The favourite sermon of the moderate sheikh Qaradawi is his statement that he is striving to setup an Islamic state that will operate under the Shari'a, on the basis that “the Sharī‘a of Islam is a philosophy of life, and a system of dealings and a constitution that draws for individuals the border lines of equality and freedom." [See editor's note]


THE SHAYKH DESPISES the civic and nation state and calls for a state based on the authority of Islamic law in the cause of establishing equality and freedom.  

And the first question that poses itself here is how there will be equality between the Muslim and the non-Muslim since such an equality flies in the face of the text and the spirit of the Sharī‘a  –not just the statutes of the Sharī‘a laid down by the jurisprudents, but also the unequivocal verses of the Qur’ān and the strong Hadīth.

This matter has its own historical reasons, in that Islam was established for Arab tribes that differed in their political structures in a manner akin to a primitive state.  It was not possible for any state to be founded in such a primitive Bedouin environment, amongst warring tribes in conditions so scanty and Spartan. It was not possible either on a nation state basis − for the tribe is constantly moving and does not recognize a homeland or national borders, or on the basis of race − unless the races were to fight each other to the point of extinction.  Islam managed to bring them together through a formula that took into account their circumstances, for the tribe was wholly prepared to perish one and all for the sake of an individual, while the individual was a cog in an comprehensive mechanism, a part of it and subservient to it, and could neither recognize nor see beyond his kinship anything other than permanent potential enemies. 

Equality flies in the face of the text and the spirit of the Sharī‘a

 Nor was it possible for a tribe to subject itself to the authority of an individual from another tribe — this is what Ibn Khaldun shrewdly observed when he said that the Arabs can only be brought together by religion and a prophet to whom their haughty pride can be subjected, and which can unite them in opinion, common aims and interests.  They subject themselves to the authority of a prophet because he is not related to his folk but to heaven, which stands above all tribes.  Hence the formula of a confederation of Arabs came to construct one unifying religious ideology which brought together all their fissiparous tendencies under a single kinship.  Arabs then became the scions of one man and therefore any one of them could rule and dominate, for all of them were sons of Isma’īl son of Ibrāhīm.  This is why Shaykh Qaradawi despises the nation state which, after fourteen centuries, differs entirely in place and time from that first primitive age.

The Shaykh talks to us about freedom whilst he has 23 verses that speak of servitude

Henceforth, they distinguished themselves by their religion of Islam, a special new group – independent of their various tribes and colors − and therefore became a people above all other men, one that was different and distinguished from all others, indeed, the finest of all peoples since they have been entrusted with bearing The Message to the Universe.  

So, fundamentally, from the very outset, there is no equality between the Muslim and non-Muslim in Islamic Sharī‘a and there is no space for discussing equality in a single nation where Muslims and non-Muslims live under the rule of Islamic Law.  For mankind under this Sharī‘a is divided up into types, ranks, statuses, degrees and classes whose rights and duties are differentiated.  There are the first pioneers, there are those who [first] preached the coming paradise, there are the people of [the Battle of] Badr whose early or recent sins are forgiven, there are the ‘Adnānī Arabs and the Qahtānī Arabs, the Qurayshis and the non-Qurayshis, and within the Quraysh there are the Hāshimīs, the Umawwīs and others, there are men and there are women, there are masters and slaves, there are the Mawālīthat converted to Islam in the conquered countries, and the Dhimmīs, and there are the slaves of Muslims and the slaves of non-Muslims.  But even among all these there are ranks, rights and duties which differ from the ranks of others − which is why Islamic Sharī‘a is stuffed with a huge number of statutes classified according to the rights of these multiple social categories and ranks, with their exaggerated contradistinctions, and the adjudications established according to these.

So what equality under Islamic Sharī‘a is Qaradawi talking about?  Equality today is wholly different in concept, circumstances and time from its original meaning in the Sharī‘a, which we may respect and recognize as related to the conditions of its time, but is no longer related to the conditions of our own time.  There is no disparagement inherent in this, since [the Sharī‘a] had its place in its era, was successful for the purpose to which it was put, achieved its aims and was right for the standards of its time.

So much for the constitution of equality which, for our benefit, Qaradawi is calling up from the depths of a distant age, and indeed asserts as the guarantor of human freedom.  The Shaykh talks to us about freedom whilst he has 23 [Qur’ānic] verses that speak of servitude, bondage and ‘what the right arm possesses’, let alone the huge train of Hadīth statutes on slavery, in addition to an entire jurisprudence of slavery, according to the four Sunnī legal schools,  that our children study in the al-Azhar schools. So what freedom is Qaradawi talking about?  

This author has previously asked the chief jurisprudents and Azharites to give a clear position on declaring a moratorium on hadd punishments, the jurisprudence of slavery, suspending adjudications based on the [above Qur’ānic] verses , in the same manner the Companions and earlier jurisprudents did, now that the development of humane values in the world have suspended them, on the grounds that they are no longer valid for all time and all places, as the simple minded Muslims imagine them to be. A declaration of suspension at the hands of our jurisprudents would in many aspects be more useful than its imposition upon us by dint of international law and humane conscience.

Since that time I have heard nothing but accusations of ‘infidel’ or traitor’ and have been the object of vilification and a dirty propaganda war, as if I had ask them something horrendous or reprehensible, or had been inciting to some form of evil. Simply my request itself was enough, aside from the accusations of our shaykhs’ when they are unable to come up with a respectable reply.

The important question remaining here is: does the Shaykh [Qaradawi] know something we don’t?  Does he know more about the issue of equality or the lack of it, or about freedom or the lack of it in Islamic  Sharī‘a and its history? If he does know, and doubtless he does, how can we sort out what he has said? The answer is clear and needs no explanation.

When he repudiates nationality, and says that “the Abode of Islam is the Islamic Nation – it is seamless,” it indicates that the Shaykh still sees the entire world as the (‘seamless’) Abode of Islam. The Shaykh’s call, just as it is, is clear: Islam is a religion and a state, and Islam is a world religion, so the clear corollary of this is that the world itself is the Islamic state. What this means is a declaration of the Islamic war against the entire world, at a time when Muslims represent the lowest people on the planet in terms of their weakness, ignorance and backwardness.

Do you see where our shaykhs are taking us, O Muslims?

Editor’s note: In view of the recent passing of Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the number of commentaries concerning his legacy, Almuslih is re-publishing this article at the request of readers.

Religion: the only authority recognised by warring tribes
Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: “The world is the abode of Islam”