Because You Asked: What is a Fatwa and How Does it Apply to Sharia?
An ATP Report Production – On this episode Anni Cyrus explains the details of fatwa and its impact on Muslims and Non-Muslims life within Sharia.
Welcome to Because You Asked, I’m Anni Cyrus.
Today on Because You Asked I will be covering a very, very complicated question: what is a fatwa and how does it apply to Sharia?
I’m sure most of you have heard of fatwa, but I’m sure most of you only know one meaning of it. The well-known meaning of fatwa as a bounty on somebody’s head. In the West when somebody says I have a fatwa on my head it means Muslims are out to kill me; I’m actually one of those people. I have a fatwa on my head, actually four of them and I used to have five, but one of the imams who issued mine died so the fatwa died with him, now I only have four. That being said, there’s actually a lot more into fatwa than just the bounty on the head. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to explain it in a way that it’s not a bad thing; yes, it is horrible when there is actually someone out there who can just order a hit on you, but a fatwa is an Islamic ruling that happens by a very specific level of Islamic scholar. Fatwa didn’t exist back in Muhammad’s time so it’s not part of Islam, it’s part of Sharia, which is Islamic law.
How a fatwa works is because Quran was written 1,400 years ago and Muhammad was way long ago and life goes on and things evolve and you know new situations, new technology, everything keeps changing, scholars of Islam came up with the idea of a fatwa. So, if there is a situation that there is no answer to or there is no actual permission for then a scholar, or a leader, a supreme leader of the Islamic state has the right to decide and rule on that situation, this is the basic idea.
So, where does he get the idea or how does he make that decision? First, he has to refer to Quran and if there is no answer there he will refer to Sunna, which is a guide book of Muhammad’s life, and if no answer is found there then he is going to move on to the previous scholars and imams, and Khalif, and if no answer is found there then he has the right to use what’s known as jihad which means to use your own logic, your knowledge, and your power to make a ruling, that’s how the process works.
Now, there are five different categories that every fatwa will fall under:
- It is mandatory, you have to do it
- Completely equal, and if you do what you do, and if you don’t do it it’s alright
- Permissible, which is the most popular one. If you do it it’s better but if you don’t do it, well that’s not going to basically make you a bad Muslim
- It’s better if you don’t do it but if you do it you can actually ask for forgiveness
- Is obviously no, no, no, no, no. If you do it, there’s no coming back from it
These are the five categories.
For example, a fatwa on somebody’s head goes under the category of mandatory. As a Muslim, if your imam issues a fatwa on somebody’s head, it is your obligation, it is your duty as a Muslim to kill that person, because the reason your imam issued a fatwa is because that person is harming Islam or that person is disrespecting Allah or Muhammad.
Then we have what’s known as charity, which is one of those categories that well it’s good if you do it but if you don’t do it it’s all right, which is the second category.
Then we have things like leaving Islam, that goes on the first category, no, no, no, no, no, you cannot do that. Those that go under no, no, no and yes, yes, yes category 99% of the time are coming from Quran. So, the scholar is issuing the fatwa based on today’s situation, but completely from verses of Quran. Those that go under permissible are those that are pretty much, for example, can I use an iPad, well back in the day there was no such thing as an iPad so the imam will say, yes as long as you’re not going to websites that are anti-Islam or propaganda against Islam or things like that. So, you can do it but there are filters involved.
Now, here’s the biggest problem I personally have with the existence of fatwa: at any moment, at any time of the day, any country an imam can actually issue any fatwa. He doesn’t need to have any proof of it for he doesn’t need to have actual authorities for it he can just issue it just like that, tomorrow morning an imam in America, Michigan can wake up and say based on my knowledge and based on my logic we need to just start killing all non-Muslims and as simple as that it becomes part of Sharia; my imam said it and Muslims can easily follow that step, they can follow that fatwa, so it is a big issue the fact that they have this power can be terrifying.
Let me give you an example, the latest fatwa that was issued in Islamic Republic of Iran by the supreme leader of the country was the fact that if you marry a woman and that woman has a girl that is not yours from a previous marriage and she is under the age of nine which is the legal age for a woman in Islam you are actually allowed to have feelings for her and marry her. Do you see the extent of horrification of this fatwa? In Islamic Republic of Iran today a man can fall in love with his infant stepdaughter and as soon as she turns nine he can marry her, this is what fatwa means. It’s not just a bounty on people’s head, like me, it’s not just a kill order or jihad order, it goes beyond that. It basically orders every step of your daily life. An imam can change your life as a Muslim or a non-Muslim. I’m not a Muslim but my life has been changed with every fatwa that has been issued on my head. I don’t have any control over it.
I hope this answered the question. Thank you so much Jennifer for sending that question. You are one of my best people, you definitely asked a very, very, very detailed important question. Please remember we are here to answer your questions, I am here to answer your Sharia related questions so don’t hesitate. Go to our website AmericanTruthProject.org sign up for our newsletter so when I answer your question you will receive an email with the video links so you won’t miss it, and also make sure to either send us your question via our social media, we are everywhere under American Truth Project, or you can write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, I’m Anni Cyrus.