Amid reports criticizing Qatar for its purported ties to extremist groups, one
former resident has argued that there is nothing sinister about the Gulf nation, which is merely trying to up its regional profile.
The piece was written by David B. Roberts, lecturer at King’s College London and author of upcoming book Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City State and originally published by the New America Foundation. It has been reprinted with Roberts’ permission.
Cutting deals with the enemy is a part of American – and Western – history. America has negotiated with terrorists and guerrilla fighters since the days of William Howard Taft. The UK, too, has conferred with the violent Irish Republican Army and Spain with its domestic terror group ETA.
But some policy pundits argue that Qatar’s latest negotiating behavior is different. Sinister, even. In the past few weeks, Qatar successfully brokered the release of U.S. reporter Theo Curtis and U.S. service man Bowe Bergdahl from the Al Qaeda affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra and the Taliban.
Along with the homecoming celebrations came an uneasiness about Qatari motivations, and the nature of those terrorist organization relationships. Aside from these two examples, Qatar’s close relationship with Hamas concerns many. Some of the commentary on these issues makes some valid points that need to be answered, while some are faintly ludicrous. So let’s look at the facts.
The leader of Hamas has long been based in Doha, and Qatar seemed to play an important role in recent discussions regarding ceasefires in Israel. Qatar also has long-held a panoply of links to moderate Muslim Brotherhood associated groups throughout the Middle East.
Particularly notable, for example, is Qatar’s hosting since 1961 of one of the leading Brotherhood Imams: Yusuf Al Qaradawi.
He vastly expanded his influence under Qatari auspices using Al Jazeera as a vehicle to reach millions of Arabs.
Qatar is also one of two states where the austere creed of Salafi, Wahhabi Islam prevails; the other is Saudi Arabia. To some, such links and associations are a context of enough circumstantial evidence to condemn Qatar as some kind of terrorist financier.
But this caricature of Qatar as a Machiavellian nation, secretly and actively supporting terrorism, just does not chime with the reality of the state. Its leadership in recent decades has been arguably the most liberalizing in the Arab Middle East, though granted that’s hardly a difficult title to claim.
When offered several choices of how to reform Qatar’s schools by US think-tank the RAND Corporation, Qatar’s leadership chose the option with the deepest changes explicitly modeled on the US school system.
In higher education, six US and three other Western Universities have been established in Doha grafting a font of predominantly US soft power onto Qatari society providing the option of a liberal arts education.
What’s more, Qatar is home to one of the most iconic and powerful female role models in the Middle East.
Sheikha Moza, the wife of the former Emir and the mother of the current Emir, is a highly visible stateswoman and the only Gulf first lady to be regularly seen.
She is the founder and driving force behind the Education City project (where most Western universities are housed) as well as a raft of domestic social policies and charitable foundations, such as the WISE education awards, seen as the Nobel prize of the education world.
Nor should it be forgotten that Qatar actively cultivated relations with Israel in the early 1990s. There was an Israel trade office in Doha from 1996 to the late 2000s as Qatar actively sought (but eventually failed) to boost relations, such as by selling gas to the Jewish state.
Unless it is being suggested that Qatar undertook these efforts as some kind of a divisionary tactic, which is surely a ludicrous notion, it is difficult to peg Qatar as some kind of retrograde, terrorist-supporting state.
What is more likely is that Qatar wants to use its role with the likes of the Taliban and Jabhat Al Nusra as political gambits to reinforce the critical niche role that it can fulfill for important international allies.
In a region that sees a major conflict every decade and where Qatar is a tiny, relatively intrinsically defenseless state, boxed in by historically belligerent, far larger states – Saudi Arabia and Iran – the central tenet of Qatar’s modern foreign policy has been to make the state as important as possible to as wide a range of important actors as possible.
Of course, these policy underpinnings don’t explain the actions and motivations of all Qataris.
It is entirely possible if not likely, as some reports have noted, that there are individual Qataris not connected to the government that actively support groups like ISIS and who take advantage of lax Qatari financial controls.
