All praise is due to Allah. We praise Allah, seek His help and forgiveness, and seek refuge in Him from the evils of our souls and from the evils of our actions. Whosoever Allah guides, none can lead him astray and whosoever is led astray, there is none that can guide him. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our master, Muhammad, and upon his family, Companions, and those who follow him until the Day of Reckoning
Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, an inveterate institution established in 1895 CE, saw a succession of great muftis who left behind a rich legacy of scholarship and fatwa repository, that continues to represent a blueprint for sound ifta`, benefiting scholars not only in Egypt but across the world.
Stemming from its leading role, Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta held its first international conference in August 2015 CE entitled “Fatwa: Current Realities and Future Prospects”. The conference resulted in a set of recommendations, the most important of which was the establishment of a general secretariat for fatwa authorities worldwide with a view to promote coordination and communication between fatwa authorities and relevant juristic assemblies. The purpose is to develop a sound and strong discourse that is both text-based and time relevant.
Immediately after the conference, Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta set about to implement the recommendations. It consequently undertook to establish a general secretariat and in mid-December, more than twenty scholars and muftis attended its inauguration and ratified its bylaws.
During this meeting, the Secretariat’s founding members formulated its action plan for the coming stage. It was agreed to hold an annual international conference to explore ifta`-related issues, create qualifying study programs for researchers working in fatwa authorities, and issue a scholarly journal to voice the opinion of both member and non-member scholars engaged in the field of fatwa, ijtihad, and issues of public concern.
The journal’s scholarly committee agreed on the topics that should be addressed in the journal. It was decided to focus on group ijtihad and its impact on societal stability, which represents a key precept in regulating fatwa on issues of both public and individual concern in a manner that is advantageous and profitable to the Secretariat.
Consequently, the first edition of the journal centers on this important topic to reinforce the merit of group ijtihad undertaken by fatwa authorities and juristic assemblies and its important role in extracting Islamic legal rulings related to the concerns and everyday realities of the people as well as public issues of concern to the universal community of Muslims. The importance of group ijtihad becomes manifest particularly when it operates in the latter sphere by which I mean complex and multifaceted issues for which individual ijtihad is deficient. Consequently, deliberation grounded in group investigation of all the subtleties, interrelations, and implications of a particular issue is an indispensable conduit for legal rulings that are more likely to be sound and comply with the purpose of the Legislator. This fact is best attested by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) which include among others, “My community will never agree on a misguidance,” and “Whatever Muslims deem to be good, is good in the sight of Allah.” Scholars consider the above-mentioned words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) underscore the importance of group ijtihad in approximating the purpose of the Legislator. The Prophet’s words evince the highest plausibility of the infallibility and optimum of a ruling generated by the group effort of scholars across the Muslim world, especially if this involves scholarly and scientific discussions and deliberations designed to stimulate the mind to produce its best and generate the most positive solutions.
The researches in this edition of the journal, all penned by erudite scholars of this community who have put in their utmost effort and experience, seek to clarify and confirm the validity of group ijtihad, its methods, and scope of operation.
We ask Allah the Almighty to benefit us with the papers published in this edition and we ask Him to make this journal the voice of this community, dedicated to the issues of concern to the Muslim community as a whole, that it may occupy a superior status and leadership among the other nations.
And to Allah is all success, and whosoever seeks help from other than Him, will not find it.
Shawqi Ibrahim Allam
Grand Mufti of Egypt
President of the Supreme Council of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide