As reported by the indispensable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), esteemed Islamic scholar, and “Spiritual Guide” to the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi provided a Ramadan Koranic “homily”, of sorts, May 14, 2019. In essence, Qaradawi merely re-affirmed for Muslims the classical-cum-modern mainstream ramifications of a Koranic verse [Koran 1:7] votaries of Islam recite 17-times per day, during their requisite 5 prayer times, and the subdivisions of those prayer sessions. Notwithstanding what is a rather anodyne reminder to Muslims, the contents of Qaradawi’s statements will be “shocking” to those who are completely uninformed about Islam, or have chosen to understand the creed exclusively through the prism of Muslim and non-Muslim apologists, alike.
Moreover, despite Qaradawi’s mainstream scholarly and cultural bona fides—vis-à-vis authoritative Islamic teaching across a 13 century continuum, and resultant normative, “Sharia thirsty” Muslim attitudes within contemporary Islamdom—predictable efforts will be made to marginalize Qaradawi and his “homily” because of the prominent theologian’s ties to the allegedly “radical” Muslim Brotherhood. Accordingly, this very illuminating teachable moment may well be be squandered. My fervent hope against hope is to avert that outcome by reviewing Qaradawi’s Ramadan Koranic lesson, and placing it squarely within the context of canonical Islam as taught since the advent of the Muslim faith.
Qaradawi opens his discussion with a query which he immediately answers, invoking Koran 47:17:
“Who does not need Allah’s guidance? The Muslim always needs Allah’s guidance so that the paths will be clear for him and so that he does not become confused… Furthermore, he also needs additional guidance [from Allah, for it is said], ‘And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness.’ (Koran 47:17)…”
Continuing, Qaradawi observes that the Muslim must be directed on to this appropriate course “by Allah”, as set forth in the Koran’s opening sura, or chapter (sura 1, “The Fatiha”):
“From the concluding verse [Koran 1:7] of Surat [Al-Fatiha, which states] ‘The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray’, it transpires that the people are divided into three types with regard to this path…”
Qaradawi then elucidates the three religious groups or “types” Koran 1:7 specifies, beginning with the “righteous”—Muslims—who embraced Islam:
“The first type are those who were granted [Allah’s guidance] and they are those to whom Allah has shown favor: the prophets, the saints, the martyrs and the righteous, as they are listed in Surat Al-Nisaa [Koran 4:69]. They are the ones whom Allah guided, who knew the truth [i.e. Islam]. [The truth] became clear to them and they distinguished between it and straying and falsehood, and therefore they went on the path out of awareness and became men [of truth], in their knowledge, faith, deeds, and preaching.”
“The second type are those who evoked [Allah’s] anger. They are those who recognized the truth and nevertheless did not take its path, and even stubbornly opposed it, and were hostile towards the Prophet [Muhammad] after the straight path became clear to them. [They did this] out of reliance on falsity, love of this world, following urges, blind fanaticism, arrogance, or jealousy… and thus they deserve Allah’s wrath. These are the Jews, for whom the explanation is presented in Surat Al-Maida [Koran 5:60, which states]: ‘Those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut – these are worse in position and further astray from the sound way’…”
“The third type are those who were struck with ideological blindness, who did not distinguish between truth and falsehood, between the straight path and straying, and did not bother to seek the truth. Accordingly, they lived and died astray, far from the truth [i.e. Islam], and for this they deserve to have straying attributed to them. They are the Christians, about whom Allah said [in Koran 5:77]: ‘Do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way’… With regard to [those who have gone astray,] for example among the polytheists, [Allah] said [in Koran 6:140]: ‘They have gone astray and were not [rightly] guided’…”
The crux of Qaradawi’s message to Muslims—via his didactic analysis of Koran 1:7—is their requirement to maintain an “essence” isolated and distinct from non-Muslims, abetted by obsessive, monotonous daily repetition of this verse:
“Islam has taken care, by means of its laws and precepts, that the Muslim identity will be separate and differentiated [from that of the non-Muslims] in its internal and external essence. This is so it will not be easy to mingle it with all the other [non-Muslim identities, lest it] lose its unique traits. This is the significance of the Muslim’s daily prayer that recurs at least 17 times: ‘The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not [the path] of those who have evoked [Your] anger or [the path] of those who are astray’ [Quran 1:7]…”
Qaradawi’s concluding remarks pay homage to Ibn Taimiya [Taymiyya; d. 1328], the classical Middle Ages theologian also “held in high esteem,” notably, by the Egyptian “modernist” Muhammad Abduh [d. 1905]:
“On this matter, Sheikh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyya compiled his valuable book, The Necessity of the Straight Path in Distinction from the People of Hell. The straight path is a separate way [for the Muslims]; it is not the path of the Jews, who have evoked Allah’s anger, nor of the Christians, who have gone astray, and also not of those who recognize the truth but have not gone in its path… This is the separate path, the path of truth, the path of Allah, the path of the believers. The Muslim calls on his Lord every day to guide him, bring him success, and set him on this straight path, ‘the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor’ [Quran 1:7].”
