Qaradawi for the (deliberately) clueless

It’s probably not a good idea to try to debate Islamophobia on Twitter – but I got involved in such a debate anyway because I was thinking about this issue after having read a very interesting post on “Theocracy in the UK.” However, the Twitter debate wasn’t at all related to this post. At the point I joined in, the focus was on the controversial term Islamophobia, which in my view is very problematic because it implies that the teachings of Islam cannot legitimately be criticized.

To illustrate my point, I linked to a post of mine entitled “Who’s defaming Islam?,” where I argued that there are plenty of examples of popular Muslim leaders or widely respected authorities making statements about Islam that depict the faith as requiring Jew-hatred and support for jihadi terrorism.

I then focused in particular on Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, because he is without a doubt a mainstream figure who is regarded as a great scholar by many millions of Muslims and who has even been described as the “Global Mufti” due to his enormous influence.

But unfortunately, Qaradawi’s views fully justify the conclusion of Mark Gardner and Dave Rich that he represents “the combination of theological anti-Judaism, modern European antisemitism and conflict-driven Judeophobia that make up contemporary Islamist attitudes to Jews.”

Indeed, Qaradawi is an avowed Jew-hater who fervently believes in a divinely ordained battle between “all Muslims and all Jews.” As Qaradawi emphasizes in his “Fatawa on Palestine” in reference to the notorious hadith that features prominently in the Hamas Charter:

“The last day will not come unless you fight Jews. A Jew will hide himself behind stones and trees and stones and trees will say, ‘O servant of Allah – or O Muslim – there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

“[W]e believe that the battle between us and the Jews is coming … Such a battle is not driven by nationalistic causes or patriotic belonging; it is rather driven by religious incentives. This battle is not going to happen between Arabs and Zionists, or between Jews and Palestinians, or between Jews or anybody else. It is between Muslims and Jews as is clearly stated in the hadith. This battle will occur between the collective body of Muslims and the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews. (p. 77)”

 Perhaps even more disturbingly, Qaradawi has expressed the view that

“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 hand of the believers.” […]

On another occasion, Qaradawi prayed:

“Oh Allah, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam. Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people of Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, and You annihilated the people of ‘Aad with a fierce, icy gale. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, You annihilated the people of ‘Aad with a fierce, icy gale, and You destroyed the Pharaoh and his soldiers – oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”

However, in the debate on twitter, two people were resolved to downplay both Qaradawi’s Jew-hatred and his influence. @LutherBlissetts claimed triumphantly that Qaradawi wasn’t the only one who regarded the Holocaust as a divine punishment inflicted on the Jews, citing the fervent (and controversial) supporter of Israel John Hagee and Rabbi Yoel Teitlebaum (the Satmar Rebbe).

Now, it is indeed true that both Pastor Hagee and the Satmar Rebbe have argued that the Holocaust should be understood as God’s punishment for the Jews – and they both have done so in the context of a theological quest to explain the unspeakable evil and suffering of the Nazi genocide. To suggest that this is in any way comparable to Qaradawi’s views is simply beneath contempt: Qaradawi makes it crystal clear that he thinks it was praiseworthy that the Nazis “managed to put them [the Jews] in their place” and he explicitly expresses the hope that there will be a “next time…at the hand of the believers [i.e. the Muslims].”

The argument advanced by @TellMamaUK  – an organization that encourages Muslims to report instances of harassment and bigotry – was very different: they claimed that Qaradawi’s views “do not reflect the range of British Muslims” and complained that I was “really hung up on the ‘mainstream’ thing,” arguing that “Communities are diverse or does that not matter?”

But it is of course a platitude to say that there will be some diversity and a range of views in any given group of people – whether it’s a religious, political, social or ethnic group. It’s also a platitude to say that in any group of people, there are likely some fringe figures with bizarre and outrageous views – and Qaradawi wouldn’t be worth mentioning if he was such a fringe figure.

In the context of the debate about the term Islamophobia, my point about Qaradawi being mainstream by virtue of his huge following and influence was therefore a different one: while Qaradawi’s standing obviously does not justify bigotry against individual Muslims, it illustrates very well the problems with the term Islamophobia.

The Runnymede Trust’s definition of Islamophobia – which was mentioned in the debate as the relevant definition – includes the point that Islam “is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations.”

While Qaradawi may not accept the wording here, he certainly is an enthusiastic advocate of an Islam that stands for violence – indeed for genocidal violence – and a “clash of civilizations” when it comes to the Jews (and to a somewhat lesser degree to the US and the West).

So should Qaradawi – and the many other Muslim clerics and scholars who preach similar views – be denounced as Islamophobic ?

The problem is obviously – as this debate illustrated all too well – that it is much more likely that it is considered Islamophobic to argue that there is a serious problem when somebody with Qaradawi’s views is mainstream.

13 responses to “Qaradawi for the (deliberately) clueless

  1. I don’t know of any other phobia where the suffix -phobia means or implies that you can’t criticise the prefix. You have implied that all words suffixed “phobia” imply that the prefix can’t be criticised. Have a little think about that.

    A phobia is an irrational fear or hatred of the thing phobia is prefixed by. It is not mere criticism of it. Claustrophobia is not criticism of small spaces. Agoraphobia is not simply wanting to stay in. Arachnophobia is not sweeping a spider’s web away from your doorway.

    Paradoxically you praise a quote which includes the word “Judeophobia”. Does it imply you can’t criticise Judaism or Jews? I don’t think so. Maybe you do. I suspect that you didn’t notice that the quote you approve of flatly contradicts the point you made about islamophobia.

    Try considering that islamophobia is to Muslims as judeophobia is to Jews. That’s the consistent thing to do….

    • You seem pretty confused. Let’s quote your own definition:
      “A phobia is an irrational fear or hatred of the thing phobia is prefixed by.”

      My point was that precisely because of this definition, legitimate criticism of Islamic teachings – like e.g. those of Qaradawi – will be denounced as simply reflecting “an irrational fear or hatred”. And this is indeed something that often happens, and already everyone is busy avoiding anything that might offend Muslims and be perceived as “Islamophobia”.

      Imagine e.g. a Christian or Jewish leader as prominent and influential as Qaradawi saying things like Qaradawi does — like e.g. the Pope, incensed by the plight of Christians in the Middle East, praying: “Oh God, take this oppressive, Muslim, Islamist band of people. Oh God, do not spare a single one of them. Oh God, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”

      — What do you think would happen?

      As to the term Judeophobia, I don’t think I’ve ever used it myself. I prefer to call a spade a spade: Jew-hate.

      Re. your suggestion “that islamophobia is to Muslims as judeophobia is to Jews,” the fact of the matter remains that “judeophobia” is part of mainstream Muslim teachings/preachings etc. and is part of the ideology of terror groups like Hamas who seek to practice this “judeophobia” by killing Jews; you can also re-read Qaradawi’s notions of the divinely ordained battle between Muslims and Jews and his hopes for a Muslim Hitler. So I think that contemporary Muslim “Judeophobia” is quite different from contemporary Christian or Jewish “Islamophobia” — though from the perspective of an individual experiencing bigotry this will not matter much.

      • You’ll say anything. You said that the word islamophobia itself implies that criticism is not allowed. I am simply pointing out that the suffix phobia does not mean or imply that the prefix cannot be criticised and it doesn’t. If any criticism of Islam is labelled islamophobic, that is a different issue from what a phobia is.

        Similarly, whether or not judeophobia is part of mainstream Islamic teaching is a separate issue from what the suffix phobia means or implies.

        You see, maybe there are people who try to disallow crticism of Islam and maybe there are mainstream Muslims who are judeophobic but this has nothing to do with the meaning or the implication of the words islamophobic or judeophobic.

        I suspect you don’t want the word Islamophobic being used because you think it implies a specific issue with anti-Muslim bigotry. But it definitely does not imply that criticised of Islam is not allowed. You have confused yourself.

  2. Seems we agree that one of us is confused — and it seems we’ll have to agree to disagree about who it is…

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