In the Name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful
The Fourth Ordinary Session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research
18-22 Rajab 1420 H 27-31 Oct. 1999
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Mankind and peace be upon our master Muhammad, his family and companions.
Chaired by Sheikh Yousif Al-Qaradawi and attended by the majority of its members, the fourth session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research was held in the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin.
The Council reviewed its agenda which included the Periodical Report of the General Secretariat. Decisions – concerning secretarial and financial matters – were taken, proposed topics were discussed and questions awaiting fatwa were answered. Amongst the main issues which were deliberated and discussed during this session are the following:
Many use phrases such as “narrowing gaps between religions” to describe inter-faith dialogue. However, the right way to describe these dialogues is to use terms like co-operation, dialogue, participation or the like. In this regard, the Council wishes to draw attention to the fact that if what is meant by the above phrase is to dilute or eradicate essential differences between Islam and other faiths, then this call is rejected. Allah (swt) says in the holy Quran: “And argue with them in a way that is better”.
Allah (swt) also states: “And so judge (O Muhammad) among them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah sent down to you”.
However, dialogue and co-operation between Islam and other faiths can be acceptable for Allah (swt) says: “Say (O Muhammad): O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah (alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah”.
Following the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ppbuh) who held a dialogue with Christians of Najran, dialogues can be held with peoples of other faiths on basis of the unity of God, prophets and the origin of mankind. These dialogues should, however, be conducted in a healthy atmosphere, and they should be free from coercion, trivialising others or hurting them.
Despite the fact that Islam is different from other heavenly faiths, there is an area where Islam and the other heavenly faiths can meet. For instance, all divine faiths acknowledge the concept of deity, prophethood and the hereafter. They accept the principles of good manners and the social structure of family. They hold similar views on environmental issues, human rights, rights of oppressed peoples, confronting despotism and injustice, rejecting genocide, aggression and fanaticism, disseminating tolerance, etc.
What emphasises dialogue and stresses co-operation is the dominance of the materialistic, permissive and atheist culture, and the crumbling of social order at a time where the entire world is connected to each other through the communication revolution which turned the world into a small village. The Holy Quran says: “O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has piety (Taqwa)”. The Holy Quran also states: “Help one another in Al-birr and Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression”.
Purchasing houses with an usurious loan for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries, i.e. taking up a mortgage to buy a house
The Council discussed in detail several papers concerning the purchasing of mortgaged houses and came to the following conclusion:
1- The Council stresses what had been agreed upon by the Muslim Ummah that usury is forbidden. It is a major sin and is one the seven gravest ones. Those who commit it are considered as being waging war against Allah (swt) and His Prophet (ppbuh). In this vein, the Council supports what has been decided by Fiqh Councils throughout the Muslim World that bank interests are usury.
2- The Council, therefore, invites the Muslim community to do its utmost to seek Islamic alternatives such as Murabaha (sale at a profit), which is practised by Islamic Banks. They should avoid doubtful matters to the furthest extent possible. It encourages them to establish their own construction companies that can build houses and sell them to Muslims with relaxed, less strict lawful ways of payments.
3- The Council calls upon Islamic organisations throughout Europe to enter into negotiations with European banks to find formulas that are acceptable to the Muslim buyer. Formulas like Bei Al-Taqsit, (sale for deferred payment), where the buyer is required to pay more money due to the fact that payment is not immediate. This formula will help both banks as well as the Muslim community. This formula is in operation in some European banks. In addition to this, some European banks opened branches in some Muslim countries, where transactions are run according to the Shari’a as in Bahrain. In this regard, the Council would send appeals to European bank to observe the needs of the Muslim community.
4- If all the above suggestions are un-available, the Council, in the light of evidence and juristic considerations, see no harm in buying mortgaged houses if the following restrictions are strictly observed:
i-The house to be bought must be for the buyer and his household.
ii- The buyer must not have another house.
iii- The buyer must not have any surplus of assets that can help him buy a house by means other than mortgage.
This Fatwa is based on the following two major juristic considerations:
The agreed upon Juristic Rule which states that extreme necessities turn unlawful matters
lawful. This Rule is derived from five Quranic texts, amongst them:
“He (Allah) has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion or necessity”, and
“But whosoever is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits; (for him) certainly, your Lord is oft-Forgiving, most mercifu”l.
Moreover, Jurists have established that that Hajah, i.e. need, whether for an individual or a group, can be treated in equal terms like Darurah, i.e., extreme necessity. Hajah or need is defined as those things which put the Muslim in a difficulty, if not fulfilled, even if he/she can do without. Darurah or extreme necessity, on the other hand, is that which the Muslim cannot manage without. Allah SWT has lifted difficulty as stated in Sura Al-Haj and Al-Ma’idah:
“And He has not laid upon you in religion any hardship” (22:78).
“Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful” (5:6).
The house that can satisfy the criteria set up by the definitions of Hajah i.e. need and Darurah i.e. extreme necessity above is the one that is suitable for the Muslim family in terms of size, location, locality and amenities.
But as the fatwa is built on the Rule of Darurah i.e. extreme necessity or hajah, i.e. the need (which is treated in a similar manner like Darurah), the Council stresses that there is another Rule which governs and complements the rule of extreme necessity and need. This rule reads what has been made permissible due to extreme necessity must be dealt with great care and taken in measure. It should be restricted to the category of people who is in real need for a house. However, the fatwa does not cover taking up mortgage to buy a house for commercial reasons or for purposes other than buying an own house for those who do not have one.
Undoubtedly, accommodation is necessary for individuals as well as families. Allah (swt) has granted His favours upon His servants and showed them His bounties, amongst these is their houses: “And Allah has made for you in your home an abode” (16:80). The Prophet PBUH has explained that a spacious house is one element of three or four elements that constitute the concept of happiness. Rented houses do not fulfil all that the Muslim normally needs. They do not give him the sense of security, as he/she keeps paying towards rents for long periods of time. He/she might be asked to evacuate their rented accommodation for reasons like size of the family, or the number of guests turn up for visits. When getting older or have his/her benefit suspended he/she might even be thrown out of the house. Buying one’s own house discharges Muslims from all these discomforts and helps them settle closer to mosques, Islamic centres or schools as it helps them build up their smaller Muslim community within host countries where families get to know each other and work to establish their cultural identity.
Buying an own house also helps the Muslim family to modify it to accommodate their social and religious needs. Besides all these individual benefits, it helps the Muslim community, being a minority, to free themselves from the financial pressure that renting accommodation often causes, and focus their attention to the call to Islam and help the host community wherever possible and permissible. This cannot in fact be possible if the Muslim family works all the time just to pay towards the costs of their rented accommodations as well as their living costs.
The Second criterion upon which the fatwa was based is the juristic verdict which claims that it is permissible for Muslims to trade with usury and other invalid contracts in countries other than Islamic countries. This opinion is held by a number of renowned scholars such Abu-Hanifah, his colleague Muhammad As-Shaybani, Sufayn At-Thawri, Ibrahim An-Nakha’i, and according to one opinion of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal which was declared as true by Ibn Taymiah, according to some Hanbalite sources. It is also the declared opinion of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. What makes this last criterion accommodates our fatwa is a number of considerations, amongst which are the following:
1- According to Sharia, Muslims are not obliged to establish the civil, financial and political status of shari’a in non-Muslim countries, as these lie beyond their capabilities. Allah (swt) does not require people to do things that are beyond their capacity.
2- Prohibiting usury is a matter that concerns the host non-Muslim countries, and which Muslim communities can do nothing about it. It has many things to do with the socio-economic philosophies of the host countries. However, in these counties what is required of the Muslim is to establish the shari’a’s rulings in matters that concerns him in person such as the rules that govern acts of worship, food, drinks and clothes, marriage, divorce, inheritance and so on. If Muslims choose not to deal with these invalid contracts, including contracts involving usury in non-Muslim countries, this would weaken them financially. Islam is, however, supposed to strengthen Muslims not weaken them, increase rather than diminish them, benefit and not to harm them. Some Salafi scholars claimed that Muslims could inherit non-Muslims as this goes in line with the Hadith which says: “Islam increases and does not decrease”, i.e. increases Muslims in power, wealth, etc. Similar in content is the other hadith which says: “Islam is superior and none can excel it”. Therefore, if Muslims are not to trade with these invalid contracts and transactions (where extreme necessity and urgent need is involved), then they will end up paying what is required from them (in transactions that involve usury) without receiving any benefit in return. They will be losers as they will be obliged to honour these transactions, and in return they will get nothing. This way Muslims will be financially deprived and suppressed. Islam never punishes Muslims for their Islam nor abandons them in countries other than their own Muslim countries. Islam never means to let unbelievers abuse Muslims financially or otherwise, at a time where it prohibits them from getting any benefit in return.
Concerning the claim that the Hanafi Madhab allows usury in cases where the Muslim is the recipient, i.e. the beneficiary, and that the Madhab permits invalid contracts only if two conditions are satisfied:
First: Where the Muslim is the beneficiary, and
Second: Where deception -involving non-Muslims- is not involved.
Arguing against this claim, first we would maintain that in our case, the benefit has not been realised. The second is the claim has not been authenticated as this has been affirmed by Muhammad Ashaibani – one the chief scholars of the Hanafi Madhab and a student of Abu-Hanifah in his book: As-Siar Al-Kabir. Moreover, earlier scholars of the Madhab did not set up any conditions (regarding trading with usurious contracts in
non-Muslim land). However, in our case even if the Muslim is the giver (of usury) he/she is still the beneficiary as he/she will win an own house after a number of years.
Furthermore, statements forwarded by Muslims living in Europe to the Council through correspondence and/or direct contacts inform that payments made towards a mortgage are equal, and sometimes lower, than those paid as mere rent mortgage. It follows that if we are to forbid usurious transactions, Muslims will be impeded from securing their own house, despite it being one of Al-Hajat Al-Asliyyah i.e. the essential needs, according to the jurists terminology. Hence, Muslims will end up paying towards rents for a number
of years without owning their houses, while they can own them if these payments are to be made towards mortgages.
Finally, even if this transaction is declared as invalid by the Hanifi School of jurisprudence, and those who hold a similar view, it will certainly be permitted where Hajah (i.e. the need that is treated by jurists on similar grounds like Darurah, i.e. extreme necessity, which makes impermissible things permissible) comes into consideration.
What makes our argument sound and valid is that Muslims are compelled to take usury, i.e. they do not deal with it on purpose or by their free choice. The prime criterion for forbidding usury, according to a number of Quranic Verses, revolves essentially around taking usury (not giving it). However, giving usury was forbidden only to obstruct pretext, i.e. ways lead to usury, i.e., Sad Athara’i. On similar grounds, notaries and witnessing usurious transactions was prohibited. They were made as such to check the means that lead to usury.
While taking usurious loan is categorically forbidden, paying interest towards a loan is permitted if there is Hajah i.e., an urgent need as maintained by a number of jurists. It has also been maintained that taking a usurious loan is permitted if there is no other way available. A famous rule that we could put forward in this regard is what has been made forbidden for an essential reason within the transaction can only be made permissible for cases where Darurah i.e. extreme necessity is involved, and what has been made forbidden to obstruct further ways that lead to usury can be made permissible for Hajah, i.e. need.
May Allah (swt) correct our course.
Matters Concerning Women and Marital Relationships
Has the woman the right to ratify her own marriage contract without the presence of her guardian (Wali)?
Marriage is one of the most important contracts due to the fact that it signals the creation of a new family within society; the birth of new individuals into the world and the duties and responsibilities which fall unto each of the two partners.
As a result of marriage being a contract between the two spouses as partners to the contract, the full consent of whom is deemed vital for the ratification to proceed, the Legislator (Allah swt) did not allow for the guardianship of the father of the bride or any one else to become one by which the guardian forces or compels the woman to marry to a man whom she does not want. Indeed Islam granted the woman full rights to accept or reject whomever proposes to her in marriage.
Ibn Abbas (ra) that a small girl came to the Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh) and told him that her father had forced her to marry against her will. The Prophet gave her the right to choose either to stay married or to annul the marriage contract (narrated by Imam Ahmed with a correct ascription). The prophetic texts all came to affirm this right for women. The Prophet (ppbuh) stated that “the virgin shall not be married until her permission is given neither a previously married woman until she overtly states her acceptance”, he (ppbuh) added: “and the virgin shall be asked her permission by her father”. By this, Islam decreed that marriage be built upon a basis of love, desire and mercy. Allah (swt) stated: “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy
between your hearts” (30:21).
