The most famous Sunni cleric in the world, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, whose broadcasts have attracted an audience of 40-60 millions, has just died at the quite unnecessary age of 96. Few of us think he “should have died hereafter.” Many would have wished him to have departed decades ago. His fanaticism kept him young. He did a lot of damage to the minds of impressionable Muslims. He thought men had a right to beat their disobedient wives. He said homosexuals should be punished with lashings. He believed that apostates should be killed. He hated Israel, and all Jews.
A book of essays he published in 2008 predicts an apocalyptic final battle between all Jews and all Muslims that would presage the day of judgement. This is a well-known Islamic teaching. But Qaradawi was especially fond of this story.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi believed that:
First, Israel should be removed from all “Muslim” land, which includes the land “from the river to the sea” – that is, Israel must be destroyed and replaced by a Muslim polity.
Second, Muslims all over the world should involve themselves directly in the Israel-Palestine conflict and decide on the fate of Jerusalem, because the “Palestinians do not have the competence to decide on the fate of Jerusalem.”
Third, Muslims should not be friends with Jews in general and Israelis in particular, as this would diminish their appetite for fighting.
Fourth, every Jew in the world, no matter what his beliefs, is an enemy to Muslims and to Islam.
Two English academics, Mark Gardner and David Rich, reviewed al-Qaradawi’s book for the British scholarly journal, Democratiya. They wrote that Sheikh al-Qaradawi “personifies the combination of theological anti-Judaism, modern European antisemitism and conflict-driven Judeophobia that make up contemporary Islamist attitudes to Jews.”
Mr Gardner commented:
Sheikh al-Qaradawi’s views are even more extreme than we had thought previously. This is an important book as it is written in English for an English-speaking audience.
It reveals the awful extent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s hostility to all Jews and their desire to extend the Israeli-Palestinian conflict across all borders.
It should put an end, finally, to the idea that Qaradawi is a genuinely moderate voice.
Years ago at this site, I noted that the then-Mayor of London, the far-left Islamophilic anti-Israel Ken Livingstone, had invited Al-Qaradawi to visit the city. I imagined that visit, and what the fanatical Al-Qaradawi would have made of its sights and sounds. I think it appropriate, by way of a “tribute in reverse” to the late Al-Q, to repost that piece today.
Here It is:
Ken Livingstone, one presumes, has always despised America (although that does not keep him from hiring an American expert to make those underground trains run on time). And of course, he is also a great beater-upper — ça va sans dire — of Israel. Like “Gorgeous George” Galloway, the far-left Glaswegian hireling of Saddam Hussein (whose money many believe helped Galloway buy his vacation retreat in Spain), Ken Livingstone has earned his own moniker: Red Ken.
Think of that not-so-odd couple, the London Mayor and the Muslim cleric, together traipsing through London. If Ken wanted to introduce Al-Qaradawi to that most impressive public work, the London Underground, the Egyptian cleric would have seen those unforgettable lingerie ads that line the walls circumjacent to the escalators — those that go up, and those that come down — of the London Underground. Qaradawi would have been most offended. On second thought, Livingstone likely decided to skip the Underground and instead took his guest around the city by limousine.
As Ken Livingstone proudly showed his honored guest around old Londinium, both the Salon Bolshevik and the Quran-quoting Qaradawi (Q.-q. Q.) apparently hit it off. Red Ken apparently was unaware of statements Qaradawi had made about women’s dress — nothing but a niqab would satisfy him, and he had firm strictures on women’s behavior, and the need for women to submit to their Qur’an-designated superiors, that is to say — men. Did Ken know that Muslim women’s groups had long been voicing their opposition to Al-Qaradawi’s misogynistic view? Would he have cared if he did find out, given how taken he was with Al-Qaradawi?
And even if R. K. and Q.-q. Q. did not visit the Underground together, possibly they had a chance to take in the National Gallery, one of the glories of London. It would have been fascinating to hear Q.-q. Q. explain to K. through a seamlessly-bowdlerizing translator why all the statues needed to be broken or defaced, if they were even to be permitted to continue to exist at all, and why, under Islam, all paintings that contained depictions of living creatures would be banned. No doubt Q.-q. Q could have quoted — he had memorized the entire Qur’an by the age of ten, after all — to Ken Livingstone the hadith in Bukhari that explains that ban: “Abu Talhah reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog, nor an image in a likeness.’ Abu Talhah said, ‘The Prophet means by likeness an image of living souls.’” And of course, Q.-q.Q. would have found particularly infuriating anything smacking of Christianity in the National Gallery — a Crucifixion, or a Madonna with or without a haloed bambino in her lap.
Perhaps Qaradawi could then have given Livingstone, as a parting gift on his last day in London, a copy of his own guide to correct Islamic living, a list of What is Halal and What Haram, even pointing out that, after all, Muslims are not against all art. Landscapes are halal, and so is geometric art, and Qur’anic calligraphy, considered the summit of Islamic art. Ken Livingston may dimly recall what happened to the Bamiyan Buddhas, and to the frescoes formerly on the walls of the Byzantine churches of Constantinople, and to those tens of thousands of Hindu temples, and to churches all over North Africa, and Mesopotamia, and Syria, that Muslims destroyed — or does he? And if he does remember, does he know why Islam sanctioned, and Muslims praised, such destruction?