Indeed, the US Government has criticized the Gulf States including Qatar for not controlling personally collected, charitable money. Qatari authorities must do more to stop and sanction these individuals.
Some would sensibly counter, however, that the level of support or the freedom that states like Qatar show some apparent terrorist financiers indicates that, secretly, they support their cause.
While it is possible that there may be some sympathizers in the elite (there was an example of this in the 1990s, see this summary) there are more persuasive explanations.
To understand the Qatari perspective, you need a realistic view of the Middle East.
Hamas may be a violent terrorist organization by most definitions, but is also an elected political group that commands significant support.
Though Qatar’s support facilitates the group, it is a fact on the ground that is not changing with or without Qatar’s help.
That many in the Middle East see Hamas as engaging in resistance with what little means they have against one of the most advanced militaries in the world further complicates the issue.
So too with Jabhat Al Nusra. A reprehensible terrorist group it may be by most definitions, but it is often understood as representing a significant force on the ground: it is an actor that needs to be reckoned with.
None of this is an attempt to excuse terrorism or to try to claim that, for example, Hamas is anything other than a terrorist group. But it is to say that there are great swathes of people who would disagree with that characterization and therefore it is pragmatic in a Kissinger-esque way to deal with the realities as we find them not as we wish they were.
The overarching tone of Qatar’s domestic and foreign policies of recent decades suggests that its interaction with these groups stems not from a blood-thirsty desire to wage war to facilitate the shelling of Israelis.
Instead, Qatar acknowledges the realities that, for example, Hamas, like it or not, is a powerful and popular actor in the central conflict of the Arab world or that with more extreme groups like Nusra, it is better to have a contact with them than not.
The worst that can then be said of Qatar is that it is supporting regional groups to augment its own regional influence, in which case it joins the list including all Middle Eastern and Western countries trying to do exactly that.
Editor’s note: The introduction to this article has been corrected to note the author is a current, not former, Qatar resident.
What does this King College lecturer, book author and former resident of Doha know? Seriously?
Only Dohanews expat commentators know the truth based on emotionless hard hitting facts. Let’s hear from them.
But first, allow them to sober up from their champagne infused Friday brunches …
He’s a lecturer, not a professor, which is a big difference, so don’t get caught up in the title. If he’s so illustrious in the academic world why is he not a full professor???
Anyone can write a book. Let’s see how many he sells.
His “Opinion” is just that. Nothing more.
I’d say some “commentators” are just as well read and thus their opinions as valid as nearly as much.
And sorry no champagne for me today.
In my unedited comment above I do mention lecturer not professor knowing well the difference
Prof. David Roberts has completed and passed his Viva for his PhD earlier this year. I suggest reading more about him and how well he is regarded both for his research into Gulf affairs and also within the security community.
As are thousands of other “scholars”. Just saying that while highly regarded, he’s but one of very many “experts” of his level, and higher, who have the same and differing views. Like Al Jazeera on one end and Fox on the other, and all those in between, you can always find someone who agrees with you on anything.
Equally regarded scholars have fundamentally different opinions from this guy.
He’s not a professor. His work is based on his graduate studies dissertation. It’s like calling and undersecretary the CEO.
And look at the publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd. Hardly top academia, which probably explains why it is 3 millionth ranked on amazon.
A better question would be: who funded his research?
The last comment is not helpful. The belief that the ex-pats commentators here must be drunk and/or drunks implies some kind of moral superiority which is dangerous on its best days, especially in a country where basic border defense is guaranteed by these same ex-pats (the U.S. airbase keeps Qatar safe; without it Saudi Arabia would doubtless be a lot more belligerent in dealing with Qatar, if it allowed Qatar to exist at all).
As well as Iran
Israel is USA’s greatest ally in the region, that hasn’t prevented Iran from acting against it.
Saudi is probably its greatest ally. Qatar and Bahrain are pretty good in terms of giving military bases, towing the line, and buying American weapons.
