The Gulf Times has reported on a three-day meeting of Islamic scholars in Doha organized to “pay tribute to Dr Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi for his contribution to Islamic Thought.” Qaradawi was said to have made the following statements at the event about the Muslim Brotherhood:
..Dr Qaradawi spoke about his affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that he was against any type of extremist interpretation of Islam. ‘I have criticised leading imams of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Imam Hassan al-Banna and Sayed Qutub. I hate extremism. I have never taken things for granted when it comes to Islamic jurisprudence as I was always thinking critically,’ he said, while observing that this way of approaching some Islamic issues had landed him in trouble with his contemporary Islamic scholars.
According to Islam Online the meeting, entitled “The Forum of Imam Qaradawi”, brought together almost 100 scholars, preachers and researchers from up to 30 countries and was co-sponsored by the Kuwaiti-based International Centre for Moderation, headed by Essam Al-Bashir who is known to be a Sudanese associate of Qaradawi.
Qaradawi’s statements clearly are an attempt to distance himself and his associated networks from the Muslim Brotherhood and further promote himself as the leading “moderate” in the Islamic world. What is not understood is why Qaradawi has chosen this moment to distance himself from the Brotherhood at a time when the Brotherhood is making substantial progress in gaining recognition from the U.S. government. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide stating only that
..he had consciously decided not to limit his scope of manoeuvre by tying himself ‘any movement which might constrain my actions, even if this is the Muslim Brotherhood under whose umbrella I grew and which I so defended…Would I, at the age of 77, accept what I turned down when I was 49?’
It is possible that as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood moves closer to the United States, Qaradawi is distancing himself to maintain his credibility as a leader in the Islamist world.
(note: Later reporting by Islamic media indicates that Dr Isam al-Aryan, a prominent Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, had intended to attend the forum but was prevented from doing so by Egyptian authorities.)