Fatwas issued by past scholars should be reconsidered: Azhar

The Cairo Post:

CAIRO: The fatwas of scholars who belonged to past eras should be reconsidered because they may be based on customs that have long changed, undersecretary of Al-Azhar Abbas Shouman said at Dar al-Iftaa’s international conference Monday.


Dar al-Iftaa, Egypt’s institution tasked with issuing religious opinions, is facing many challenges because many of the fatwas circulated amongst Muslims just represent the viewpoint of their issuers, rather than scientific grounds and evidence, he added.


New areas of sciences have been developed and overlap in the process of issuing a fatwa, such as social, economic, political, medical and applied sciences; therefore it is difficult for someone specialized in Islamic Sharia only to properly adapt the issue according to his jurisprudence, Shouman said during the first session of the conference.

“Thus, we are in dire need for a collective endeavor in which those proficient in these sciences to sit side by side with Sharia scholars concerned with devising a sharia ruling on the issue in question.”

Link to the rest at The Cairo Post.

The four schools of Sunni jurisprudence, their underlying methods of jurisprudence and associated maxims, and the guidelines for issuing opinions; all provide a foundation for discovering opinions that are more than just “the viewpoint of their issuers” and steer practitioners away from sticking to rulings “based on customs that have long changed.”

One of the challenges for jurists of this age is making proper use of findings from other disciplines. People often forget that Islamic worldview and the epistemology of its disciplines consists of more than just observables and quantifiables of the natural and social sciences. Jurists need to remember that findings must always be valued according to the standards of Islamic jurisprudence and its related disciplines – not the standards of the scientific discipline that produced the findings. So part of this challenge is how to make proper use of these findings. Findings should not be dismissed when and where they are relevant. But neither should they be used when or where they are irrelevant.