It is usually impossible to attain these beautiful aims and objectives within a marriage which was established with force and compulsion. However, since the woman, despite her Islamically granted independence, was
always subject to the desires of the ill-hearted and
evil opportunists; Islam decreed legislations which would maintain her rights and deter those whom carry ill-aims and desires. Therefore, Islam gave great importance to the approval of the woman’s guardian in a manner which reflects the significance of the marriage contract. This also adds another dimension to the beautiful state of tranquillity and love in which the entire family will find themselves, as the woman will remain on good terms with her parents or guardians, in contrast to what would happen if she went against their wish. In this case the opposite of what Islam aimed to achieve would undoubtedly prevail. Despite the general consensus among scholars that the approval of the woman’s guardian is preferable and much more favourable, they differed regarding whether it is actually a condition for the correctness of the marriage contract:
1- The majority of scholars agreed that the approval of the guardian is a condition, without which the contract would be incorrect, based upon the statement of the Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh): “The marriage of any woman married without the permission of her guardian is false”. He (ppbuh) also stated: “No marriage is to take place without the guardian”.
2- The followers of Imam Abu Hanifa stated that the permission of the guardian is not a condition, and they based their conclusion upon many evidences, such as the Hadith narrated by Muslim and the Four Narrators of Hadith, that the Prophet (ppbuh) stated: “The previously married woman shall have the right to decide for herself, whilst the virgin shall be asked permission to be married, and a sign of her permission being granted is her keeping silent”. They added that that the permission of the guardian only becomes a condition if the girl is under the age of puberty. They also said that: “if the adult sound minded woman married herself (without the interference of her guardian), her marriage would be correct given all other conditions are fulfilled. Her guardian maintains the right to appeal to the Judge and request the annulment of the contract is her partner is not equal to her, in which case the Judge, having confirmed the truth of this, must accept his appeal. The European Council for Fatwa and Research advises women not to disregard their guardians, whom wish only for their best interest and that they marry good men rather than deceitful and ill-heart proposers.
The Council also advises fathers to facilitate the marriage of their daughters and to consult with them in regards with those whom propose to them in marriage, without transgressing in using the rights that Islam granted to them. The Council also reminds them of the saying of the Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh): “If someone comes to propose in marriage and he is of acceptable religion and behaviour, then accept his proposal, otherwise and great turbulence and corruption will spread on earth”. Fathers must also realise that preventing their daughters from getting married is a great injustice which is outlawed and prohibited by Islam. The Council also advises the Islamic Centres to take the aforementioned into consideration, as it is safest and best. However, if the woman does not have a legal guardian, then the Islamic Centre itself must act as her guardian in countries lacking an Islamic Legal system. The Council finally affirms that it believes that if the mature and sound-minded woman was to marry herself (without the interference of her guardian) then her marriage would be correct.
The allowance of marriage to 4 women and the abuse of this allowance
Prior to Islam, men used to marry as many women as they wished without any limits nor conditions. When Islam was revealed, it prescribed a limit to the number of women one may marry and also placed conditions for this to take place.
As for the limit, Islam prescribed that the maximum number of women a man can marry is four, as stated in the Quran: “Marry women of your choice, two or three or four” (4:3). When a man from the tribe of Thaqeef who was married to ten women, embraced Islam, the Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh) commanded him to choose four from amongst them and to divorce the rest.
