The ʿUlamāʾ and the Arab Uprisings 2011-13: Considering Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the ‘Global Mufti,’ between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Legal Tradition, and Qatari Foreign Policy

David H. Warren

Abstract: This article aims to explore emerging trends for the Sunni religious elite and the Islamic legal tradition in the new context of the Arab Uprisings by focusing on Yusuf al-Qaradawi, arguably the most prominent of these ʿulamāʾ alive today. The article will follow al-Qaradawi’s articulation, transmission and reconstruction of the Islamic legal tradition in his own discourse as he has attempted to negotiate the politically fraught contexts of the Arab Uprisings while also maintaining his horizontal commitments to a diverse base of supporters be they the wider Arab Muslim public, the Muslim Brotherhood or indeed the Qatari royal family. The article will focus on al-Qaradawi’s highly publicised interventions and fatwas in relation to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria from the perspective of Islamic studies, and also draw on personal interviews with al-Qaradawi, his personal staff, as well as supplementary media. In so doing, the article will elucidate al-Qaradawi and his colleagues’ attempts, ranging from the highly creative to the markedly conservative, to respond to unfolding events through the legal tradition and play an increasingly active role in the public sphere while their own status simultaneously becomes ever more vulnerable and unstable.

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