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Are You Passing Fatwas?

Are You Passing Fatwas?


Salam, I was just wondering, do your answers on questions of music, hijab, and other similar subjects considered a fatwa or a personal opinion? Or is your personal opinion considered a fatwa?

Wa alykum as-salaam,

I would first like to underline that I have never expressed an opinion on whether Hijab was Fard (obligatory), because I do not feel that it is my place to speak on such an issue, because I am a man, and that I believe that women must underline what Hijab means to them, and while I may express an opinion, it will only be within the acceptable limits set about by those who are subject to such parameters.

Please do not misconstrue this statement to mean that I disapprove of Hijab, as some have inquired, because I am simply saying, that it is up to women, and that women are the best judge of this issue.

That being said, I hope I have been clear that I am in the process of completing my education, and while I currently have a Masters Degree, I am not finished with my education, and I am currently in the process of finalizing what degree(s) I will end my education with in the following year, insha Allah. I do not want to mislead people into thinking that I have finished my education, because I have not, and in my About section I have tried to be as clear as possible, while attempting to keep my personal details as private as possible.

As far as whether what I write here is a Fatwa or not, I would say that no, I am not issuing a Fatwa. The only people capable of issuing a Fatwa are those who have the right to do so (dictated, classically, by their government), but more importantly, they should hold an official position.

“Fatwa” today simply means “a religious opinion,” but that is not what a “Fatwa” meant historically and for the overwhelming majority of Islamic History. A “Fatwa” was a jurisprudential decision, rather than just the opinion of someone who has received training in Islamic Sciences.

So, when Imam Abu Hanifa, for instance, wrote a Fatwa, it wasn’t because he decided to think about something, it was because there was a case in front of him, a situation. Did he write about Shariah, in the abstract? Of course, but that is different than a Fatwa.

Think of a Fatwa like the Opinion of a Court. So, when a Justice on the Supreme Court (of the US) writes an Opinion, there is the force of the court and the legal system that makes their opinion relevant. If that same Justice retires from the Court, and writes what they think about a certain case, they no longer are part of the Court, they no longer in a place to make their views relevant, from a point of governmental power. Their opinion is just that, an opinion.

Today, we do not have our Shayookh (plural of Sheikh) as what they historically were: judges. So, that’s why now we call them “scholars,” because that’s what they are, they aren’t Qadis (Judges) anymore.

So, no, I do not issue a Fatwa, but unless someone was part of the State’s apparatus of religious functions, like say a Grand Mufti, then a Fatwa is simply an opinion issued by a person, even if they have every Islamic degree any human could ever earn.

I do not consider my opinion to be a Fatwa, it is just the opinion of a Graduate Student, who writes and lectures about Shariah, and I simply am sharing what little knowledge I have because I have become frustrated with the methods that Islam (and Shariah, in particular) is taught to Muslims in the West.

I hope that answers your question, and if not, please do not hesitate to ask me more questions, insha Allah.

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