With the Muslim Brotherhood almost certain to play a substantial role in the next Egyptian government, looming in the background is the man that Der Spiegel described this week as “the father figure of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood”: Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi has been praised by Saudi-funded Islamic scholar John Esposito as a champion of a “reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism and human rights.” But numerous statements of Qaradawi demonstrate that he anything but a “reformist” or a genuine champion of “democracy, pluralism and human rights” – and is, in fact, positively Hitlerian in his Jew-hatred and bloodlust.
Qaradawi, 84, is based in Qatar, but was born in Egypt, and still wields considerable influence there. During the uprising against the Mubarak regime, a Muslim website published a chapter from Qaradawi’s book Laws of Jihad, including this passage: “One of the forms of jihad in Islam is jihad against evil and corruption within [the Islamic lands]. This jihad is crucial in order to protect society from collapse, disintegration, and perdition — for Muslim society has unique characteristics, and if these are lost, forgotten or destroyed, there will be no Muslim society.”
In 2002, the Muslim Brotherhood asked him to take over as their leader, but he refused, probably because he saw the position as too small for him: Qaradawi’s renown is not limited to Egypt or even to the Middle East. He is an international figure, reaching sixty million Muslims weekly through his Al-Jazeera TV show, “Sharia and Life,” and touching countless more through his 120 published books (including his famous popular Sharia manual, Al Halal wal Haram fil Islam – that is, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam), his website IslamOnline.com (which publishes many of his fatwas) and positions as president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
Qaradawi also enjoys a reputation as a moderate beyond just Esposito: the former Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is himself widely assumed to be a “moderate” despite evidence to the contrary, has hailed Qaradawi as a “very very well known Islamic jurist, highly regarded all over the Muslim world.” And another Muslim leader whose moderate bona fides have been questioned, the vaunted “Muslim Martin Luther” Tariq Ramadan, wrote a foreword to one of his books in 1998, and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone welcomed him to the city in 2004 and praised him repeatedly, despite the fact that during that visit Qaradawi explained to the BBC that suicide attacks against Israelis were not actually suicide at all, but “martyrdom in the name of God.” (Qaradawi has since been banned from Britain, as well as from the U.S.)
And the things that Qaradawi tells the millions of Muslims that he reaches are anything but moderate. In January 2009, during a Friday sermon broadcast on Al-Jazeera, he prayed that Allah would kill all the Jews: “Oh 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.” He also declared: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler.”