In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
There is no good in much of their secret conferences save (in) whosoever enjoineth charity and fairness and peace-making among the people, and whoso doeth that, seeking the good pleasure of God, We shall bestow on him a vast reward. / And whoso opposeth the messenger after the guidance (of God) hath been manifested unto him, and followeth other than the believer’s way, We appoint for him that unto which he himself hath turned, and expose him unto hell – a hapless journey’s end! / Lo! God pardoneth not that partners should be ascribed unto Him. He pardoneth all save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners unto God hath wandered far astray. (Al-Nisa’, 4:114-116)
(I) Overview: A Unique and Historical Islamic Consensus
Over the course of the two years 2005-2006 CE, 1426-1427 AH, there occurred a series of events of great historical importance to the worldwide Islamic nation (Ummah), events without parallel for fourteen centuries, ever since the time of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib—may God honour his countenance. The sum of these events was that by the grace of God and through the efforts of the Hashemite King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the Ummah agreed by unanimous and universal consensus (ijma‘) among both the political and acknowledged religious leadership upon three fundamental matters, namely: (1) the definition of who is a Muslim; (2) who has the right to issue fatwas in the name of Islam, and (3) who and under what circumstances has the right to call a someone else a kafir (an apostate). The agreement on these three issues, which have come to be known as the ‘Three Points of the Amman Message’, amounts to a unique, historical, complete and mutual inter-recognition by all Muslims of each other as fellow Muslims, through the voices of the leading Muslim authorities of the day from all the major existing schools of thought and denominations. It also represents a unanimous consensus (ijma‘) of the Ummah on who—and within what pre-conditions, qualifications, circumstances and parameters—is qualified to issue a fatwa or legal ruling in Islam (and therefore is a mufti). It thus constitutes a definitive demarcation of true Islam in all its forms, and an authoritative identification—if not a definition—of orthodoxy1 in Islam. And in it lies the promise of the unity and consolidation of the entire Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad—may peace and blessings be upon him.
٭ ٭ ٭
(II) The Amman Message
The process that led to this consensus began by the grace of God on the eve of the 27th of Ramadan 1425 AH / 9th November 2004 CE in Amman, Jordan, at the Hashemite Mosque, when H.M. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein launched what was called the ‘Amman Message’. This message was basically a detailed statement declaring what Islam is and what is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not. Its goal was to clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam, for unfortunately Islam is today the most misunderstood, most misrepresented and consequently most vilified religion in the world, despite comprising well over a fifth of the world population. The message was aimed not only at non-Muslims the world over (the majority of have a negative impression of Islam), but also at Muslims themselves, many of whom—especially the young—are confused about their own religion and what it entails.
(III) The Three Points of the Amman Message
In order to further clarify and make known the ‘true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam’, and in order, more importantly, to reaffirm the basic unity and fundamental common ground of all Muslims from every school of Islamic jurisprudence (Mathhab) and every school of Islamic thought, H.M. King Abdullah II then sent the following three questions to 242 of the most senior, recognized and influential mujtahids (senior-most scholars), ‘ulama’(scholars) and maraji’ (authorities3) from all around the world representing all the branches of Islam, schools of jurisprudence, schools of thought and religious orientations: Who is a Muslim? Who has the right to undertake issuing fatwas (legal rulings)? Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir)?
Based on the fatwas provided by these great scholars (who included the Shaykh Al-Azhar—Sunni Islam’s traditionally most respected authority; the foremost Shi’i Ayatollahs of Najaf and Iran; the Zeidi maraji’ of the Yemen; the Ibadhi Grand Mufti of Oman4, and the Grand Muftis and Supreme Fatwa Councils of the major Islamic countries that have these), H.M. King Abdullah II convened an international Islamic conference of approximately 2005 of the world’s leading Islamic scholars (‘ulama) from 50 countries in Amman, Jordan on 27th-29th Jumada I, 1426 AH / 4th-6th July 2005 CE. In Amman, the scholars agreed by unanimous consensus—and signed their names to—the following statement (whose essential first three points of—on takfir, the Mathhabs and fatwas—became known as the ‘Three Points of the Amman Message’):