Learn Shafi'i Fiqh in English.

Get my latest book, the Evident Memorandum, today.

Buy Now

Muslim confidence in validity of fatwas and their dissemination channels

A recurring topic on my blog is how fatwas are reported through newspapers and social media. Usually I explain or dissect fatwas circulating through English audiences. One of my recent analytical briefs for Tabah Foundation looked at it from a different angle: the confidence Sunni Muslims place in the validity of fatwas based on how they are communicated. I alluded to some of the findings and recommendations earlier on when discussing Mars One fatwa media distortions.

Reporters and newspapers with Muslim readership might want to take note, since Muslims have very little confidence in anything they write related to fatwas.

Read moreMuslim confidence in validity of fatwas and their dissemination channels

New fatwa permits sexual relations during Ramadan daytime

My morning reading material includes an article from Morocco World News entitled PJD Member “Authorizes” Sexual Relations During Ramadan Daytime. I do not know anything about Moroccan politics and the greater context of the article, so I probably do not react to the article or shiver from the title’s scare quotes as is intended. Reading the article shows that the fiqh issues the title refers to are about travelers engaging in sexual intercourse during the day, and non-traveller engaging in foreplay while fasting. Both of these actions fall within the realm of the permissible – even if they are best avoided or offensive. The fiqh presented in the title is tame once you read the article.

Read moreNew fatwa permits sexual relations during Ramadan daytime

Blog’s buffet fatwa comments quoted in The Independent

The Independent yesterday quoted some of my comments concerning the ban on all you can eat buffets. Musa Furber, a fellow scholar who claims to also be qualified to issue Islamic edicts, wrote on his website to clarify the thinking behind the sheikh’s decision. He said: “The Sheikh’s reasoning is that “the value and quantity … Read more

Media Distorts Mars Fatwa, Making Mons Olympus From a Molehill

(This is the second of two op-ed pieces I wrote concerning this issue. The first is here.)

Last week, reports began circulating through some media outlets that a fatwa committee underneath GAIAE, the UAE’s General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment, had issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from taking one-way voyages to Mars and, by analogy, from doing so with the Mars One project. The story soon spread through the media like wildfire. Mars One issued a respectful response, requesting that GAIAE retract their fatwa.

Read moreMedia Distorts Mars Fatwa, Making Mons Olympus From a Molehill

The Mars fatwa and preservation of life clichés

A few readers asked whether my piece about prohibitions due to preservation of life can be a cliché had anything to do with the the Mars fatwa that never was. Yes, it did trigger me to write about the topic then, and I’ll probably say more about both topics in the near future.

The Mars One Fatwa That Never Was

Last week, mainstream media, blogs, and social media were abuzz about a fatwa. While fatwas normally do not attract much attention within the Muslim world, this one managed to grab the attention of droves of Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide. In just the past twelve days, it was picked up by numerous western and Arab media outlets and mentioned over 10,000 times on Twitter. Despite the large number of different media outlets who repeated the story, the content of all of these reports and tweets led back to the exact same solitary newspaper article. A primary source was given for the fatwa, but the text of the fatwa could not be found on their website. Within days, the primary source issued an official press release through government channels disavowing any connection to the fatwa.

Read moreThe Mars One Fatwa That Never Was

Latest episode in the “Gang rape” fatwa frenzy

Earlier I wrote about the media’s (and public’s) infatuation with scandalous fatawa, like the “gang rape” fatwa currently making its rounds. This latest fatwa story made its way into English via an article in [Human Events] which attributed the fatwa to “Salafi Sheikh Yasir al-‘Ajlawni,” currently residing in Jordan and formerly in Damascus. Another piece … Read more

The Media’s Infatuation With “Gang Rape” Fatwa

Earlier this year, the media was all abuzz with news about a scandalous “gang rape” fatwa that had been issued by a prominent Saudi cleric on Twitter. The story was proven to be invented and spread by Islamophobes. Many of the western media outlets that promoted the story have since amended, retracted, or deleted their … Read more