The General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide
5th International Conference
Managing Juristic Differences: A Civilizational Approach
By Dr. Shawki Allam
Egypt’s Grand Mufti
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Praise be to God and may peace and blessings be upon our master, the Messenger of God, and upon his Companions and those who have followed him.
The fifth international conference of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide has concluded its deliberations by the grace of God. The conference titled “Managing Juristic Differences: A Civilizational Approach” was held in Cairo on 15-16 October 2019 CE/17-18 Safar 1441 AH under the kind auspices of the President of Egypt, HE Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and was attended by ministers, muftis, ambassadors, scholars, statesmen, journalists, and media figures.
Participating in the conference and its sessions were a distinguished group of scholars, muftis, and specialized researchers from different countries whose researches and ensuing interaction and discussions proved invaluable to the conference sessions, workshops, and projects.
This year’s conference and ancillary events were centered around [juristic] differences and the different outcomes commensurate with the extent of its sound management and contribution towards the interests of mankind, especially its ifta` and juristic aspects. God Almighty enjoined differences to test whether man would be able to handle them efficiently and consequently know, compliment, and cooperate with each other or engage in dispute and consequently fail the test, forfeit strength from unanimity, and lose salvation.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the conference message focuses on the investment of juristic differences over the ages in promoting contemporary social cohesion and contributing to contemporary human civilization.
The conference themes addressed a number of important issues as follows:
Conference Theme 1: The theoretical framework of the civilized management of juristic differences.
Conference Theme 2: The history of the management of juristic differences — exposition and criticism.
Conference Theme 3: The accommodation of objectives and management of juristic differences — a methodological framework.
Conference Theme 4: Managing juristic differences — fact and expectations.
A number of training and interactive workshops were held on the margins of the conference sessions. These focused on:
The mechanisms of treating Islamophobia issues.
The announcement of the results of the Global Fatwa Index (GFI).
Fatwa and Information Technology (IT).
We have prayed to God Almighty to grant us success in achieving the conference objectives that include:
Reconsidering juristic differences as a preliminary step towards resolving contemporary problems instead of being part of them.
Identifying the civilizational roots and contemporary approaches to addressing controversial issues.
Promoting acquaintance between individuals working in the field of ifta` across the different schools of jurisprudence.
Promulgating a mechanism in the benefit of civil institutions with a view to profiting from juristic differences in relation to human rights and all other human and social fields.
Developing a host of ideas that support the establishment of media programs and social activities with the participation of scholars from the different juristic schools. These programs are to guide the followers of these schools and promote tolerance.
With the grace of God Almighty, this conference was successful in unveiling the following initiatives:
Announcing the “Charter of Fatwa and Juristic Tolerance”. The first of its kind to regulate juristic differences, the charter affirms the necessity of promoting tolerance and repudiating violence. The document was agreed by the concerned parties.
Announcing the international day of ifta`.
Announcing the Imam al-Qarafi Prize for distinction in ifta`.
A number of ifta` related publications advancing the institutional distinction of fatwa authorities and encouraging ifta` related studies.
The conference concluded with a number of recommendations and important decisions drawn from the suggestions of the participating scholars and researchers. These are:
The conference values the efforts of the General Secretariat of Fatwa Authorities Worldwide to advocate the civilized management of fatwa and juristic differences and appreciates its pioneering initiative to unite the fatwa community worldwide to direct and profit from juristic differences.
The conference strongly supports the initiatives arising from it seeking to designate an “International Day for Ifta`”, award the Imam al-Qarafi Prize for distinction in fatwa, and draw up a first-time charter advocating fatwa and juristic tolerance. The conference calls upon all concerned parties to comply with and fully implement the charter on all levels.
The conference participants across their affiliation to the various schools of jurisprudence and countries agree that difference is a core social practice and an inherent feature of man’s constitution. They likewise agree that any attempt to deny its intrinsic reality is to dismiss the will of God Almighty Who says, “And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ” (Quran 11: 118).
The conference emphasizes that the civilized management of juristic differences is the optimal means to leverage differences to advance human interests; it is not meant to impede or indulge in scholarly differences.
The conference emphasizes the possibility of learning, selecting positions, and gaining experience from the various stages of the ebb and flow that occurred over the history of Islamic differences.
All of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence are considered pioneering human experiences that are to be benefitted from.
It is necessary to stress the obligation of promulgating a culture of respect for juristic difference of opinion on the premise that respecting differences is the cornerstone of social cohesion and stability. The conference supports the cultivation of a culture of respect through all means in the various stages of education.
The conference calls for the preservation of the objectives of Islamic law which is the measure for selecting juristic opinions from the various schools of jurisprudence.
The conference calls upon all member countries of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide, juristic assemblies, and religious authorities to exchange experiences in managing juristic differences and acknowledge the General Secretariat’s strategy as their guiding compass.
The conference calls upon international organizations and the UN in particular to grant the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide the role of an advisory body acting as a bridge between authorities and institutions in the sphere of fatwa and renewal of religious discourse.
The conference encourages fatwa authorities and institutions to benefit from modern technology and smart applications in guiding fatwa solicitors to select sound juristic opinions that are based on scholarly foundations and not leave them prey to confusion and extremist ideas.
The General Secretariat recommends that graduate students of Islamic legal studies devote special attention to comparative jurisprudence and its foundational and applicative aspects by seeking recourse to textual data, the various schools of jurisprudence, and the vast Islamic knowledge.
The conference recommends that researchers and post-graduate students of Islamic legal studies, the humanities, and social sciences renew the evaluation of doctrinal discourse to avoid any related disadvantages and to embrace advantages.
The conference recommends that researchers and graduate students of the humanities and social sciences study the outcomes of doctrinal experience across its various stages and its positive and negative effects on Muslim societies.
The conference rejects all attempts of doctrinal exploitation practiced by some groups or countries that only result in conflicts that tarnish the image of the schools of jurisprudence and undermine their value and objectives.
The conference recommends that the sources and references of the various schools of jurisprudence and their institutions merge sound doctrinal training programs with courses teaching the various schools of jurisprudence at all levels of education.
The conference calls upon scholars of the various schools of jurisprudence to espouse renewal by addressing contemporary doctrinal questions especially those posited by the youth regarding the sources and branches of Islamic law as well as to guide them to the optimal manner of dealing with scholars of the various juristic schools without fanaticism or apathy.
The conference calls upon fatwa authorities and institutions to pay attention to training programs for the sound selection of fatwa and juristic positions that both preserves the juristic and fatwa tradition while remaining faithful to contemporary national and human needs.
The conference calls upon the scholars of the various schools of jurisprudence to launch scholarly training programs to deepen doctrinal understanding of the various schools of jurisprudence that include scholarly exchange and reciprocal visits.
Finally, the conference attendees extend their deep appreciation to HE Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President of Egypt, for his kind patronage of the conference, wishing Egypt every success in performing its leadership role in all areas.
And may peace and blessings be upon our prophet, Muhammad, and upon his household and Companions.
May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you