A Fatwa Free-for-all in the Islamic World

What is a fatwa exactly? It is a legal ruling. Since in Islam there is no separation between civil and religious rule, the fatwa can address almost any facte of life, from real estate, to jihad, to dietary rules, to travel rules, and so on.

Do Christians have anything equivalent to the fatwa? Not really. Sunni Islam is much like Protestantism in that there is no central authority, and just as Protestants and evangelicals divide into new denominations on a daily basis, you find the same thing in the Muslim world. The proliferation of fatwas is a result of this process.

CAIRO: First came the breast-feeding fatwa: It declared that the Islamic restriction on unmarried men and women being together could be lifted at work if the woman breast-fed her male colleagues five times. Then came the urine fatwa: It said that drinking the urine of the Prophet Muhammad was deemed a blessing.

For the past few weeks, the breast-feeding and urine fatwas have proved a source of national embarrassment in Egypt, not least because they were issued by representatives of the highest religious authorities in the land.

"We were very angered when we heard about the Danish cartoons concerning our Prophet," wrote Galal Amin in the newspaper Al Masry Al Yom, referring to the 2005 publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that caused an international uproar. "However, these two fatwas are harming our Islamic religion and our Prophet more than the cartoons."

For many Muslims, fatwas, or religious edicts, are the bridge between the principles of their faith and modern life. They are supposed to be issued by religious scholars who look to the Koran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad for guidance.

Read it all HERE.


SocietyVs said…
I find that whole fatwa thing a little suspect and dangerous personally - then again I have seen what they tried to Salman Rushdie via a fatwa.
Abu Daoud said…
Yes, the most famous fatwa of all. Though here the whole deal about adult men drinking breast milk from a woman was also pretty controversial :-)

But in Islam law and grace are so intertwined, they are actually the same thing really. So it is an absolutely essential part of the civilization that we call Islam.

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