Hizbullah flag
Hizbullah flagAFP photo

The highly influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, retracted his previous defense of Hizbullah and Iran, in an interview with Al Arabiya aired on Sunday.

“When Hizbullah was fighting against Israel, I defended it. I stood against the Muslim scholars in Saudi Arabia, the most renowned scholars who warned us against Hizbullah,” he said.

“They warned us against Hizbullah’s plans to sow discord. They warned us against their ideology and intentions. I stood up and defended them [Hizbullah],” he added.

He described the group, whose name means in Arabic the Party of God, as a “party of Satan” that seeks to sow discord in the Muslim land.

“Those who are fighting against the Syrian people and call themselves Hizbullah (Party of God) in Arabic are the Party of Satan,” he said.

The prominent Muslim scholar declared that Saudi religious scholars were “more mature and knowledgeable” about his Hizbullah and Iran than he.

“I believed things were as they seemed to be. I wanted to unite all Muslims; Muslims fighting against Israel, how can I support Israel? But it seems that the scholars –may they rest in peace if they died, and may God bless them if they are still alive – they were smarter than me,” he said.

“Those, whom I defended, went and killed their brothers in Syria. We thought that they were our brothers, but apparently they are not,” he added.

The sheikh is best known for his program, Shariah and Life, broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide. He is also well known for IslamOnline, a popular website he helped found in 1997 and for which he now serves as chief religious scholar.