An English pan-Arab newspaper has reported that Youssef Qaradawi, one of the most important leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood, has been elected to the Al Azhar Islamic Research Council. According to the report:
Despite his controversial fatwas (religious edicts), the Muslim scholars of the Al Azhar Islamic Research Council consider the membership of Islamic scholar Dr Yusuf Al Qaradawi “enrichment to the Council’s activities.” Ulema [scholars]from the Islamic Research Council, the most prominent body of Al Azhar believe that Al Qaradawi’s membership is a positive addition because of his effective role in sponsoring Islamic dialogue, not to mention international dialogue between religions, towards which Al Qaradawi shows great interest. However, one Islamic intellectual believes that Al Qaradawi’s late membership will undoubtedly lead to a clash between two different approaches at a time when society is suffering from stagnation.In various interviews with Asharq Al-Awsat a number of Al Azhar ulema have stressed that the controversy and disagreements over some of Al Qaradawi’s fatwas and opinions have not prevented his membership to the council. One of Al Qaradawi’s controversial viewpoints some years ago was of the council itself, which he described as weak, and called for the council to include highly qualified Islamic ulema in order to revive it. Al Qaradawi stated that the council’s weakness was proof of Al Azhar’s weakness and stagnation and its inability to develop. This caused much controversy among the ulema of Al Azhar and pushed some people to accuse to Al Qaradawi of suffering from jealousy. This comes within the context of the Council’s recent agreement to increase the number of non-Egyptian members following mounting criticism because of the council suspending its policy that stipulates that 20 members must be selected from outside of Egypt, in addition to 30 Egyptian members.
A 2003 report from the Jamestown Foundation describes what it calls the Saudi takeover of Al-Azhar University, one of the oldest educational institutions in the Islamic world. Earlier posts have discussed the opening of “Al-Azhar Academies” in European countries.