Religious Discourse

A Reality Check of Fatwa-Phobia

Muhammad Rashid Qasmi
Lecturer in Markazul Maarif
Education and Research Center, Mumbai
[email protected]
Sunday, 4 August 2019

One must be aware of the knowledge required for a thing when giving one’s opinion or commenting on it honestly. Or else the opinion will hardly do justice with the concerned matter. As a result, this will for sure; make both—one who will not get the opinion in his favor and one who will get it in his favor—to undergo harm.
The best example of dishonesty in remarks and analysis is—Fatwas—reported in the media. Some media persons use fatwa as a tool just to gain their personal profits. They, therefore, explain fatwas by detaching it from its original context and sometimes by adding suffixes or prefixes to it, before the world. Thus, the entire Muftis community (Islamic jurists) and their related Darul Iftas and Madrasas are targeted in such a way, as if they have issued an order to spread terrorism and violence.
What is worse, the media houses present some people as oppressed in the light of any particular fatwa with the intention of using distorted or truncated fatwas issued by experts to malign maulanas and madrasas. It would be sheer injustice to take these stories at their face value while ignoring the insidious intent of those presenting such incidents.
These stratagems help them succeed in what they planned on one hand; on the other hand it also causes to generate a huge gap between the two classes—common people and muftis. Our country is dotted by so many reliable and trusted Darul iftas where knowledgeable Islamic jurists issue fatwas based on Qur’an and ahadith. In spite of this, some short-sighted and ill- advised young muftis are always ready to exhibit their abilities, needlessly which besmirch the fair name of Islam and its upholders.
A mufti, however, must be aware of the contemporary situation and its requirements. There are some rules formed by authentic Islamic scholars for issuing fatwas. One is not authorized to issue any fatwa or to give his opinion regarding any query until and unless he goes through all the rules and regulations. For this purpose, the Islamic madrasas and institutions have designed an authentic and water-tight course for its graduates namely “Takahssus fil-Fiqh” (specialization in Islamic jurisprudence).
All the notable organizations and authentic Islamic madrasas all over the country should draw up an action plan for issuing fatwas, and stop maulanas who make public those pronouncements that are meant to remain in private. Accordingly, this will with no doubt, help in sidelining those who try to deface the image of Islam and Muslims and at same time, it will also help to stem the increasing tide of tendentious media reports.
The common people should avoid pillorying muftis without getting the exact confirmation when any fatwa is highlighted by the media. They rather should admit the issued fatwa, if it has been justified by muftis or any authentic institutions backed by the evidence of holy Qur’an and ahadith.
Fatwas are not based upon the mufti’s own will and perception, but derived from authentic precedents from the sources of Islamic law. All Muslims are bound to follow them without any ifs and buts. As a noted Islamic Scholar of Deoband Mufti Muhammadullah Khalili writes in this regard:
“A Mufti gives his utmost care and shows his full honesty when issuing any fatwa. He as a vicegerent of the prophet (saws) identifies the injunctions of Shariah. He neither forms any new law on his own when issuing any fatwa nor does he give his personal points of view in this regard. He rather notifies the rules prescribed by Islam which are mentioned in the books of fatwa in the light of Qur’an and ahadith. So it is enough for a fatwa issued by a Mufti to get acceptance if it is proved by Qur’an and ahadith. Despite this, if anybody jeers at the authentic fatwa given by Mufti, it means he is denigrating the Islamic laws.”
In addition to this, some responsibilities also devolve upon the journalists who must show honesty in such matters. If they feel it better to bring any particular fatwa before public for their benefit, they at first should directly receive the real text of fatwas from Darul iftas and then bring it out without making any kind of change or distortion in it.
It is totally against the tenets of credibility and honesty of news purveyors if they change or truncate something or they present it out of context before the public. It however, cannot be permissible at any cost and should be condemned severely.
Very often it seems that the usual discussion of muftis on news channels or their communication held on phone is published as a fatwa. This is nothing but distortion which is entirely against the spirit of journalism. For this reason, fabricated fatwas lead the common people astray. In order to save the sanctity of Islamic rulings, the Islamic madarsas and Darul iftas of the country must take a bold step to prevent the media from spreading misconceptions among Muslims by misusing fatwas.
Media channels and even the print media engage in such activity for TRP points and to lure the readers on wrong paths.
Those muftis who face such distortions in Islamic rulings must knock the court if any media house brings out any baseless and fictitious fatwa that has no place in Islam. It will definitely make them more careful in dealing with Islamic matters.
In a nutshell, fatwas are issued just to bring clarity and serenity in the lives of Muslims. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, fatwas are meant for private consideration only. They should not be presented as a spectacle of oppression of Muslims, especially those who have very little knowledge about the deeper aspects of Islam.

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