Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi Dies at 96

A prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, is dead.

He was 96. He died in Doha, on Monday, September 26.

Sheikh Qaradawi is one of the most prominent voices of Islam in the Muslim world.

He was the chairman of the International Union of Islamic Scholars, a global union of Islamic intellectuals and clerics.

Qaradawi was born on 9 September 1926 in the village of Saft Turab in Egypt’s Nile Delta governorate of Gharbia. He was educated at al-Azhar University in Cairo, the Islamic world’s most prestigious religious institution, completing both his higher education and post-graduate studies in the same university until he obtained his PhD in 1973, with a focus on Zakat tax and its social impacts.

Born in an Egypt that was still under British colonial rule, Qaradawi went on to become an anti-colonial activist, which led to his repeated detention by the government. He then supported the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest Islamic and social group founded in 1928.

Qaradawi was among a number of people who were jailed repeatedly for their affiliation to the group, both under King Farouk in the 1940s and President Gamal Abdul Nasser’s rule in the 1950s.

Qaradawi eventually moved to Qatar in 1961, and was appointed dean of the faculty of Sharia at the newly established Qatar University. Qatari granted him citizenship in 1968. He was also a regular guest at the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel, and his appearance at the network’s main religious show, Sharia and Life, garnered millions of views from around the world.

The scholar returned to Egypt briefly in 2011, after the pro-democracy revolution that forced President Hosni Mubarak out of power. On 18 February that year, days after the resignation of Mubarak, Qaradawi led the Friday prayer with thousands of Egyptians gathering in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the uprising in Cairo.

He addressed the sermon to both Muslims and Christians taking part in the protests. His first public appearance after decades in exile was viewed as highly symbolic of the freedoms that could be enshrined in post-revolution Egypt.