When I wrote yesterday that the lack of Islamist influence evident in the Tunisian events is a good thing, the objective was not to insinuate or agitate. In order to underscore what was meant, today let’s reflect on who is seeking to ride this high wave in the Tunisian stormy sea.
The headline above, although it seems provocative, is not something of my own creation, but rather the words of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who recently issued a statement which can only be described as blatant incitement. His analogy was extremely simplistic, and does not reflect political awareness. Through the Qatar-based satellite channel al-Jazeera, al-Qaradawi said: “after Hubal [a pre-Islamic Arabian god] was overthrown, being the greatest idol, the rest of the idols surrounding him also had to fall, including al-Lat and Uzza. [Likewise] the rest of those who served in the regime which the Tunisians have suffered [must also fall]”.
Of course, we are not here to defend the regime of Ben Ali, but please take a look at what al-Qaradawi is saying. In his sermon last Friday in Doha, where he is currently located, al-Qaradawi claimed that “Tunisia’s popular revolution was a revolution against injustice”. He called upon the Islamic people [to support it] because “it was rebelling against those who govern with an iron fist”. He added that “the people must rise up and demand their rights”, going on to say “I hold before God all Muslim leaders, except those who show mercy”.
If al-Qaradawi had said: “The people have a right to freedom, and to protect their human rights, so long as they do not terrorize in the name of God, whose qualities are merciful and compassionate”, we would say that this was a reasonable address. If al-Qaradawi had issued his original statement, or at least made a similar argument, in opposition to the regime of Saddam Hussein, then we would say that he was a fair man. Even though the fall of Saddam was brought about by the Americans, wouldn’t God have grant victory to this religion, even through an immoral man? Or were Saddam Hussein’s actions against his people permissible, as long as he was overthrown by Americans [rather than a popular uprising]? Is it permissible that he governed for three decades with an iron fist, as long as those affected were the Kurds and Shiites? It is worth noting here that the injustice of Saddam Hussein’s rule has affected everyone, without exception.
The question here is: What is this leadership model which al-Qaradawi wants the Tunisians to adopt? Is it the Islamic regime in Sudan, which has left us with a divided and separated Arab country? Or does he want a system similar to the Emirate of Hamas in Gaza, which sits perched upon the Palestinians, like an occupying force? Does al-Qaradawi want a state based on a certain principle, whereby what is prohibited is the foundation, and what is permitted is the exception? This is indeed a strange matter.
If we want the Tunisians to prosper, let us leave them to their own devices. Among them there are the rational, aware, and well educated. They know the affairs of their country, and do not need al-Qaradawi’s advice, or his incitement. They know the truth about what is going on in their country. On the subject of incitement, Sheikh al-Qaradawi must excuse our ignorance, and enlighten us, when he held “before God all Muslim rulers, except those who show mercy”. What rulers were implied when he said: except those who show mercy? Will he not name them for us, in fairness to them, so that we can renew our allegiance, and so that people will not come out against them in the streets (although al-Qaradawi demanded this), and so that we know what leadership model His Eminence actually wants!