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The fatwa of Shaykh Yûsuf al-Qaradâwî against Gaddafi

Translation by Yahya M. Michot with the collaboration of Samy Metwally
HARTFORD SEMINARY. 15 MARCH 2011

Sustained non-violent, popular protests forced the Tunisian dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to
resign on 14 January 2011, and on 11 February, less than a month later, likewise, his Egyptian
counterpart, Hosni Mubarak. On 15 February 2011, the Libyan people started a similar revolt in order
to bring down its local house of tyranny, Muammar Gaddafi & Sons. Since his military coup against
King Idris in 1969, the “Brother Leader” and permanent “Guide of the Revolution” had indeed ruled
his people in the most ruthlessly absolutist style. He reacted straightaway to the present insurrection in
the way that, earlier in his reign of terror, he had dealt with other manifestations of popular discontent
or rebellion: indiscriminate and unrestrained use of force. In this case, he hired and sent out foreign
mercenaries to harass and shoot down his own people and even ordered his military planes to bomb
them.
On 21 February, less than a week into the Libyan insurrection and only three days after celebrating
the victory of the Egyptian revolution in a sermon at the Friday prayer in Cairo’s Tahrir Square,1 the
84-year-old Shaykh Yûsuf al-Qaradâwî declared himself with full religious seriousness to be on the
side of the Libyan people against their dictator. During a twenty-three minute interview with Al Jazeera
in Doha (Qatar), he did not only condemn Gaddafi’s handling of the popular uprising against him but
also pronounced a fatwa calling for his killing.
To hear a very influential Muslim religious scholar publicly demanding the execution of a human
being may remind some of the fatwa issued by Imâm Khomeini in 1989 against the Indian-born British
novelist Salman Rushdie. However, the differences between the two situations are too many and too
obvious for any comparison to be worthwhile. Still, if some are, as they claim to be, shocked by
Shaykh al-Qaradâwî’s call to kill the Libyan dictator, what is it that shocks them? Is it the public
character of his pronouncement or its character as a religious ruling? If the first, should he rather have
imitated the various political leaders who, in the West and elsewhere, have often enough commanded
the elimination of individual political enemies, and indeed still do so, but do it by means of clandestine

1
See Y. Michot, The Tahrir Square Sermon of Shaykh Yûsuf al-Qaradâwî. Translation, with the collaboration of
S. Metwally, 25 February 2011, 11 pp, accessible at: //hartsem.edu/documents/Qardawi.pdf.

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operations using “secret agents”? As the shaykh disposes no power of agency except through the
authority of his religious word, secrecy would defeat the purpose. In the second case, why should a
Muslim spiritual leader be blamed for adopting the kind of position which so many wish that Pope Pius
XII had adopted when Hitler started massacring the Jewish population of his Third Reich?
Some might object, on procedural grounds, that Shaykh al-Qaradâwî’s pronouncement was not a
proper fatwa:1 it was issued during a televised interview and not preceded by any explicit demand for a
religious opinion on the Libyan situation. Moreover, it called for the execution of a man who had just
been judged, in the very same interview, irrational and mad by the scholar condemning him. Would it
not have been more appropriate to demand that Gaddafi be committed for insanity? And what of the
right of a criminal to be judged by a court? Everybody might not agree with this or that formal aspect
of Shaykh al-Qaradâwî’s initiative but the fact is that other Muslim religious authorities soon joined
their voices to his to condemn Gaddafi or pronounce a death sentence on him.2 During the sermon
which Shaykh al-Qaradâwî preached on 25 February 2011 at the Friday prayer in the ‘Umar b. al-
Khattâb mosque in Doha,3 he confirmed his fatwa on the lawfulness of shedding the mad dictator’s
blood. And on this occasion, he made clearer the legal reasons of his judgment:
“Indeed aftaytu, I have issued this fatwa: [to shed] the blood of this man is lawful (halâl). His blood
is halâl, for two reasons. Firstly, because of the massacres which he has perpetrated against the Libyan
people (sha‘b) – and what I have told you of the Abu Salim prison massacre4 is enough. And, on the
other hand, as a preventive measure against what may possibly happen [if he is not stopped]. This man,
it is not unlikely that he set fire to the whole of Libya for the sake of himself. He said so: ‘I will fight
until the last drop of my blood, until the last cartridge in my gun, and until the last of my soldiers!’ He
will fight?! Fight whom? He will fight the people (sha‘b), and he doesn’t mind striking at it with
prohibited weapons! In the past, he struck at the Jebel Akhdar with napalm,5 and it became like barren
ground, white. And he wouldn’t care about using biological weapons, chemical ones, any weapon
among the weapons of mass destruction! It is not unlikely that he would use them against this proud
and noble people (sha‘b). Therefore, it is from out of the jurisprudence of balancing (muwâzanât), and
the jurisprudence of consequential outcomes (ma‘âlât), and the jurisprudence of priorities
(awwaliyyât), that we sacrifice one man for the sake of the salvation of a people (sha‘b). Let us not

1
On fatwas, see M. Kh. Masud, B. Messick, D. S. Powers (eds.), Islamic Legal Interpretation. Muftis and their Fatwas
(Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University press, 1996), p. 3–32: “Muftis, Fatwas, and Islamic Legal Interpretation”. See also
N. Ahmad, Sheikh Qaradawi’s Fatwa Calling for Gaddafi’s Death Will Not Lead to Justice, on al-Talib (website
introducing itself as “the first and largest Muslim student news magazine in America”), 28 February 2011, accessible at:
http://al-talib.org/2011/02/28/sheikh-qaradawi%E2%80%99s-fatwa-calling-for-gaddafi%E2%80%99s-death-will-not-
lead-to-justice/.
2
See E. Mekay, Too Late, Qaddafi Seeks the Aid of Muslim Clerics, in The New York Times, 2 March 2011, accessible at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/world/africa/03iht-M03-FATWA.html.
3
See Al-Qaradâwî: Uqsimu anna thawra Libya muntasira bi-idhn Allâh [Al-Qaradâwî: I swear that the Libyan revolution
shall be victorious, with the permission of God], 27 February 2011, accessible at: http://www.qaradawi.net/site/topics/
article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=7925&version=1&template_id=104&parent_id=15.
4
In 1996, some 1270 detainees of this top security prison in Tripoli were killed by Gaddafi’s regime; see Wikipedia, art.
Abu Salim Prison, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Salim_Prison.
5
Jebal Akhdar, i.e. the “Green Mountain”, a forested mountainous plateau in the north-east of Libya. In July 1996,
Gaddafi’s airforce used napalm bombs against maquisards entrenched in this region.

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expose an entire people (sha‘b) to danger because of this man! Whoever is able to be drawn nearer to
God by killing him, may he do so, and may his blood rest upon my shoulders! By God, this man is a
criminal man, truly!”1
The anti-Gaddafi fatwa of Shaykh al-Qaradâwî provides a remarkable illustration of the way
jurisdictional magisterium is managed in contemporary Sunni Islam. There is no caliphate. No state
enjoys universal, uncontested leadership in Islamic matters – not even Saudi Arabia. No national
official religious institution is recognized as having an undisputed authoritativeness – not even al-
Azhar. The voices that the Umma often prefers to listen to originate from other quarters: charismatic
scholars and activists independent of established political powers; transnational spiritual networks and
movements; international organizations. Shaykh al-Qaradâwî in some way embodies these three
dimensions in virtue of his personal qualities and endeavours, his closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood,
and his role as chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars. His credentials are thus
impressive and his religious opinions have a particular weight. For many Muslims across the world, his
fatwas represent an accurate, legitimate, orthodox actualization in our time of the teachings of Islam. In
situations of crisis, when silence should not be an option, it is ulema like him who are expected to
speak for Islam, to command good and forbid evil, to guide the believers, and who have the greatest
chances to be widely heard and have influence. By calling for the killing of Gaddafi, Shaykh al-
Qaradâwî didn’t in fact do anything other than fill his obligations as a renowned mufti and meet the
expectations of a great number of believers.
Religious scholars undoubtedly have a role to play in the Muslim city. That religious authorities
withdraw from public life and keep silent about the errings of those in power is a situation as
unacceptable as the fact, for rulers, of using force regardless of the ethical restraint imposed by the
religion. Between these two extremes, a middle way exists which Islam promotes by demanding the
compliance of all authorities to the Sharî‘a and obliging the ulema to be involved in the affairs of the
community. This notably includes defending the rights of the believers against all form of injustice or
despotism, and on a regular basis reminding the authorities in power of their canonical duties, without
fearing the criticism of anyone except God. This religious quality control of the highest levels of
governance generally takes the form of public or private exhortations and admonitions. It involves a
critical loyalty which can also be understood as a middle way between two extremes; in this case
unrestricted, absolute, obedience to the authorities in power, and armed rebellion against them (khurûj
‘alâ l-sultân: “coming out” against the power).
As “sixty years of an unjust sultan are better than a single night without sultan”, this critical loyalty
often entails patience and endurance for long periods. But when a ruler patently and violently breaks
the contract linking him to the people, the situation changes radically. When it is not the people who
rise in arms against a regime but it is the regime which starts massacring them – because of peaceful
demonstrations for example – that power loses it legitimacy and religious scholars must intervene to
defend the believers. According to the gravity of the massacres then perpetrated by the tyrant or

1
Minutes 35:25 to 37:40 of the complete recording of this sermon accessible at: http://www.onislam.net/arabic/
index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=129181&itemid=0&thanks=20.