Thirteen centuries of authoritative Koranic commentaries on Koran 1:7 comport squarely with Qaradawi’s gloss.
Professor Andrew Rippin, the late (d. 2016) doyen of contemporary Koranic studies, translated two of the earliest commentaries on Koran 1:7, by Ibn Abbas (d. 687), and Muqatil ibn Sulayman (d. 767). Both commentators of course assert that Islam represents “the straight path” in Koran 1:6–1.7. Ibn Abbas, “the father of Koranic exegesis,” and ostensibly a contemporary “infant prodigy” companion of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, provides this gloss on the references to “wrath” and “astray” in Koran 1:7:
“ ‘Not those against whom You have sent your wrath’: other than the religion of the Jews against whom You have been wrathful and have abandoned… ‘Nor those who are astray’: nor the religion of the Christians, who err away from Islam.’ ”
Muqatil ibn Sulayman states,
“ ‘Not those against whom You have sent Your wrath’: that is, a religion other than the Jewish one, against which Allah was wrathful. Apes and pigs were made of them. [Note: this is a reference to Koran 5:60; see later commentaries, below] ‘Nor those who are astray.’ Allah is saying: ‘And not the religion of the polytheists,’ that is, the Christians.”
The polymath al-Tabari (838-923), was a towering early Islamic historian, theologian and jurisconsult, who authored a monumental commentary on the Koran. Tabari cites traditions of Muhammad (i.e., hadith) which claim the Jews engendered Allah’s anger, to establish his conclusion that Jews are referenced in both Koran 1:7, and Koran 5:60: “Whom Allah has cursed, and with whom he is angered, and made some of them apes and swine.” Repeating this reasoning to prove that the people mentioned in Koran 5:77 are those described as astray in Koran 1:7, Tabari cites traditions that identify the Christians as having gone astray. Al-Qurtubi’s (d. 1273) great classical commentary “The Legal Rulings of the Koran,” reiterates Tabari’s view, stating plainly,
“…[T]hose with anger on them are the Jews and the misguided are the Christians. That was explained by the Prophet, my Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the hadith of Adi ibn Hatim and the story of how he became a Muslim transmitted by Abu Dawud and at-Timirdhi in his Collection [of hadith]. The explanation is also attested to by the Almighty [i.e., elsewhere in the Koran] who says about the Jews, ‘They brought down anger from Allah upon themselves’ ([Koran] 2:61, 3:112) and He [Allah] says, ‘Allah is angry with them’ (48:6) He says about the Christians that they, ‘were misguided previously and have misguided many others, and are far from the right way.’ (5:77)”
Ibn Kathir (d. 1373) was a renowned historian and traditionalist of Syria during the reign of the Bahri Mamluks, compiling a seminal history of Islam, as well as an important Koranic commentary, still widely used. His commentary once again references Koranic verses 5:60 and 5:77, and the same hadith reported by ibn Hatim, explaining the meaning of verse 1:7, thusly:
These two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. … the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why ‘anger’ descended upon the Jews, while being described as ‘led astray’ is more appropriate of the Christians. … We should also mention that both the Christians and the Jews have earned the anger and are led astray, but the anger is one of the attributes more particular of the Jews. Allah said about the Jews, ‘Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath’ (Sura 5:60). The attribute that the Christians deserve most is that of being led astray, just as Allah said about them, ‘Who went astray before and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the right path’ (Sura 5:77)… Imam Ahmad [Hanbal] recorded that ‘Adi bin Hatim said, … he [Muhammad] said: ‘Those who have earned the anger are the Jews and those who are led astray are the Christians.’
