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A widely respected legal scholar, Islamist activist, and renowned host of al-Jazeera's most popular religious program, Sharia and Life, Yusuf al-Qaradawi is an extremely controversial figure in contemporary Islamism. When he was a young man, Qaradawi attended a lecture by Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and immediately joined the organization's youth wing. After earning his degree in theology at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Qaradawi settled in Qatar, where he played a pivotal role in establishing a system of Islamic higher education. When the Muslim Brotherhood was forced underground in the 1960s, Qaradawi eschewed a formal position with the movement, opting instead to pursue a career as a major writer and ideologist of contemporary Islamist thought. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Qaradawi became one of a handful of Islamist ulama(Muslim scholars) who were accepted as authorities on doctrinal and political matters, both by Islamists and within the wider Islamic resurgence. Bettina Gr#xE4;f and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen provide the first book-length treatment of Yusuf al-Qaradawi in English. Since the 1990s, Qaradawi has cleverly exploited new media to reach a global audience. He was one of the first Sunni scholars to launch his own Web site and is heavily involved with Islam Online. Having just celebrated the ten year anniversary of Sharia and Life, Qaradawi is unquestionably the most important Sunni religious figure in the world today, and these essays initiate readers into his immensely influential speeches and thought.
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