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expected to be commanded by him, the ulema may even find themselves religiously obliged to call for
his killing.
Regarding Shaykh al-Qaradâwî’s anti-Gaddafi fatwa, some analysts may at this point claim that this
fatwa marks the come-back of an Islamic political theology of the kind that led to the assassination of
the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat on 6 October 1981.1 For anyone keen to underline the contrast
between this assassination and the recent peaceful popular toppling of Sadat’s successor, Hosni
Mubarak, and seeing therein the sign of a post-Islamist maturation on the way (sunna) of God and of
the Prophet,2 such a relapse into condoning or, indeed, commanding tyrannicide, might seem rather
embarrassing. However, if the events of October 1981 in Egypt and the recent anti-Gaddafi fatwa of
Shaykh al-Qaradâwî are compared in more depth, at least two reasons soon emerge that make it
difficult to maintain that they are of a similar nature and that some old demon has resurfaced after
having been mistakenly supposed extinct.
First reason. One can of course always dispute the claims of anyone to authoritativeness in modern
Sunni Islam. It nevertheless seems obvious that the octogenarian, main stream and widely respected
Shaykh al-Qaradâwî has better scholarly credentials in the traditional Islamic sciences than was the
case with the young, radical and marginal Egyptian electrical engineer ‘Abd al-Salâm Faraj (1954-
1982), the author of the notorious pamphlet which inspired the assassins of Anwar Sadat: The
Neglected Duty (al-Farîdat al-ghâ’iba).3 Whereas Faraj was encouraging tyrannicide on the basis of a
poor understanding of the Islamic tradition in general and of a misinterpretation of the anti-Mongol
fatwas of Ibn Taymiyya in particular,4 Shaykh al-Qaradâwî justifies his anti-Gaddafi fatwa, as we have
read above, by different forms of traditional Islamic jurisprudence, balancing the pros and cons,
pondering the expected effects and consequences one relatively to the other, weighting the priorities…
Second reason. In the case of ‘Abd al-Salâm Faraj’s The Neglected Duty and of Khaled Islambouli’s
surprise assault against, and killing of, Anwar Sadat on 6 October 1981, one could rightly speak of an
“armed coming out against the sultan”. In the case of the Libyan revolution and of Shaykh al-
Qaradâwî’s fatwa calling for the killing of Gaddafi, it is not a khurûj ‘alâ l-sultân which we have
witnessed but, rather, a khurûj al-sultân ‘alâ l-sha‘b, an “armed coming out of the power against its
own people”. In this case, as explained above by Shaykh al-Qaradâwî, it is the religion which demands
that “we sacrifice one man for the sake of the salvation of a people (sha‘b)”. Or, as he puts it during his
interview with Al Jazeera: “Would you sacrifice an entire people (sha‘b) for the sake of a madman?
[…] As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b).”
As rightly pointed by N. Ahmad, “Sheikh Qaradawi may not be advocating or encouraging Muslims
to become vigilantes, but such a fatwa can be easily misconstrued, manipulated, and used against any
leader (or any person for that matter) who is opposed, whether they are an oppressor or not.”5 Indeed,

1
See G. Kepel, The Prophet & Pharaoh: Muslim Extremism in Egypt (London: Al Saqi Books, 1985).
2
See Y. Michot, An Islamic Revolution, 18 February 2011, 4 pp, accessible at: http://macdonald.hartsem.edu/revolt.html.
3
See J. J. G. JANSEN, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat’s Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East
(New York: Macmillan - London: Collier Macmillan, 1986).
4
See for example Y. Michot, Ibn Taymiyya. Muslims under non-Muslim Rule (Oxford: Interface, 2006), p. 27–29, 49–57,
101–107.
5
N. Ahmad, Sheikh Qaradawi’s Fatwa; see above, p. 2, n. 1.