Tafsir al-Jalalayn, meaning “The Commentary of the Two Jalals,” was named after its two Egyptian authors, Al-Suyuti (1445-1505), a brilliant multidisciplinary scholar, and his mentor Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli(1389-1459). The nonpareil contemporary Dutch Islamologist, Johannes J.G. Jansen (d. 2015) , notes in his treatise, “The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt,” Tafsir al-Jalalayn remains one of the most popular, as well as the most significant Koranic commentaries in Egypt. As Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains, Muslims are told in Koran 1:6, the verse preceding Koran 1:7,
“ ‘Guide us on the straight path,’ means, direct us to it.”
The commentary continues,
“It is followed by its appositive [in verse 7], ‘…the Path of those You have blessed,’ with guidance, ‘not of those with anger on them,’ who are the Jews, “nor of the misguided,’ who are the Christians. The grammatical structure here shows that those who are guided are not the Jews or the Christians. Allah Almighty knows best what is correct…”
Ma’ariful Qur’an, a definitive modern Koranic commentary, was written by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi (1898-1976), former Grand Mufti of (pre-Partition) India, and founder of Darul Ulum Karachi. In addition to writing over 100 works explaining the Koran and Islamic law, Mufti Muhammad Shafi broadcasted Koranic commentaries on Radio Pakistan for a number of years. His modern gloss is concordant with thirteen centuries of commentaries on Koran 1:7, highlighting the strident Antisemitic, and accompanying Christianophobic messaging of this verse, as taught to Muslims by authoritative Islamic instructors.
“Those who have incurred Allah’s wrath are the people, who in spite of being quite familiar with the commandments of Allah willfully go against them out of a calculated perversity or in the service of their desires, or, in other words, who are deficient in obeying divine injunctions. This, for example, was the general condition of the Jews who were ready to sacrifice their religion for the sake of a petty worldly gain, and used to insult and sometimes even to kill their prophets. As for (those who go astray), they are the people who, out of ignorance or lack of thought, go beyond the limits appointed by Allah, and indulge in excess and exaggeration in religious matters. This, for example, has generally been the error of the Christians who exceeded the limits in their reverence for a prophet and turned him into a god. On the one hand, there is the rebelliousness of the Jews who not only refused to listen to the prophets of Allah but went on to kill them; on the other hand, there is the excessive zeal of the Christians who deified a prophet.”
Finally, “The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia” is a modern compendium of analyses written by 43 Muslim and non-Muslim mainstream academic experts, edited by Oliver Leaman, and published by Routledge, New York, 2006. These excerpts from p. 614 serve as an irrefragable “summary verdict”—consistent will all the previous evidence marshalled—on how Muslims and non-Muslims, both, are to understand Koran 1:7, the Fatiha’s last verse:
“…[T]he phrase in the daily prescribed prayers” ‘Guide us to the straight path, to the path of those you have blessed, not of those who incurred [Your] wrath, nor of the misguided (al-Fatiha, 1:5-7.)’…mention two groups of people but do not say who they are. The Prophet [Muhammad] interpreted those who incurred God’s wrath as the Jews and the misguided as the Christians. [Tirmidhi: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3954]. The Jews, we are told killed many of their prophets [see Koran 2:91 and 4:155; and in the traditions, Sunni and Shiite, the Jews are accused of a conspiratorial poisoning of Muhammad that caused his death, while the Shiite traditions claim Jews are further responsible for the deaths of Ali and his son Husayn], and through their character and materialistic tendencies [usurious 2:275, 4:161; greedy/hedonistic 2:96; envious 2:109; hard-hearted 2:74; liars 2:78] have contributed much to moral corruption, social upheaval and sedition in the world [Koran 5:32–33; 5:64] …[T]hey were readily misled and incurred both God’s wrath and ignominy [2:61; 2:90; 3:112]. As for the Christians…over time they succumbed to the influence of those who had already deviated from the chosen path. By the time Christianity came to be accepted as the official religion of the Roman Empire, many Christians had long gone astray and had been deprived of their original scripture…By interpreting the phrase “not of those who incurred [Your] wrath, nor of the misguided” the Prophet identified them and clarified in what way and by what beliefs and deeds a man incurs God’s wrath. This is a warning for the Muslims not to follow in the footsteps of the Jews and Christians.”
