Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dar Al-Iftā’ Conference, entitled "The Role of Fatwa in the Stability of Communities"

Dar Al-Iftā’ Conference, entitled  "The Role of Fatwa in the Stability of Communities"

A Speech by  His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar,  Professor Ahmad At-Tayyeb at Dar Al-Iftā’ Conference Auditorium, entitled  "The Role of Fatwa in the Stability of Communities"


In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Mercy-Giver

Praise be to God. May God’s peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad and upon His Family and Companions! 

Dear leading muftis and scholars!

Ladies and Gentlemen  

As-Salamu ‛Alaykum wa Raḥmatu Allahi wa Barakatuh

     It is pleasure to me and my dear brother Professor Shawqi ‛Allām, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, to welcome you all in your homeland of Egypt, the cradle of civilization and the land of Prophets and religions. Egypt embraces the honorable institution of Al-Azhar marked as the fortress of moderation and the ultimate destination of all the Muslims in the east and the west. We welcome you all amid your fellow people, brothers, and colleagues!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

     My speech today won’t delve into the academic research on fatwa issues, social needs to fatwa, or fatwa contributions to human life or its role in improving human living standards and conditions. Likewise, I will not examine any other related juristic issues, such as the way we follow to issue compatible fatwas in line with realities or the way we apply them to new cases and incidences. Indeed, I explored such issues in my speech at the past conference last year, which discussed the chaotic fatwas on marriage and divorce leading to several injustices against women in the name of Shari‛a while the Shari‛a is the icon of justice and truth; it earnestly relieves all those oppressed or distressed.           

     In this conference honorably sponsored by His Excellence President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, my speech is just a cry of sorrow or a yell of pain. It is a complaint I convey to the people of Knowledge and the guards of Shari‛a who are in charge of protecting the heavenly values from false ones. Those people remove all traces of forgeries in areas of fatwas and guide people to the way of God, apart from the claims of pretenders who deform Islam and recklessly violate the sanctities of the Qur’an, Hadith, and Muslim Heritage. The latter assume the positions of scholars with nasty prowess and well-devised campaign, unhidden to any—I think-–of those who spot the evils of this chaos and feel the responsibility to eliminate their dangers before any other duty, even that of their livelihood and basic needs of life.

     Fatwa has always been the duty of erudite Muslim scholars, noted for their knowledge, honesty, and religious sincerity, through the Arab and Muslim worlds. The fatwa institutions have always been the only religious bodies to which people, in pursuit of Divine pleasure, used to resort to, for legal guidance and decisions about their life and the Hereafter, so that they may feel relieved before their Lord.

     The juristic choice of a mufti was indeed a choice by a person who undertakes the duty of delivering the message from God to people. I recall when I was entrusted with the mission of Iftāˀ that I was deeply held in fears and vacillation, lest I should unduly permit an unlawful matter or block a lawful thing. It was not because any shortage in juristic skills or qualifications. Thank God, I belong to a generation who had their education at the hand of encyclopedic scholars. Those scholars carefully taught us Islamic legal theories, creedal doctrines, and juristic issues, particularly those of fiqh which has had the greatest share in the scholarly hours. Fiqh was always the subject of the first morning hour, five days a week, for nine educational years. Early in the sixtieth of the last century, I joined the Faculty of Theology  where I pursued the studies of personal status laws and Muslim legal theories at the hand of his scholarly authority Imam Muhammad Abu Zahrah, may Allah rest his soul in peace, for more than two consecutive years. This juristic and jurisprudential background upheld by other necessary sciences underpinned me and my colleagues during our early life and encouraged me to accept the duty of Iftāˀ. I have come to know that most of the questions are very easy to answer while others need a committee of muftis. It is not proper for one person to issue a legal ruling on some issues no matter how huge his knowledge of fiqh and uşūl might be. Examples include the issues of banking systems, organ transplantation, milk banks, microinjection, baby gender determination, etc.       

     To set the heart at rest, I used to refer such issues to the meetings of the Islamic Research Academy, rich with specialized scholars, which Dar Ul-Iftāˀ used to lack, including physicians, economists, and experts of banking of genetic engineering, and law, among others. Ultimately, a reliable view approved by the meeting was issued. In this regard, I recall my company with the Late Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Muhammad Sayyed Tantawy, may Allah rest his soul in peace, and the late Judge Faruq Saif An-Nasr, the then minister of Justice. I feared to have any direction from the officials regarding judicial cases, as some colleagues used to whisper. While giving me the judicial verdict, it was a surprise that Grand Imam Tantawy said to me: “Only decide what rests your conscience at ease and saves you from blame before God. Here, we shoulder you with this duty and relieve ourselves from blame by leaving the rulings to you”. For a year and a half, I assumed the duty of Dar Ul-Iftāˀ. I worked in full freedom and impartiality and had evident respect from all officials, people, press, and mass media. Conversely, some scholars and muftis are afflicted with pressures and challenges unfamiliar to their work, namely, attacks on Muslim heritage and arousing doubts about it by some unqualified persons who lack religious knowledge and scholarly understanding and do not have the least necessary culture, etiquettes, or even respect for more than 1.5 billion Muslims who deeply honor and appreciate their heritage.