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everybody should always remember that a fatwa is issued with a particular argumentation for a singular
time, place and situation. Just as it may not be ignored, it is also impermissible to transform it into a
decontextualized, universal rule of the religion, serviceable in all weathers.
During his Friday prayer sermon in Doha on 25 February 2011, Shaykh al-Qaradâwî swore that the
Libyan revolution would succeed.
“I say to this man1 that he has fallen. He has written the instrument of his fall and of his end by
himself. Surely, Gaddafi is over, has ended, has fallen, and has exited history, to the rubbish bin of
history. History shall sweep him out with its broom. And this is what happens to all falsehood. ‘And
say: “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished away. Surely, falsehood is ever bound to vanish” ’
(Q. 17:81). ‘Nay, but We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it does break its head and lo! it vanishes.
And woe shall be yours for that which you describe’ (Q. 21:18). ‘As for the scum, it passes away as a
worthless thing; while, as for that which is useful to mankind, it remains in the earth’ (Q. 13:17). I
swear to you, as I have sworn before to your brothers in Egypt, the day in which frustration set in,
when Mubarak said what he said – people had been expecting that he would give up; he didn’t give up,
and despair, desperation and frustration became general among people. I preached the sermon, on the
Friday before the last, and from this pulpit, I swore, I swore that Mubarak was over and that the
revolution would be victorious, that the 25 January revolution would be victorious; and it was
victorious! And now, I swear, I swear that the 17 February revolution in Libya will be victorious, that
its youth will be victorious, and that this nation (umma), the nation of Libya and the people (sha‘b) of
Libya will obtain their right, with their heads held high if God wills. Why do I swear? I swear because I
believe in the ways (sunan) of God. The ways of God rule. The ways of God decide. The ways of God
are fixed. The ways of God do not change. ‘You will not find for God’s way any substitute, nor will
you find in God’s way any mutation’ (Q. 35:43). The Libyan people (sha‘b) has changed from inside, it
has become another people (sha‘b). This is one of the distinguishing features of these new revolutions:
they are revolutions that fashion the peoples (sha‘b). You will see the Libyan people after this
revolution, just as you will see the Egyptian people (sha‘b) after this revolution! The people (sha‘b)
changed from inside; it was thus inevitable that God change life from the outside, in conformity with
the Qur’ânic2 way which the Qur’ân confirms when it says: ‘God does not change the condition of a
folk until they first change that which is in themselves’ (Q. 13:11). I believe in this victory [for the
revolution], and I swear that it will happen, because I believe in the fixed way of God, the way of God
which does not change, and because I believe in the promise of God, Who does not lie. God has
promised us many times that He would help the believers to victory – ‘And it was ever incumbent upon
Us to help the believers to victory’ (Q. 30:47) – and that He would seize the unjust.”3
Now, in mid-March 2011, as I write the last lines of this introduction, the prospect of a near victory
of the Libyan people over Gaddafi appears unfortunately to be receding. I reflect in awe and admiration

1
I.e. Gaddafi.
2
“Qur’ânic”, likely a slip for “divine”.
3
Minutes 43:01 to 46:48 of the recording of this sermon accessible at: http://www.onislam.net/arabic/
index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=129181&itemid=0&thanks=20.

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upon the courage of the thousands of victims of his mad dictatorship and God is the One Whose help I
seek.
As far as I know, there is no complete English translation of the interview with Al Jazeera during
which Shaykh al-Qaradâwî issued his anti-Gaddafi fatwa.1 As for the various excerpts posted in Arabic
on the website of the Shaykh,2 they have been too thoroughly edited to give a faithful representation of
what he then said. The translation offered here covers the entire length of this interview and includes
the four and a half minutes of invocations that conclude it. It is based on two video recordings of the
interview originally broadcast live by Al Jazeera and now circulating on the web,3 not on written
transcripts. As with my earlier translation of Shaykh al-Qaradâwî’s Tahrir Square sermon, I am most
grateful to one of our Hartford Seminary students, Samy Metwally, for helping me to make out and
understand various words. My gratitude also goes to Dr. Jamil Qureshi for revising my English yet
again. That said, any deficiencies or short-comings that remain in the article are due to me. The
questions and interventions of the two Al Jazeera journalists are shown in italic.

TRANSLATION

— Here with us in the studio we have shaykh Yûsuf al-Qaradâwî, the chairman of the International
Union for Muslim Scholars. Welcome here with us, in the studio, your eminence the shaykh. The last
developments today seem to be the use of aerial weapons, war aircrafts, against these unarmed citizens
in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Mirage jets that are not little aircrafts. These fighter jets carry missiles
and anti-armour machine guns which are now used against those demonstrators. What have you to say
about what is happening?
— In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
The praise be to God! And blessing and peace on the Messenger of God! The praise be to God, the
Lord of the worlds, the outcome to the God-fearing, and no enmity except against the unjusts!
Now, to our topic. What can a human being say? In reality, I do not want to say anything that I
would address to Gaddafi [himself], because a human being only discourses with those who are
rational. Discourse is done with someone who is rational. As for someone who is not rational, one
doesn’t discourse with him. Now, this man isn’t rational any more. It is a long time now that he has
been portrayed as mad. Deriving from his madness is the fact that, as we have seen, he wants to be a
philosopher, the author of a theory, like Marx and Mao Tse-tung – the Third Theory. We have also seen
his bewildering behaviour. We have become an object of ridicule. He has become an object of ridicule.
In every meeting in the Arab summits, he makes people laugh; and in the world he is out there with his
embroidered robes and his tent which he carries around to all parts of the world, whatever the costs,
even though he is a guest of those by whom he comes to dwell. And the life that he has imposed on the

1
A few passages are translated on the website of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), 21 February 2011,
accessible at: http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/2819.htm.
2
Al-Qaradâwî yuftî bi-qatl al-Qadhdhâfî “al-mal‘ûn” [Al-Qaradâwî issues a fatwa for the killing of the cursed Qaddafi],
22 February 2011, accessible at: http://www.qaradawi.net/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=7915&version=1
&template_id=116&parent_id=114.
3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d_L8hRZ1vY&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReDuJO0cx
Wc&feature=related.

