Fatwa: # 17192
Category: Misc. Fiqh
Country: United Kingdom
Date: 15th October 2008

Title

What exactly is a Fatwa? On what grounds can a Fatwa be issued?

Question

What exactly is a Fatwa
On what grounds can a Fatwa be issued?
How influential is a Fatwa?
Are there different standards of Fatwa for different levels of courts/Muslims authorities?
Is a Fatwa binding? If so is it for the local people or for the general Muslims.

Jazakallah.

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

1.        According to Shariah, Fatwa is defined as:

“Fatwa is to communicate the Law of Allah with regards to matters of Deen substantiated by validations stipulated in the Shariah to those who enquire with regards to matters of revelation in a general way and in manner that is not enforcing or compelling (Al Misbah Fi Rasmil Mufti Wamanahihil Ifta Vol.1 Page 16)”

The words “matters of Deen” has been used in the definition and not “Laws of Shariah” as sometimes a Mufti is questioned with regards to issues that do not pertain to Amal (actions) like Salah, Wudhu etc. for example issues of Tafseer, Aqeedah, Hadith, general advice etc.

Stipulated validations refers to those Masaa’il which are proven from the recognized sources of Shariah.

“In a general way” means that the Fatwa could be applied or practiced upon by more than one individual. If others are faced with the same situation of the questioner, the fatwa issued could be practiced by them as well. This draws a distinction between Iftaa and Qadhaa. A Fatwa is more general and could be practised upon by many individuals. However, a Qadhaa (decree) issued by a Qadhi (Judge) can only be practised upon by the specific person regarding whom judgement has been issued. In short, a Fatwa is more general while a Qadhaa is specific for an individual.

Another fundamental difference between Iftaa and Qadhaa is that a Fatwa is not enforceable. That is a Mufti cannot compel the Mustafti (questioner) to practice upon his Fatwa. However, a Qaadhi (Judge appointed by the Muslim Government) has the power of Infaaz (ability to enforce practice of his Decree). If a citizen does not practice upon the decree of a Qaadhi, he could be charged on violation of a Court Judgement.

2.        In former times a Mufti was regarded to be a Mujtahid (one who deduces ruling directly from the sources of Shariah). Nowadays the term Mufti has become common to those who specialize in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh). In reality, a Mufti nowadays only makes reference to the books of our illustrious Fuqahaa (jurists) and issues rulings in their books.

 

حاشية رد المحتار - (ج 1 / ص 74)

قال في [ فتح القدير ] وقد استقر رأي الاصوليين على أن المفتي هو المجتهد، فأما غير المجتهد ممن يحفظ أقوال المجتهد فليس بمفت، والواجب عليه إذا سئل أن يذكر قول المجتهد كالامام على وجه الحكاية، فعرف أن ما يكون في زماننا من فتوى الموجودين ليس بفتوى، بل هو نقل كلام المفتي ليأخذ به المستفتي.

And Allah knows best

Wassalam

 


Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa

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