     This fake, yet well-plotted, attack has its own forged claims to confuse the youth. Claims that appeal to young men and women, such as enlightenment, freedom of creativity, and freedom of expression (including the right to express oneself though at the expense of facts of religion and Shari‛a) have become very rampant. It has become recurrent to misquote statements of jurists out of their contexts and semantic areas to let them appear odd and displeasing. The second step was to air them on TV shows to stigmatize the Shari‛a and deform the Muslim laws in talks replete with sophistry, errors, perplexities, and epistemological misconceptions in clear imperceptions. These fake intellectuals are unable to differentiate between the stipulation of a certain action per se and its possible legal consequences. Like the distance between the east and the west, these two matters may be far away from one another. In some cases, the consequent effects could be mere mental probabilities and hypotheses beyond any possible materialization. Such rare probabilities may only occur in cases of odd persons, whose very human nature is spoiled, yet the international laws and conventions of the Western civilization work hard to protect them today.  

This chaos is, however, expected in the light of the strong winds storming our region and destroying huge territories thereof. Other parts only wait for the due time for destruction following suspicious agendas. Nevertheless, it is beyond all imagination to induce scholars, attributed to knowledge or assuming scholastic costume, by means of popularity, fame, and wealth to take part in making such lies and acting as false witnesses for such grave falsities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

     We have to contemplate on this phenomenon. Why does Islam, among all religions, suffer this heinous attack? Do we hear or watch Jewish programs aired in Hebrew or any other tongue that attack the Torah or Talmud through irony and derision, aiming to change mind of the Jewish families concerning their religion and religious laws?  Do we hear or watch Christian programs aired in the Arab or Muslim lands that attack the Gospel or invite the Christians to abandon their religion and its teachings? Such attack, if it ever occurs, will never pass unpunished. It is a shame that Islam is openly and boldly manipulated with witnessed by Muslim scholars! 

Dear scholars,

     It is not a sheer accident that a number of Arab and Muslim countries simultaneously suffer destruction within a few years. Suspicious calls shyly appear and encourage the necessity of destructing and disrespecting the elders. They even disregard our tradition in which we bring up our children; they think such that tradition has no place whatever in the future amid the culture of ‘modern chaos’. They have their suspicious plot to devastate the Muslim heritage and subject Muslim imams and famous figures to mindless torrents of ridicule in wild frenzy reflecting the huge conspiracy against the Muslim civilization. Meanwhile, Al-Azhar faces such systematic attacks that it has become a custom to condemn and attack Al-Azhar following any terrorist attack in hopeless attempts to throw doubts in the Muslim hearts regarding it. Now, we even exactly anticipate the time planned for such attacks. We observe two possible situations for it: first, in the wake of any terrorist attacks and, second, after any achievement by Al-Azhar inside or outside while undertaking its mission. At times of achievements, it is the best choice to keep silent entirely or to underestimate it!

     Other possible responses include error-finding, the search after natural human mistakes to broadcast after necessary enlargement and disgusting exaggeration. I have no way to explain this persistent attempt to associate terrorism with Islam but to adulterate and spoil the Muslim perception and awareness, drawing their attention away from the original cause underlying and feeding terrorism, which is unjust international politics that knows nothing about human kindness, fraternity, or ethics. The economies of some countries mainly depend on weapon trade and exportation. As such, arousing seditions and wars among the Muslims becomes a necessity of life to them!

     In the meanwhile, popular appeals are many calling for legalizing sexual perversion as one of the human rights. This mindless claim is very extraneous to the eastern men noted for their dignity and wisdom, who naturally dislike immoral deviations and inversions. At the same time, those Westernized minds shamelessly and openly called for man-woman equality in inheritance and for legalizing marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. It is a new chapter from CEDAW that aim to eliminate any distinction between men and women. The Arabs and Muslims are required to abide by this and disregard their reservations on it. We have hoped to hear the voices of the Houses of Iftāˀ around the world against this outright aggression on the Qur’an and Sharia. We wish they had backed Al-Azhar defense of the Divine message. Thanks to the Egyptian House of Fatwa, a statement was issued condemning this claim! We hope that other Muslim bodies and major academies of fiqh expedite to condemn this explicit violation of the religion of Islam. My thanks and prayers are due to the great Sheikh Hamada Saeed, the former mufti of Tunisia, and to the scholars and Sheiks of Az-Zaytouna University, who forewarned Muslims against these false claims to gender equality in inheritance and women’s marriage to non-Muslim men.    

Ladies and gentlemen,

     If I have a suggestion to this international conference attended by the leading Muslim muftis around the world, it is to establish a special academic department in the faculties of Shari‛a or Islamic disciplines under the title of “Department of Fatwa and its Disciplines”.  It shall be a subject for Shari‛a undergraduate students, starting from their first academic year. The programs of such a department shall be encyclopedic. They shall not be restricted to the topics of fiqh, but shall also have to examine the necessary textual and rational disciplines, especially logic and debate with practical juristic examples. A due care shall be given to the area of the major objectives of Shari‛a (maqāşid) and their dimensions. Al-Azhar institution and university are currently paying due attention to this issue and waiting for your own suggestions in this regard.


Thank you very much

As-Salamu ‛Alaykum wa Raḥmatu Allahi wa Barakatuh

Ahmad At-Tayyeb

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar

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