Dissenting glosses on Koran 1:7 certainly do exist, but they remain marginal. Al-Razi (d. 1209), dubbed “independent-minded,” and willing to stray from analyses of the Koran reliant upon “tradition-based exegesis,” i.e., “sayings of the Prophet and first generations [of Muslims],” provides perhaps the best “classical” era example in his respected Koranic commentary. But al-Razi, who argues for a more qualified general interpretation of Koran 1:7, “it is possible to say that the former [those incurring wrath] are the unbelievers, and the latter [those who are astray] the hypocrites,” still concedes,
“The well-known opinion [among exegetes] is that those who incur wrath are the Jews, based on: ‘those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath’ (Koran 5:60), and that those who are astray are the Christians, based on: ‘…who went wrong in times gone by, who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even way’ (Koran 5:77).”
More importantly, as Professor Gordon Nickel has described with elegant understatement, Al-Razi, so-called champion of the “self-evident truths of reason” sanctioned merciless jihad depredations against all non-Muslims per his glosses on Koran 9:5 and 9:29, rendering his “iconoclastic” gloss on Koran 1:7 no barometer of rational ecumenism. Al-Razi, linked
“…the theological error that he attributes to the People of the Book [Jews and Christians, primarily] with a command [Koran 9:29] to fight them. He even seems to suggest that the imposition of jizya [the deliberately humiliating poll-tax tribute] was a ‘kindness’ that the People of the Book did not deserve….[their] false faith…and no other reason…made them deserving of Muslim attack ‘until they pay the tribute readily, having been humbled’….‘accepting the jizya from them and sparing their lives is a great blessing for them’.”
“In the case of idolaters, however, there was no question at all of their deserving kindness. In his comments on Q [Koran] 9.5, the so-called ‘sword verse’, al-Razi explains the phrase, ‘…kill the mushrikin [idolaters] wherever you find them…’. The exegete simply writes, ‘That is the command to kill them without restriction, in any time and in any place’.”
The gloss of “al-Manar modernist” (named after the periodical, “Al Manar”, [“The Lighthouse”]), Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), is perhaps most often touted—at present—as representing this ostensibly more “ecumenical” interpretation of Koran 1:7. Rather ironically, Abduh’s disciple, and collaborator on the Al-Manar Koranic commentary, Rashid Rida (d. 1935), contradicted his mentor’s gloss (pp. 66-68) some 30 pages later (pp. 97-98). Although Rida acknowledged a weakness in the transmission chain of a hadith account (cited previously) supporting the traditionalist view, he re-affirmed Ibn Kathir’s gloss (quoted earlier), and added another concordant exegesis by al-Baghawi (d. ~1117-1122), who also referenced Koran 5:60 and 5:77:
“It is said: ‘Those who invoked wrath’, are the Jews, and ‘those who went astray’ are the Christians. For Allah Almighty penalized the Jews with wrath, as it is said: ‘They are the ones who Allah has cursed and who incurred His wrath.’ (5:60) And He penalized the Christians with straying, as it is said: ‘Do not follow the inclinations of a people who have already gone astray.’ (5:77)”
Perseverating on semantic disagreements between Abduh and Rida about which “unbelievers” Koran 1:7 in fact references, obscures the Islamic supremacist ideology they shared, and was later imbibed, enthusiastically, by their ideologically heirs, Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, and in turn, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Ignaz Goldziher (d. 1921) is still regarded as the preeminent Western scholar of Islam (a giant among giants in the era prior to cultural relativism), and a highly sympathetic, albeit honest observer of the creed. Goldziher analyzed the doctrines of the Al Manar reformers in his 1920 study on Koranic exegesis, “Schools of Koranic Commentators,” specifically, the concluding chapter, “Islamic Modernism and the Interpretation of the Koran.” Redolent with unapologetic insights, the clarity and validity Goldziher’s assessment have been confirmed with the passage of time, and at present, are of even more urgent importance. Elucidating the theology of these so-called modernists, whose writings not infrequently quoted for support the medieval “fundamentalist” Hanbali jurists Ibn Taimiya and his pupil Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 1350), while making clear its absence of any “conciliatory” impetus vis a vis non-Muslims, Goldziher provided this definition—“cultural Wahhabism” –i.e., cultural jihadism, as a final characterization.
“Ibn Taimiya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah are the religious leaders deserving the title shaykh al-Islam. In al-Manar are to be found quotations from these theologians as supporting evidence, but also extensive passages from their published and unpublished works for one’s benefit and for the theological edification of its readers… The Egyptian [al-Manar] movement…operates under the aspect of theology. It derives its reformative demands from theological considerations free of alien influence. It insists on the redress of abuses, not so much because they are hostile to culture, but because they are hostile to Islam, and contrary to the Koran and the authentic tradition……The cultivation of natural sciences (and its related technical sciences) has for Islam also an eminent practical purpose, closely related to the political position of Islam. This Muhammad Abduh teaches [in his Koranic exegesis] with reference to [Koran] 3:200: ‘O believers, be patient, and vie you in patience; be steadfast; fear God; happily so you will prosper., And [Koran] 8:60–62: ‘And if you fearest treachery any way at the hands of a people, dissolve it with them equally; …make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not.’ This means that according to the rules of Islam [quoting Abduh] ‘the unbelievers must be fought with the same weapons that they use in fighting Islam. This means that in our time we must compete with them in the production of cannons, rifles, sea and air armaments, and other war material. All this makes it incumbent on Muslims to achieve perfection in technical and natural sciences, because this alone will lead to military readiness.’…[T]hey attach importance to the preservation of their individual character as Muslims and Orientals, and despise the thoughtless and servile imitation of European manners, warning their co-religionists of their disadvantages and harm. They continuously and vigorously endeavor to stress the Arabic Basis of Islam and want to keep everything that is beneficial, retaining all the Oriental idiosyncrasies which are reconcilable with their theological theory. But we cannot—as it has been done recently—call their ideology a conciliatory theology. For such a role they are too radical regarding abuses. A more appropriate definition might be cultural Wahhabism…The struggle of these ‘cultural Wahhabis’ deserves our interest…[emphasis added]
Goldziher further observed that Abduh had praised the Najdi (Arabian) Wahhabi iconclasts as advocates for true Islam in violently confronting bidah [innovation], while he reproved the mid-19th century Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali for attacking the Wahhabis.
