Shaykh Yusuf Abd-Allah al-Qaradawi was a member of a poor family of peasants who were devout Muslims. He became an orphan at the age of two when his father deceased.
He was fostered by his uncle, who proved to be a kind person who cared for the well-being of his young nephew Yusuf. His uncle directed him to memorize Qur'an in the village's Kuttab . He finished the memorization at the age of ten, and his uncle celebrated the occasion and from that date his relatives addressed him by the title of Shaykh.
When Shaykh Yusuf finished his primary education, his uncle thought of teaching him a craft to provide his nephew with a source of income. But the young Shaykh had other thoughts. He was eager to continue his education to learn Islamic knowledge. He convinced his uncle with his will, and again the kind uncle's generosity paved the way for Shaykh Yusuf's Islamic education.
Shaykh Yusuf joined the institute of of religious studies of Tanta . This was the first step in his Azharite education. After nine years he graduated from the institute and travelled to Cairo to join al-Azhar, where he enrolled to the Faculty of Religion's Fundamentals ( Usul al-Din ) . In 1953, he graduted from the faculty and ranked first of his class.
In the period from 1953 to 1960, Shaykh Yusuf continued his graduate Azharite studies. In 1957, he ranked first out of 500 students in the teaching specialization of the Faculty of Arabic Language .
In parallel to his graduate study of Arabic Language he enrolled in the graduate program in the Department of Qur'an and Sunna Scineces of the Faculty of Religion's Fundamentals ( Usul al-Din ) . He was the only student among his classmates who passed the preliminary exam and graduated in 1960.
In 1960 he started in the preparation for the PhD degree,
but the crackdown made by president Nasser's regime on members
of the Moslem Brotherood (which Shaykh al-Qaradawi joined
at an early age) led to the inevitable delay of Shaykh al-Qaradawi's
PhD defense until 1973, where he passed the PhD defense with
distinction. The title of his thesis was "Zakah and its effect on solving social problems".
Shaykh al-Qaradawi joined the Islamic movement of the Moslem Brotherhood as early as the days of his primary education in Tanta's institute of religious studies.
Shaykh al-Qaradawi states that Imam Hassan al-Banna (Founder of the Moslem Brotherhood) is his foremost mentor. Although he met the Imam in a few occasions, the impact of the Imam's personality on the young Shaykh was tremendous. Other Shaykhs who contributed to the personality of Shaykh al-Qaradawi include Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali, Shaykh al-Bahiyy al-Kholy, Shaykh Muhammad Abd-Allah Daraz, Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut and Shaykh Abd al-Halim Mahmud .
Shaykh al-Qaradawi always admired the writings of Imam ibn-Taymiya , Imam ibn al-Qayyim and Shaykh Muhammad Rasheed Rida .
Shaykh al-Qaradawi was responsible for the Islamic movement activities in al-Azhar in the early fifties. He was a member of the organizing committee of the Azharite volunteers fighting the British occupation of the Suez Canal.
When the guerilla operations ended in the Suez Canal zone in 1952, Shaykh al-Qaradawi formed a delegation of Azharite students who met with several senior Shaykhs in the institution to improve the Azharite curriculum, which acquired the absolute sympathy of Shaykh Muhammad al-Khidr Husayn , who was al-Azhar's Grand Imam at that time.
Shaykh al-Qaradawi's affiliation with the Moslem Brotherhood led to his detention in Egyptian prisons in the year 1949, the period from 1954 to 1956 and for a brief period in 1962.
Shaykh al-Qaradawi started preaching officialy in Cairean mosques in 1956. In 1959 he was banned from preaching and was transferred to Islamic cultural department in al-Azhar.
In 1962, he was sent by al-Azhar to Qatar as a chairman of the Qatari secondary institute of religious studies.
In 1977, he laid the foundation for the Faculty of Islamic Shari'a in the university of Qatar and became the faculty's dean. In the same year he founded the Centre of Sira and Sunna Research.
He was the first to call for the esablishment of the International Association of Islamic Relief, to help Muslims in the world confront poverty and disease.
Dr. al-Qaradawi is a talented poet. Excerpts of his poetry are gathered in the book Nafahat wa Lafahat.
Dr. al-Qaradawi authored more than fourty books. One of the
main characteristics of his works is his academian style
and his objective thought. His book Fiqh al-Zakah is probably
the most comprehensive work in the area of Zakat. Imam Abu
al-A'la al-Mawdudi commented on the book by saying that it
is "the book of this century in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)".
In the 1980s and 1990s Dr. al-Qaradawi contributed at large
to guiding the thoughts of Muslim youth. His balanced and
middle-wayed points of view made him one of the foremost
reverred thinkers among Muslim youth.
The pubilcations of Shaykh al-Qaradawi include:
al-Khasa'is al-`Ama li al-Islam ( The general characterisitcs of Islam ), 1977.
Fiqh al-Zakah (The jurisprudence of zakah), Two volumes, 1969.
al-Sahwa al-Islamiya bayna al-juhud wa al-tataruf ( Islamic awakening between rejection and extremism), 1984.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 1984, Risalat al-Azhar bayna
al-Ams wa al-Yawm wa al-Ghadd
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 1988, Nafahat wa Lafahat