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Libyan society! In this society, there are no council of deputies, consultative council, no parties, no
institutions. He is the institutions! He is everything, and he is nothing, as he keeps repeating: “I am not
a president!” — What are you then?! You are everything! If you are, you, the people (sha‘b), where is
your compassion for the people (sha‘b)? If you are the father, the leader, as you claim, does a father kill
his children? Does the leader kill his soldiers? And does he kill them in that manner? We have seen
nobody [do that], not even Israel when it struck at Ghazza – and we say that those Jews are described
as hard [by God]! “Then, even after that, your hearts were hardened and became as rocks, or worse
than rocks, for hardness” (Q. 2:74). The Jews did not do that! — You strike at the people (sha‘b) with
airplanes?! The civilians?! The people on the roads?! You give power over them to mercenaries – those
who devour the wealth of the Libyan people (sha‘b)?! Why don’t you take as soldiers people from your
country, your kin, your people (sha‘b)? You protect yourself by means of others and you give them
people’s money?! All this proves that that man is not rational any more. — For yourself?! In order to
prolong your term even more! Forty-two years?! I used to say that the Egyptian people (sha‘b) is a very
patient people (sha‘b): it endured Mubarak thirty years! The Libyan people (sha‘b) thus had even more
patience: it endured that disgrace for forty-two years! Eventually, it was inevitable that the people
(sha‘b) would make a revolution.

The important fact is that Gaddafi and his like do not read history, and when they do read it, they do
not understand it, and when they do understand it, they do not draw lessons. They do not understand
that time has turned, that the earth revolves, that the heavenly sphere pursues its course, that people
change. We now live in the world of the Internet, the world of Facebook. People say that this earth has
become so small that it has become one single village. People know what is happening in it – in the
various parts of the world. In a village, it is possible that one may not know what is happening therein,
when it is a bit big, until the day after [it happens]. As for us, we follow the events at the moment they
are happening. This world has changed but those [people like Gaddafi] do not change. He thinks that he
will continue ruling his country, which he despises, to which he gives no weight and which he doesn’t

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consider of any account. But this world has changed and he has seen what happened around him. The
Arabs say: “Happy the one who is warned by another,” i.e. the one who takes a warning from the
events around him. And him, he has seen his two companions, in the east and in the west: both of them
have fallen, Zine el-Abidine and Mubarak.
— And his son, O shaykh, says: “We are neither Zine el-Abidine nor Mubarak. We will fight until
the last man and the blood will flow…”
— Who will he kill? Will he kill his people (sha‘b)? Is this heroism? Does heroism consist in that
you kill your people (sha‘b) and that you strike at it with airplanes? In that you strike at it with missiles
and that you give power over it to mercenaries who do not mind as they are not from the same nation?
Their nation is another nation. Their religion is another religion. Their language is another language.
They don’t mind killing. Any army in this world, when it kills, restrains itself, because those people are
its kin, its brothers, its sons, its relatives. In the days of the Shah, the army and the people (sha‘b)
started [fighting] and, afterward, the army restrained itself. As for this one, he brings people from
abroad in order that they may kill. And then, when they do not find anybody in the streets, they enter
the houses. They enter the houses to rape the women, to dishonour, to desecrate. Has this man got an
atom of honour, or faith, or manhood? He gives power to foreigners over his kin?! I say that this man
doesn’t deserve from me that I should address him. And I thought that his son had an atom of
rationality, or an atom of faith! His name is “Sword of Islam” (Sayf al-Islam) although he is among the
swords of the Jâhiliyya, [the pre-Islamic Age of Ignorance]. Indeed, he wants to pit people against one
another, and so the tribes. And I praise God that the tribes threw them into the rubbish bin and cast
them with the one same bow. The tribes all joined with the people (sha‘b) and the entire people (sha‘b)
is making a revolution.
And here, I turn to the army, the Libyan army. The Libyan army is the body which has to furnish
assistance. I don’t think that the Libyan army has less patriotism, or has less awareness and has less
discernment than the Tunisian army. The Tunisian army, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali demanded from them
that they protect him if he was evicted and they didn’t do so — it was Ben ‘Ammâr or…
— Rachid Ammar.1
— The Egyptian army, the Egyptian army, Hosni Mubarak demanded from them on one of the
Fridays that they strike at the demonstrators, I mean, that they open fire on them, but the army didn’t
agree to open fire on people and an official spokesman said on behalf of the army: “We, we respect the
legitimate demands of the people (sha‘b) and we will not use force against the demonstrators as long as
their ways remain peaceful.”
This is why I turn here to the army, the Libyan army which, definitely, is an army that has faith,
manhood, perspicacity, in order to tell it not to strike at its nation. Is there anybody who kills his kin?
Would you sacrifice an entire people (sha‘b) for the sake of a madman? This is something to which, I

1
On 13 January 2011, the chief-of-staff of the Tunisian army, Rachid Ammar (born 1947 or 1948), refused to obey Zine
el-Abidine Ben Ali’s order to shoot the protesters contesting his dictatorship; see Wikipedia, art. Rachid Ammar, at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachid_Ammar.