Confirming Ignaz Goldziher’s prescient characterization (from 1920) of the entire al-Manar movement, Abduh’s “co-modernist” pupil and promoter, Rashid Rida (d. 1935) evolved into a full-throated, public supporter of the political aspirations of Ibn Saud’s Wahhabism, most clearly manifest in a pro-Wahhabi tract Rida wrote entitled, “The Wahhabis and the Hijaz”. Consisting of a series of articles originally published in al-Manar, and Egyptian newspapers, during the Hashemite-Saudi conflict, Rashid Rida’s apologetic for Ibn Saud, “The Wahhabis and Hijaz” sought to vindicate Wahhabism’s reputation, and champion the Saudi-Wahhabi side in the struggle for control of Islam’s holy places in the Hijaz. Rida maintained that with the end of the Ottoman era, and formal dismantling of the Caliphate, the Wahhabis, despite misgivings about them, were renowned for their pious adherence to Islam and hostility to foreign influence. In contrast, Rida argued, their adversaries, the Hashemites under Sharif Husayn, were notorious for plotting with Islam’s enemies for the sake of personal ambitions. Rida asserted that a devout, powerful Muslim ruler, such as Wahhabi potentate Ibn Saud, unlike the seditious Husayn (and his sons), would be a bulwark against the realization of Britain’s desire to “eradicate” Islam as a political force and, eventually, even as a religious doctrine and belief system. As David Commins observed in his 2006, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia,
“The notion that ambitious western powers worked hand in hand with duplicitous Arab rulers to advance western interests and to crush Islam would become a pillar of Muslim revivalist discourses…The apprehension of a sinister alliance between voracious foreign powers and corrupt local rulers figures prominently in the outlook of the contemporary Muslim revivalist movements. The oldest and most influential such movement is the Muslim Brothers, founded in Egypt in 1928 by a twenty-two year old schoolteacher, Hasan al-Banna…”
Professor Johannes J.G. Jansen re-affirmed Goldziher’s seminal assessment of the “Manar modernists”, and also highlighted the direct nexus between Rashid Rida, and Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna.
Jansen drew attention to Rida’s insistence
“…that Koranic punishments or hudud [or hadd, i.e., according to the Sharia, the acts of unlawful sexual intercourse, false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse, drinking wine, theft and highway robbery, as well as unrepentant apostasy, are punishable by flogging, limb amputation, or death] cannot be abolished by governments which feel they do not belong in the twentieth century.”
Rida’s discourse both rationalized and embodied the yearning of the Muslim masses for a return to mainstream Islamic orthodoxy—in his era, and ours. Thus Jansen observes, regarding the draconian, Sharia-mandated hudud punishments.
“Public opinion in the modern Muslim world attaches importance to these Koranic punishments…When the Koranic punishments are carried out, and especially when the authorities take care that they are carried out in public, many Muslims see this as a sure sign that Islam finally has its way…”
Jansen concludes his analysis of the Manar modernists—their own legacy, and direct linkage to Hasan al-Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood movement—with this apt, if unromantic appraisal:
“In retrospect it is evident that Rida shared these popular feelings about the Koranic punishments. Moreover, he appears to have subscribed to the radical view that condemns modern heads of state in the Arab world as apostates from Islam, and it is difficult today, to see why an earlier generation of orientalists [note: but certainly not Goldziher!] regarded … Abduh, and Rida as modernizing, westernizing liberals. The desire for the return of the glory of Islam, which these three reformers felt so strongly, and the particular socio-political circumstances in which they lived made them not [emphasis in original] into liberal modernizers but into the founding fathers of Islamic fundamentalism. In October 1941 the Egyptian government suppressed Al-Manar, which a certain Hasan al-Banna had recently taken over from the heirs of Rashid Rida. It is with Hasan al-Banna that professional violence became part and parcel of the movement we now call Islamic fundamentalism.”
Charles Wendell introduced his elegant 1978 translation of five Al-Banna treatises with a brilliant and remarkably compendious assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s worldview. Wendell stressed not only Al-Banna’s seamless connection to the Al-Manar modernists, but to traditional Islam itself. Moreover, Wendell’s final observations remain critical to understanding the deep Islamic religious animus towards Israel—so much in evidence today—that Al-Banna and his movement both inspired, and reflected.
