Influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradaui, considered spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood, dies at 96

Yusuf al Qaradaui, one of the world’s foremost Sunni religious leaders and president of the International Union of Muslim Theologians, died Monday at the age of 96.

“His Eminence Yusuf al Qaradaui, who dedicated his life to explaining the content of Islam and defending his nation, has passed to the mercy of God,” a message posted on his official account on the social network Twitter stated.

The cleric, born in Egypt in 1926, had resided for years in Qatar and headed for years a television program on Al Jazeera to address issues related to Islam.

Al Qaradaui, considered one of the spiritual leaders of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization, returned to Egypt in 2011 after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime as part of a popular revolt during the ‘Arab Spring’.

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Thus, the cleric led the Friday prayers during the day of February 18, an event held in Cairo’s Tahrir Square — one of the epicenters of the mobilizations against Mubarak — and attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

After that, he expressed his support for Mohamed Mursi ahead of the elections held in 2012, in which he won, becoming the first elected president of the African country. After his overthrow at the hands of the army in 2013, Al Qaradaui was very critical of the coup.

In the aftermath of the uprising, Al Qaradaui was banned from returning to the country due to his criticism of the current president, Abdelfatá al Sisi, so he maintained his residence in Qatar. In fact, the cleric was tried and sentenced to death in 2015 in Egypt.

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Al Qaradaui was sentenced in absentia along with more than a hundred others, including Mursi – who died in 2018 after fainting during a court hearing – for a prison break in 2011, in the context of the ‘Arab Spring’.

He was subsequently sentenced by a military court in 2018 to life imprisonment for several attacks in 2015, including the murder of a police officer in Cairo, a trial in which eight others were sentenced to death.

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