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11 Jamadi al-Awwal 1444  ,  05 December 2022

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*Fatwa and Sustainable Development Goals

Author : An Article by His Grace Shiekh Abdulkareem Al-Khasawneh

Date Added : 31-10-2022


*Fatwa and Sustainable Development Goals

 

Allah the Almighty has created man and appointed him a successor on earth. He the Exalted says {What means}: " Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." {Al-Baqarah, 30}. Succession entails living on earth and developing it from human, cultural, material, universal, and ethical perspectives. Allah the Almighty says {What means}: "It is He Who hath produced you from the earth and settled you therein." {Hud, 61}. This can`t be achieved save through connecting with the Creator Who entrusted man with this great mission and following His directives so that living on earth and developing it doesn`t deviate from the course of high values and principles, which guarantee justice, Ihsan (kindness), and the best investment of capacities and competences.

One aspect of this connection is the Fatwa (legal edict/advisory opinion) which intertwines with real life to enable man to perform the task of succession. In fact, Fatwa doesn`t impede the process of development; rather, it paves the way for steering and sustaining the wheel of development in various spheres of life. This is achieved through setting up Sharia controls that correct the development process and keep it on the straight path that pleases Allah.

Signs of sustainable development have appeared since the Prophet`s era where he (PBUH) rooted the concept of "Futuristic Fatwa" through providing answers for hypothetical facts that haven't happened yet and how to deal with them in the event of their occurrence.  Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and asked, "O Messenger of Allah! What shall I do if someone comes to me with the intention of taking away my property?" He replied, "Do not hand over it to him." The man asked, "What shall I do if he fights me?" The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Then fight him." "What will be my position in the Hereafter if he has killed me?" The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, "In that case you are a martyr." The man asked: "What if I killed him?" The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, "He will be in the Hell- fire." [Muslim].

Undoubtedly, this answer of the Prophet`s establishes a key concept, which is that Islam doesn`t only take facts into consideration, but also looks to the distant future, potential developments, in addition to purposes and effects of Fatwa. The Prophet's companions and the jurists who came after them adopted this approach of visualizing issues. This is to the extent that their books included Fatwas on hypothetical facts that only happened in our time. This indicated that they had a broad perspective and foresaw the future, which paved the way for the issuance of Fatwa by the scholars.

Moreover, there is no doubt that Islamic Sharia has elements of power that qualify it to steer and sustain the wheel of development in any society and in various fields. This is because it comes from a divine source and its provisions are based on the directives of Almighty Allah, Who commanded living on earth and developing it, and His Prophet (PBUH). Therefore, His Sharia is perfect and capable of dealing with these elements and managing them in the correct manner. Moreover, Allah made the Muslim nation, as a whole and along with its scholars and people of experience and competence, the best nation evolve for humankind and the seal of nations carrying the legacy of Prophets in the various fields of knowledge. Consequently, its provisions are stable and, in the meantime, balances between the stability of values, principles and general rules forming the foundation of life on the one hand, and the flexibility, which enabled it to handle facts and circumstances of life and emerging issues in every time and place on the other. Accordingly, the Muslim nation deserved to be as described by Allah: "Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced." {Al-Baqarah, 143}. This nation is moderate in terms of rulings, transactions, dealing with man`s needs and feelings, in tune with human nature, man`s psychological inclinations, natural needs, desires for possession, enjoying life and prosperity. However, this is without infringing upon the rights of others or transgressing against them with deception and greed, or compromising the right of Allah. Thus, the parameter is "Divine Legitimacy," which is the guarantor for this moderation and balance in the process of sustainable development.

Fatwa is one of the most important pillars for the development of society. Just as any other specialized field, Sharia has its scholars and Muftis who are the most influential in terms of drawing up the parameters that are in line with its rulings in various fields of the state to ensure its continuity and development in accordance with divine rules. In the economic domain, Fatwa shows the Sharia controls leading to preserving wealth through avoiding usury/interest and eating up people's property unjustly and encouraging them to observe solidarity and compassion. In the social domain, fatwa fights extremism and tagging Muslims with disbelief, calls for temperance and moderation, and treating people with kindness. During the corona-virus pandemic, Fatwa managed to solve many problems faced by scientists and medical doctors. It also clarified the best course of action to deal with this pandemic on the social level, and this paved the way for the disease to recede and get under control.

Through this conference and these scholar-gentlemen who have gathered from around the world, we call for more openness as regards whatever achieves the higher objectives of Sharia upon delivering Fatwas and considering their effects on the social, economic, and security levels. In past years, we witnessed the issuance of Fatwas that didn`t take the concepts of development and sustainability into account leading to the destruction of societies and their resources, stalling the wheel of production, and , even, claiming lives due to inconsistency in the issuance of Fatwa. Instead of steering and driving development and sustainability, Fatwa obstructed the wheel of production and development. Therefore, what is needed in these times is establishing strong institutions of Fatwa capable of completing the Prophetic approach continued by the companions and jurists in foreseeing the future through keeping abreast of technological and digital advancement, foreseeing and facing modern challenges, being a safety valve and a beacon for the future. 

Fatwas issued by Fatwa institutions and bodies should be reviewed on constant basis; particularly those issued long before and can`t keep abreast of the development process. Renewal based on the established fundamentals and constants established by the scholars of the Madhab (School of Islamic Thought) is a necessity considering variables of time and place. This reflects Sharia`s flexibility, inclusivity and ability to cope with emerging issues since it is undeniable that rules of law vary with change of time. The Messenger of Allah said: "At the beginning of every century God will send one who will renew its religion for this people.” (Abu Dawud transmitted it). Here, renewal concerns matters open for discussion and Ijtihad. As for definitive matters, they are fixed and not open for any discussion whatsoever, don`t change, even if time and place change, and not open for Ijtihad and disagreement. This is similar to rulings of definitive sourcing and understanding.

Moreover, the difference between a Mufti and a preacher must be explained to the people so that a person gets to know whom to turn to and that taking Fatwa from the specialized professionals becomes the motive for continuing the process of development and sustainability, and banning the unqualified individuals from issuing Fatwas. This is because the making of Fatwa requires special tools, considering the circumstances, the effects, and the interests of the people. This needs individuals with skilled minds capable of dealing with the realities of life and explaining the rulings of Sharia concerning them. And all perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

 

*A speech delivered by His Grace, the Grand Mufti of Jordan at the Conference of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide, Cairo 17-18/10/2022.

 

 

 

 

 

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