Top Brotherhood Cleric Qaradawi’s Secret Life Revealed

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Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi. speaks at the Al Aqsa mosque in 2012. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Most people have an inner world, but Egyptian cleric and head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi’s secret life exposes disturbing misogynistic patterns that add to his already long list of terrible ideas. 

Qaradawi’s ex-wife, Asma bint Qaddah came forward with details about her private life while married to the Brotherhood cleric. At one time his student, Qaddah later becoming his second wife.

Qaddah reports Qaradawi:

  • Refused to engage with his wife sexually unless she wore a blindfold
  • Expressed interest in engaging in a threesome between his wife and their housemaid 

Aside from demonstrably horrific private behavior against his wife that left her with little autonomy in the most private corners of life, it’s important to underscore Qaradawi also tried to rope in his maid. In the Middle East/North Africa (MENA), domestic workers are vulnerable to sexual assault. In the case of his maid, it is reasonably to assume she would have been put in a position to either comply or lose her job — or worse. 

Like most terrorist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood is fanatical about moral behavior and (also like most extremists) fails to personally uphold those codes of conduct behind closed doors. Qaradawi’s obsession with sexual subject matter is often expressed through his lectures, but he’s not the only one who preaches one thing and does another — often while targeting female students in their circle.

Others include:

  • A scandal involving coveted Islamic lecturer Nouman Ali Khan, who manipulated female colleagues to enter into a string of affairs with him and then threatened them against speaking out
  • Islamic scholar and professor of contemporary Islamic studies at University of Oxford, Tariq Ramadan, who faces serious charges (including rape) for brutally assaulting women he entered into relationships with after bringing them into his inner circle as students. He is currently imprisoned and solitary confinement in France 

In a blog post, activist and attorney Rabia Chaudry details a laundry list of other incidences featuring celebrity clerics who lead double lives and often use their platform as esteemed leaders in the community to entrap and abuse women.

Repeated depravity by male scholars and clerics within Muslim leadership points to the obvious conclusions to which American Muslims readily admit: We have a leadership crisis. But the spectrum of abuse, from ISIS’ obsession with sex slaves to stories coming forward about sexual abuse during Hajj, tells us there is a deep rot in how women are seen particularly within Muslim countries in MENA, including Egypt — home to the Muslim Brotherhood.

There is also a question about how much of this behavior can be traced back to Quranic passages that describe the afterlife as a hyper-sexualized, male fantasy that subjugates and objectifies the female form. Perhaps the pattern of misogynistic behavior finds its foothold in the Prophet Muhammad’s acceptance of slaves, including female slaves, who were seen as permissible to approach. Or perhaps the behavior is typical of all corrupt patriarchal systems where authority is vested in one group of people enjoying iron-clad authority at the expense of another. 

Whatever the source, the answer is that Islamic culture (as it has formed through Muslim behavior, at large) has failed to separate eroticism from love. Instead of seeing a woman for the strength her femininity brings to a man, offering balance and completing the covenant and sanctity of male and female duality — as is the tradition within Judaism — a woman is seen as a pleasure source. 

If love is, as some believe, an advanced mode of intelligence, then corruption of love is not only criminal and amoral, it’s an abomination. 

Editor’s note: Qaradawi’s ex-wife has since denied that she made these statements.


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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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