Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī, as I Have Known Him: By Muftī Taqī Uthmānī [h]


This piece is translated from a 1040 page Arabic work dedicated to the celebration of Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī’s life’s work is various Islamic fields. It represents the collective praise of seventy contemporary scholars of the Muslim world.]

Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī, as I Have Known Him

By Muftī Taqī Uthmānī (may Allah preserve them both)

All praise is due to God, the Lord of the worlds; and prayers and peace be upon His noble Messenger, upon his family, and all his companions, and all those who follow him with excellence till the Day of Judgement.

I visited the two Holy Mosques in the year 1974, and I attended with my father, the erudite scholar (al-‘allāma), Shaykh, and Muftī, Muhammad Shafī‘, may God have mercy upon him, an international conference concerning the affairs of mosques, which the Muslim World League had convoked, and we were residing in the hotel of Mecca, next to the Holy Mosque. On one of these days, I was going down from my room to the Holy Mosque, and when I entered the elevator, I found there an dignified[-looking] individual upon whom were the marks of respectability and the self-possession [that is born of being] learned. He met me with his luminous face, and greeted me with salaam first—despite my youth—and when I returned the greeting, he began to ask me about my country, and my reason for being [in Mecca]. I was surprised by these questions because of what I had frequently seen from the respectable people among our Arab brethren, that they do not pay any attention to non-Arabs, let alone greeting them first with salaams, and asking about their states; but this noble personage was speaking to me without any hesitation, despite his being older than me and more senior.

Indeed just this thing [about him] made me incline to him and become friendly with him; and consider great his character, and greatly value what he possessed of a pure and elevated spirit (rūh), without even knowing his name, or learning of his scholarly rank, or his practical accomplishments. When I mentioned to him that I was attending this conference with my father the Shaykh and Muftī, Muhammad Shafī‘, he mentioned to me that he knew my father through some of his writings, and he mentioned among them, a paper by [my] respected father on ‘the distribution of wealth in the Islamic economy’, and that he had read it in the journal al-Ba‘th al-Islāmī, and that he was impressed by it, for it was a paper that contained unprecedented thoughts in a limpid style. From this it became clear to me that [this personage] was one of the scholars and lovers of knowledge, whose scholarly horizons transcend national and continental borders, and so I increased in my love for him, and asked him his noble name, and he replied, “Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī”!

This was my first meeting with the outstandingly erudite scholar, the great caller [to Islam], the Shaykh, Dr Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī, may God (Most High) preserve him with good health and perpetual comfort. I knew him before this through some of his valuable writings, and I began now to come to know his luminous personality, his pure Islamic character, and his elevated humility. This initial meeting did not take up more than a few minutes, [in which time] we had come to the ground [floor] and walked to the Holy Mosque, but this meeting became a pure beginning for following meetings after this, in which I was honoured [to meet him] in conferences, councils, and scholarly gatherings in various parts of the Islamic land, and in the course of his visiting Pakistan, and my visiting Qatar, which had become the base for his scholarly and Islamic activities, until we became, by the grace of some periodic gatherings in several councils, as though we were members of a single family. Thus I was honoured to come to know him in closeness and proximity, and this acquaintance did nothing but increase me in love for his personality, exaltation of his scholarly productions, esteem for his goodly activities, and amazement at his endeavours in reforming the affairs of the Islamic umma in numerous fields.

When some brothers asked me to write something about the personality of the erudite scholar, Dr Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī, so that it may be a part of a proposed book that would be published as an appreciation of his scholarly productions; effective participation in the fields of da‘wa, and scholarly study and research, I found this initiative commendable, except that accumulated preoccupations that had crowded around me at that time, prevented me from undertaking an analytic study of his writings—may God (Most High) preserve him—so I wished to come forward with some of my impressions in a brief form, instead of the analytic study (which I hope others will undertake), for indeed that which cannot be attained in its entirety should not[, therefore,] be left in its entirety.

Indeed the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī has enriched the Islamic literary legacy with his writings whose number is more than [one hundred] works, including short and long works, and perhaps it would not be an exaggeration if I were to say that there is not a single topic among the contemporary topics that concern Muslims today except that his outstanding self has discussed it in one of his works, or in his lectures and sermons, and this is a claim that is hard to believe except with regard to an extremely small number of contemporary writers, and callers [to Islam] (du‘āh).