Iran has hardly struck out again Israel.
Saudi has never been as close to the USA as Israel, the relationship with Saudi is strategic, whereas with Israel it is based on common values. There are even certain classes of weapons that the USA cannot sell to the Saudis without Congress’s approval, the same didn’t apply to Israel and during the 80s the Saudis had tried as much as possible to get the same deal and only managed a partial exemption for certain “parts”.
Iran has never directly attacked anyone in the region, however has armed,trained and funded groups that fight its enemies. From Israel’s perspective Hezbollah and previously Hamas may as well have been Iran itself doing the attacking.
By greatest, I meant strategically most important.
Iran and Iraq went through quite bit of open conflict. And Iran was quite visible in its support of factions in Iraq during the American occupation. The UAE also suffered Iran’s ‘attacks’ (UAE ambassador’s words) when it seized territory claimed by Dubai.
Yeah I agree with you on it being most strategically important.
As for Iran and Iraq, Iraq had started that war, and like you said, the Iranians will support factions or groups that share common enemies with them, but they never directly attack. What UAE experienced was more of a skirmish than an attack, not different than what a lot of the Gulf countries have had between each other, like Saudi and UAE, Saudi and Qatar, Qatar and Bahrain, Oman and UAE etc.
Those common values are staring to wane as people reflect on Israel’s stubbornness that does nothing to promote peace – not so much on Gaza where their excuse will always be that Hamas is committed to destroying Israel, but on the illegal and ever expanding settlements of the west bank and Jerusalem. Israel signed up to the UN charter in 1948, but since 1967 seem to have forgotten that it ever existed.
Thats an entirely different situation and not sure what you mean. Did they bomb Tel Aviv lately?
Iran has far worse relations with other Gulf countries, historically and currently, yet has never directly attacked them despite its significantly more powerful military,so I don’t know what makes you believe that the USA is protecting Qatar from Iran when the two never had any issues in the past, and of all the GCC countries Iran is on best terms with Qatar. There is no real Iran threat to Qatar and never was.
My enemy’s enemy is my friend. In the face of ISIS Qatar and Iran are on the same side, but lets not forget that Qatar supported the rebels against the Iran backed Assad Shia regime. Strange times bring strange allies – just look at the US cosying up to Iran.
why would you assume someone who drinks and enjoy friday brunches as being morally inferior.. ? in no way was i indicate that….
dohanews commentators are all US servicemen based in Al Udeed airbase? not sure i see the tie…
one bright side of your comment… with saudi arabia in town.. they’re wont be any more champagne brunches.. only pressurized fuzzy halal apple champagne… with expat janes in their abiyas 🙂
The writing came off as sarcastic, so that’s why I assumed you were taking the position that the expatriate community is not only drunk, but uninformed.
My rebuttal was meant to counter that assumption with the fact that Qatar arguably would not exist without ex-patriates.
Well to be fair, he never said the expat community as a whole, he said the DN commentators of that community. So there is the possibility one section of that community was getting things done while the other got drunk and commented on it on DN, lol.
American servicemen were not based in Kuwait before Saddam invaded…
You are wrong on that one.
Thank you for highlighting this, because A_qtr likes to tell us all the time if we
are drunk! I assume then that he/she/it must be on hash or cocaine all the time.
He knows how to get paid to write compliments, that’s for sure
He has written negative things about Qatar in the past
Or will you say now he wrote that cause they were late in paying him that month?
Exactly. You’re sharp you are
Matt… please logic and reason has no room here… stop using intelligent debate right this moment…
It still doesn’t mean that his editorial is any more factually based or reliable than the other commentary we see on the news every day.
Not all research is funded….see previous comments.
If no one funded it, then that is equally important to finding out the opposite. Either way, we aren’t given that information.
It’s funny how some local commentators run to the defense of a Westerner praising Qatar, but then attack the same sort of people as incompetent and unknowledgeable when they criticize Qatar. Hmmm . . .
Not very different than expat commentators accusing any non-Qatari saying anything positive about Qatar as being “paid” to do it.
Oh so true, but I would like to know who funded this person’s research. Maybe it’s totally legit.
I think even if it is from an independent source, it still would not give his work much credibility to no fault of his own. The USA for example is significantly more transparent than Qatar in its governance, and yet still sometimes people are uncertain as to the motivations behind certain policies, and as the last set of leaks revealed, are unaware of even what type of actions may be taken to support certain policies for instance.
In Qatar everything from the laws being enacted, the foreign policies adopted, the international investments being made, the military purchasing programs etc., is under the purview of an extremely small circle, that even ministers who answer directly to the leader himself will be unaware of the rational behind most of these policies. So I would take with a grain of salt anything this person has to say just from the perspective that even if he believes the “inner circle” he’s been in touch with are credible, he needs to realize that over here there’s an “inner inner circle”, and only they have the real answers.
If this was an expansion of his doctoral thesis/dissertation, then it is a self-funded affair. Post-DOC research is something else entirely, but speaking from experience, not necessarily funded by anyone either. Further, a person can make informed and well researched comments and author books or write an article without being deemed knowledge by holding a title of Professor at a college. I have know enough of those in my academic life that have ZERO real world knowledge. They often base their thinking in strictly theoretical and academic perspective, which has often lead to misinformed and categorized perspectives being taken up on the mantle of argument to whatever side under the guise of academic credibility. What it boils down to is a dingle persons researched and supported opinion. One could easily counter it by doing the same…..
Unless the funding sources are disclosed, it’s hard to make a judgement. Even as a grad student it could have been funded by external sources. Qatar is an expensive place to live and work, and the author was part of a privately funded institute. In all likelihood the preface of the book will acknowledge those who supported the research, but the preface is not yet available online.
I’m not saying that he is a puppet, but I am suggesting that it is difficult to determine the neutrality of the assessments without knowing who paid for the research.
In terms of needing a professorship to be taken seriously, I couldn’t agree more.
That said, I didn’t find the comments especially astute. Perhaps they’ve been watered-down for the sake of the article’s targeted readership.
Great, now on the other hand do we see the same level of critical thinking, deconstruction of arguments and questioning of sources when there is negative news about Qatar?
Yes. Albeit sometimes from a different set of people. I would think an article headline “Qatar really is evil” would get a fair amount of bashing even from those who are often critical of Qatar society and policies.
Love it!!! You sure know how to pull the chain of some of our regular commentators. You should be an anchorman/woman…. Maybe you are? Anyway, love the irony… And they fell for it… Hook, line sinker the lot!
😉 all in good fun
Great work! I took it as a humorous dig and liked it . Champagne infused…love it, the best humour is the humour that digs at the truth. Ive been guilty of too much infusion at a brunch, but I don’t drink and post, no sir that is dangerous.
He’s a lecturer, not a professor, which is a big difference, so don’t get caught up in the title. If he’s so illustrious in the academic world why is he not a full professor?
Anyone can write a book. Let’s see how many he sells.
His “Opinion” is just that. Nothing more.
I’d say some “commentators” are just as well read and thus their opinions as valid as nearly as much.
And sorry no champagne for me today.
He’s not a professor, because he just finished graduate school. Not even a doctorate yet.
Being a Professor has no bearing on credibility. Its about demonstrated knowledge, a body of research, peer review process, and a whole host of other attributes.
I respect your right to have an opinion but how would you know the intentions of the Qatar govt? It’s mere conjecture on your part.
You attribute moderate to Yusuf al qawadi an evil man who advocates the killing of apostates and non Muslims and justifies the beating of women. In my opinion that is not moderate that is vile
Firstly, he spent a while in Qatar doing extensive academic research and he has had the chance to meet many senior officials during his time there. I would suggest reading his blog, papers and articles.
Secondly, have you researched Al-Qaradawi at all?
-Do you know that he is one of the few mainstream Islamic scholars that has openly said that apostate shouldn’t be killed?
