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:
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.
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.
The Academy recommends the following:
And God knows best.