As for the condition, it is the confidence of the man that he can actually be totally just and fair between his wives, otherwise he is not allowed to re-marry. The Quran stated: “but if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one” (4:3). In addition, the other conditions of any marriage must also be present, such as the ability to provide for the family and the ability to satisfy the sexual needs of the woman. The reason for the allowance for a man to marry more than one woman is because Islam is a realistic religion and one which is not based upon idealistic notions, subsequently leaving the real problems of every day life without available cures and treatments. It is very probable that a man marrying a second wife could be solving a problem, in that his first wife is incapable of bearing children or has extended menstruation cycles which result in his sexual needs being unsatisfied. The first wife could be ill and thus, instead of divorcing her and leaving her alone, could marry a second wife and remain next to his first wife, and so on. This allowance also solves the problem of a widow who needs a husband to care for her but does not wish for an unmarried young man, similar to a divorced woman with children. Indeed this allowance may solve a social problem which arises from the high proportion of good women who want to marry in comparison to able men. This is a common problem which increases particularly in the aftermath of wars and so on. The fact, in this case, is that the extra women do one of three following options:
1- That they remain unmarried for the rest of their lives, and thus are deprived from being a wife and a mother, which is a great injustice.
2- That they fulfil their sexual needs regardless of religion and acceptable behaviour, which will result in their loss in this life and the hereafter.
3- That they agree to marry an already married man who is capable of meeting their living and sexual needs and who is confident in his ability to deal fairly and justly between his wives.
As for those who say that this allowance is often abused by some men, it is an unfortunate fact that many rights are abused or are used in inappropriate ways. This does not mean that we must cancel these rights. Indeed, there are many men who abuse their first wives, so does this mean that we must cancel marriage in its entirety? Freedom is often abused. Should we cancel freedoms? We see that states and governments abuse elections; would it be right to cancel this process? In fact we find that authority and government is frequently abused, so would it be acceptable to cancel authority and let society decline into a state of chaos? It would be better, instead of calling for the cancellation of these rights, to set up boundaries and regulations which would eliminate the possibility of abusing such rights, as far as we possibly can.
The marriage of a man and a woman whom had committed adultery with each other
If a man and a woman who used to commit adultery (Zina) with each other wished to repent to Allah (swt), to leave haram for halal and the life of impurity to a pure and clean state of living, then their marriage is correct by the consensus of scholars. The majority of scholars did not set repentance (Tawba) as a condition for the correctness of the marriage to a woman adulteress, as it was narrated that Omar (ra) punished a man and a woman who were found guilty of adultery and then attempted to bring them together in marriage.
The Hanbalis alone set repentance as a condition and gave in evidence the Quranic verse: “The adulterer cannot have sexual relations with any but an adulteress, and the adulteress, none can have sexual relations with her but an adulterer. To the Believers such a thing is forbidden” (24:3).
As for the issue of the period of waiting (Idda) for an adulteress before she can marry, there is a difference amongst the scholars. The Council’s opinion in relation to this matter is the view adopted by the Hanafis, the Shafi’is and Al-Thawri, that the adulteress has no period of waiting, even if she was actually pregnant as a result of her act of fornication. This was narrated on behalf of three of the companions who later became Caliphs: Abu Baker, Omar and Ali (ra). They all gave in evidence the agreed upon Hadith: “The son of adultery shall be related to the husband and for the adulteress shall be the stone”, as the waiting period aims to keep correct account of the baby’s ancestry whilst the same does not apply for the child of adultery, and thus no waiting period is required. If a man married a woman pregnant with a child of adultery from another man, the marriage is correct according to Abu Hanifa and his companion Muhammed, and thus the fatwa of the Hanafi school. However, he is not to indulge into sexual intercourse with her until she
gives birth, as the Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh) stated that: “It is not for a man who believes in Allah and the Last Day to allow his water to irrigate the plant of another. This is unlike the case where the child of adultery is actually his, as the Hanafis and all those who deemed the marriage correct, agreed that he is then allowed to have sexual intercourse with her, as the plant is his and the pregnancy is because of him.
Equality between the husband and wife in a marital relationship
The wife is equal to her husband within a marital relationship. The Holy Quran called each “one half of a pair”, as each, bears responsibility for the worries and feelings of the other half and thus they both form a complete pair. We also observe from the statement of Allah (swt): “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts” (30:21) and from His statement: “And Allah has made for you mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best” (16:72), we observe that the address in both verses is to both men and women alike, as there is no evidence that there is an exclusive address to men in these two cases.