The first book that read in its entirety of his works is his valuable book Fiqh al-Zakat, and I benefitted much from this great, encyclopaedic, rewarding work through which the author did a great service to the second of the pillars of Islam, in a way that the umma needs today, when it comes to the application of zakat at the level of the individual and the group. Indeed this work manifested the genius of its author, and his inventive methodology, not only in the clarification of issues pertaining to zakat and their compilation, but in stimulating research in contemporary topics that no one before him had touched upon, and basing them upon the principles fiqh and its jurisprudential theory (usūl).

What I shall mention here in particular of the special characteristics of the book are two things: the first is that the outstanding author—may God (Most High) preserve him—is the first [author] to discuss contemporary applications of zakat extensively and thoroughly, such that it is almost impossible to imagine an modern issue except that it is present in the book with its rulings derived from the Book and the sunna, or from the applications of the pious predecessors, and the mujtahid Imams. The second is that this book, even if it pertains only to the subject of zakat, has lit the path for all those after him who wish to embark on writing on one of the topics of contemporary fiqh, for indeed the book has set a goodly example for researchers of fiqh, and has practically explained for them how to derive the desired pearls from the vast ocean of Islamic Fiqh; and how to seek contemporary solutions from their ancient sources; and how one may benefit in new issues from similar ones hidden in the hearts of traditional books.

I have mentioned above that the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī—may God (Most High) preserve him—is among the most prolific among contemporary authors, and simple prolificacy is something that many other people may share with him, but what is mentioned of him of good is that he has not taken, for the most part, the trodden paths, for what is the benefit in writing on old topics in which the author does not bring anything new, apart from having his name included among the authors [of a given topic]? Indeed [what is] beneficial is that an author takes part, with his writing, in [something] new that fills a palpable gap [in our knowledge]; or through which unclear aspects of an old topic are enlightened; or by means of which a new door in thought is opened; or which increases the knowledge of the reader in some way or other; and we find in the works of Dr al-Qaradāwī that they do not lack examples of new benefits. Frequently he chooses for his writings novel topics towards which no [previous] author has directed their attention. See for instance his unprecedented work, On the Fiqh of Priorities, for in it he has indeed discussed an important Islamic principle that many people have ignored, even the scholars and callers [to Islam], and ignoring it has caused great tribulation (fitan) among Muslims, and despite that, no author had dedicated an independent work to it. When a person reads the like of these books, he feels as though the author—God preserve him—is expressing thoughts that have remained hidden in [scholars’] minds for long periods of time, [until] the author came and gave them an eloquent tongue, and brought them out into the realm of exactitude and compilation in a way that generalised its benefit and made it more comprehensive.

Many a time, [Shaykh al-Qaradāwī] has taken an old subject, but has looked at it from new angles, and studied it in unprecedented ways. See, for instance, his valuable book, The Sunna: a Source of Knowledge and Civilisation, for indeed he has gathered in it jewels of the Prophetic sunnas, and drawn from various chapters and books [of sunna], and arranged them under novel titles, in a way that clarifies for us [the fact] that the Prophetic Sunna—upon its source be peace—is our example in all matters that concern us, even in relation to issues pertaining to modern civilisation.

There is no doubt that I—as the lowest student of Islamic Fiqh—with my benefitting from the books of the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī to a very large extent, and my supreme wonderment at the majority of [his works], have found myself, in some particular issues, not in agreement with him in the results the he has arrived at, but these sorts of differences (ikhtilāf) in views based on juristic judgement (ijtihādī) are natural, and cannot be the [sole] basis for judging [their author] so long as the people of knowledge do not deem [the bearers of such opinions] to be weak intellectually, or in religion, and [in any case] the importance of these books and their value in scholarship and da‘wa are not affected by this to even the slightest, most insignificant degree. The truth is that the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī has enriched the Islamic literary legacy with that which quenches the burning thirst of researchers, and fulfils the need of callers [to Islam] and students [of knowledge], and opens new horizons for thinkers, so may God (Most High) recompense him with good, and liberally bestow rewards upon him.

