Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Issuing a fatwa has become a matter of pride, according to Saudi Arabia’s Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz al Sheikh, the minister for Islamic affairs.
In a recently published book on the issue, Al Sheik criticized individuals who issue religious edicts without having sufficient knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence to do so and condemned those did not respect the process. He called on muftis to fear God and only be cautious when issuing Fatwas.
Some individuals in Saudi Arabia, he added, have issued religious edicts while eating or talking on the phone. Every media outlet, including satellite television stations, now has a resident mufti, evidence that the situation in the Kingdom has reached crisis point.
If people are left to do as they please, the minister wrote, chaos would take hold and misleading edicts would be issued. He also listed the conditions a Muslim should abide by when issuing an edict or requesting one and recommended individuals follow the examples of Prophet Mohammed.
In his book, Al Sheikh distinguished between those who avoid issuing a fatwa and those who avoid saying the truth. “If a mufti has to issue a fatwa and possesses the appropriate knowledge to do so, and there is no else than ca, then he is obliged to give a religious verdict.”
He indicated that jihad (or interpretation) occurs when the scholar is able to extract the jurisdiction rulings from the text. Ijtihad, he added, should occur within the scope of the recognized schools of Fiqh, such as Shafei or Hanbali, and not extend beyond their rulings.
Al Sheikh indicated that individuals who seek to issue Fatwas should: base their edict on Shariaa and not keep anything hidden from the person seeking the fatwa. Those seeking a religious edict should show respect, ask for justification, if one is needed, and use the fatwa to identify the truth and abide by it. Fatwas, he added, can be direct or implicit.