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shall say to my brothers, to my sons, the commanders, the officers and the soldiers of the Libyan army,
not to listen nor to obey. To listen and to obey, in this case, is prohibited (harâm)! The Prophet, upon
him be blessing and peace, instructs the community by saying: “To listen and to obey is a duty on a
person, in respect to what he loves and what he detests, as long as he is not commanded an act of
disobedience [to God] (ma‘siya). When he is commanded an act of disobedience [to God], there shall
be no listening nor obeying. No obedience to a creature within disobedience to the Creator!” The one
who says to you, “Strike at the people (sha‘b)! Strike at the people (sha‘b) with airplanes!” I will say to
you: “No! Do not strike at the people (sha‘b)! Strike at the one who has commanded that to you!”
To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whomever among them is
able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa
(uftî): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b)
and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his
evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do
so! It is not permissible (lâ yajûzu) to any officer, be he a officer pilot, or a ground forces officer, or an
air forces officer, or any other, it is not permissible to obey this man within disobedience (ma‘siya) [to
God], in evil (sharr), in injustice (zulm), in oppression (baghî ‘alâ) of [His] servants.
— And indeed, your eminence the shaykh, there are some figures of the army who have preferred to
join the demonstrators. They have dissociated themselves from the army, or, to put it more exactly,
from the regime, and have preferred joining the demonstrators. There is someone who said: “Someone
who treats a people (sha‘b) like a colonized people, must necessarily be dealt with like a colonizer.” In
this regard, what is your message to the Libyan people (sha‘b)?
— By God, my message to the Libyan people (sha‘b)… I say to it: “Persevere in what you are
doing! Endure! God Most High gives these recommendations to the believers: ‘O you who believe!
Endure, outdo all others in endurance, remain steadfast!’ (Q. 3:200) Whatever the sacrifices may be,
there is no sacrifice too high for the sake of freedom. Freedom has a price. We must inevitably pay its
price, especially when we deal with despots (jabbâr), unjust [rulers], pharaohs. We must inevitably
endure. God Most High said: “If you are suffering, surely they suffer even as you suffer and you hope
from God that for which they cannot hope!” (Q. 4:104). Whoever falls now from among us falls a
martyr, with his Lord. “Think not of those, who are killed in the way of God, as dead. Nay, they are
alive and provided sustenance from their Lord, rejoicing in what God has bestowed on them of His
bounty; they also rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them but are left behind”
(Q. 3:169). The martyrs rejoice for the sake of those who are treading the same path which they have
trodden, completing what they have begun. “They rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined
them…” We, we do not consider the martyrs a loss. The martyr is with his Lord, in an exalted station.
He resides in the highest paradise. I thus recommend to the Libyan people (sha‘b) to continue, and to
regard nothing which it spends on the path of God as too much, and to stand as one single bloc, as God
Most High has said: “God loves those who fight on His path in rank, as if they were a building sealed
in lead” (Q. 61.4). At the moment of the battle, they must unite, without opposition between one tribe
and another, between one city and another, between the east and the west. Everyone must stand against

9
this unjust [tyrant]. This unjust [tyrant], the Libyan people (sha‘b) as a whole must stand against him. I
call on all the Libyans, our brothers whom I know, around Gaddafi, like Dr. Sherif1 and others among
the ministers, all those must curse him. This man has become cursed. He is cursed by the tears of the
orphans, the laments of the mothers of the victims, the cries of the widows, these bloods that we have
seen, these corpses carbonized, burnt up, cut to pieces. All these things will curse this man, pursue him,
and he will come out disgraced if God wills. For him, there is indeed nothing but disgrace. God will
retaliate against him in this world before the hereafter. This is indeed the way (sunna) of God: the
gluttony of the oppressor is fatal. “O mankind! Your oppression is only against yourselves” (Q. 10:23).
Whoever is faulty is only faulty against himself, “and the evil plan shall not beset any save its author”
(Q. 35:43). Now, this one has been unjust with a boundless injustice.

