Writing at Islam Online, Inayat Bunglawala examines how Anwar Al-Awlaki’s support for the Fort Hood killings has been used to promote “a modern version of a McCarthyite witch-hunt against leading UK Islamic organizations and Muslim individuals”.
Update: Predictably, Inayat has come in for some stick over the following statement:
It is very unfortunate that Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has been barred from visiting the UK since early 2007 by the British government, following pressure from pro-Israeli lobbies. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is an Islamic scholar who commands huge respect among millions of Muslims worldwide. As a regular past visitor to the UK, he would consistently urge British Muslims to shun all forms of extremism and to focus their energies on ensuring that their children excelled in education.
“His long experience of dealing with youths influenced by extremist and takfiri ideas (ideas involving accusations of backsliding from Islam) would surely have been a valuable asset in the struggle against Al-Qaeda-inspired propaganda.”
You could, of course, base your opinion of Qaradawi on the word of ignorant bigots like that. Alternatively, you could consult the analysis of people who actually know something about the subject.
For example Mockbul Ali who, as an indignant Martin Bright reported in the Jewish Chronicle last week, “has become ‘Head of Prevent, Counter Ideology’ at the FCO but also retains his job as Islamic adviser to the Foreign Secretary”. In an FCO briefing from 2005 Mockbul Ali wrote:
“I recommend that, on balance, the Foreign Secretary agree for the FCO to advise that Al Qaradawi should not be excluded from the United Kingdom given his influence in relation to our foreign policy objectives. CTPD agree. DG Political has commented that ‘Having individuals like Qaradawi on our side should be our aim. Excluding them won’t help’…. On the issue of the terrorist attacks on London, Qaradawi was one of the first international Muslim scholars to issue a clear statement of condemnation. He has said ‘We were dumbfounded by the grave news of the London bombings which killed tens and wounded hundreds of innocent people who committed no crime‘, Qaradawi stressed that these ‘black actions‘ run counter to the teachings of Islam and has called for other scholars to also condemn the attacks.
“While there would undoubtedly be tabloid media pressure in current circumstances to ban Qaradawi, we need to consider his status and influence within the Islamic world. To act against Qaradawi would alienate significant and influential members of the global Muslim community. In recognition of this fact, the US have started dialogue with him in Qatar. He is the leading mainstream and influential Islamic authority in the Middle East and increasingly in Europe, with an extremely large popular following and regular shows on Al Jazeera. He is involved in a number of high profile mainstream Muslim bodies and initiatives. Only last week, Qaradawi issued a strong fatwa of support for the ‘Amman Message’ championed personalty by King Abdullah in the defence of mainstream Islam against extremism. Other leading Muslim scholars often wait for Qaradawi’s lead before issuing any of their own fatwas. His role as Chair of the Council of Scholars is key in promoting mainstream Islam and countering the AQ narrative.”
Or you could read Karen Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History, where she writes of Qaradawi:
“He believes in moderation, and is convinced that the bigotry that has recently appeared in the Muslim world will impoverish people by depriving them of the insights and visions of other human beings. The Prophet Muhammad said that he had come to bring a ‘Middle Way’ of religious life that shunned extremes, and Qaradawi thinks the current extremism in some quarters of the Islamic world is alien to the Muslim spirit and will not last. Islam is a religion of peace, as the Prophet had shown when he made an unpopular treaty with the Quraysh at Hundaybiyyah, a feat which the Quran calls ‘a great victory’. The West, he insists, must learn to recognize the Muslims’ right to live their religion and, if they choose, to incorporate the Islamic ideal in their polity. They have to appreciate that there is more than one way of life. Variety benefits the whole world. God gave human beings the right and ability to choose, and some may opt for a religious way of life – including an Islamic state – while others prefer the secular ideal.”
Or here is Hugh Miles, author of Al-Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World, on Qaradawi:
“He condemned the London bombings, just as he quickly condemned the September 11 attacks. He has consistently said that Muslims need to think for themselves, which means they need be free of government control. This is not a message that goes down well with Arab governments. Al-Qaradawi has written at least 50 books attempting to reconcile Islam with democracy and human rights and he is one of the most important proponents of women’s rights in contemporary Islam. All this is utterly at odds with the teachings of fundamentalist imams, who see democracy and women’s rights as alien concepts imported from the infidel West. He practises what he preaches: his three daughters are highly educated. Each one holds a doctoral degree in the natural sciences, drives and works.”