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The Books He Left Behind | Yusuf al-Qaradawi


Yusuf al-Qaradawi passed away at the age of 96. He was one of the most well-known religious figures in the Muslim world and his contributions to the Muslim world are tremendous. Just in terms of books itself, he has written more than a hundred books,


Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a very common way of referring to him as a scholar, but he has been dubbed 'Alama, which means a great scholar. An example of his works is entitled "Fiqh al-Zakat", which means understanding of charity, the rules regarding charity, the obligatory aspect of charity in the Islamic law. So he goes into a lot of discussion, bringing together ancient learning combined with a good understanding of modern society and economics.


Now, this book is published in Malaysia. We don't think of Malaysia as a predominantly English-speaking country, but you know, Malaysia is advancing in English, and this is... It's interesting that they have paid attention to his books and they're translating and publishing the book in that country.


Another one of his works is entitled "Economic Security in Islam", and this one was translated and published in India.


We can see the widespread influence that he has had among Muslims who speak English.

Another example is entitled "Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension and Controversy", and this one was co-published both in London and Washington. It is very clear that Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been very influential. His books have been translated and it is clear that he is widely received among Muslims.


His most popular book, is "The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam" and there is an interesting history behind this book, at least the English translation. The English translation was published decades ago and sold widely. Later on, the Al-Birr Foundation in the United Kingdom reprinted this edition for free distribution. A hefty book like that often is not available for free distribution. A lot of pamphlets and smaller booklets have been published for free distribution.


For a book this size to be printed for free distribution is remarkable, and it shows the great interest that people have had in reading and publicizing this particular book, and we could say perhaps, more generally, the works of that great scholar.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi has done a lot for for Muslims in general to help us to understand some of the goals of the Islamic Sharia, and the way in which we should approach subjects. For example, things are basically considered to be permissible until you find a proof that they're not permissible. And this is classical in Islamic law. It is well recognized and is even stated in Arabic in our classical law books, that's how they said it in Arabic, which means, literally, the original principle in things is permissibility. So that frees up our minds a lot, because if we approach something and we're wondering, "Oh, is this halal or is it haram? Is it permissible or impermissible?


The basic predisposition is that it is permissible unless you find a verse to the Quran that says this is prohibited. Is there a hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that says that this is prohibited? Is there something from reason that would say that this is prohibited or should be prohibited? If there is no factor that will give rise to the ruling that this is prohibited, then the basic thing is that it is permissible. It's not the other way around.


Islam has a natural fit in society, because people are inclined as a society and individually towards halal, towards good.


Just like the Quran says, the good things have been declared to be permissible for you. That's the basic presupposition, whereas if you start with the other presupposition, you can see how difficult life would be, because if we ask, can we eat bananas? If you start with the presupposition that, okay, it must be impermissible until you can find proof that it is permissible, then we would have to find a verse of the Quran or a hadith that says you can eat bananas, and perhaps you wouldn't find that, so... And then you can multiply that for a million things. But it's simpler to understand that things are basically permissible until you can find that something is impermissible.


In his most popular book, he was able to delineate some things as being permissible which perhaps others might frown upon, and they might think, "No, no, no, that was impermissible, and he's just making it permissible." But he's very clear that he's not gonna make something permissible if it is forbidden in the laws of God, but he's saying that it's equally a crime to switch around, either way.


If God has made something prohibited, it is a crime for us to declare it permissible, but it's also equally a crime if God has made something permissible if we now arrogate to ourselves the authority to declare it forbidden.

Who are we to speak over God when God has permitted something and we're gonna declare it to be forbidden. So he's very careful in walking a fine line between knowing what is permissible and what is not, and because he has walked this fine line, and because he was able to declare some things permissible that people might have thought to be forbidden, the book was lampooned. Some people refer to it as the permitted and the permitted. Instead of the lawful and the unlawful, they lampoon it as the lawful and the lawful, Like, you know, because in the Arabic it's called Al-Halal wal-Haram fil-Islam, so some people say, "Oh, that's the book that's the "Halal and Halal", meaning that everything is halal. But that was not his intention, and that's definitely not what he did. He's clear that some things are prohibited, and he maintains that so, he's not gonna change the law of God, either to make the permitted impermissible or to make the impermissible now permitted.


However, one thing that is disagreeable of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi's approach is his allowance for suicide bombings within Palestine. The way he justifies that is by saying that, "Well, you know, they're an oppressed people, and they have the right to fight for their freedom, and because they are weak and they do not have the tools and powers of their oppressors, then they can use whatever means is there at their disposal, even if it means, you know, being in a suicide act. Now, of course, we can see the repercussions of that, especially in 2001, when the airplanes rammed into the twin towers in the United States, and we can see other instances of suicide bombings, how ugly this can become, by people justifying things. Of course, he probably didn't mean all of this, and definitely, he didn't mean all of this, but one can take a stretch from fatwas like that.


But other than that, there's great strengths in the ways in which he looks at the needs of Muslims in situations like Canada, where Muslims live as minorities. They may need to buy a house, for example, how can you get around the mortgage problem, and so on. He has made a lot of great advances, and shown that we can renew our thought in the religion and show that Islam is practicable in our modern times.



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