— Shaykh, this [that you have just said] is for the Libyan people (sha‘b)…, sorry…, [but] what
about the obligation to help, on the part of the Arabs? It is assumed that there will be a meeting of the
Arab League. Are you asking something in this context?
— I also want this from the Libyan people (sha‘b), I want from the ambassadors in all parts of the
world, that they disavow this regime, that they reject this regime, that they draw away from it.
Everyone who has the power to speak a word of truth or to do something positive, I call on him not to
put off this matter. Of all the Arab peoples (sha‘b), the first two that I call on are the two peoples
(sha‘b) that God has liberated from the tyrants, the people (sha‘b) of Tunisia and the people (sha‘b) of
Egypt, which are both their neighbours. I call on the two peoples (sha‘b)… To the youth who made a
revolution against the tyrant in Egypt, and who will organize tomorrow a million person march in
protest against the government, I say: “Turn this march into a protest against what is happening in
Libya. Libya, now, is more deserving of a protest, more deserving of a revolution, more deserving of
being helped.” The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He doesn’t forsake him up, nor deserts him.
Whoever forsakes (aslama) his brother in a situation such as this – aslama-hu, i.e. “yields him up” –, it
is not permissible that we yield him up. You must raise your voices! Let’s call on the Arab
governments! Let’s call on the Arab League! Let’s call on the Organization of the Islamic Conference!
Let’s call on the Organization of the African Unity! Let’s call on the world organizations! The United
Nations! Let’s call on all those! Why do I see this strange silence? The entire world should necessarily

1
Dr Mohamed Ahmed Sherif, the Secretary General of the Libyan World Islamic Call Society.

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be shaken! Peoples (sha‘b) are killed in this manner by the hundreds in a few hours and the world
remains silent?! If this was happening in Europe, if it was happening to Israel, the world would stand
up and not remain sitted! Ours, our blood is the cheapest blood. The blood of the Arabs, the blood of
the Muslims is cheap blood. Why doesn’t the world move and do something?
— Thank you.
— Thank you very much, your eminence shaykh Yûsuf al-Qaradâwî, for being present in our studio.
— In front of this unprecedented violence in Libya, are there some last words that you would like to
say?
— First, I would like to say some words about these ignominious crimes. Islam respects the human
soul and the Qur’ân affirms that “someone who kills a soul for other than manslaughter or corruption in
the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind” (Q. 5:32). The Prophet, peace be upon him, even
opens the gates of Gehenna for a woman who kept a cat tied up, didn’t feed it and didn’t let it out to eat
of the vermin of the earth: she let it so until it died.1 The Fire for this woman! This is about a dumb
animal; so, what will you say in the case of an honorable human being? What will you say when this
human being, this man2 is responsible for him, is his shepherd, is responsible for his flock? Does a
shepherd kill the flock? And by means of what does he kill it? He kills it by these Gehennic means that
are prohibited internationally! He kills his people (sha‘b) with that! This is, I say, among the gravest
crimes in the sight of God. I say this to those who are around Gaddafi. Gaddafi, indeed, is not rational.
I say it only to the officers who are around Gaddafi. I read to them this saying of God Most High: “And
whoever kills a believer intentionally, his reward is the Gehenna, in which he shall abide, and God is
wroth on him, has cursed him and has prepared for him an awful torment”(Q. 4:93). The wrath of God,
and the curse of God, and an awful torment from God, Glorified and Exalted is He! And the Prophet
says, God bless him and grant him peace: “Surely, the disparition of this world would be less serious in
the sight of God than the killing of a Muslim without right.”3 I say this to the soldiers, the officers and
the commanders who are carrying out the commands of Gaddafi and are killing their folk. And I say to
the Libyan people (sha‘b), to the Arab people (sha‘b) and to the Islamic people (sha‘b), to all the
Muslims and to all the believers, Muslims and non-Muslims, everyone who believes in God, to turn
towards God with invocations, especially during this night, to invoke God with fervour, with sincerity,
with humility, and in supplication to God, Mighty and Majestic is He, that He retaliate against this
unjust [man], that He hasten to retaliate and that He not grant him any respite. Indeed, he has already

1
See Muslim, Sahîh, Tawba, viii. 98; al-Bukhârî, Sahîh, Bad’ al-khalq, vol. iv, p. 130. On this hadîth, see also Y. Michot,
Ibn Taymiyya. Mécréance et pardon. Textes traduits de l’arabe, introduits et annotés (Beirut: Albouraq, “Écrits spirituels
d’Ibn Taymiyya, 2”, 1426/2005), p. 38–40. O. Bin Laden sometimes also refers to this hadîth. “And it is said in truth of
our Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) in the hadeeth saheeh: ‘A woman has entered hell because of a cat it tied
without giving it food or without letting it eat from the blessings of the earth.’ And that is just because of a cat, so what
about the millions of Muslims that are getting killed?? ” (T. Allouni, A Discussion on the New Crusader Wars with
Usamah bin Laden, part 2, 21 October 2001, accessible at: http://www.terrorisme.net/doc/qaida/001_ubl_interview
_b.htm). See also Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama Bin Laden. Edited and Introduced by B. Lawrence.
Translated by J. Howarth (London–New York: Verso, 2005), p. 266–267 (excerpt of a statement to the Saudi rulers, 16
Dec. 2004).
2
I.e. Gaddafi.
3
See al-Tirmidhî, Sunan, Diyyât, vol. ii, p. 426, no 1414.

