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Islamic World’s ‘Fatwa’ Problem

“One of the biggest problems faced by the Islamic world today is fatwa, -which is simply a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority-.” Many scholars tried to shed light on the this topic in different definitions so far. This expression, on the other hand, belongs to Enes Ergene, one of my closest friends.

As an individual who has chosen the fiqh of Islam, which is a subject of the history of law in general except the worship and once practiced by the Muslims with a more accurate naming provided for Islamic law, as a field of interest on a professional level, I also agree on this opinion all the way. Indeed, the Muslim population of nearly 2 billion living on earth today has a problem with faith, the problem with morals reached the peak, the frozen mindset, as the Westerners call “fixed mindset” is on the rise, and of course, it is a fact that there is an undeniable methodology problem that basically forms the systemic of knowledge generation and thought in terms of discretionary approach towards the founding texts.  Finally, the problem of fatwa is a cherry on top of everything listed above.

Let me tell you the final sentence of the article already: The problem of fatwa is unsolvable as long as the problems in faith, morality, mentality, and methodology are not solved by the yard. Because they are topics that are attached to each other with un-untanglable strings. I said “by the yard” because it is against the nature of humans and goes against the grain to solve them completely. Therefore, it is not like it is possible but not difficult; it is simply not possible. I say let’s not mix reality and ideal at this point. Thus, my statement that it is not possible is a rational inference made consciously. 14-century-old Muslim history is also a witness to this.

Let me answer the questions that have the potential to be raised by the readers first: “Why this subject, and why now?” There are two main reasons. First, the fatwa provided by the Turkish government jurists and party muftis, who are now incorrigible and will never change in a month of Sundays, stooges of the liers in political life, and advocates of thieves, in order to justify all kinds of wrongs with religion. Maybe it is better to put it this way; it is not exactly a camouflage with a religious cover in order to justify the wrongs but rather presenting it as a commandment of religion. This final sentence of mine needs a separate article on its own but let me continue.

I do not think it is necessary to provide names. So many people emerged who deliberately and willingly chose to be scholars of the sultans instead of being the sultan of the scholars, one cannot help but ask “Where did all of these people come from for God’s sake?”. Only a few people were pointed out as role models, who had a dark soul, conscience, reasoning, and even a dark wallet in the past maybe but nowadays, unfortunately, many people without a name and fame joined who are heard with the fatwas I have mentioned. While fatwas, which do not coincide with the method or branches of the religion, pedestals and provisions of fiqh, purpose of the divine will or the affairs of the people, such as “Theft is not corruption, the law of persons and groups may be sacrificed for the vital interests of the state, it is illicit to say the truth if it has the potential to harm the government, interest deposit indexed to foreign currency is not considered as an interest but as a grant” spring to mind, nowadays many new faces who confirm such fatwas and provide additional information on top of them have emerged. You will better understand what I am talking about if you would like to check the signatures on the bottom of the document called “Ziraat Bank Currency Hedge Account Particiation Ratification Document” (Ziraat Bankasi Kur Korumali TL Katilma Hesabi Icazet Belgesi) which is being referred to as a type of modern fatwa thanks to its content.

You can ask yourself at this point: “Is it only Turkey?”. Of course, what I said applies not only to Turkey but also to all parts of the Islamic world. The topics discussed may be different, however, the only thing that does not change is the reality of fatwa which does not coincide with the spirit of true religion, and the affair of the people. In fact, there are some among them that reach another dimension and make life unbearable for Muslims. Please remember Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie’s assassination, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s condoning of suicide bombers. Such fatwas always exist behind tens of hundreds of different events such as the Taliban’s destruction of Buddhas of Bamiyan statutes, the attacks of 9/11 in the USA, July 7th in London, and March 11th in Madrid, ISIS’ beheadings of innocent civilians.

The second reason is about a matter that I heard and cannot stay silent about. This is a situation that has a counterpart in social life even if they are low in numbers when compared to the total number of families that are broken apart. However, my point of view on this matter is not mathematical. Because eventually, human life is at stake including everybody – the men, women, and children altogether. Matters involving human life cannot be viewed through digital microscopes. That said, people talk when one person dies but numbers talk when thousands die. In fact, this thought is quoted as a statement of Stalin: “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.”

Indeed, the events of death caused by traffic accidents, industrial accidents, suicides, and especially war are viewed from this perspective. The people who die in statistical context are just numbers but is this approach correct for God’s sake? Isn’t every single one of those who made up those numbers human? Anyway, without furder ado, let me tell clear everything up; I am talking about the unofficial religious marriage, which is the second one, of the husband without the knowledge of his first wife in the broken families. The reason is human nature in the most general sense. Unbearable loneliness in the natural course of life, especially sexuality. The necessity of a spouse with whom you will grasp the nettle against all the difficulties and ease of life together.

Fatwa is a type of solution provided by the muftis, (Islamic Jurists) in accordance with religious values, principles, and rules to any kind of problem we encounter in life.

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.


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