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Resolution 153: The Issuance of Fatwas: Rules and Conditions

Resolution 153: The Issuance of Fatwas: Rules and Conditions

DECLARATION 153

THE ISSUANCE OF FATWAS: RULES AND CONDITIONS

The international islamic fiqh academy, a subsidiary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which held its seventeenth session in Amman in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from 28th Jumada I until 2nd Jumada I I1427 ah/ 24-28 June 2006 ce, having discussed the questions presented to the Academy on "The Issuance of Fatwas: Rules and Conditions," and after hearing debate on it, has decided upon:

FIRST: the meaning of "issuing fatwas" (ifta') and the "issuer of fatwas" (mufti), and the importance of issuing fatwas.

To issue difatwa means to make clear a legal ruling (hukm) in response to a question, or it can be issued without a question in order to make clear the legal ruling on some new situation for the purpose of setting right the principles and practices of people.

The mufti is one who knows legal rulings, decisions, and precedent. He possesses the knowledge and ability by which he can derive legal rulings and apply them to new situations and questions.

The fatwa is a matter of utmost seriousness, because it makes clear the law of the Lord of the worlds, and in his ruling the mufti acts on behalf of God, and he follows the model of the the Messenger of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) by making clear the rulings of the Shari'ah.

SECOND: the conditions for issuing difatwa.

It is impermissible for one to undertake the issuing difatwa if he has not realized the established conditions in this field, and the most important among them are:

  1. Knowledge of the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace, as well as related disciplines.
  2. Knowledge of the fields of consensus (ijma') and disagreement, the schools of Islamic Jurisprudence (mathahib), and legal opinion.
  3. Complete knowledge of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), its origins and its rules, the goals of sharia, as well as disciplines which contribute to this such as grammar and syntax, rhetoric, linguisitics, logic, and so forth.
  4. Knowledge of people's circumstances and their customs, the condi-tions and developments of the time, with due regard to how they change insofar as this concerns [law] that is derived from a relevant custom ('urf) that does not contradict a source text (nass).
  5. The ability to derive rulings in the Shari'ah (Islamic law) from the source texts.
  6. Consultation with experts on various specialized topics in order to formulate the answer to the question, such as medical, economic, and similar questions.

THIRD: collective fatwas.

Since many contemporary issues are difficult and complex, to reach an un-derstanding about them and to comprehend of their ruling requires that the fatwa be collective, and this cannot be realized except through recourse to the fatwa bodies and the councils and academies of fiqh.

FOURTH: taking difatwa as binding.

In principle a fatwa is not binding juridically (qada'), though it is binding religiously (diyanah). A Muslim cannot go against [a. fatwa] when there are clear proofs for its correctness. Islamic financial institutions must conform to the fatwas of the Shari'ah bodies, within the framework of decisions of the Fiqh Academy.

FIFTH: those from whom fatwas cannot be taken.

  1. A fatwa cannot be taken from one who does not meet the conditions mentioned above
  2. Often fatwas broadcast through various media are only valid for the person who requested it, except in cases when the circumstances and conditions of the one who encounters such a fatwa are like those of the one who requested the fatwa.
  3. Anomolous fatwa which contradict definitive texts and [which con-tradict] fatwas arrived at by consensus are to be ignored.

SIXTH: the rules for issuing fatwas.

The mufti must be sincere before God in his fatwa. He must be noble, calm, cognisant of the conditions around him, and be modest and reserved in his soul. He must follow what he decrees in his fatwa, through commission or omission. He must be far from doubt, and be deliberate in his answer when faced with ambiguities and problematic questions. He must take counsel from other learned people, and must constantly read and study. He must be trustworthy in keeping secrets, pray to God to grant him success in his fatwa, stop when he does not know or when he needs to research and check.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Academy recommends the following:

  1. The collaboration and coordination between the fiqh bodies in the Islamic world should continue, in order to study new questions and current events.
  2. The issuing of fatwas should be discipline unto itself, taught in university departments, institutes for the Shari'ah, and institutes for the preparation of judges, imams, and preachers.
  3. From time to time councils should be convened to explain the importance of the fatwas and people's need for them in order to address new issues.
  4. The Academy recommends making use of Academy resolution 104 (7/11), which addressed how to make use of fatwas, and specifically the following re-commendations contained therein:
    1. One should be wary of fatwas which are not based on [Islamic] legal (Shari'ah) principles and which do not take as their foundation proofs which are valid in terms of [Islamic] law, and which are only based on supposed benefit (maslahah),are legally invalid, spring from passion, and are affected by circumstances,conditions, and customs which run counter to the principles, rulings, and goals of Islamic law.
    2. We call upon those scholars, bodies, and committees who undertake to issue fatwas to take into consideration the resolutions and recommendations of the Fiqh Academy, in an effort towards having correct, coordinated, and unified fatwas in the Islamic world.

And God knows best.

 


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