Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi — the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who is now helping Egypt draft its new constitution, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and author of over 100 books on Muslim doctrine — maintains that Muslims must obey the commands of Islam's prophet, even to murder. This is the same Dr. Qaradawi that American academics such as Georgetown professor John Esposito praise for engaging in a "reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism, and human rights."
Qaradawi made this declaration, missed in the West, two years ago on his popular Arabic program, Al-Sharia wa Al-Haya ("Sharia and Life"), broadcast worldwide by al-Jazeera to an estimated audience of 60 million.
Towards the end of the show, the host asked Qaradawi what he thought of the fact that Sheikh Admad Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, had earlier said to an American delegation: "If [Muslim prophet] Muhammad asked me to reject Christianity or Judaism, I would have rejected him." Visibly agitated, Qaradawi answered as follows:
No scholar of Islam, or even an average Muslim would ever say such words. If you believe that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, then you must obey him—for he does not command except that which is good. So, even if he tells you to kill, you must— … The story about our prophet Musa [Moses], when al-Khidr killed the boy and Musa said "you killed and you did!," But then he [Khidr] revealed why he killed the boy, and why he punctured the boat. So we cannot distort the facts in order to please the people. Let the people be satisfied with the Truth [Sharia teachings], not the false.
Syria's grand mufti said many other things concerning goodwill for Christians that roused Qaradawi's ire. Addressing a large Christian gathering in Syria, where he was a guest speaker, for instance, he insisted that there were no differences between Christians and Muslims:
If Christianity is about believing in one God, so I believe in one God; if Christianity is about believing in Jesus, so I believe in Jesus; if Christianity is about believing in the New Testament, so I believe in the New Testament; if Christianity is about believing in the Old Testament, so I believe in the Old Testament; if Christianity is about believing that Mary was a pure virgin, so I believe she was a pure virgin, untouched by man; and if Christianity is about believing in the resurrection, so I believe in the resurrection—so what is the difference between me and Christians?
Qaradawi offered to correct Muslim doctrine in response to this otherwise egalitarian talk, confirming that, yes, Islam believes all these things—but according to its own narratives, not the ones recorded in the Bible, which, as the Quran teaches, have been distorted. Hence, if Muslims believe all those things that the Syrian grand mufti mentioned, they do not believe in the fundamentals of Christianity—including the Trinity, Christ's divinity or resurrection, and atonement of sins—hence they reject Christianity, as understood and practiced by over a billion Christians.
As for believing in the Old and New Testaments, the Quran claims that, once upon a time there were "true" versions, but that the current texts — which are older than the Quran itself—were "corrupted" to include, for examples, the fundamentals of Christianity. Thus the only "authentic" remnants of Christianity and Judaism are the ones Muhammad narrated in the Quran—where we meet many characters whose names are familiar, such as Isa [Jesus], but he a very different "Jesus": the Quran's Jesus was never crucified and will return to break all Christian crucifixes and kill all pigs.
It is this Muslim proclivity to create "parallel" characters, based on biblical figures, that explains Qaradawi's justification to murder people in blind obedience to the prophet. His reference to "Musa," is a reference to a story—possibly rooted in the 3rd century Alexander Romance and popularized by the 1970s martial arts movie, Circle of Iron—which, nonetheless, occurs in Quran, and so must be accepted literally.
According to the Quran's narrative (18:65-82), Musa seeks out al-Khidr—"the Green Man," who possesses powers of sight—and asks if he may follow him and learn from him. Al-Khidr reluctantly agrees, on condition that Musa not question anything he, the Green Man, does, until such time as the latter chooses to reveal the significance of his actions.
The Green Man, however, does strange things—such as randomly killing a young boy and destroying the boat that belonged to the people who helped give them passage—to which Musa demands immediate answers. The Green Man eventually explains that he killed the boy because his parents were good Muslims, while the boy was an infidel who would have burdened them with his transgressions; and he destroyed the boat of the good people because a king was about to seize it anyway.
Further, just as Islam introduced a parallel universe inhabited by figures based on Christianity and Judaism, it also introduced a parallel system of ethics and morality—one, as the Quran's Green Man shows, not to be questioned.
Just as a Western general's orders—including to kill—are not open to question by his soldiers, so, in Islam, according to Qaradawi, one of Islam's most authoritative voices, are the orders of Muhammad not open to question by the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, Islam's "soldiers."
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.