The Arab region, following the Muslim Brotherhood spring, is now witnessing multiple struggles, some of which are the remains of an old legacy, whilst others are new or have been rekindled. This is because some old political axes have been shaken, while others are in the process of being formed, and are yet to reach their maturity.
One of the most prominent new axes is the fundamentalist or “Muslim Brotherhood” axis, which rose to power in Tunisia and Egypt. This emerging axis is clear to see in the statements issued by the Muslim Brotherhood and their leadership in Egypt – the cradle of the organization – as well as in other Arab states, especially the Gulf States, where Brotherhood symbols have started to emerge on the surface, and have consciously embarked on disturbing their countries’ political positions both locally and externally.
So a Muslim brotherhood axis is being formed in the Arab world today, an axis which some people were skeptical of at first, but then called to support and ally with it, claiming that it could be a sincere and an honest partner for the Gulf States. Yet, it did not take long before the Brotherhood disappointed those who adopted such convictions. Even before the Brotherhood had settled in their countries, its members began to verbally attack the Gulf States, choosing to starting with the UAE. This happened when Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi launched provocative statements against the UAE through his television program “ash-Shariah wal-Hayat”, screened on Al-Jazeera television. During his broadcast he said: “the people of the UAE are people like us. If they think that they are Gods or superior to others, then they are mistaken.” Such words were purely meant to provoke, for no Emirati citizen has ever claimed to be God, and no rational person would ever say so. Al-Qaradawi also spoke of the internal situation in the UAE and the way in which the state deals with its citizens, saying “some of their people have even been stripped of their nationality. This is a forbidden act that cannot happen.” Yet what many of al-Qaradawi’s audiences may not know is that the country that granted him its citizenship (Qatar) revoked the citizenship of several thousand of its own people a few years ago, and nevertheless al-Qaradawi never uttered a word, nor did he use this religious rhetoric of what is permissible and what is not.
The Muslim Brotherhood went further than al-Qaradawi’s statements, and the Brotherhood spokesman in Egypt, Mahmoud Ghozlan, threatened to mobilize the Islamic world against the UAE. Then, a number of Brotherhood symbols in more than one Gulf state rushed to champion al-Qaradawi and attack the UAE, in what can be regarded as an example of a new Brotherhood strategy of intervention in the internal affairs of the Gulf.
This must all be perceived as a by-product of the feeling of elation felt by the Brotherhood group and other political Islamists following the rise of the fundamentalist Arab spring.
When al-Qaradawi hijacked the Tahrir square podium from the revolutionary youths in Egypt, he did not do so arbitrarily, rather he did so based on an old conviction drawn from the teachings of Hassan al-Banna, according to which al-Qaradawi adopted the trend of “peaceful demonstrations” until the “Blood Day.” However, he ultimately regretted this because he wanted the demonstrations to be peaceful, not because he believes that Egypt’s rights must be acquired only by peaceful means, but because he believes that it is not yet the time for blood to be shed, and that all power and strength must be saved for this “Blood Day”.
As the Arab protests continue, and as seen in his recent stances, al-Qaradawi seems to be of the view that now is the time for this “Blood Day”. Hence he has begun to exhibit all his power and strength. During the hardest times Libya ever experienced, he issued a fatwa necessitating the killing of Muammar Gaddafi. In spite of all Gaddafi’s wrongdoings, such an edict is extremely dangerous, for it was not issued out of the Brotherhood’s elation for the Arab Spring, but rather it is an old approach for al-Qaradawi. Recalling his early days in the Brotherhood youth, al-Qaradawi said “We, youths and students, received the news of the assassination of al-Nukrashi [Prime Minister of Egypt until 1948] with much satisfaction and pleasure, for this quenched our thirst and restored our dignity”.
Al-Qaradawi even praised Abdul-Majeed Hassan, al-Nukrashi’s assassin, with a poetic verse glorifying the tactic of organized killings, an approach that al-Qaradawi embraced and sincerely believed in. Al-Nukrashi’s assassination was an awful political crime, which the Brotherhood has since strived to eliminate from its history.
Al-Qaradawi has criticized Sayyid Qutb in more than one of his books. However, the Arab spring euphoria has prompted al-Qaradawi to return to Qutb’s hardline approach. Here we must recall that Sayyid Qutb – who once supervised the issuance of the Brotherhood’s secret revolutionary leaflets against the Nasserite trend – never trusted al-Qaradawi, for these leaflets contained the text “al-Qaradawi and al-Assal have defected from the Islamic Dawa trend and have joined the procession of traitors, and it is the Brotherhood’s duty now to be wary of them.”
Al-Qaradawi has spoken extensively about the approach he adopted, which he described as “facilitation through fatwa, and preaching through Dawa”. In this context, al-Qaradawi uses his fatwas only to serve his and the Brotherhood’s “political project”. The slogan of “preaching through Dawa” provides an aura of Islamic sanctity meant to prevent criticism.
Al-Qaradawi has become so elated by the Brotherhood’s spring that he has begun to lose his balance towards the situation. He once hijacked the revolution in Egypt (in February 2011), and once again attacked religious institutions that failed to give him what he considers his absolute right, as was reflected in his attack against the al-Azhar Islamic institute and its sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb (Feb. 2012). Al-Qaradawi does all this in the framework of his belief that this is now the age of the fundamentalists, most prominently the Muslim Brotherhood (September 2011). As can be seen in his discourse and stances over the past year, in additional to all he has said before, it is clear that al-Qaradawi is dedicating himself to becoming the “Sunni Wali al-Faqih” and a ruler in terms of power, influence and limitless aspiration.
Amidst such aspirations, al-Qaradawi seems to have forgotten what was said by Sufyan al-Thawri, that “the last thing a jurist should dream to achieve is to be a ruler.” He also forgot what he was told by the Sufi Sheikh Bayoumi al-Azzouni in his village a long time ago, when that Sheikh called him “Abu Yusuf “. Yet, when Yusuf al-Qaradawi expressed his dissatisfaction about this title saying “My name is Yusuf, not Abu Yusuf “, Sheikh Bayoumi answered “But I only meant to recall the title which Abu-Hanifa used when calling his friend Abu Yusuf, saying ‘you will someday eat at the dining tables of kings'”
Al-Qaradawi, in his dream to be the “Sunni Wali al-Faqih”, having grown tired with the “dining tables of kings”, now aspires to seize the “seats of kings.” Why not, as long as the age old dream of the Muslim Brotherhood has been to “establish states and topple them”?