One nation under God? Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s changing Fiqh of citizenship in the light of the Islamic legal tradition

David Warren, Christine Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the wake of the Arab Revolutions of 2011, countries in the Middle East are grappling with how Islamists might be included within a regime of democratic political pluralism and how their aspirations for an “Islamic state” could affect the citizenship status of non-Muslims. While Islamic jurisprudence on this issue has traditionally classified non-Muslims in Islamic society as protected peoples or dhimma, endowed with what the authors term “minority citizenship”, this article will examine how the transnational intellectual Wasaṭiyya or Centrist movement, of which Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the figurehead, have sought to develop a new fiqh of citizenship in which Muslims and non-Muslims have equal civil and political rights. This article will focus on Yusuf al-Qaradawi on the basis that his very recent shift in 2010 on the issue is yet to be studied in depth, as well as in view of the fact that the dilemma faced by reformist Islamic scholars—how to integrate modern concepts into a legal tradition while simultaneously arguing for that tradition’s continuing relevance and authority—is for him rendered particularly acute, given that this tradition is itself the very source of his own authority and relevance. It will therefore be argued that the legacy of the Islamic legal tradition structures his discourse in a very specific way, thereby having the potential to render it more persuasive to his audience, and worthy of a more detailed examination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-237
JournalContemporary Islam
Issue number3
Early online date5 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • citizenship
  • islam
  • muslim minorities
  • minorities in the arab world


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