In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise belongs to Allah alone
May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his noble family and Companions
The General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide has commenced its operations, serving as an umbrella bringing together fatwa authorities and offices from different Islamic countries and communities around the globe. Through effective human engagement, the authority aims to establish real international peace with Muslims being its primary promoters and guardians. The authority’s goal, sending worldwide messages of prosperity and stability through the fatwas it issues, is the best means to counter terrorists and extremists who impute to Islam and Muslims the responsibility of their actions. The fatwas are moreover the best compelling proof that Islam is a religion of worship, self-purification and construction. We endeavor to instill fatwa as the basis for constructing stable and effective societies and individuals.
We also seek to make fatwa, due to its importance and influence it has on Muslims, one of the basic components that creates active and strong individuals, societies, countries, and communities in the international stage. If the institution of fatwa has such great weight and importance for Muslims in general, it is of greater critical consequence to Muslim minorities since Muslim minority populations act as ambassadors of Islam in the societies where they live. They are entrusted with preserving the image of Islam that has become smeared by many. Caught between terrorism and islamophobia, Muslim minorities find themselves between the hammer and the anvil, not to mention the worrying threats they receive and the challenges they face that require both an acute awareness and a concerted action. Consequently, the jurisprudence of minorities has become a duty and a necessary concern, a convenient starting point for the work of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide.
All members have participated in comprehensive discussions during the General Secretariat’s first conference entitled “Qualifying and Educating Religious Leadership in the Issuance of Fatāwā in Mosque Communities of Muslim Minority Countries" that was held 17-18 October 2016. Delegations from 80 different countries participated in the conference.
We believe that we will never reach the above- mentioned goals except through sound means. In turn, there is no other way to achieve our objectives except by pursuing a scientific approach and the methodology enjoined by the holy Quran and the noble Sunnah.
We have repeated once and again in many situations and publications that sincere determination, prudent administration, deep awareness, and prompt endeavors are the only means of attaining our stated goals. Moreover, da’wah, fatwa, and Islamic legal studies must be built on three integrated and indispensable elements — fiqh al-nass, fiqh al-waqi’, and fiqh tanzil an-nusus. Each of these disciplines has its own sphere, experts, sciences, and references.
It would not be wrong to say that what has come to be called ‘the jurisprudence of minorities’ is greatly deficient in the three previously mentioned integrals. With regard to ‘fiqh an-nass’, we have seen those who insist on thwarting the efforts of diligent scholars from among the predecessors and mujtahids under the pretext of their ability to deal directly with the texts. In the process, they have watered down the great abundance of pioneering and valuable experiences related to the fiqh of minorities in our Islamic heritage. Not only this, but they have slashed the benefits derived from many sacred texts because of insufficient authentication and deduction. Our predecessors offer a great many solutions to our problems that we may use as our guide. Nothing stands in the way scholarly except sheer scholarly laziness or arrogance.
On the other hand, we have seen people reducing Islamic heritage to a single viewpoint or madh-hab, which they insist on in communities that are in dire need of benefitting from all opinions, madh-habs, and texts to help them attain the objectives of Islam and live peacefully during these hard times.
The most dangerous aspect concerns ‘fiqh al-waq’’ that is related to the fiqh of minorities and their specific problems. We see that in some societies, there are those who insist on implementing opinions that are pertinent to another time, place, and conditions. Dangerous and strange, it is one of the factors that distorted the image of Islam; it is a dagger in the hand of those who wish to launch attacks at religiosity.
The General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide aims at raising awareness of the conditions and context of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim societies without forfeiting either the Islamic heritage, texts, or potential. We would like to observe, analyze, and explain the prevailing context of Muslim minorities and set source-based principles to assist them in engaging with the societies where they live pursuant to the provisions announced during the General Secretariat’s first conference and which has come to be known as The Cairo Declaration. The declaration included various principles and rules for dealing with problems and important issues Muslims face in non-Muslim societies.
To achieve the General Secretariat’s desired objectives, we have held a number of professional activities, conducted in a scholarly manner, to engage Muslim minority populations in issues of their concern and provide them with the necessary expertise.
These activities included training in communicating and exchanging knowledge and experience. To this end, the General Secretariat has received delegations of imams and influential religious leaders — preachers, muftis, and religious teachers — from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. They exchanged views in the hope of seeing the fruits of this training.
In order to acquire a deep understanding and to contribute to precisely sourcing the fiqh for Muslim minority populations, the General Secretariat has requested a number of its scholars and muftis contribute with researches and papers addressing the needs of Muslim minorities with respect to fatwa and juristic scholarship. These include:
Dr. Ali Gomaa Mohammed, former Grand Mufti of Egypt and member of the Senior Scholars Board in Al-Azhar. He contributed with a research on examples of coexistence from the Prophet’s teachings.
Dr. Mostafa Ibrahim Ceric, former Mufti of Bosnia. He contributed with a research on fatwa institutions’ attempts to address issues of concern to Muslim minority populations.
Dr. Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar Al Sharif, Secretary‐General of the Kuwait Public Awqaf, former Dean of the Faculty of Shariah and Islamic Studies at the University of Kuwait, and member of The Amiri Diwan’s Higher Advisory Committee on Completion of the Application of Islamic Shariah Provisions. He contributed with a research paper on The Jurisprudence of Unprecedented Issues: Renewing Juristic Rulings to Achieve the Interests of Muslim Minorities.
Dr. Marzuq Aulad Abduallah, Professor of Jurisprudence and Principles of Jurisprudence at VU University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and member of the Moroccan Scholarly Council in Europe. He contributed with a research paper on the challenges facing Muslim minorities in Western countries.
Dr. Waleed Al-Ansary, Professor of Islamic Studies at Xavier University, US. He contributed with a paper on the economic challenges facing Muslims in the West.
We present these five researches as a contribution to the General Secretariat’s journal to fulfill its human and religious obligations towards Muslim minorities worldwide.
Dr. Shawki Ibrahim Allam
Grand Mufti of Egypt
President of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide