The erudite scholar Sheikh Al-Qaradawi says: “There is a point that may be misinterpreted by many people, i.e. I don’t normally reply others’ criticism of me. This must not be construed as a sign of pomposity or looking down upon others, as such manners are detestable, and I seek refuge in Allah from that. Rather, I do not reply for two reasons:
First, I have many preoccupations, which are far more important to me than replying to fake criticism. Besides, replying to challenges or criticisms is a time-consuming task, which my busy schedule finds it difficult to contain. So I have to give priority to the most important matters. In addition, Fake claims never cease, if one thinks of dedicating portion of his time for them, they will never end, and this may rid him of good chances to fulfill one’s duties and be a useful member in the Muslim Ummah.
Second, I notice that most critics are hard to convince; they stick to their views, turning deaf ears to voices of reasoning. In fact, this has been a prevalent trend in the whole history of rational movements that took place in 14th century A.H. whereby unreasonable rigidity was the norm of the day, and this used to spark off frenzied arguments, with neither of the parties was ready to tolerate others’ views.
Controversy has been stirred on many issues, especially those relating to women, such as the limits of women’s `Awrah and their praying in the Mosque, in addition to issues like the permissibility of singing, with musical instruments or not, painting and photography, slaughtering, etc. I have expressed my self on these issues, and have clarified my point of view many times, trying to make clarifications to what seem ambiguous to people, but all this was to no avail.
Therefrom I develop strong aversion to replying to criticism for it is really time-consuming and it makes one indulge in blameworthy argumentation which brings no benefit to anyone. Truly speaking, one should be aware of being driven to such Satanic pit of darkness, which rings alarm of incurring Allah’s Wrath, for whenever Allah destines doom for some people, He makes them indulge in blameworthy arguments which make them give up work and production. At-Tirmidhi quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “Whenever a people go astray after they have been guided they get cursed with (indulgence in blameworthy) arguments.”
When Imam Al-Ghazali wrote his famous book Tahafut-ul-Falasifah or Incoherence of Philosophers, in refuting the claims spread by philosophers, Averroes (Ibn Rushd) retorted by writing a book he called Tahafut-Tahafut (Refuting Nonsense with Nonsense) But some scholars criticized Ibn Rushd’s book, and when his colleagues asked him to write a book to defend himself, he said: I do not like to make a third nonsense or incoherence tahafut
Here comes a very important point. Whenever Sheikh al-Qaradawi is criticized for his view concerning some issues of general concern, whereby refraining from reply would affect the whole Ummah, the Sheikh never refrains from analyzing the issue, clarifying all its dimensions. By so doing he tries to make himself clear to people. All this is just out of keenness on presenting the truth and defending it, not defending himself.
Sheikh Al-Qaradawi’s Stance on the Ethics of Controversy:
Sheikh Al-Qaradawi maintains that as having different views on any issue is something natural, one should not concentrate on controversial matters, nor should one focus on refuting others’ opinions on slight matters, because this contradicts the syllabus of the righteous predecessors, may Allah be pleased with them. Rather a true believer should be tolerant even if he has a different point of view and be cooperative in applying agreed upon matters. By tolerance he means not to be fanatic in judging controversial matters, doctrines or Imams. Rather a Muslim should be tolerant, as Sheikh Rashid Rida states in his famous magazine Al-Manar saying: “We ought to excuse one another and show tolerance to each other’s view regarding controversial issues.”