[Having said] this, I cannot but say here that indeed I have been affected by the personality of the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī to a far greater extent than the aforementioned affect of his books and works upon me. What we see today, very unfortunately, is that the one who brings forward elevated ideas in his writings, and lofty theories in his speech and his sermons, often does not rise, in his practical life, above the level of the layman, in fact he may clearly be considerably lower than them. As for the outstanding, erudite scholar, Dr Yūsuf al-Qaradāwī, may God (Most High) preserve him, God (Most High) has indeed made me fortunate enough to accompany him in travels and in residence, and sit with him and closely associate with him in long and repeated meetings. [From this] I found him manifest in his personality exemplary Islamic qualities, for he is a human being before he is a Muslim, and a devoted Muslim before he is a caller to Islam (dā‘iya), and a caller to Islam before he is a scholar and jurist.

May God (Most High) prolong his pure life, and keep him a valuable treasure for Islam and the Muslims, and bless with his emanations [His] servants and lands; and all praise is due to God in the beginning and in the end.

Muhammad Taqī ‘Uthmānī

Dār al-‘Ulūm Karachi 14

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10 Comments

  1. Muhammad says:

    I am not a scholar or anything like that, and understand that in Islam we respect people of knowledge. However there are obvious problems with this also, as it can create a elite group who keep themselves in power. Such a culture exists in the west, where we depend on 'experts' who tend to be paid and kept in positions of authority, and they can be self-serving instead of looking to serve people.

    In any case, Dr al-Qaradāwī and Taqi Uthmani both have given their assent to the notion of 'Islamic Banks'. To me this sounds like 'Islamic Pork' a contradiction in terms. Taqi Uthmani is very moderate in his views and he argues that having a currency based on Gold and Silver metals would be the ideal Islamic or halal solution, but given the current environment this is not possible so “Islamic Banks” can be a stop gap, or a temporary 'halal' means to an end.

    Qardawi and Uthmani have both been influenced by Muhammad Abduh and Jamaludin Afghani from the 19th century who argued for the acceptability of taking interest from a post office (riba) as a part of the new situation.

    The modern banking system is based on riba, it practices fractional reserve banking (google this to find out more), any 'Islamic Banks' are part of this fractional reserve banking system, if this is not riba I do not know what is?

    In addition to this the so called Islamic methods practiced by these banks which allows Muslims to purchase homes 'without riba' are very doubtful, in is two transactions made into one. See these fatwa against this ruling by this Maliki scholar:

    The Judgment on Riba by Umar Ibrahim Vadillo

    Fatwa on Banking and The Use of Interest Received on Bank Deposits by Umar Pasha

    Paper Money – A legal judgment by Umar Ibrahim Vadillo

    The Future of Islam by Umar Ibrahim Vadillo

    found here: http://www.shaykhabdalqadir.com/content/article

  2. Fiaz says:

    mashallah

    the seeker of knowledge, who treads a path to know Allah and his deen, loves and benefits from the spectrum of the ulema from amongst our times. This should be our minhaj, especially those touched by the movement. If at times conflicting, the student should take the princple of Jeet Kune Do and absorb what is useful.

    So we can swim in the ocean of wisdom from the writings of Imam Haddad al-Alawi, study the Silsila books for the Talib ul-ilm by Shk Uthaymeen, shariah/usool principles by Shk Abdul karim Ziydan and the aqeedah of sidi Ahmed Dardir whilst reading Shk Umar Ashqar Aqeedah series. All too often we get pigeon-holed: Deobandi, Salafi, Sufi, Movement. People naturally fall in these categories but if we exhibit sectarian behaviour then how are we going to help our community? Im sure Shk Taqi has issues with some of Shk Qaradawi fataawa, but look how he still respects and benefits from his work..

    Allahuaalim

  3. Omar says:

    Your comment is excellent and I was touched by this passage from the write up of sheikh Taqi – May Allah reward him

    “have found myself, in some particular issues, not in agreement with him in the results the he has arrived at, but these sorts of differences (ikhtilāf) in views based on juristic judgement (ijtihādī) are natural, and cannot be the [sole] basis for judging [their author] so long as the people of knowledge do not deem [the bearers of such opinions] to be weak intellectually, or in religion, and [in any case] the importance of these books and their value in scholarship and da‘wa are not affected by this to even the slightest, most insignificant degree. The truth is that the outstanding Dr al-Qaradāwī has enriched the Islamic literary legacy with that which quenches the burning thirst of researchers, and fulfils the need of callers [to Islam] and students [of knowledge], and opens new horizons for thinkers, so may God (Most High) recompense him with good, and liberally bestow rewards upon him.