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been granted a long, long respite so that he became a tyrant, an oppressor, and corrupted the earth. Let
us invoke God together!
O God, we invoke You as You have commanded us to do; so respond to us as You have promised to
do! O God, we invoke You as You have commanded us to do; so respond to us as You have promised
to do! O God! O Lord of the worlds! O Humiliator of the presumptuous! O Shatterer of the despots! O
Succour of those in search of succour! O Refuge of those in search of refuge! O Refuge of those in
search of refuge! Be for us an assistance and a help towards victory! Do not entrust us to ourselves for
the twinkling of an eye, nor even for less than that! O God, be for us and for the Libyan people (sha‘b)!
O God, be for the Libyan people and do not be against it! Assist it and do not assist anyone against it!
Help it to win and do not help anyone against it! Contrive for it and do not contrive against it! Guide it
and make it easy for it to be guided! Help it to win against whoever has oppressed it! O God, help the
Libyan people to win against whoever has oppressed it! O God, help it to win against Gaddafi and all
those who are with him, all those who help him and all those who assist him in wrongdoing! O God,
seize them with the grip of a Mighty, Powerful One!1 O God, seize them with the grip of a Mighty,
Powerful One! O God, bring down their banners and make their feet tremble, remove their regime,
withdraw their power from Your earth and do not leave them any means against any of Your believing
servants! O God, “they were tyrannic (taghaw) in the land and spread much corruption (fasâd)
therein.”2 O God, pour on them a scourge of torment and be ever on watch for them,3 O Lord of the
worlds! O God, O You from Whom no inner thought is hidden and from Whom no action, either secret
or public, is concealed, O You Who destroyed the Thamûd by a terrible storm of thunder and
lightning,4 Who destroyed the Âd by a fierce roaring wind,5 and Who seized Pharaoh and his soldiers
with a tightening grip,6 seize those unjust, tyrannic, rulers, seize them with a tightening grip and let
nothing remain of them!7 O God, send down upon them Your punishment, which is not kept away from
the criminal folk! O Ever-Living, O Self-subsisting! O Ever-Living, O Self-subsisting, in Your mercy
we seek succour! In Your mercy we seek succour! In Your mercy we seek succour! So, succour our
grief, lift our distress, and lift the distress of our brothers in Libya! O God, lift their distress! O God,
succour their grief! O God, answer their invocation! O God, fulfill their need! O God, do not entrust
them to themselves, O Lord of the worlds! O God, do not entrust them to themselves. O God, cover
their deficiencies and appease their fears! Protect them from before them and from behind them, from
their right and from their left! O God, we complain to You about weeping eyes and we complain to
You about parched livers, we complain to You about mothers who have been deprived of their
children, we complain to You about orphans who have been deprived of their parents, about women
who have been made widows! O God, we complain to You about the weakness of our force, the
paucity of our means, and our insignificance in the sight of people, O Most Merciful of the Merciful! O

1
See Q. 54:42: “Therefore We seized them with the grip of a Mighty, Powerful One”.
2
See Q. 89:11–12.
3
See Q. 89:13–14: “Therefore your Lord poured on them a scourge of torment. Surely, your Lord is ever on watch.”
4
See Q. 69:5: “As for the Thamûd, they were destroyed by a terrible storm of thunder and lightning (al-tâghiya)”.
5
See Q. 69:6: “And as for the Âd, they were destroyed by a fierce roaring wind”.
6
See Q. 69:10: “And they disobeyed the Messenger of their Lord, therefore did He seize them with a tightening grip”.
7
See Q. 69:8: “Do you then see anything remain of them?”

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God, take the hands of this heroic people (sha‘b) defending itself and eager to preserve its sanctity! O
God, retaliate for them against one who has acted with enmity toward them, killed them, struck at them
with aircrafts, and has behaved to them as an occupier does in occupied countries! O God, hasten in
seizing him, O Lord! O God, hasten in seizing him! O God, hasten in seizing him! O God, show us his
final day soon! O God, cool our eyes with his removal from this life, and with the end of this
authoritarianism (tasallut), just as you have cooled our eyes with other Pharaohs whom You have
seized with a painful, hard grip! Our Lord, forgive us, as well as our brothers who preceded us in the
faith! Do not put in our hearts any malice toward those who believe! Our Lord, you are Kind, Merciful!
O God! Amen. O God, bless Your servant and Your Messenger, Muhammad, his family, his
Companions, and grant them an abundant peace!
— O God, Amen! Thank you, your eminence shaykh Yûsuf al-Qaradâwî, chairman of the
International Union for Muslim Scholars, for being with us in the studio.
— Thank you.
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