-Do you know that he had a spat with Sheikh ibn Baz (the most senior Saudi cleric at the time) because Al-Qaradawi wanted to improve Sunni/Shia relations and didn’t consider them separate from mainstream islam? He has subsequently changed his views about reconciliation recently, he said due to the sectarian nature of the Syrian war.
-Do you know that he is one of the few mainstream scholars that has relatively liberal views on gender relations (mixing of genders etc).
– He is one of few mainstream scholars that says its ok to disobey your rulers if you are unjust and he advocates for democratic rule. Most scholars follow the ‘obey your rulers’ interpretation.
– Do you know that he has some of the most liberal views on modern trade and business, for example allowing the investment into companies that deal in interest (up to a certain extent) while most other scholars don’t allow that.
– Do you know that in his latter years his books and writings are the main inspiration for the ‘wassatiya’ moderation movement? He is critisized for being too soft on many matters within the Gulf muslim communities who prefer to follow the teachings of Saudi ulema council
– Critically he has become more politicised recently and also he has said the suicide bombings by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers are admissible due to their desperation and lack of means to fight in a balanced way. Mainstream Saudi scholars on the other hand commendably have outright said that suicide bombings even in the case of palestinians are not allowed.
If you compare Qaradawi to other mainstream major clerics (at his seniority level) he is indeed RELATIVELY moderate.
Yes I know very well who he is and for you to call him moderate., Well ahem.
On any scale you can define moderate, a burgular compared to a murderer is moderate in his crimes.
The world is better off with these ‘scholars’ (I’m not sure how you can be considered a scholar if you’ve only ever read one book)
Let’s say for the sake of argument, that all the points Matt has listed here are well documented facts, and let’s say they conflict with what you believe or had read or heard earlier; when confronted with these facts, you as a reasonable commentator, enlightened human being, logical person, would respond with questioning someones scholarship because they only read one book, while not considering any of the facts being presented, nice one, may want to rephrase your comment
I’ve read some of his stuff before. This is probably the worst of the lot. The Foreign Affairs piece was much better.
I wish he was more open about who funds his work. The institute he was with before he joined King’s is not publicly funded.
I’m sorry, but this is the 2nd time I have seen you make such claims about Al Qaradawi, and without any supporting evidence to those claims. I have listened to Al Qaradawi for many years, before even Al Jazeera was created, and I’ve never heard him advocate the things you said.
The word advocate means that someone is strongly and actively is pushing for those views. That is not Al Qaradawi. Just becasue he is not “libral” enough for you does not make him evil or vile.
Here he is live promoting the killing of apostates, saying if we dint kill those who leave Islam the Islam wouldn’t survive
Here is again in his own words on the beating of women. (His own book nonetheless)
The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, in which he wrote “a husband may beat his wife lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas.”
And a write up on him. Not so sure of the source but in English for everyone
Here is again in his own words saying that it was Allah’s punishment that hitler killed all those Jews and he himself hopes he can go the land of jihad and shoot Jews even if he is in a wheelchair.
Here is the link praising Jew killing. Nice man
You need to use a cane, so the sound is more of a “whack” than a slap. Unless you attach a mold of a human hand at the end, it might make a slapping sound.
You are taking a video out of context from the rest of the show. He is talking about the HISTORICAL justification of ‘had al ridda’ (had means punishment) with regards to the ‘Ridda Wars’, which happened in the 8th century under the ‘guided’ khalifs, where their actions are accepted by sunni muslims as legal grounds. This is a common view amongst almost all mainstream clerics and islamic scholars.
His argument is that at that time it was necessary not for the act of apostasy itself but due to the threat to islam itself of many muslim tribes renouncing their religion and fighting against paying zakat. He says that this does not apply today as the act of people renouncing islam in itself is not grounds for the ‘had’ of killing and that it should only be applied in the case of this becoming a threat to islam itself, for example a muslim ruler becoming and apostate and stopping people from the freedom of worship. That in itself is different from many other scholars including mainstream scholars in Saudi that an apostate should be killed because the act of apostasy in itself is grounds for had.
