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Yusuf Al Qaradawi's contribution to contemporary Islamic thought

Published under category: Writing Ideas | 2016-11-14 22:00:26 UTC

Context: Religious custom essays

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a Muslim Scholar, is of the most influential figures in Islam today. He is of Egyptian descent and has provided leadership for Muslims around the world. Quaradawi is a modern Islamic scholar whose seminal works have influenced the nature of practice of Islam. He is a controversial figure in the west we here he is seen to promote hard-line stance in his analysis of political aspect of Islam. Regardless of controversy, Qaradawi has made fundamental contributions to the modern theological thought in Islam. Is one of the leading scholars of modern times who have made significantly revolutionary interpretations of Islam. Al-Qaradawi has made his contribution not only through verbal communication, but mostly through scholarly work. He is prolific scholar who has published more than 100 books in his career as an Islamic leader. Quaradawi has not always been a controversial figure in the west. At one time, he was a respectable figure with scholarly roles at Oxford University. He has been active in politics and has been imprisoned several times for his views. In addition, he has lived in Qatar for most of the time since his exit from Egypt during the reign of Abdel Nasser. He came back to Egypt briefly in 1981 and returned in 2011 and has been vocal on political matters in the Islamic world. Al-Qaradawi is a centrist religious scholar. He has been criticized severally by the conservative Islamic authorities but has maintained a centrist view. Al-Qaradawi in his long career as an Islamic scholar, has blended well with both Islamic cultures and has been tolerant to non-Muslims, making his contemporary contributions centrist in nature.

The most remarkable creation by Al-Qaradawi is the Wasattiya, or moderate Islamic thought. In deed, the Quran allows centrist Islamic thought in certain sections. In Sura 2, verse 3, which describes Islam as a middle nation that arbitrates among Christians, Jews and Muslims? The verse however considered Christianity and Jewish religion inappropriate religions that can be tolerated but not encouraged. Sagi polka extensively studies Al-Qaradawi’s philosophy in his scholarly work. Polka views the cleric’s work from two extreme schools of Islamic thought. One of the schools is al salafiyya, which means adoption of conservative Islamic values. On the other hand, tajdid means renewal of Islamic values to incorporate the reality of modernity. However, even though the two extreme views of Islamic practices are considered in Al-Qaradawi’s philosophy, it is true that the centrist Islamic school, at least in Al-Qaradawi’s perspective is an holistic idea that defines all aspect of life rather than personal spiritual space. According to Quaradawi, the centrist philosophy unifies several realms into Islamic thought. Social, political, religious, and governance issues are all part of the centrist philosophy. Islam is therefore a guide through life’s challenging decisions. Divine rules and the legislative aspects of Islam are two separate items in Al-Qaradawi’s philosophy. In the past, there has been confusion between these parts  of Islamic teaching, leading to a runaway effect that sustains Islamic fundamentalism. The scholar’s teachings consider the Quran unalterable and only the application part of the teachings in Islam is malleable. Al-Qaradawi therefore provides a form of elasticity to Islam in a manner that few other religious scholars have done in the past. In describing the manner in which Muslims must adapt to the new world Al-Qaradawi says:

“Renewal means reviving ijtihad by the learned ulema. We actually call for ijtihad. We must not think with the heads of our predecessors, because our problems, needs and time are different from theirs. We cannot let people who died centuries ago think on our behalf. The imams changed their personal opinions even within their lifetime ... We must change our discourse to conform to our age, environment and the requirements of our life. As for the renewal sought by those who claim to be neo- conservatives when they aren’t, this is something that we reject.”

