On Friday, January 14, 2011, there was an enthusiastic ceremony at the Omar bin Khattab Mosque, located in one of the outer districts of Doha, the capital of Qatar. After the Friday prayer, the congregation did not go out and listened to the orators who turned to the podiums in front of the mihrab for the previously announced ceremony. Among them, the person who made the most enthusiastic speech was Prof. Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The reason for his enthusiasm and excitement was a piece of news from Tunisia: President Zeynelabidin Ben Ali, who had been the target of protest demonstrations for about a month, left the country with his scattergood wife Leyla Trabelsi and their children and sought refuge in Saudi Arabia. The first fruit of the "Arab Spring", as it was just beginning to be pronounced at that time, was this change in Tunisia. While speaking, Qaradawi referred to the 45th verse of the chapter of An'am, mentioning that oppressors and dictators always suffer similar consequences...
I was one of those present that day. Watching Qaradawi, who could not stand still with the joy of the "good tidings" he finally witnessed towards the end of his life, was as instructive as reading a thick book on the recent history of the region.
After a fruitful and active life of 96 years, Yusuf al-Qaradawi passed away the previous day. He embraced science and action together throughout his life, which started in a small village in Egypt and then followed at a high tempo, always took place at the center of active political developments, met with imprisonment at a young age due to his closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood Organization, and since the 1960s he moved to Qatar. He settled and continued his scientific activities here. This tiny country of the Gulf has charted a different route for itself thanks to the close connections Qaradawi has established with the ruling elites, has remained at peace with the "Islamist" line, and despite the various crises it has experienced with its neighbors, it has managed to become one of the important centers of the Muslim world by going far beyond its physical dimensions . The establishment of Al Jazeera television in 1996 and the appearance of Qaradawi as a leading actor there were among the most important means that increased Qatar's political power.
The "Azhar scholar" was now an opinion leader who directly addressed the Arab peoples, a fierce polemicist, and a brave jurist who guided the masses with his fatwas. He was also organically linked to Islamic movements and in direct contact with many leaders. His fame would soon transcend the Arab world, and he would become a religious and political actor whose words were heard from east to west.
Qaradawi caused great controversy with his fatwa, which gave the green light for Palestinian groups to organize suicide bombing ("istishhad") operations in Israel. While the Western media declared him a "terrorist", many important names and institutions from the Islamic world commented on the fatwa. Another factor that intensified the criticisms against Qaradawi was that Israel caused more harm to the Palestinians after each suicide bombing. Finally, in 2016, Qaradawi withdrew his fatwa and declared that “there is no need for such attacks anymore”. The biggest reason that prompted him to act this way was undoubtedly the fact that Daesh burst into the scene with suicide attacks at that time. Qaradawi should not have wanted the Palestinian resistance to evoke Daesh in people's minds.
Qaradawi's famous fatwa with the content "It is haram to visit Jerusalem" also brought discussions with it. Arguing that such a visit would "legitimate the Israeli occupation", Qaradawi stated that when the drawbacks of actually leaving Palestine and the Palestinians became clear over time, he "softened" this fatwa and stated that there was no harm in Turks and other Muslim peoples visiting the city, but that the Arabs should not go. It was understood that he still looked at the issue from the point of "recognizing Israel."
Aside from the polemics caused by his fiqh interpretations, political stance, and attitudes on current issues, Yusuf al-Qaradawi has already taken his place among the great figures of history with his direct influence on millions of Muslims. Throughout his long life, he talked, wrote, traveled, and met with the masses. He wrote down his memories in detail and passed on his experiences to the next generations. He has trained countless students. Benefiting from the blessings of technology, he left behind a serious digital archive consisting of video lectures, chats, sermons, and interviews.
The quest of Yusuf al-Qaradawi is also worth reading as the story of how a well-educated person who believes in his cause can achieve great things on his own at the critical junctures of history. Particularly in these modern times, where such encouraging examples are becoming few and far in between…