Perhaps Ken Livingstone, a compleat homo politicus, is not fond of much art himself; he may regard it as a luxury item for his enemy, the rich, A great deal of Western art, as the livingstones of this world see things, answers the felt needs of rich patrons trying to present themselves as people of taste, in their commissioning of paintings and sculpture and furniture and garden follies, all paid for with the fortunes — as seen through the narrow lens of a Marxist such as Ken Livingstone — accumulated through the exploitation both of the working class at home, and of the colonials beyond the seas. Just look at that upper-class art connoisseur Kenneth Clark, whose family fortune was no doubt the result of Lancashire girls spinning thread from dawn to dusk, or of those supercilious Medicis, all those sinister Lorenzos and Cosimos, who were despots as well as art patrons. What decent human being, Ken Livingstone may think, can even stand to look at the paintings and sculptures that were produced for those menacing Maecenases?
Yes, Ken Livingstone, probably you and Q. would have had much to agree about, as you walked through the National Gallery, or the Tate, Qaradawi would reject that art on Islamic grounds, and you could do so on Marxist grounds. And Ken, wasn’t it your favorite Russian writer, Dostoyevsky, who said that a good shoemaker was worth more than Pushkin, than everything that Pushkin had ever produced? Isn’t that a worldview, isn’t that an anti-aesthetic creed, Ken, expressed so memorably and succinctly, that makes you a brother under the skin of Q-q. Q.?
Islam is now the vehicle of choice for those wishing to express their fury at their own perceived marginalization (psychic or economic), their own often self-induced alienation from, and hatred of, Capitalism, The System, The West, even Amerika with a “K” (shudders of dismay may be inserted here).Those malcontents would include Ken Livingstone. On his visit to London, Qaradawi would have been pleased at Livingstone’s Islamophilia and antisemitism, especially given all the unfair criticism he believed that inoffensive Muslims received from the legions of Islamophobes in the West. And the warm feelings were reciprocated. We are told that you liked Mr. Q. so much that you invited him to return to London as your guest, any time he felt like it.
Ken, Mr. Livingstone, Mayor of London, turn again, like Dick Whittington, if you possibly can. There may still be time. Think of those sculptures and those paintings. Do you really want Qaradawi and his ilk to have their way? In an Islamic England, the art museums as currently constituted would all be closed. There would be no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of thought. Islam is a closed system, distrustful of bid’a, or innovation, and wary of anything that smacks of skeptical thought, which might lead to some calling Islam itself into question. Instead, Qaradawi, as a good Muslim cleric, encouraged the habit of submission to authority, whether of the clerics or of the Qur’an itself.
Think, Ken, of the freedoms enjoyed by those who now live in your city, where you are no longer Mayor, and about the London that would exist if the likes of the late Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, and his followers, millions of whom are now well-ensconced in your country and elsewhere in Europe, were to have their way. Forget how annoyed you are by those terrible Americans. Instead, think about what Q.-q. Q. would have done, if he had had a chance – now he won’t get that chance — would have done to deprive you and other Londoners of what makes it the free-spirited, fascinating, entertaining, occasionally deplorable, often lovable, city, over which you once presided.
Try to have some gratitude, Ken, to all those who created the Western civilization, beginning with the Hebrews and Hellenes, of which you and those who live in London are inheritors. Not one of those Great Dead could have emerged from the world of Islam, nor would their contemporary equivalents have lasted for long under the likes of Al-Qaradawi and his grim Sharia-bound existence. Qaradawi took pride in Islam’s Total Regulation of life, and its Compleat Explanation of the universe; Western man recoils in horror from Islam’s mind-forged manacles. Qaradawi’s manichaean worldview consigned everything to one or the other column: Haram over here, and Halal over there. You owe those Great Dead of our own, non-Islamic world, a great deal. You owe Q-q. Q. nothing.
Please, Ken, please Mr. Livingstone, please, former Lord Mayor, turn again like Dick Whittington, even if that means you will have to turn against every cliché and received idea in the seemingly-immutable bolshevist banality and Islamophilia of your mental universe. When it comes to Islam, burn the midnight oil, and see if your encounter with the Qur’an and hadith doesn’t curb your enthusiasm.
Do you remember, Ken Livingstone, that even after the terrorist attack in London on 7/7/2005 by Muslims, whose attack had been prompted by the teachings of Islam, that are to be found in Qur’an and hadith, that you again decided to welcome Sheikh Qaradawi to London? That trip was cancelled, fortunately, by the British government. A Home Office spokesman said that “the UK will not tolerate the presence of those who seek to justify acts of terrorist violence or disburse views that could foster inter-community violence.”
Now your friend, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is dead. Let’s skip the nil nisi bonum stuff. There was nothing good about the fanatical Qaradawi. Perhaps this would be a good time to burn the midnight oil. You could study the Qur’an and hadith, as you have refrained from doing until now, apparently fearful of what you might discover. Such study might curb your enthusiasm for Islam. You could also study the history of modern Israel, a subject to which you keep returning, but without much knowledge, to blast the Jewish state. Look into the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, Article 80 of the UN Charter, and UN Security Council Resolution 242. Find out why all of Palestine east of the Jordan was severed from the territory of the Mandate, when the Palestinian people were invented, and how anti-Israel sentiment glides without the least friction into antisemitism, and the reverse is, of course, also true: antisemitism prompts anti-Israel feelings. You might study, too, the history of the Jews in Arab lands, where they were treated as dhimmis, subject to a host of legal, economic, political, and social disabilities. All that study might make you rethink your benign view of Islam, and your deep hostility to the Jewish state.
And after you, Ken, have completed that study? Some reconsiderations, please. Some gratitude that you benefit from what we still are able to call Western civilization. Some common sense. Some sense of self-preservation. A modicum will do.