THE WORD “FATWA”
FATWA is an Arabic word, and it literally means “opinion”.
Related words in Arabic are “afta”, which means to give an opinion, and “yastafti”, which means to ask for an opinion.
In fact, in Arabic countries, an opinion poll is called an “istifta”, which is simply a different form of the same word. As you can see, there is nothing sinister or scary about the word itself.
This was the linguistic meaning of the word “fatwa”. In a religious context, the word “fatwa” carries more meaning.
This is because when a Muslim has a question that they need to be answered from an Islamic point of view, they ask an Islamic scholar this question, and the answer is known as a “fatwa”. This “fatwa” carries more weight than just the random opinion of any person on the street. Muslim scholars are expected to give their “fatwa” based on religious evidence, not based on their personal opinions. Therefore, their “fatwa” is sometimes regarded as a religious ruling.
How Muslim scholars extract religious law or rulings, and upon which they base their “fatwa”?
1-The first is the Quran, which is the book of God, and which is the direct and literal word of God, revealed to Prophet Mohammad.
2-The second source is the Sunnah, which incorporates anything that the Prophet Mohammad said, did or approved of.
3-The third source is the consensus of the scholars (IJMA), meaning that if the scholars of a previous generation have all agreed on a certain issue, then this consensus is regarded as representing Islam.
4- Finally, if no evidence is found regarding a specific question from the three first sources, then an Islamic scholar performs what is known as “ijtihad”.
This means that they use their own logic and reasoning to come up with the best answer according to the best of their ability.
It is also interesting to note that different scholars frequently have different opinions regarding any given question. This is why there is usually more than one “fatwa” regarding any one question. In fact, there are a number of methodologies for how to understand evidence gathered from the previously mentioned sources of Islamic law.
Scholars who follow different methodologies will frequently arrive at different answers to the same question. It is well known that in Islam there are four “schools of thought”, and each of them differ with respect to certain aspects.
Four Sunni schools of thought (religious jurisprudence) or Fiqhs are:
1. Shafi’i School
2. Hanbali School
3. Maliki School
4. Hanafi School
ALLAH IS THE ONLY LAW MAKER
The Quran tells us that Allah is the only law maker, and hence no human (Molvi, Mufti or Imam, scholar or similar) has the authority to issue religious laws:
“Shall I seek other than Allah as a law maker when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?” 6:114
We also read in the Quran that not even the prophet Muhammad had the right to make laws. We read in the Quran about an occasion when the prophet made the error of prohibiting something which was not prohibited by Allah and Allah immediately reprimanded him in the Quran:
“O prophet, why do you prohibit what Allah has made lawful in order to please your wives” 66:1
We must indeed inquire as to why Allah included this verse in the Quran? Does Allah intend to belittle the prophet and to highlight his errors in the eyes of the believers? The answer is no. The reason Allah placed this very important verse in the Quran is to ascertain every reader of the Quran, and across all ages, that no one has the right to issue religious laws (fatwa’a) except Allah. Messengers are sent as deliverers of Allah’s message (5:99) and not as law makers. We read in the Quran that prophet Muhammad was commanded to rule among the people only through what Allah revealed to him in the Quran:
“Then we revealed to you (O Muhammad) this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with Allah’s revelations (Quran), and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you.” 5:48
In view of the above, we must inquire: If the prophet of Allah did not have the authority to issue religious laws, what gives a self proclaimed Molvi, Mufti or Imam this right?
From the above it can be concluded that:
1- All man made fatwa’s are unlawful (6:114)
2- All who issue fatwa’s are intruding on the exclusive right of Allah as being the only law giver, and thus they are committing a great sin.
3- All who follow such fatwa’s are committing shirk (associating others with Allah). This is because they have set up their Molvi, Mufti or Imam (or their source of fatwa) as a partner with Allah as a law maker:
“Or have they set up ‘shuraka’a’ (partners) who decree for them religious laws never authorized by Allah. If it were not for the predetermined decision, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.” 42:21
ARE THE MUFTIS AND RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS ALLOWED TO GIVE THEIR OPINION?
The Quran gives the details of what Allah deems is necessary to be known by His servants. Whatever is believed to be absent is left to the discretion of the individual.
One must bear in mind that Allah gave man the liberty to make his own judgment and discern good from evil.
Harams and Halals have already been established in the Quran.
Any thing beyond, before, after, up, down means we have to prevent, restrict, control, modify but we can not make it Haram or Hilal with our own will.
HALAL & HARAM ONLY THAT WHAT ALLAH HAS MENTIONED IN QURAN
To Make Lawful and to Prohibit Is the Right of Allah Alone. Prohibiting the Halal and Permitting the Haram Is Similar to Committing Shirk.
No Molvi, Mufti or Imam can make things from Halal to Haram.
No Molvi, Mufti or Imam can over write the Law of Quran by churning Haram activities to Halal.