Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi—one of the most influential Islamic clerics in the world, author of over 100 books on Muslim doctrine, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood—maintains that Muslims must obey the commands of Islam's prophet Muhammad, even unto murder. This would be the same Dr. Qaradawi that American academics like Georgetown professor John Esposito praise for engaging in a "reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism, and human rights."
Missed in the West, Qaradawi made this declaration two years ago on his popular Arabic program, Al-Sharia wa Al-Haya ("Sharia and Life"), broadcast by al-Jazeera to an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide.
Towards the end of the show, the host asked Qaradawi what he thought about the fact that Sheikh Ahmad 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 erupted as follows:
No scholar of Islam or even 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. For instance, before a large Christian gathering in Syria, where he was a guest speaker, 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 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 we possess—and which are many centuries older than the Quran itself—were "corrupted" (to include, for instance, the aforementioned fundamentals of Christianity). Thus the only "authentic" remnants of Christianity and Judaism are the ones Muhammad narrated in the Quran—where we meet many doppelgangers, like Isa, a very different "Jesus" who was never crucified and will return to break all Christian crucifixes and kill all pigs.
Indeed, 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," based on the Hebrew Moses, 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 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.
However, the Green Man does strange things—randomly killing a young boy and destroying the boat of 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.
Such is the alternate worldview and value system of Islam. Just as Islam introduced parallel characters based on Christian and Jewish figures, so did it introduce a parallel system of ethics and morality—one not to be questioned, for, as the Quran's Green Man shows, who are we mortals to know what good these ostensibly bizarre or murderous actions will lead to? Only the prophet of Allah knows—hence why he must be blindly obeyed, even if he commands you to murder.
Which leads to another parallel, one lethal in its implications: Just as a Western general's orders—including to kill—are not open to question by his soldiers, in Islam, the orders of "general" Muhammad are not open to question by the world's 1 billion plus Muslims, all of whom become, according to top Islamic scholar Qaradawi, Islam's "soldiers," ever ready to kill for their prophet-general.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.