As for beatings, this is pretty much a common view too there are videos from all of Al-Arafe, Al-Uthaimeen, Al-Odah and on and on. Its a part of the religion itself, it is not something he advocates or made but it is in the hadith which is an important source (besides the Quran) in sunni islam. If you have a problem with the religion then don’t take it out on the man himself. You are trying to portray him as being an extremist in the teachings of islam when for anyone who has studied theology you will see that in the spectrum of things he is indeed moderate relatively.
There is no point in arguing this, you have your views and I have mine.
So you are saying that early Muslims are no different to ISIL in that killing those that leave Islam is perfectly acceptable. What happened to the religion of peace and love I keep hearing about? What you are telling me now is if we didn’t kill apostates in the early days then Islam would not exist today.
I’m sorry but I don’t buy him as moderate, he supports killing of apostates, homosexuals and Jews and also condones wife beating all in his own words. From his own tv show and various books he has written.
If a American Christian pastor threatened to burn the Koran and advocated wiping Muslims off the map he would be condemned the world over. Oh yes that happened. Why doesn’t that happened the other way around?
Why can’t these people move into the modern world rather than supporting murder and violating the rights of women.
Your explanation about the beatings, very casual… So how about progress then? How about someone stepping up and saying this should not be acceptable? Rather than saying it’s ok because it’s part of the religion, so here are some instructions on how to do it properly
That’s because not all beatings are bad, if you don’t for example beat your eggs properly you could mess up your cake or breakfast, so you gotta do it the right way.
What have I (an agnostic) go to do with progress or stepping up to change something in their religion. My explanation wasn’t trying to make light of things, but if MIMH wants to single out Al-Qaradawi on this issue this isn’t an issue to single him out on as it is a view quite common to all mainstream muslim scholars (sunni and shia).
The video on apostates is completely taken out context by the person who edited to make it sound like Qaradawi is saying anyone who leaves Islam today should be killed. He was talking about the war that took place after the death of the prophet (SAW). I suggest you go and read on the cause of those wars. And seriously, giving a link to an article in Frontpage Mag, whose motto is “Inside Every Liberal Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out “!!!
The 2nd video is poorly translated and is also doesn’t prove your claim that he advocates the killing of all non-Muslims. For example, where he says that “They (The Nazis) went a bit too far”, is being translated to “even though they exaggerated this issue” which makes it sound like he is saying the Jews exaggerated how bad it was. He is talking about the Zionist Jews in Israel who are illegal occupiers and who continue stealing the land of Palestinians as well as kill anyone who stand in their way. Again, not surprising considering the source of the video!
As for your claim that he advocates the beating of women, he simply is offering one of the most widely accepted interpretation of the 34th verse of Surat An-Nisa, where Allah says, “But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.” That hardly means he “advocates” men beating their wives!
As I have pointed out before, Al Qaradawi has over the years been one of the most supportive scholars of women’s rights in Qatar and across the region. The right to drive, the right to vote and be elected to public office, woman’s right to divorce herself if she’s not happy with her marriage, and much more. He also has received a lot of heat for being part of and supporting conferences on religious dialogue and reconciliation between the faiths, including Judaism. He also has tried his best to bring together Sunni and Shia’a reminding us that we have more things in common than we don’t.
Very few people realise that Al-Qaradawi’s daughter is a professor and a nuclear physicist who has carried out work in CERN.
Her CV is below:
Prof. Ilham Al-Qaradawi is professor of Physics at Qatar University and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Texas A&M University in Qatar. She received her Ph.D. working in the field of positron physics from University of London, UK in 1991.
Over the past decade, she has established a positron laboratory at Qatar University and successfully built the first slow positron beam in the Middle East. She has also established an environmental radiation measurement laboratory. Dr. Al-Qaradawi is involved with Europe’s CERN in the Antihydrogen experiment AEGIS. She is the founder of the Qatar Physics Society. Dr. Ilham Al-Qaradawi is a fellow of the institute of Physics and a member of many international societies. She also sits on the advisory committee of the World Nuclear University Radiation Technology Summer School and the World Council on Isotopes, and has lectured in the World Nuclear University Summer Institute for the past four years.
