In their reaction to OnIslam’s interactive post “who is the most influential scholar of the year?”, tens of users, men and women, young and aged, recommended prominent scholars from different parts of the world to be “OnIslam scholar of the year”. Therefore, users actively shared their recommendations and interestingly explored reasons for their nominations. Muslim scholars’ influence on the Arab Spring and issues of Muslim minorities in the West were frequently mentioned among voters’ reasons for their choices.
It is noteworthy that OnIslam’s goal of the vote is to promote true scholars’ works and legacy, raise awareness regarding contemporary scholars, and encourage young Muslims to follow in the suit of sincere scholars of Islam.
Qaradawi’s Support for the Arab Spring
Around 40% of the voters nominated sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), to be “scholar of the year”. Most of the voters commended Qaradawi’s support for the Arab Spring and protests to overthrow dictatorship and oppressive regimes. Qaradawi’s fatwas and statements during the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan revolutions did greatly motivate the protestors and provided a Shari`ah-backing for the peaceful revolutions against oppression and tyranny. Moreover, Qaradawi’s full support for the Yemeni and Syrian revolutions is ongoing.
In addition, Qaradwi’s scholarly contributions gain great acceptance and support from Muslims all over the world. He founded the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), located in Dublin, to study and issue fatwas for Muslims living in Europe. Throughout his life, Qaradawi has spared no efforts to promote the moderate concepts of Islam and the correct application of its Shari`ah.
Ghanoushi’s Activism and Scholarly Legacy
Second to sheikh Qaradawi, around 15% voted for sheikh Rashid Ghanoushi, the previously exiled leader of Al-Nahda Party in Tunisia. Due to his political activities and involvement with Al-Nahda party, Ghanoushi, along with thousands of his compatriots, had been forced into political exile for over two decades but now, following the incredible public revolution in Tunisia which has inspired a rash of revolutions across the Arab world, Ghanoushi has returned to his Tunisian homeland. Ghanoushi, who is also a member of IUMS and ECFR, is widely known for his moderate views and stances.
Ghanoushi’s political party, Al-Nahda, which is known for its moderate and realistic concepts and stances, recorded a resounding victory in the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly elections. It received the most votes in all the electoral districts with the exception of Sidi Bouzeid, the cradle of the Tunisian revolution. Though Al-Nahda did not obtain a sizeable enough majority to form a government on its own, it got the right to lead a coalition with other major parties. Throughout the various phases of the Tunisian revolution, Ghanoushi kept on supporting the public benefit of all fabrics of the Tunisian society. His moderate and scholarly stances and works are among the main reasons of voting for him to be the “scholar of the year”.
Jamal Badawi’s Support for Muslim Minorities
Approximately, 10% of the voters nominated Dr. Jamal Badawi, an Egyptian born Muslim Canadian to be the “scholar of the year”. Badawi is well-known for his distinguished efforts and insightful scholarly contributions to promote moderate practice and vision of Islam, particularly in Muslim minorities.
|Some voters nominated the Azharite scholar Sheikh `Emad Eddin `Effat, who fell a martyr in this year Egypt’s protests, to be the “scholar of the year”.|
Dr. Badawi—who is a former professor who taught at a number of schools including the Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia—is the author of many books and articles on Islam. In addition, he researched, designed and presented a 352 segment television series on Islam, which was shown in many local TV stations in Canada, the US and as well as other countries all over the world. He also actively participates in lectures, seminars and interfaith dialogues in North America. Additionally, he is active in several Islamic organizations, including Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He is the founder/chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation, which is a non-profit foundation seeking to promote a better understanding of Islam and the Muslims. Currently, he is the Vice-Chairman of the Islamic University.
Martyrs and Prominent Scholars
Moreover, voters nominated tens of other prominent scholars from different parts of the world to be the “scholar of the year”. For instance, some people voted for Suhaib Webb, `Ali Jumu`ah, Salman Al-`Ouda, Yusuf Estes, Tariq Ramadan, Muhammd Hassan, and many other outstanding scholars.
Interestingly, some voters nominated the Azharite scholar Sheikh `Emad Eddin `Effat, who fell a martyr in this year Egypt’s protests, to be the “scholar of the year”.