“… Hasan, like…[Muhammad] Abduh, castigated the clerics for their withdrawal from the real world around them…Hasan’s answer to this was essentially that of both the fundamentalist Hanbalites and the ‘Manar’ modernists, especially Abdhu’s disciple Muhammad Rashid Rida, whom he admired more than Abduh himself: ‘Back to the Qur’an and the Sunna!’… Hasan al-Banna’s fundamental conviction that Islam does not accept, or even tolerate, a separation of ‘church’ and state, or of either from society, is as thoroughly Islamic as it can be. Any attempt to translate his movement into terms reducible to social, political, or religious factors exclusively simply misses the boat. The ‘totality’ created by the Prophet Muhammad in the Medinese state, the first Islamic state, was Hasan’s unwavering ideal, and the ideal of all Muslim thinkers before him, including the idle dreamers in the mosque. His ideology then, before it was Egyptian or Arab or whatever, was Islamic to the core…Practically all of his arguments are shored up by frequent quotations from the Qur’an and the Traditions, quite in the style of his medieval forbears. If one considers the public to whom his writings were addressed, it becomes instantly apparent that such arguments must still be the most compelling for the vast bulk of the Muslim populations of today… To this [Islamic] revivalist mentality, nothing could be more hateful than further diminution of the lands traditionally dominated by Islam. I believe that much of the fury and unconcealed hatred of the Zionist state which is expressed by the majority of Arabs will become more comprehensible in light of what the Islamic domain as a concept really means to the Muslims, seen through the lens of Hasan’s exposition.”
Finally, Olivier Carré’s 1983 analysis characterized the profound regional impact of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood during the 1950s, through the beginning of the 1980s, anticipating what has transpired till now. Carré described what he termed, aptly, as “a striking phenomenon”, which pervaded the Arab Muslim Near East, borne out most recently and dramatically by the unfolding events of the so-called “Arab Spring”—embodied by al-Qaradawi himself–and its still unresolved, simmering aftermath
“[W]hen one discusses Islam, as one often does in terms of a social and political ideal, whether out of religious conviction or because it is in the news, a common language…is found in all Eastern Arab countries—in Muslim schoolbooks, in the speech or behavior of people, whether friends or casual acquaintances, or in press reports on various current events. This common language is derived, ultimately, from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of the Nasserist period and also from what I shall call the ‘new Muslim Brothers’ of the 1970s and 1980s…”
Consistent with Sheikh Qaradawi’s Ramadan “reminder,” irrefragable evidence that his understanding was, and remains, the vast majority consensus interpretation of the Fatiha’s last verse, was compiled in a 2014 monograph by Islamic Law Professor Sami al-Deeb (2017 English translation here). This analysis of 87 authoritative Sunni and Shiite Koranic commentators whose glosses on Koran 1:7 spanned the 8th century through the early 21st, described how 10 of the 13 Shiite commentaries, and 68 of the 74 Sunni commentaries, i.e., 78 of the 87, total, provided glosses maintaining the Jews incurred Allah’s anger, and the Christians went astray. Of the eleven most recent commentaries whose authors were alive into the 21st century, ten reiterated this still predominant, traditional gloss on Koran 1:7. Furthermore, to underscore, as in the case of the classical commentator Al-Razi, discussed earlier, that not abiding the consensus interpretation of Koran 1:7 is hardly predictive of extolling Muslim “ecumenism,” the modern Sunni jihadist theologian par excellence, Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), who authored the magisterial “In The Shade of The Qur’an,” was one of the 9 “dissenters”!
Based upon meticulous study of glosses on Koran 1:7 across almost 13-centuries, and his life experience in the Middle East, Professor al-Deeb pronounced this warning during an interview posted online in January, 2017:
“You have to pay attention to what is said in the mosques, and what Muslims pray every day…Imagine a person repeating in their prayers, daily, such a sentence of hate [i.e., Koran 1:7]. Could you imagine the consequences of this prayer on his mind, on his psychology? Can he really live in peace with his neighbor?…Every time he has to think, oh yeah, this is a Jew, then he is incurring the anger of God. Oh yeah, this is a Christian, this is a misguided person.”
Al-Deeb’s candid, informed observations expose how demonizing the so-called “radical Muslim Brotherhood ideology,” epitomized by Qaradawi, is yet another deliberately craven and cynical strategy to avoid discussion of the impact of canonical, mainstream Islam.