Despite many years of stridently denying any association with the Muslim Brotherhood, a large number of Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB) leaders and supporters from North America, Europe, and the Arab world came together to pay tribute to GMB spiritual guide Youssef Qaradawi, who died on 26 September 2022 aged 96 in his exile Doha. Nearly every important GMB organization published messages mourning his loss, including those which Qaradawi co-founded or where he served in leading positions. Condolences were also offered by Turkish President Erdogan and Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. None of the obituaries reviewed by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) included mentions of Qaradawi’s virulently anti-Semitic views or his calls for violence in the name of religion.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), the most important theological umbrella body affiliated with the GMB and which Qaradawi led until 2018, published the following message on its website:
We have received with hearts full of contentment with God’s decree and destiny the news of the death of His Eminence Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the founding president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, may God have mercy on him, at the age of 96 years after giving [his] life to serve Islam and Muslims. [Translated from Arabic original using Google.]
The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), the main theological council of the GMB in Europe and that Qaradawi chaired from 1997 until 2018, also offered its condolences, saying:
The European Council for Fatwa and Research extends its deepest condolences to the entire Islamic, Arab, and humanitarian nation on the great tragedy that afflicted us all with the death of the revered Imam Dr. Yusef Al-Qaradawi — may God Almighty have mercy on him. [Translated from Arabic original using Google.]
The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the main organization of the GMB in the UK, published an obituary via Twitter:
Sheikh Yusuf was a renowned and greatly respected figure worldwide. (…) in the UK, Sheikh Yusuf has had a profoundly positive impact on the Muslim community and MAB had the pleasure of hosting him in 2004 when he visited the country.
British GMB leader Anas Al-Tikriti and his Cordoba Foundation also offered condolences. Muslim Engagement and Development, a UK Islamic NGO close to the GMB in Britain, also mourned Qaradawi’s death.
Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s GMB party Ennahda, said:
In the face of this great loss, we send our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased in particular, and to the Arab and Islamic Ummah in general. [Translated from French original using Google.]
German GMB umbrella Deutsche Muslimische Gemeinschaft (DMG) published the following message mourning Qaradawi:
Our condolences go to his family, loved ones and friends. May Allah reward Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qardawi for his efforts and forgive his mistakes. May He embrace him with His mercy and unite him with the prophets and righteous in the highest levels of Paradise. [Translated from German original.]
AKOS, a Bosnian Muslim youth organization and a member of the European GMB youth/student umbrella Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO), said the Islamic world had “lost another great man” and called Qaradawi “one of the greatest Islamic authorities and renovators of the faith.“ FEMYSO leaders have repeatedly denied any ties to the GMB.
Ali Erbas, the head of the Turkish state’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), shared a Facebook post saying:
The late Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the luminaries of our age, will be remembered with mercy and gratitude for generations as a distinguished scholar who devoted his life to the understanding and living of Islam, fought for the defense of the Ummah, and inspired Muslims with his self-contained stance. [Translated from Turkish original using Google.]
Turkish President Erdogan offered his condolences to Qaradawi’s family via phone, saying the cleric displayed the “most beautiful example” of how a Muslim should live and that he never compromised on what he believed in throughout his life.
On its website, the main European GMB umbrella Council of European Muslims (CEM) published the following obituary:
With the departure of Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, the Islamic nation has lost one of the most important defenders of moderation and one of the innovators of religious discourse in a way that preserves the original and responds to the spirit of the age.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), which comprises nearly every significant component of the GMB in the US, shared a post that left out any mention of Qaradawi’s long-standing support for terrorism against civilians, saying:
Shaykh Yusuf has been known for his rigorous and consistent condemnation of extremist groups and responses within the Muslim community, while taking a strong stand for the rights of the Muslim oppressed, highlighting the lethal persecution and dispossession of the Palestinians, and the sacred obligation of the Muslim community regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque and its divinely blessed surroundings.
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an important part of the GMB in the US, called Qaradawi’s death a “great loss to this Ummah and particularly to Islamic Movement.“
Ismail Haniyeh, a leader of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas and who also attended Qaradawi’s 27 September 2022 funeral in Doha, said:
We, in Hamas movement, are extremely saddened by the death of this prominent scholar, and we pray to Allah to shower his soul with mercy. Hamas also extends condolences to the family of the Sheikh, his students, and the entire Arab and Islamic world.
Former Oxford University Islamic Studies professor Tariq Ramadan, an influential Islamist scholar who is related to the Muslim Brotherhood founder by family, shared a Facebook post describing Qaradawi as “the most brilliant and influential reformer scholar of his time,” alleging that critics “lied about his thought, betrayed his words and slandered his name. He kept it straight.“
Youssef Qaradawi, described as one of the most influential intellectuals of the Arab world, was the most important leader of the Global Muslim Brotherhood and the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. He was also the “spiritual guide” for Hamas, and Hamas utilized his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens to justify their operations. Qaradawi has made a number of extremist statements, including predicting that Islam will conquer Europe through peaceful means, calling Hitler a divine punishment for the “misdeeds of the Jews,” saying that he wants to end his life “in the service of Jihad” by visiting Israel and throwing a bomb, calling for the death of all Jews, calling for attacks on US troops and civilians in Iraq, and calling for the collapse of the US if it doesn’t end its “unjust ways.” He was reported to have contracted COVID-19 in April, with his health deteriorating since then, but he was known to have had various health problems dating back many years. It is unlikely that any one person will be able to assume Qaradawi’s role within the GMB.