From Academic Kids

Template:Islam A fatwa (Template:Lang-ar) plural fatāwa (Template:Lang-ar) , is a legal pronouncement in Islam, issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue. Usually a fatwa is issued at the request of an individual or a judge to settle a question where ’’fiqh,’’ Islamic jurisprudence, is unclear. A scholar capable of issuing fatwas is known as a Mufti.

Because Islam has no centralized priestly hierarchy, there is no uniform method to determine who can issue a valid fatwa and who cannot. Some Islamic scholars complain that too many people feel qualified to issue fatwas.

Different Islamic clerics can issue contradictory fatwas. The effect depends upon whether or not this takes place in a nation where Islamic law (sharia) is the basis of civil law.

In nations where Islamic law is the basis of civil law, fatwas by the national religious leadership are debated prior to being issued. Thus, they are rarely contradictory. If two fatwas were contradictory, the ruling bodies (combined civil and religious law) attempt to define a compromise interpretation that will eliminate the resulting ambiguity.

In nations where Islamic law is not the basis of law, Muslims often must face two contradictory fatwas. In such cases, the fatwa deriving from leadership of their religious tradition would be honored. For example, Sunni Muslims would favor a Sunni fatwa over a Shiite one.

The overwhelming majority of fatwas are on mundane matters (for examples see the archives linked below). Those declaring war or pronouncing death sentences are not at all representative, despite the attention they draw in English-language media. Such fatwas, however, have caught the attention of the western media and become widely renowned, especially among critics of Islam.

The best known of these was proclaimed in 1989 by the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, against Salman Rushdie‘s novel ’’The Satanic Verses’’. The argument related to an ostensibly blasphemous statement from an early biography of Prophet Muhammad, regarding incorporating pagan goddesses into Islam’s strongly monotheist structure. Khomeini died shortly after issuing the fatwa. In 1998 Iran stated that it is no longer pursuing Rushdie’s death; however the decree was again reversed in early 2005 by the present theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. See ’’Salman Rushdie’’ for details.

Fundamentalists in Bangladesh proclaimed a similar fatwa against Taslima Nasreen (which see for details) in 1993, against a series of newspaper columns in which she was critical of the treatment of women under Islam.

Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan, jointly with Ayman al-Zawahiri, proclaimed a fatwa in 1998 in the name of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, declaring, "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the holy mosque (in Mecca) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.'" For more information, see: Osama bin Laden Fatwa. (http://www.ict.org.il/articles/fatwah.htm)

Spanish Muslims proclaimed a fatwa against Bin Laden in March of 2005 [1] (http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/03/11/madrid.anniversary/). They said that he had abandoned his religion and they urged other Muslims to make similar proclamations.

See also

Other uses of the word

Sometimes the word fatwa is used loosely or as slang for other sorts of decrees, for example:-

"The pope issued a fatwa." (in a BBC television history program)
"The town's scuba diving club's committee at last issued its fatwa about rebreathers."

External links

de:Fatwa eo:Fatvo fr:Fatwa id:Fatwa ja:ファトワー nl:Fatwa no:Fatwa pl:Fatwa pt:Fatwa sv:Fatwa


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