The Fatwa Every Muslim Leader Should Be Issuing

fatwaimage

In the Quran and the Hadith, there is no definitive decree on who has the right to issue a fatwa, or religious ruling. Tradition has dictated those with formal education and training in Islamic law should be the only ones issuing fatwas. But, fatwas are not binding, and since there are multiple schools of Islamic jurisprudence, anyone can technically declare themselves a scholar and issue a fatwa. In fact, there are multiple Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) that say a Muslim is free to disobey a fatwa if it doesn’t feel write in his/her heart. So what’s the point of all this? I think that, instead of writing fatwas that say volunteering for the Mars space mission is against Islam, or fatwas against instant messaging on social media, this is the fatwa that every Muslim should be issuing.

In the name of Allah, most beneficent and merciful.

Terrorism and the killing of innocent people, whether they be Muslims or not, is expressly forbidden in Islam. No Muslim should condone or support that actions of terrorist organizations, nor should any Muslim carry out terrorist actions which target innocent people or attempt to inspire fear in the public. Any Muslim who commits a terrorist act or supports terrorism is committing a sin under Islam and will be punished accordingly in the Hereafter.

The Holy Quran, in Surat Al-Maidah, Chapter 5, Verse 32, states, “For this reason, We made it a law for the children of Israel that the killing of a person for reasons other than legal retaliation or for stopping corruption in the land is as great a sin as murdering all of mankind. However, to save a life would be as great a virtue as to save all of mankind.” The Quran only allows for the killing of a person if it is in retaliation for aggression already committed or for spreading severe corruption in the land.

The Holy Quran, in Surat Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, Verse 190, states, “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not, aggressors.” Allah expressly forbids beginning hostilities against others. Aggression is not permitted in Islam.

The tradition of Islamic war further demonstrates that the tactics used by terrorists are not permitted. To be legitimate, in addition to meeting all the criteria for a just war, Islamic war must be declared by a leader of the umma, or Muslim community. No such universal leader exists in today’s world. The Prophet (PBUH) further expressly forbade the killing of women, children, and the old (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 3015). The Muslim, even if engaged in a just battle, will not kill non-combatants, as terrorists regularly do.

All of this also aside from the reality that terrorist organizations commit violence against their Muslim brothers and sisters, which is definitely forbidden in Islam.

Islam does not permit the killing of innocents, nor does it permit violent aggression in the name of the religion. Not even the Verse of the Sword, as it has come to be known, allows for the killing of innocents or for killing as an act of aggression, only as an act of defensive warfare.

So let it be decreed that terrorist actions, and support of those actions, are forbidden in Islam. Truly those who engage in such actions are committing a grave sin and an act of disbelief. Grave punishment, not reward, await them in the afterlife.

8 Replies to “The Fatwa Every Muslim Leader Should Be Issuing”

  1. In saying that you need no degree of scholarship to issue a fatwa is like saying a layman can fix the international space station. By all means you are entitled to your interpretation, but it does not receive the attention of a fatwa. Don’t mix your God given gift of rationality with the hours of study scholars invest into issuing fatwas. Nonetheless, I agree with your words. Its a point that needs to be reiterated to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

    1. This is precisely what I am talking about. Your notion of who can issue a fatwa is not backed up by any scholarship, or religious text. It is also contradicted by numerous traditions in which the Prophet took council from people you would consider incapable of issuing religious decree. The basis for your opinion doesn’t seem to be one of actual thought, but rather emotional and based upon what you have been taught.

  2. I apologize for my naiveness or ignorance. I didn’t realize I had the burden of proving the scholarship behind fatwas. I come from an area where knowledge of these things is pretty common place. Nonetheless, I rechecked my sources, because there’s nothing I dislike more than to propagate ignorance.

    http://www.islamicsupremecouncil.org/understanding-islam/legal-rulings/44-what-is-a-fatwa.html

    Second paragraph. “A fatwā is an Islamic legal pronouncement, issued by an expert in religious law (mufti), pertaining to a specific issue, usually at the request of an individual or judge to resolve an issue where Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), is unclear.”

    Fatwas are deeply connected to Islam’s 1400 year old history. Fatwas are a mechanism which are intended to lead the Muslim Ummah in the right direction after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Fatwa’s are issued very similarly to how the electoral college votes on the next President. A group of scholars come together to release a fatwa after hours of debate and discussion. One of the earliest examples of fatwa, was when the Caliph Abu Bakr compiled a physical copy of the Quran to preserve it against the test of time. Some argued that he shouldn’t and some argued he should. Ultimately a fatwa was the final decision. We trust fatwas for the rigorous process which they undergo. Your blog post on the other hand (regardless how impressive) isn’t a fatwa.

