Influential Muslim religious leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi dies aged 96

Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood and defender of Arab Spring revolts, died on Monday at age 96, according to a post on his official Twitter account.

Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian who was based in Qatar, was the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and also a spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood. Born in Egypt in 1926, Qaradawi spent much of his life in Qatar, where he became one of the most recognisable and influential Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world thanks to regular appearances on Qatar’s Al Jazeera network.

Qaradawi’s sermons offered a counterweight to the radical ideologies espoused by al-Qaeda and Islamic state, while supporting militant movements in other parts of the region. He was highly critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as the Saudi leadership, fuelling a rift with Doha.

Al-Qaradawi was also highly critical of the coup that overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013. Morsi had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood before he became president, and was backed by the movement. Al-Qaradawi was unable to return to Egypt following Morsi’s overthrow due to his opposition to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The religious leader had previously been in exile from Egypt prior to the 2011 revolution that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak. An Egyptian court sentenced him to death in absentia in 2015 alongside other Brotherhood leaders. His daughter was also detained by Egyptian authorities on terrorism charges in 2017 until 2021, while his son-in-law remains detained, their lawyer said. They deny the charges.

Image Credit: Twitter