Officials at the Community Security Trust, the body responsible for the security of the Jewish community in the U.K., have reviewed a new book containing the translated views of global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on Israel, Palestine, Jews and Zionism. According to the introduction to the review:
The arguments over Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi are well-trodden ground. Since his visit to London in 2004, his views on suicide bombing, women and gays – in soundbite form at least – have been committed to memory by those who oppose the alliance between parts of the left and radical Islamism. Ken Livingstone’s physical and political embrace of Qaradawi, and his wider strategy of courting Islamist groups from amongst London’s Muslim population, did him much damage in the eyes of many Londoners, particularly on the political left, and may well have played a role in his removal as London’s mayor. Despite the fact that Qaradawi is currently excluded from entering the United Kingdom, he still has the potential to influence attitudes via his writings, his website and other media. If only for this reason, it is important to fully understand the broader vision behind Qaradawi’s views. A new book, published for the first time in English and distributed in Britain for British Muslim readers, allows us to do just this with Qaradawi’s views on Israel, Palestine, Jews and Zionism. It is a book that promises a battle ‘between the collective body of Muslims and the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews’ (p.77), which will hasten the end of days for mankind. This is no political analysis of the Israel/Palestine conflict, or even a faith-based lament for the Palestinian people; it is a passionate apocalyptic vision of division, war and final triumph. Originally published in Arabic asFatawa Min Ajl Falastin (Wahba Library, Cairo 2003 ), and now translated into English, it is a compilation of fourteen rulings by Qaradawi on various aspects of the conflict, including ‘Peace with Israel’, ‘The Legitimacy of Martyrdom Operations in Occupied Palestine’, ‘Ruling on Accepting Compensation for the Land of Palestine’, ‘Hadith: “The Judgment Day Will Not Occur Unless You Fight Jews”‘ and ‘Discussing the Verses on Banu Israel and Their Mischief’. Some of the rulings are answers by Qaradawi to members of the public who have asked for his opinion on a particular question. Al-Falah Foundation has published many books by leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood and this is intended to be a faithful and sympathetic translation.
The review concludes that in the end, Qaradawi’s views make him a problematic partner in the fight against violent extremism.
Part of Qaradawi’s political strategy is to build his influence within European Muslim communities by developing a religious framework to guide the lives of Muslim minorities in the West. His visit to London in 2004 was to hold a meeting of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, of which he is President. His focus on Europe is one reason why, in 2004, he turned down the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood when it was offered to him. It is possible to understand why some in the West see him as a potential ally against extremism. He supports democratic elections, for instance, and advises western banks on Islamic finance. This reflects the Muslim Brotherhood’s historic openness to Western ideas and Qaradawi’s personal pragmatism. On too many issues, though, his views appear inimical to modern European values. Those who are trying to build alliances against violent extremism need to choose their partners carefully, and in an informed way. British and European society should be inclusive, cohesive and diverse; it has no place for the conflict, bigotry and division of Fatawa on Palestine.