In a piece published at Al Arabiya TV — originally appearing in the Arabic daily Al-Hayat — Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi calls on Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi to do the right thing.
Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric now residing in Qatar, is considered among the most influential conservative clerics. He has his own television program on Al-Jazeera TV as well as a very popular website, IslamOnline.
Recently, Qaradawi apologized for the error he made in backing Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based, Iran-sponsored group that has entered the conflict in Syria. He said that he had been ‘deceived’ by the group and its supporters.
Now, Khashoggi is calling on him to acknowledge another error in his judgment, the support of suicide bombings that have killed countless Muslims for the most venal of reasons. The bombers, be they Al-Qaeda oriented or otherwise, have seized upon his fatwa to justify attacks on civilians and mosques in what has become sectarian war. From Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the mountains of Lebanon and the cities of Syria and Egypt, his authorization is being used to justify slaughter of Muslims. Khashoggi thinks it high time for Qaradawi to back off of this erroneous judgment as well.
What will be Sheikh Qaradawi’s next bold move?
Not a single week passes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and all the Muslim countries of which Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi is fond of without a suicide bombing happening. A religious man washes up, prays to God, wraps an explosive belt around his waist, then a cleric or someone alleging to be a cleric or a preacher embraces him bidding him farewell and reminding him of the hereafter and the bliss awaiting him. They cry together, and the alleged cleric tells him: “We meet in heaven…we meet in heaven” and then he lets him go to blow himself up among other Muslims just because they are affiliated with the opposing camp.
The people he might blow himself up amongst may be guards at a checkpoint or even people praying at a mosque in Pakistan or Iraq. Religious places where Shiites gather became a favorite destination for suicide bombers even if the people targeted are civilians, women and children. Of course, Sheikh Qaradawi will never issue a fatwa allowing such action. I dare say that he would even issue a fatwa forbidding them and describing them as a crime worthy of punishment.