    Islam isn’t some rigid and monolithic religion run by Arab bearded men. Free speech is allowed in Islam, and there’s scripture which defends your right to it. There’s multiple schools of thought and sects in Islam. Moreover there are multiple fatwas on certain issues. Moreover, you have free will and your judgement from Allah is unique to you. So you 100% have the right to reject the authority of Mufti’s and fatwas. You also 100% have the right and encouraged to engage in discussions about terrorism and other issues the Muslim Ummah currently faces. The fundamental point I was making is fatwas, as defined by Islamic history, undergo a rigorous process. Me (a layman with no accreditation) going out in public and saying “killing is prohibited” can’t and won’t ever be a fatwa. Although its a rational idea and even if I invested millions of hours researching the issue, my statement is not a fatwa. There’s a process, and the process you described in your original post lacks the accreditation and rigor as an actual fatwa. Call it what you like, but it’s not a fatwa. You trying to revolutionize the definition of a fatwa is absurd. I agree with everything you said in your original post, but calling it a fatwa is too much.

    I encourage you to research the idea of Ijma’ (group consensus) in Islam. I discussion about fatwas without ijma’ is unjust. Also, the idea of “Aql” (critical thinking) is important if we want to advance the discussion contrasting fatwas and personal opinion.

    Forgive me and Allah knows best.

    1. This is kind of my point. Your definition of a fatwa is not based in scripture or in hadith, like many practices which are adopted my Muslims. A layman can in fact issue a fatwa; there is nothing prohibiting it. It doesn’t, however, carry weight because of the traditions people have established.

      Your interpretation of Islam is a good one, and I’m glad to see these are the views you hold. You do, however, need to separate Islam from the Islamic world. Free speech, criticism, etc… are all encouraged in Islam, but not in the Islamic nations, where people are executed for criticizing the government or religion.

      The beauty of Islam is precisely that it was never intended to be subject to the will of a clergy, as are other Abrahamic faiths. In fact, the Prophet himself took counsel from Ali when he was 12, from his wives who had no scholarship, and from military advisors who did not have expertise in military strategy. The Quran encourages us to seek knowledge from experts when we do not know, yes, but it also states that book has been made easy for all to read and understand.

      Your response highlights some of the issues I have with Islamic rulings. The process itself is not based in Islamic scripture we are able to reference. Furthermore, the problem is trusting these fatwas stems from that lack of reference. For example, a fatwa was issued in the UAE prohibiting Muslims from joining the space mission to Mars. And people will obey this fatwa. Similarly, fatwas on the lives of people like Salman Rushdi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are obeyed by people, leading to violence and an increasingly negative perception of Islam by people the world over.

      If ordinary people were encouraged to study their scriptures, form their own opinions, and be permitted to issue those opinions without fear of punishment, then it would inevitably lead to a much richer and stronger Islamic world.

      1. You mention plenty of good points about problems with fatwas, intellectualism in Muslim nations, and Middle Eastern governments.

        It’s good you acknowledge that your blog doesn’t hold the same weight as a fatwa issued by Mufti, but consider this. If every Muslim who has a Facebook created a post including their “fatwa” on selling alcohol in gas stations, who do we put our trust in? Is the best debater or speaker always right? Does the person with the most “likes” on their post have the best fatwa? At that point, what is a fatwa? It is just another blog or Facebook post? Or is there a system which Muslims established to civilly decide on urgent and hot button issues.

        No hadith or Quranic verse is necessary to prove the validity of a fatwa. No hadith or Quranic verse is necessary to prove a layman should or shouldn’t issue a fatwa. Islam is a civilization, and creating one is very similar to how the Founding Fathers created the United States. Not every detail and mechanism is outlined in The Constitution. Is SCOTUS always 100% right? Obviously not. They are humans, but the system is the best we have. Similarly, not every detail is outlined in the Quran and Hadith. The Quran doesn’t explain to us how to change a lightbulb. Humans create systems for a reason, and the quality of those systems are only as good as its people. I believe it’s the people and not the system that needs a reformation first in the Middle East. Like you mentioned ordinary people should empower education and demand higher quality from all Muftis (jurisprudence experts) in the Muslim world. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t create competing systems because we can’t properly negotiate and compromise the status quo. This will further weaken the Muslim Ummah from fitna (civil strife). The Muslim world is already politically divided. The last thing we need is to become divided on the internet as well.

        1. I agree that there has to be a system; that’s an excellent. The point of my post may have also been that the system needs to be dramatically changed. I don’t even know that we need a system of fatwas, but rather let’s allow popular decree to decide on religious matters. It is just an option, maybe not even one that I fully advocate. The issue I see is that the current system isn’t working, and in order to maybe fix the issue, we do need another system which is better.

    2. By the way, thank you for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it. This is the type of discussion I would like to foster here, and your perspective is a valuable one.

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