Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi: One of the Imams of the Muslims by al-Allamah Abdullah Bin Bayyah
[This piece was translated from a work entitled Yusuf al-Qaradawi, published in 2004 from essays by seventy eminent scholars from our time, including Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi, ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda, Mufti Taqi Uthmani, Taha Jabir ‘Alwani, and many others. The essays were compiled on the occasion of Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s 70th birthday, celebrating his life’s work in the field of Islamic Thought and activism. Below is a translation of the brief essay by Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah. May Allah preserve our scholars and allow us to benefit from them.]
Yusuf al-Qaradawi: One of the Imams of the Muslims
By al-’Allamah ‘Abd Allah ibn Bayyah
All praise is due to God, and prayers and peace be upon our Master, Muhammad, the Messenger of God, upon his family, and his companions.
Indeed the Shaykh, the erudite scholar (‘allāma), Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi needs no praise or eulogy, for he is as al-Khansa’1 said:
Indeed to Yusuf, the leaders have come to pay their respects,
Because he is a mountain upon whose peak there is light2
The changes in the verse are intended for the occasion, for Imam Yusuf is an oceanic scholar, a moving caller (dā‘ī), and a pedagogue (murabbī) for many generations, and a great reformer by his state and his statements: he spreads knowledge and wisdom—a teacher and a muftī. His methodology is the Islamic moderation by which al-Shātibī3 characterises the Islamic Sharī‘a, saying that it “follows, for those observing its obligations, the most moderate and most just way, taking from both sides with justice, without any inclination [towards either extreme…].”
He inclines towards making things easy for people in his fatwas, but he himself is characterised by vigour that is nearer severity in the foundational issues, and those aspects [of the tradition] that are not subject to change. [He does this] by marrying the texts with the aims and purposes [of the Sharī‘a], in a region in whose trackless desert none are guided, nor can anyone undertake its balancing out except the ones who are deeply rooted in knowledge, and whom Shaykh Yusuf has described, and it is as though he is describing himself, when he says in his book, The Supreme References: the Book and the Sunna:
The task of those who are deeply rooted in knowledge is to search for the aims and purposes of the Sharī‘a throughout the texts, having roamed their horizons, and immersed oneself in their depths, and tied their particulars with their universals, and brought their branches back to their roots, and bound their rulings to each other such that the stones are composed and ordered in its necklace, with certainty that the illustrious Sharī‘a does not make differences between its followers, just as it does not make equal those who differ.
This is the finest description that can be presented in describing the person we are writing about.
Add to this that the Shaykh is not of those jurists who suffice with the theoretical treatment of the socioeconomic issues of the umma, but rather he is a man on the ground, descending to the ground of knowledge and its applications, and participating in the establishment of research centres, and organisations, and charitable trusts.
In summary, indeed the Shaykh, the erudite scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is one of the Imams of the Muslims in this age, and a Shaykh al-Islam in this time. You may agree with him and be convinced of his argument and his proof, or you may differ with him and respect his opinion, because it is the opinion of a God-fearing scholar, that does not arise from ignorance, nor from caprice—and these two are conditions that are indispensible if a fatwa is to have its sanctity, and a word its value. These two conditions have been combined, in my reckoning, by this Imam.
He has been rendered worthy of all those characteristics due to his abundant knowledge that is multi-dimensional and far-reaching, for he has indeed combined between the transmitted and the rational disciplines, in the Book and the Sunna, in their roots and their branches, in language and literature, in addition to an extensive and reliable [understanding of] contemporary culture. For this reason, his proofs are clear, his clarifications are compelling, alongside dignified personal characteristics, including a pure soul, humility, moderation in speech, not being envious of anyone. Indeed we deem great his writings on one of his contemporaries among the scholars—Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazālī [and Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwī] (may God show them mercy)—concerning their lives, in which he praised them and defended them. Indeed it is a rare example among the scholars, particularly in this time of ours.
We ask God to reward him and give him strength, and benefit us and the Muslims through him and his knowledge.