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Fatwa Hotline Launched in Britain - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A British branch of the Islamic Hotline was launched in Britain yesterday to answer questions and issue fatwas by telephone or e-mail. The service was first launched in Cairo nine years ago, and proved popular with Egyptians, answering millions of their inquiries on the provisions of Islamic Shariaa Law. Starting from next week, British Muslims will be able to contact a UK national telephone number and record their questions on Islamic Shariaa Law, they will then receive a personally tailored fatwa within a 48 hour period from a team of 15 Islamic scholars at the Al-Azhar University [in Egypt].

Sheikh Rafat Othman, a Professor of Islamic Shariaa Law at the Al Azhar University attended the launch ceremony for the British branch of the Islamic Hotline at the Dorchester Hotel in London, along with those running the British service. The launch ceremony was also attended by a number of figures who are involved with Muslim affairs in Britain.

Abeer Al Mudaris, a spokesperson for the Islamic Hotline revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the goal is to provide centrist and moderate [Islamic] opinions to the youth in Britain.” She added that “Al Azhar completely supports what we are doing” and that “we want to give [the youth] moderate advice to simplify their lives in Britain.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat Al Mudaris said “we want to confront extremist and the extremist ideology that is sweeping through Britain and many parts of the world. We want the Muslims to feel as if they can live in Britain without complicating their lives.”

She added “The benefit of recording questions means that we are able to review the appropriateness and consistency of the fatwas that we issue”

Al Mudaris informed Asharq Al-Awsat that neither she, nor the other five employees of the Islamic Hotline were Islamic scholars, but were aware of the social climate in countries such as Britain “and so we are able to help them [the scholars] to give answers that do not complicate people’s lives, but rather are an opinion.” She added that the scholars themselves had all “lived in foreign countries, which has helped them to understand different social environments.”

The Islamic Hotline service is not free, and telephone calls cost 75p per minute, while questions via email cost 68p per question, with questions being no longer than 750 characters.

The Islamic Hotline has been subject to criticism for receiving money in exchange for fatwas, and the Islamic Hotline website – which is available in English, Arabic, and Urdu – displays the following message on the homepage of its Arabic version: Some have accused us of trafficking in religion, but in reality the Islamic Hotline service is similar to many other Islamic services that help to spread the Islamic religion, such as the publishing houses that produce copies of the Quran and Hadith [Sayings of the Prophet]. The main purpose of this service is to provide awareness of a correct understanding of the Islamic religion to Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the globe, and to help them understand the provision of Islamic Shariaa Law according to the Quran and Sunnah [the way and manners of the Prophet].

Abeer Al Mudaris also informed Asharq Al-Awsat “All the money that we receive goes towards operational costs and paying the salaries of the scholars.” She added “This is not a profit making institution, our objective is not [to make] money.”

Al Mudaris revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the two main shareholders in the Islamic Hotline are its founders Cherif Meguid and Sheik Khalid Al Jundi, and that both men have “spent their personal funds to found the company, and have rescued it in times of financial difficulty.”

It is notable that the first foreign branch of the Islamic Hotline has been established in Britain, and that a branch will be opening in Saudi Arabia, as well as the establishment of an international number to receive inquiries from all over the world.

Al Mudaris informed Asharq Al-Awsat that since the launch of the Islamic Hotline in Cairo in 2000, the service received millions of inquiries, and that in its early stages the Hotline would receive 500 calls a day. She added that the number of telephone inquiries decreased over time as a result of “reliance on e-mail, and fatwas issued on television by various satellite channels.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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