Al Qaradawi and the Pope

The Pope has been surprisingly impolitic:

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God,” he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.”

He has evidently upset a fair number of people, including the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, Al Qaradawi:

Our hands are outstretched and our religion calls for peace, not for war, for love not for hatred, for tolerance, not for fanaticism, for knowing each other and not for disavowing each other.

We condemn this and we want to know the explanation of this and what is intended by this. We call on the pope, the pontiff, to apologise to the Islamic nation because he has insulted its religion and Prophet, its faith and Sharia without any justification.”

I might mischievously argue that is reassuring to hear a Pope whose last job was running a particularly activist Holy Office of the Inquisition (or, as it was rebranded, the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”) condemning the spreading of faith at the point of a sword. That said, the Catholic Church today is not given to requiring “violence and threats” in pursuit of its religious and political aims.

Not so Qaradawi, who as you will remember, provided the religious ruling which allowed female suicide murderers to travel – unchaperoned if necessary – to murder civilians:

When Jihad becomes an Individual Duty, as when the enemy seizes the Muslim territory, a woman becomes entitled to take part in it alongside men. Jurists maintained that: When the enemy assaults a given Muslim territory, it becomes incumbent upon all its residents to fight against them to the extent that a woman should go out even without the consent of her husband, a son can go too without the permission of his parent, a slave without the approval of his master, and the employee without the leave of his employer.

As for the point that carrying out this operation may involve woman’s travel from place to another without a Mahram, we say that a woman can travel to perform Hajj in the company of other trustworthy women and without the presence of any Mahram as long as the road is safe and secured. Travel, nowadays, is no longer done through deserts or wilderness, instead, women can travel safely in trains or by air.

Concerning the point on Hijab, a woman can put on a hat or anything else to cover her hair. Even when necessary, she may take off her Hijab in order to carry out the operation, for she is going to die in the Cause of Allah and not to show off her beauty or uncover her hair. I don’t see any problem in her taking off Hijab in this case.

To conclude, I think the committed Muslim women in Palestine have the right to participate and have their own role in Jihad and to attain martyrdom.”

The thing is this.

If you go around encouraging and legitimising the religiously motivated murder of civilians, then people will think you’re an intolerant, hateful fanatic. It also kind of undermines your position, rhetorically, if you want to condemn another religious leader for suggesting that it is far better to “reason properly, without violence and threats” than – say – issuing religious edicts exhorting women to the slaughter of civilians.