See also: European Council for Fatwa and Research Muslim Brotherhood
Based in Qatar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam. He currently serves as president of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFW), and is a highly influential spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi has twice (in 1976 and 2004) turned down opportunities to serve as the Brotherhood’s highest-ranking leader. His preference, he explains, is to avoid tying himself to "any movement which might constrain my actions, even if this is the Muslim Brotherhood under whose umbrella I grew and which I so defended."
In addition to his affiliations with the aforementioned groups, Qaradawi is founder and president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, which has issued several anti-Zionist fatwas (religious edicts). He is chairman of the IslamOnline website, which has published numerous articles and religious rulings which were anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and supportive of violence against non-Muslims. He is also chairman (in absentia) of the board of trustees at the Michigan-based Islamic American University (IAU), a subsidiary of the Muslim American Society. And he is president of the Union of Good, a Saudi-based umbrella organization which represents Islamic fundraising groups worldwide, and which has transferred tens of millions of dollars directly to Hamas over the years.
Qaradawi was born in Egypt in September 1926 and, following the early death of his father, was raised by an uncle. He memorized the Koran in its entirety by age ten, and was particularly drawn to the brand of extremist, anti-Western Islam advanced by Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.
After attending the Al-Azhar Theological Seminary in Cairo, Qaradawi served as dean of the Islamic Department at the Faculties of Shariah and Education in Qatar from 1977 to 1990. He was also an original trustee of the Islamic Society of Boston in the early 1980s.
In 1990 Qaradawi went to Algeria, where he was chairman of the Islamic Scientific Council at the Islamic University and Higher Institutions until 1991. He then returned to Qatar and was appointed director of the Seerah and Sunnah Center at Qatar University, a post he continues to occupy to this day.
From 1998-2000, Qaradawi was a board of directors member with the Islamic Society of Boston, whose founder and first president was Abdurahman Alamoudi -- an avid supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, now incarcerated on terrorism-related charges.
As of 1999, Qaradawi was one of the largest shareholders in Al Taqwa Bank, a Bahamas-based financial institution which the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a terrorist financier (with ties to al Qaeda) in 2001. He also served on the bank's Sharia Board, which oversaw the institution's adherence to Islamic law.
One of Qaradawi's foremost passions is his deep and unwavering hatred for, and distrust of, the Jewish people. He has unambiguously justified Palestinian suicide bombings as legitimate responses to alleged “Zionist” aggression and occupation. In an April 2002 sermon, Qaradawi said: "The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb and these human bombs must continue until liberation.... Calling for peace at this time is treason." In a similar spirit, in 2004 he told BBC television, "Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have, and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do."
During a press conference around that same time, Qaradawi added that suicide bombings were "weapons to which the weak resort in order to upset the balance because the powerful have all the weapons that the weak are denied." On another occasion, he asserted that suicide bombings "are not in any way included in the framework of prohibited terrorism, even if the victims include some civilians." This, he explained, was because Israel was "a society of invaders" whose "nature" was "colonialist, occupational, [and] racist."
Nor would Qaradawi deny women the right to engage in suicide bombings, a position he articulated in a 2004 fatwa that read: “The committed Muslim women in Palestine have the right to participate and have their own role in jihad and to attain martyrdom.”
Qaradawi has authored more than 100 books on Islam, and he hosts a popular weekly television program called "Shariah and Life" on the Arabic television station and satellite network Al Jazeera. During one particular April 2004 telecast, he praised Allah for providing Palestinians with the means to transform themselves into "human bombs.”
Also in April 2004, Qaradawi issued a fatwa declaring a Muslim boycott of American- and Israeli-made products. “To buy their goods is to support tyranny, oppression and aggression,” he wrote. “Buying goods from them will strengthen them; our duty is to make them as weak as we can.”
The following month, Qaradawi said, "There is no dialogue between us [Muslims and Jews] except by the sword and the rifle."
That same year, Qaradawi expressed support for the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq, endorsing the kidnapping and murder of American civilians there. Announcing a fatwa at the Egyptian Journalists' Union convention in Cairo, he stated:
"All of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately."
Prior to 2005, Qaradawi issued a fatwa permitting the killing of Jewish fetuses, on the logic that when Jews grow up they might join the Israeli military.
During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, Qaradawi declared that Muslims were obliged to support the terrorist group Hezbollah in its combat operations against Israel.
In a 2007 interview, Qaradawi said: "It is obligatory on all Muslims to resist any possible attack the U.S. might launch against Iran. The U.S. is an enemy of Islam that has already declared war on Islam under the disguise of war on terrorism and provides Israel with unlimited support."
During the 2007 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) trial (which examined evidence of HLF's fundraising on behalf of Hamas), the U.S. government released a list of approximately 300 of HLF's "unindicted co-conspirators" and "joint venturers." Among HLF's unindicted co-conspirators were many individuals affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas, including Qaradawi, Omar Ahmad, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Abdallah Azzam, Jamal Badawi, Mohammad Jaghlit, Mousa Abu Marzook, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and Ahmed Yassin. Among the organizations named on the list were the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hamas, INFOCOM, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Arab Youth Association, the United Association for Studies and Research, and the North American Islamic Trust.
In a January 2009 speech that aired on Al Jazeera, Qaradawi said:
"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 hands of the believers."
At a January 2009 "Gaza Victory Rally" in Qatar, Qaradawi declared:
"The only thing that I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah's enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah.... [Allah] will not allow these people [Jews] to continue to spread corruption in the land. We wait for the revenge of Allah to descend upon them, and Allah willing, it will be by our own hands."
Qaradawi then besought the deity not to "spare a single one of them." "Oh Allah," he said, "count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one."
In a February 2010 interview with BBC Arabic, Qaradawi reaffirmed his support for suicide bombings:
"I supported martyrdom operations. This is a necessary thing, as I told them in London. Give the Palestinians tanks, airplanes, and missiles, and they won't carry out martyrdom operations. They are forced to turn themselves into human bombs, in order to defend their land, their honor, and their homeland."
On another occasion in 2010, Qaradawi made it clear that every Muslim had a duty to obey the commandments of the Prophet Muhammad, regardless of how brutal or barbaric they might be: "If you believe that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, then you must obey him—for he does not command except that which is good. So, even if he tells you to kill, you must."
In an October 2010 interview with Al-Jazeera, Qaradawi was asked whether Muslims should try to acquire atomic weapons "to terrorize their enemies." He replied that such an objective was permissible, saying he was "happy" that Pakistan already possessed such a weapon. According to Qaradawi, the procurement of such agents of mass destruction was in compliance with Koranic verses urging Muslims "to terrorize thereby the enemy of God and your enemy."
Also in late 2010, Qaradawi stated: "We must irrigate [the] tree of freedom with our blood. We must not leave the Palestinians alone." Every Muslim, he elaborated, "must play his part to help our brothers in Palestine until they obtain their right. Not one inch of the Land of Islam must remain in the grasp of infidels and occupiers."
Qaradawi has also been outspoken about such topics as apopstasy, rape, and homosexuality. For example:
Due to his support for Palestinian terrorism, Qaradawi has been barred from entering the United States since 1999. In February 2008, the United Kingdom also denied his visa on grounds that "[t]he UK will not tolerate the presence of those who seek to justify any act of terrorist violence...”