  4. Suhaib Webb says:

    العلم رحماء بين أهله

  5. Abdullah says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Akhi Fiaz, jk for the enlightening comments, if only more of the students approach was like yours we would have seen the barakah raining don upon us. May Allah keep us balanced and preserve our Shaykh al-'Allamah al-Qaradawi and bestow him a long life.

  6. Qas says:

    For everyone's benefit, Shaikh Google bin Yahu al-Internetee translated Shiekh Suhaib Webb Al-Azhari's quote to be “Knowledge is a mercy for the people”.

  7. Cellulite says:

    This is quite interesting, keep posts like this one coming, you totally rock.

    Jessica

  8. Seeker says:

    Assalamu 'alaykum,

    Is the translator of this article Sh. Suhaib himself? The translation is lucid and reflective of Mufti Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him)'s style. I am interested in finding out who translated the article. May Allah reward you.

    Seeker

  9. Kwame Madden says:

    This post shows the balance and love that still exists in the ummah.Mufti Taqi Usmani and Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi two giants who despite maybe some thelogical differences show true Islamic brotherhood.By the way Rafi Usmani the brother of Mufti Taqi usmani has written some elaborate works.And the brillant tasfeer by there father Mufti Muhammad Shafi Maariful Quran is a masterpiece may Allah bless all these lumanries.

  10. brother says:

    Fiaz,

    Nice sentiments here, and I think we should all agree that respect despite differences is NECESSARY. We see this amongst the Sahabah (R), and event he 4 Mujtahid Imams and the subsequent followers of theirs. Once Imam Shafi' (ra) was in the city/area of Imam Abu Hanifah (ra) [who had already passed away]. Imam Abu Hanifah (ra) had considered reciting qunoot at fajr to bid'a, whilst Imam Shafi' (ra) considered it to be sunnah. So when in the city/area of Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi did not recite qunoot at fajr. When his students asked why, he said [something to the extent of]… “How is it that I do something which was disapproved by Imam Abu Hanifah while I am in his vicinity (i.e. in his city, even though he as passed away)?” Subhanallah.

    Imam Hajr ibn Asqalani (ra), and also other Shafi' scholars, were known to be very “anti-Hanafi”. This did not mean they imposed their madhab, or spoke with ill-intent about Ahnaaf, or caused ruckus amongst the Awwaam about the Hanafi madhab. And I think this is what we see with Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani (db) and his connection with Shayakh al-Qaradawi. And this is the case with most Deobandi 'Ulama, as you see that Shaykh Abul Hasan 'Ali an-Nadwi (ra) was also close with Shaykh al-Qaradawi, and they both loved and respected each other. Shaykh al-Qaradawi even did a loooong welcoming intro of Shaykh Nadwi (ra) before Shaykh Nadwi (ra) gave a speech somewhere in the Arab gulf. [I have the mp3 recording of that intro and speech]. I spoke with Maulana Yusuf Abdullah of Chicago once regarding Shaykh al-Qaradawi, and he said that when Shaykh visited India some years ago, the professors of the Deobandi madaaris cancelled classes and went to the train station to personally receive him.

    This is respect despite differences. Respect. This does not, however, necessarily mean accepting of views. So the point I wanted to make regarding Fiaz's comment is that we do not really need to “swin in the ocean” of various 'Ulama and various thoughts out of respect. Rather, this may even cause more harm at times, as one may read a view of one scholar and another view of a different scholar and automatically because of personal leanings we begin to see the scholar we differ with in a bad light. This then shows itself one way or another. Another issue would be that it may cause one to get confused, and if not confused, then makes a person feel as if these differences of opinions are for him to “pick-and-choose” from causing this person to choose his usools based upon no single foundation.

    Because I differ with “xyz” doesn't mean I have to attend their gatherings/conferences to show respect. Respect is in the hearts, and I think remaining silent is the best way forward.

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