The prestigious Al-Azhar Foundation in Cairo and its head, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, have ignored the opportunity to express condolences on the death of the former head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Dr Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Arabi21 has reported. Neither Al-Azhar nor El-Tayeb have commented on Al-Qaradawi’s death even though he is one of the institution’s best-known graduates.
Critics on Twitter have pointed out that Al-Azhar and its head sent condolences following the recent death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. However, one Al-Azhar scholar, Muhammad Al-Saghir, published photos of WhatsApp messages that he said had been sent to imams and preachers by the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) warning them not to perform funeral prayers for Al-Qaradawi or speak of his virtues in mosques.
Media in Egypt’s allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, meanwhile, have attacked Sheikh Al-Qaradawi. The Saudi Okaz newspaper published an offensive “infographic” about the Egyptian-born scholar and described him as “seditious” and a “Mufti of terrorism”. Such claims have been challenged by commentators, including MEMO columnist Yvonne Ridley.
In the UAE, Al-Ain claimed that “most” social media comments attacked the late Sheikh rather than calling for mercy from the Almighty for him.
It is noteworthy that Sheikh Al-Qaradawi was respected by the official and religious institutions in Saudi Arabia and the UAE until 2017, when the two countries, along with Egypt and Bahrain, placed him on their “terrorist” lists. This probably had more to do with him living and working in Qatar, against which the group of governments led by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi launched a boycott in the same year, rather than anything else.