(IV) The Making of a Universal Religious and Political Islamic Consensus

Two months after the International Islamic Conference in Amman in July 2005, the first three points of its final declaration (see above) were reaffirmed word for word at the Preparatory Gathering of ‘Ulama’ and Thinkers for the Extraordinary Session of the International Islamic Conference, which was held in Mecca the Blessed on 5th-7th Sha‘ban 1426 AH / 9th-11th September 2005 CE.

The same exact Three Points were then also unanimously ratified another two months later during the First International Conference on the Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence and Modern Challenges which was held at the Aal al-Bayt University in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 13th-15th Shawwal AH / 15th-17th November 2005 CE with the support of H.M. King Abdullah II.

Later that same month, on 20th-21st Shawwal 1426 AH / 22-23rd November 2005 CE, the Three Points of the Amman Message were also adopted word for word by the Executive Council of the Ministers of Religious Affairs meeting in Kuwait.

More significantly, the Amman Message in general and its Three Points in particular were adopted by the entire Islamic world represented at the head of state or government level during the third extraordinary summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference which was held at Mecca the Blessed (5th-6th Dhu’l-Qa‘da 1426 AH / 7th-8th December 2005 CE): the Mecca Conference’s final statement alluded to this, as did the Mecca (press) declaration. Moreover, the Secretary General’s Final Report and the Conference’s (unanimously-ratified) Ten-Year Program of Action (entitled Challenges Facing the Ummah in the 21st Century) explicitly recognized and adopted both the Amman Message in general and its Three Points in particular. Thus the fourth section of this Ten-Year program—which pertains to the multiplicity of schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Mathahib) —emphasizes two key points:

1) We underline the need to strengthen dialogue among Islamic schools of jurisprudence, affirm the true faith of their followers and the inadmissibility of accusing them of apostasy (takfir), as well as the inviolability of their blood, honour and property, as long as they believe in Allah the Mighty and Sublime, in the Prophet (pbuh) and in the other pillars of the Islamic faith, respect the pillars of Islam and do not deny any self-evident tenet of religion.

2) We condemn the audacity of those who are not qualified in issuing religious rulings (fatwa), thereby flouting the tenets and pillars of the religion and the well-established schools of jurisprudence. Consequently, compliance with the methodology of fatwa, as approved by scholars, must be observed in accordance with the relevant provisions of the International Islamic Conference held in Amman in July 2005 and with the recommendations of the Preparatory Forum of Muslim Scholars and Intellectuals prior to the Summit convened by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Honoured Mecca from 9th to 11th September 2005.

This was a universal and unanimous political consensus of the Islamic Ummah represented at the highest possible level, unique in its explicitness in the history of the O.I.C. and, indeed, in the history of Islam.

Nevertheless, the consensus of leading religious scholars on the Three Points of the Amman Message continued to coalesce. Thus on the 27th -29th Rabi’ I AH / 24th- 26th April 2006 CE, the Second International Conference of the Assembly for Moderate Islamic Thought and Culture (convened in Amman, Jordan with the support of H.M. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein) also adopted word for word the Three Points of the Amman Message by unanimous consensus.

Then on 28th Jumada I to 2nd Jumada II 1427 AH / 24th-28th June 2006 CE the Islamic Fiqh Academy held its 17th session in Amman, Jordan under the patronage of H.M. King Abdullah II. The Islamic Fiqh Academy, founded in 1401 AH / 1981 CE, is the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s Fiqh ‘arm’: each member state of the O.I.C. is represented in it (as well as a number of independent top fiqh experts). It is thus considered to be the highest international pan-Islamic fiqh-making body. In its 17th session, in addition to thanking H.M. King Abdullah II for his patronage and adopting his opening speech as a document of the Academy, it unanimously adopted and signed the whole of the Amman Message and its Three Points (on takfir, the Mathhabs and fatwas7) in the following (essentially identical) form:

(1) Whosoever is an adherent to one of the four Sunni schools (Mathahib) of Islamic jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i and Hanbali), the two Shi’i schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Ja`fari and Zaydi), the Ibadi school of Islamic jurisprudence and the Thahiri school of Islamic jurisprudence, is a Muslim. Declaring that person an apostate is impossible and impermissible. Verily his (or her) blood, honour, and property are inviolable. Moreover, in accordance with the Shaykh Al-Azhar’s fatwa, it is neither possible nor permissible to declare whosoever subscribes to the Ash`ari creed or whoever practices real Tasawwuf (Sufism) an apostate. Likewise, it is neither possible nor permissible to declare whosoever subscribes to true Salafi thought an apostate.

Equally, it is neither possible nor permissible to declare as apostates any other group of Muslims who believes in God, Glorified and Exalted be He, and His Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him), the pillars of faith (Iman), and the five pillars of Islam, and does not deny any necessarily self-evident tenet of religion.

(2) There exists more in common between the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence than there is difference between them. The adherents to the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are in agreement as regards the basic principles of Islam. All believe in Allah (God), Glorified and Exalted be He, the One and the Unique; that the Noble Qur’an is the Revealed Word of God preserved and protected by God, Exalted be He, from any change or aberration; and that our master Muhammad, may blessings and peace be upon him, is a Prophet and Messenger unto all mankind. All are in agreement about the five pillars of Islam: the two testaments of faith (shahadatayn); the ritual prayer (salat); almsgiving (zakat); fasting the month of Ramadan (sawm), and the Hajj to the sacred house of God (in Mecca). All are also in agreement about the foundations of belief: belief in Allah (God), His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, and in the Day of Judgment, in Divine Providence in good and in evil. Disagreements between the ‘ulama (scholars) of the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence are only with respect to the ancillary branches of religion (furu`) and some fundamentals (usul) [of the religion of Islam]. Disagreement with respect to the ancillary branches of religion (furu`) is a mercy. Long ago it was said that variance in opinion among the ‘ulama (scholars) “is a mercy”.

(3) Acknowledgement of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Mathahib) within Islam means adhering to a fundamental methodology in the issuance of fatwas: no one may issue a fatwa without the requisite qualifications of knowledge. No one may issue a fatwa without adhering to the methodology of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. No one may claim to do unlimited Ijtihad and create a new opinion or issue unacceptable fatwas that take Muslims out of the principles and certainties of the Shari`ah and what has been established in respect of its schools of jurisprudence.

(4) The essence of the Amman Message, which was issued on the Blessed Night of Power in the year 1425 AH and which was read aloud in the Masjid Al-Hashimiyyin, is adherence to the schools of Islamic jurisprudence and to their fundamental methodology. Acknowledging the schools of Islamic jurisprudence and affirming discussion and engagement between them ensures fairness, moderation, mutual forgiveness, compassion, and engaging in dialogue with others.

(5) We call for casting aside disagreement between Muslims and unifying their words and stances; reaffirming their mutual respect for each other; fortifying mutual affinity among their peoples and states; strengthening the ties of brotherhood which unite them in the mutual love of Allah. And we call upon Muslims to not permit discord and outside interference between them.

Allah, Glorified be He, says:

The believers are naught else than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brethren and fear Allah that perhaps ye may obtain mercy. (Al-Hujurat, 49:10).

Praise be to Allah Alone.

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