This excerpt from Al-Qaradawi’s 2003 speech shows that he advocated that Muslims learn the practices of other nations before resulting to extreme application of their religion. According to the scholar, the study of knowledge outside Islam is not a point of activism, but a duty to Muslims. He acknowledges that unique knowledge exists outside Quran and within other nations and peoples. It is important to note that Al-Qaradawi is not talking about a fundamental shift in Islamic culture in a particular direction, say, towards western cultures, but an acceptance of the diversity of the peoples of the world. Al-Qaradawi explicitly denies that there should be a cultural revolution in the Islamic world towards other cultures in order for Islamic nations to advance Al-Qaradawi is certainly a modernist that is trying to adapt Islam to the modern world without breaching its core tenets or even  causing a major cultural shift.

Al-Qaradawi also discusses one of the most important tools in creation of centrism in Islam, the mass media. Al-Qaradawi has certainly used the mass media to reach out to the millions of Muslims around the world. He has also vocally create a place for mass media in Islam from the perspective of the centrist school. He says that tools used in mass media are not necessarily harbour any moral consequences in Islam. However, such tools have the capacity to be misappropriated or can be used for a good cause. It is therefore not proper to proclaim such tools evil as some scholars in the Islamic world do. Indeed, this is the major difference between Al-Qardawi and other Islamic scholars who shun the media as an element of western propaganda. Al-Qaradawi’s affinity for the mass media is evident in his use of radio in Qatar when it began broadcasting in 1970. These beginnings in the media made Al-Qaradawi a popular scholar in a different way from the traditional Muslim cleric, who would be influential only within local circles. When the television station Al-Jazeera opened a satellite channel, Al-Qaradawi produced some content that would air through it. For these reasons, Al-Qaradawi is seen as a not only a promoter of media and its new ideals, but also as a practical person in promotion of clerical work. The internet came after the radio and television. In 1997, when the internet and the World Wide Web were in their infancy, Al-Qaradawi creates an online forum for disseminating his clerical work. This was a major display of belief in an efficient and cost effective dissemination of information in order to survive in an inevitably changing communication industry. Perhaps Al-Qaradawi realized the competitive nature of his clerical work, and viewed the media as an appropriate tool for ensuring that he remains a one of the most notable Islamic religious intellectuals in the world. Notably, Al-Qaradawi has a large audience as opposed to the conservative small class of close students that other Muslim clerics have. Consequently, Al-Qaradawi appeals to the modern Muslim as opposed to the traditional and conservative one. It is in this way Al-Qaradawi allows the people under his tutelage to chart their own way through his teachings and Islam in general. In contrasts, traditional clerical work in Islam would require that the students rely on the interpretations from the cleric. Al-Qaradawi can be said to have started a technological revolution in clerical work in Islam.

As for many other religions, science and technology is a controversial subject in Islam. It seems fundamentally opposed to the traditional ideals of Islam and at large, the essence of religion. The problem with embracing science in Islam does not arise with the products of science, but with the foundation of scientific method. Scepticism is primary element of scientific thought that is in direct opposition to the cardinal principle Islam, which is faith. Being a centrist, Al-Qaradawi cannot help but discuss the relationship between science and Religion, and in particular Islam. Some Islamic clerics consider the problem of Islam only solvable through a change in the interpretation of fundamental tenets of Islam. Other extreme views opt to model science to fit the Islamic view. Al-Qavradawi realizes the problems in trying to harmonize science and Islam through any form of modification. He therefore opts for a centrist view by saying that Islam and science never had a conflict. To Al-Qaradawi, Science has always been there to fulfil the needs of Islam. This view is neutral, and it appeals to both sides of the controversy between religion and science. Quaradawi talks about Islam and science in the following excerpt of his writing:

“Islam embraces scientific progress and research, as throughout Islamic history there has been no evidence of conflict between Islam and science. In fact, it is regarded as Fard Kifayah (collective duty) in Islam for a nation to achieve progress in every field of science. However, this progress, like everything in life, must not collide with faith.”

Sura 6 verse 8 of the Quran corroborates Al-Qaradawi’s view of the conflict between scientific though and religious though. He looks at science through the Quran. It can therefore be said that Al-qaradawi has no interest in changing either subject in order to harmoze them. to Al-qaradawi. Islam and science have no conflct between them.



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