Prof. Ilham Al-Qaradawi has been awarded many awards for excellence in research, for Arab Women in Science and outstanding contribution to science. She has had many appearances on Al-Jazeera channel and several other TV channels and newspapers and magazines.
She has been listed by the Arabian Business magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in the State of Qatar and one of the 500 most influential Arabs in the world for the year 2012 and 2013 and one of the top 28 Arab scientists in the world and by CEO Middle East magazine as one of the100 Most Powerful Arab Women for the year 2012.
Please, tell us more
I was replying to Abdulrahman, if you don’t like what you read please feel free to ignore 🙂
I like it, I think it’s great you created an account just so you can add all this relevant info to this article
Do I have to a pick a more mundane topic such as the ‘What to do this weekend’ for my first few comments before I can graduate to a more serious topics? I didn’t find such a requirement in the comment policy. Isn’t every account new at some point or is the DohaNews comment section only open to people who have joined prior to a certain date?
It is precisely a heated topic like this that made me decide to comment on news website from a country I don’t even live in.
You are most welcome here. And it’s great that you’ve even taken an interest in the ‘what to do this weekend’ articles, although you don’t live here. You should visit sometime.
I have a question, and I’m not messing around (as I often do). What happens if people start changing their thinking along lines that are not compatible with a widely accepted interpretation, such as wife beating? Is it black & white, they’re wrong, or can these interpretations or entire rules change based on a respected scholar’s decree or suggestion or some other event? I guess I’m asking if religion can evolve or if it’s meant to be timeless, and that’s not just directed at Islam. Feel free to ignore the question, it’s getting a bit too philosophical…
Thank you for asking; let me give a simple example to answer your question. It used to be that a woman couldn’t end her marriage unless she could show that her husband is unable to preform one of his main husbandry duties. If the husband is impotent, or he goes to jail for example. It was still very difficult to do and often took years in court.
Then, around the late 90s early 2000s some scholars, like Qaradawi suggested that if a woman was simply unhappy being married to her husband, for whatever reason, and she was willing to compensate him for a reasonable portion of the mahar (bride price) he paid her, then she could release herself from the marriage and end the marriage contract.
The basis for this ruling was a known story about a woman who came to the prophet and told him that although there is nothing wrong with her husband, she just doesn’t want to stay married to him anymore. He asked her to return a farm that her husband had given to her, and then her marriage is over.
There were many who tried to fight this change arguing that only the man has the right to end the marriage contract, but thankfully, the powers that be didn’t listen to them.
So, to answer your question, yes, changes and new interpretations as you have described can and do happen.
Thanks, good to know
As for knowing the intention of the Qatari government, the same question could be asked of all the people commenting on Qatar supporting terrorism and what not!
Interesting piece, but not any more informed than anyone else following the news, and I’m not really convinced a lecturer in London who spent some time in Qatar is really in the know when it comes to Qatar’s intentions in foreign policy. I’d have to read his book and look at his sources, but I guess that is the point.
Is Qatar evil? Of course not. Does it sometimes make errors in its foreign policy? Of course. Have some of its citizens supported some bad people. Sure. What was the government’s involvement? I have no idea and nor does this guy.
Your 2nd paragraph pretty much sums up my thoughts on this. Nobody can truly ascertain the intentions behind the ruling elite’s maneuvers, no matter how long they live in the country. Talking to some senior officials only means he spoke to people appointed by the ruling elite, not people who can or have participated in the decision making with the ruling elite.
Evil no, but a pro-active participant in the Sunni/Shia battle that fails to grasp the potential consequences of it’s meddling.
I am saddened that the news about the murder of David Haines, a British aid worker by IS militants, doesn’t make the Doha News. Or is it deemed irrelevant to a discussion about Qatar?