on strategic issues. To be clear: peace is utterly essential and inevitably depends on painful compromise. Making peace is not simple. Abu Toameh makes a point that those who are convinced they know the necessary conditions for peace, the believers in 'confidence-building steps', those convinced of the urgent need for Israel to 'take steps for peace' and to 'show it is serious about its peace efforts', might do well to internalize:
Al-Qaradawi's visit and statements also serve as a reminder that the Israeli-Arab conflict is centered, more than ever, around religion. The sheikh's message to the Palestinians and Muslims is that this is a religious conflict and not a political issue. This is an unequivocal message that stresses that no Muslim is entitled to give up Muslim-owned land to non-Muslims. As far as al-Qaradawi, Hamas and their followers are concerned, the conflict is not about a settlement or a checkpoint. Rather, it is about Israel's presence - its right to exist at all - in the Middle East.In simpler terms, the 'occupation' that has so many of Israel's critics vexed is irrelevant to the seething, religion-based anger of those with terrorism on their feverish brains.