Code of conduct for issuing or receiving Fatwas

Author: Resident Fatwa Committee
| Category: General Issues

The Fatwa, or the religious ruling or counseling about an Islamic issue that concerns Muslims, is a demonstration for the Islamic legal ruling. Islamic Scholars bear the responsibility of the delivering the message of Allah to the people, Muslims and non-Muslim. They are, as we are told by our beloved prophet, the heirs of prophets and messengers of Allah.

Seeking Fatwa, like any other designated task should be done with sincerity and accuracy. Therefore in the process of issuing or receiving a fatwa, one must realize the following:

First: Guidelines for the Fatwa seekers:

1- The end of Fatwa seeking being erasing ignorance or eliminating a doubt, and it is not merely constraint or wasting time.

2- Precise description of the Fatwa and honesty in presenting it, because the Fatwa scholar is a captive of the Fatwa seeker, and the more clear and precise the Fatwa is presented, the more clear and useful the solution or the answer would be.

3- Objectivity in seeking the Shari`ah ruling and counseling and avoiding seeking to wear legality upon personal whims, because true designated tasks necessitate that the designated person should negate his self and forgets about his personal interests in order to be an honest servant to his Lord.

3- Following the Fatwa scholar whom one believes that he counsels him with the ruling of Shari`ah and the judgment of Allah, and the means for this is to seek the most knowledgeable and the most pious Shari`ah scholars, when he finds differences among them, and this is known as publicity and circulation.

4- Precision in seeking the evidence, and not to be insistent on it if the Fatwa scholar denies mentioning it.

5- Avoiding roving about between the Fatwa scholars, in order not to be perplexed and confused, just to seek the Fatwa counseling with whom there is trust in his faith and knowledge, and then comes trust in his counsel, and if he feels unconvinced, then he could seek another more knowledgeable Fatwa scholar, etc, until he feels that his request is satisfactorily answered.

6- Avoiding asking the proscribed questions, about which knowledge would not avail nor ignorance would be harmful, and upon which there would not be action and that would open up doors for argument and dispute.

7- Avoiding making intentions of asking hard and complicated questions to the Fatwa scholar, in order to test, embarrass, and making him seeming ignorant in front of the people.

8- Avoiding asking questions which answering them would raise hostility against Fatwa scholars, and that would necessitate not to be raised on public.

8- Avoiding asking questions that would expose some organizations or individuals to the temptation of controversy, except which must be strongly addressed, like grave innovations on whose bases loyalty to Allah and hostility for Him are governed.

9- Avoiding launching offensives with some Fatawa against others, or getting the Fatwa scholars involved in arguments and disputes that they are not part of or have no knowledge of its dimensions.

10- Understanding the Fatwa scholars` silence and their avoidance for answering them or ignoring them in some cases, and not to press them for answers, because some issues necessitate silence or ignoring.

11- Choosing the best time for asking Fatwa questions, like it is not convenient to ask the Fatwa scholar while he is involved in talking with others, or while he is temporarily in a bad mood, like when he feels angry, sad, cheerful, etc.

12- Respecting and appreciating the Fatwa scholars, like politely addressing them and praying to Allah for them at the beginning of their contact.

Second: Guidelines for the Fatwa scholar:

1- Devoting the sole intent of the Fatwa scholar for Allah the Almighty, and he should keep asking Allah for His forgiveness and support, because deeds are governed by intents, and everyone is judged by his intent, and as the prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him said that: “The danger poised by two hungry wolves to devour sheep is less harmful than the danger posed by one`s devotion to money and honor to his religion”. And that who does not have intent, has no light about him, and no light about his Fatwa, either.

2- Showing respect and patience to others, and avoiding talking nonsense, laughing, or frivolity, in order to maintain the dignity of Fatwa and the Fatwa scholars` status, and to dignify Allah`s rulings and Shari`ah.

3- Keeping the Fatwa free from subjectivity, personal whims, partisan or organizational goals, and he should be cautious against being dragged by the whims of the common people as well as by the elites and the rulers.

4- Saying the truth, even if it is bitter, and those who are not being able to say it, at least they should not speak of incorrectness.

5- Making sure that what he rules as answers to the Fatwa, is fully sound and correct, because the most daring people for answering Fatwa are the less knowledgeable people, and therefore they are the most daring people to approach the Hell-Fire.

6- It is far better for the Fatwa scholar to say, when countered by some issue he does not know how to handle it: “Allah knows best”, than daring to delve into illusions and incorrectness, especially if he dares to say something that Allah the Almighty does not say!

Avoiding assuming generalizations and summarizations that would lead to assumptions and hypotheses, like when he thinks that a certain issue is agreed upon by the consensus of the Muslim Shari`ah scholars, and actually there is no such consensus at all.

7- Conveying to the common Muslims what is common and known from the Fatwa scholars` views, and avoiding mentioning the most famous and queer views.

8- voiding defaming or insulting those who have different views of the Fatwa scholars in their meetings, or to show hostility against their Fatwa rulings, because there should be no demonstration of differences in matters of independent opinions of judgment, and there is no problem in commenting upon what he thinks that needs explanation or clarification, in order that he clears his conscience, counsels the people, and not to be held accountable for hiding knowledge from people.

9- Avoiding being soft and easy with Fatwa rulings by following the easy ways or by adopting dispraised fabrication, because whoever is known that he follows such ways, his Fatwa rulings are judged null and void, and he should not be counseled.

10- Fiqh is the license from the authority Shari`ah scholar, but ruling things prohibited could easily be issued by anyone, and daring for prohibiting things is the same as daring for making permissible things, because both rulings are daring to attribute sayings unto Allah the Almighty without knowledge.

11- Consulting with the fellow Fatwa scholars, and referring the Fatwa that needs further investigations and collective reviewing to the Fatwa Committees or the Fiqh Assemblies, by using means of modern media and technologies, because collective opinion is more correct and sound than individual independent opinion of judgment.

12- Efficiency in being involved in the Da`wah and guidance activities does not necessarily mean that this merit gives qualifications to be capable in leading the way in Fatwa and judicial issues, because there are tremendous differences between the two domains.

13- Maintaining the Fatwa from being used as a tool or means of attacking and insulting others, or to become as a fuel for the temptation of disruption with the opponents` views.

14- Showing kindness and mercy towards the Fatwa seekers, and exerting efforts to bring about their hearts and souls to the fold of obeying Allah the Almighty and His Messenger, prayers and peace be upon him, and to be patient with their questions, even if they seem simple and recurrent, and to guide them to the other legal alternatives in case the Fatwa questions are related to illegal transactions or non-Islamic conducts.

15- Avoiding being hasty and rashy in issuing Fatwa rulings in standing disputes before having a comprehensive study of its minutes and details, and listening well to all its concerned parties, because Fatwa issuing may come closer to judgment passing in some situations of obligation, arbitration, and settling disputes.

16- Supporting the Fatwa with the evidence(s), whenever possible, in order to deepen the meaning of observance in the hearts of the Fatwa seekers, especially in direct and clear evidences of judgments and rulings.

17- Being self-sufficient and self-satisfied from others, so as to maintain the stand and reputation of the Fatwa status and to prevent looking forward for what is there in the hands of the Fatwa seekers, and to keep aloof from sharing with them the pursuit for worldly gains and affairs, even if it is legal and permissible from the Shari`ah point of view

Resident Fatwa Committee

AMJA Resident Fatwa Committee.
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