A Saudi English daily newspaper has reported on reactions by members of the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Council to the election of global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi to the Council. According to the report:
Despite his controversial fatwas, the Muslim ulema members of the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Council consider the membership of Islamic Caller Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi as an “enrichment of the activities of the council.” Ulema from the most prominent body of Al-Azhar (the Islamic Research Council) consider that the issue of the timing of Al-Qaradawi’s membership does not mean much compared to the man’s effective role in sponsoring Islamic dialog, not to mention the international dialog of religions, to which Shaykh Al-Qaradawi pays much attention. On the other hand, one of the Islamic intellectuals considers that his late membership will definitely lead to a clash between two different methods at a time during when society suffers from a state of stagnation. In various interviews with Al-Sharq al-Awsat some Al-Azhar ulema have stressed that the controversy over some of the fatwas and opinions of Shaykh Al-Qaradawi, and the disagreement over them has not prevented his joining the council. One of the sensational opinions of Al-Qaradawi has been his description some years ago of the council itself of being weak, and his call for the council to include Islamic high quality ulema in order to revive it. Al-Qaradawi considered that this weakness of the council was a proof of the weakness and stagnation of Al-Azhar, and its inability to develop. This has led to controversy among the Al-Azhar ulema, and to some people accusing Al-Qaradawi of scientific jealousy. This comes within the context of the recent agreement of the council to increase the number of members from outside Egypt following the mounting criticism caused by the council suspending its statute stipulating the need to select 20 members from outside Egypt, in addition to the 30 Egyptian members, in order to complete the quorum of the council, which is 50 members of the senior Islamic personalities of the Muslim world. Four new members from outside Egypt have been elected……. Al-Qaradawi won the highest number of votes of the committee that was formed to choose the four ulema.
A previous post discussed Qaradawi’s election to the Council in July and 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.