By Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
1 July 2018
Anyone with an interest can notice the chaos related to the issuance of Fiqh rulings in the past few years. The revolutionary tide, the formation of fundamentalist movements and the resurgence of political Islam groups have coincided with the fragmentation of many countries’ structure, unrest in their institutions and breakdown of their relations to the point that large areas of the region ended up being managed by militias and other countries.
Despite their great history, several countries are losing the essential prerequisites of statehood to eventually end up as failed states and enter into a dark history where officials in these countries adhere to the order of the ‘Wali al Faqih’. Nevertheless, the most dangerous aspect related to the issuance of Fatwas and rulings by ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood is the latter’s establishment of Fiqh groups claiming they represent the Ummah. They attempt to break down religious institutions in each country in order to issue their disastrous Fatwas and terrorist rulings.
The positive thing in light of all of this chaos is how moderate countries have stepped in to strengthen the work of local religious institutions and to revamp them in a way that is relevant to the different facets of life and developments. The UAE cabinet issued a decision on June 25 to form the Emirates Fatwa Council under the chairmanship of Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah.
As reported by the UAE News Agency (WAM), the Council "will aim to combine relevant efforts, visions and objectives, and organize the work of government authorities, institutions and individuals related to Fatwas. The Council will issue general Fatwas concerning various topics, upon the request of official authorities, institutions or individuals. It will also grant licenses to issue Fatwas, train muftis and develop their skills, and conduct related studies and research.” It will also oversee the Fatwa Centre in the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, WAM added.
This council restrains the chaotic Fatwas issued by the ignorant and extremists and restores the prestige of Fiqh after many charlatans has taken it as their profession. Issuing Fatwas has its conditions. Not everyone who has memorized Sharia or Hadith can issue Fatwas. Indeed, there are personal conditions related to the understanding and knowledge of the signs and purposes of the Sharia, along with having interpersonal wisdom.
Many of the problems facing Muslims today are because of the Fiqh renewal, like some did in terms of issuing provisions including their exaggerated opinions about jihad. This approach has been adopted by groups of extremists and theorists such as Sayyed Qutb.
In the end, if Islamic countries want to take the route to development, they will first need to control the disruptive religious rhetoric coming from Ifta and speech platforms, and media programs that describe themselves as legitimate religious sources, while they are purely fundamentalist movements. Without this restraint, bitter experience will repeat itself. The experience of the UAE should be praised and highlighted. Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most men know not.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts.