Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Mufti’s Responsibility | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Issuing fatwas (religious edicts) is an important task that was undertaken by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), followed by the righteous Caliphs and religious scholars. During the time of the Companions of the Prophet, many respected scholars and companions refrained from issuing fatwas, in the knowledge that they were unskilled in such a task.

With time, religious scholars took on the task of issuing fatwas and wrote books on jurisprudence and codified judgments.

In every era, there needs to be ulema (scholars) who are qualified to issue fatwas and who are distinguished by their knowledge of jurisprudence and extracting rulings from texts. They should also be knowledgeable in implementing fatwa in different circumstances, according to the Prophet’s teachings. They should seek people’s best interests and avoid what is corrupt.

Religious texts and scholars have warned of the dangers of issuing fatwas by those who lack the required knowledge. Imam Ibn al Qaim said that not every person could issue edicts and only the faqih should issue fatwas.

Therefore, I believe that the issuing religious edicts should not be confined to a small number of people, as hundreds of millions of Muslims urgently require individual edicts to lead their daily lives. Despite modern technological developments, those assigned with issuing fatwas have failed to meet people’s needs. As for official fatwas on issues facing governments and prominent issues, these are covered by official channels.

Regarding every day issues, such as the economic boycott, these matters are left to the muftis assigned by the grand jurist to assist him in his task, while he focuses on issues such as jihad, because it is impossible to follow contradictory fatwas in general matters.

For all the reasons mentioned above, those who do not trust themselves or who lack the ability to understand Shariaa and the right course of action, should not become a mufti, lest they mislead themselves and others.