Meanwhile, the verse in which Allah (swt) addressed men alone, it was directly followed by a statement that men and women are equal within a marital relationship. Allah (swt) stated: “Permitted to you on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives, they are your garments and you are their garments”, in which we see how beautiful Allah (swt) described the relationship of men and women as being “garments”
to one another, which reflects closeness, warmth, proximity and adornment. However, this equality in principle, does not contradict the fact that there are duties and responsibilities unique and specific to each part of this relationship, such us the responsibility of the man to protect and maintain his wife and family, which is termed “Qawama”. Allah stated in the Quran: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given each preference over the other, and because they support them from their means” (4:34). The beauty of the Quranic expression is illustrated in the statement that “Allah has given each preference over the other” and not that Allah gave preference to men over women. This is because men are preferred in some aspects and women are preferred in others; particular the emotional aspect of life, whilst the man is obliged to pay the dowry, establishes the marital house and supports it. Therefore, if a man ever attempts to harm this family; he will be the very first victim.
The Quran also emphasised that duties and obligations of both parties are perfectly equal apart from a few exceptions. Allah (swt) stated: “And women shall have the rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree over them”. It was narrated that Ibn Abbas (ra) stated: “I make myself beautiful for my wife such as she does for me, and then gave in evidence the previous verse. Imam Al-Tabari explained the term “Daraja” or (degree) which occurred in the verse, as being extra marital duties and responsibilities. Others explained it to be equal to the term “Qawama” which was explained above, and both explanations are correct. The Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh) placed the responsibility upon each partner within a marriage, as in the Hadith of Ibn Omar (ra): “Each of you is a shepherd and you are each responsible for your herd and the man is a shepherd amongst the members of his family and he is responsible for them and the women is a shepherd in her husband’s house and she is responsible for it”.
The responsibility of the woman within her marital home obliges her to play an educational and advisory role towards her husband, as she extends advice to him and wishes him the best at all times. She must call him to do good whenever he falls short of doing so, and must prohibit him for indulging into wrong-doing, as this is the obligation upon each and every Muslim towards the other, such as the son towards his father, the student towards his teacher, the citizen towards his ruler. However, this commanding good and prohibiting evil must be within the regulations and boundaries mentioned by the Scholars in sound books and references. Allah (swt) states: “The believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil” (9:71). Thus, the marital relationship does not, by any means, annul the act of enjoining good and forbidding evil, but rather emphasises and stresses it. We learn that the wives of the good predecessors would remind them before they left their homes to work, trade or travel: Beware of bringing back what is Haram, as we would be happy to tolerate hunger and the cold, but we would never be able to withstand the heat of Hellfire and the wrath of the Almighty! Therefore, if a woman found her husband falling short in fulfilling his obligatory prayers, she must advise him in a beautiful way to maintain his prayers, and if she found him consuming alcohol, she must advise him to refrain from drinking what is considered the mother of all evil. She must also advise him to maintain his religion, faith, wealth, children and family and not to agree with Satan in his words and actions.
As for the question: Does the husband enjoy any authority over his wife, and to what extent, the answer would be, that the husband enjoys the (Qawama) as described above, but it is not, by any means, an absolute authority, rather it is an authority which is restricted by the regulations of the Shari’a and the considerations of the society within which one lives. The regulations of the family are restricted by two matters in the Holy Quran:
First: A divine restriction, i.e. from Allah. This is referred to in the Quran as “the boundaries of Allah” and occurred many times regarding the context of family.
Second: A human restriction, which is referred to in the Quran as “Ma’aroof” or good, i.e. what is appreciated and acknowledged by people of sound minds, good tastes and people of wisdom.
As for the first restriction, we read from the Quran in relation to divorce: “these are the limits ordained by Allah, so do not transgress them, if any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong themselves as well as others” (2:229). In another verse, Allah (swt) stated: “these are the limits of Allah which he has illustrated to people who know” (2:230) and in another: “those are the limits set by Allah, and any who transgresses the limits of Allah does verily wrong his own soul” (65:1).
As for the second human restriction, Allah (swt) states: “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equality” (4:19) and “But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms” (2:233) and “either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on
equitable terms” (2:231) and “For divorced women is a suitable gift” (2:241).
Thus and in principle, the affairs of the marital home and the family must be done in consultation between the husband and wife, as consultation can only bring good. The Holy Quran advised us to this in the context of weaning the child: “If they both decide on weaning by mutual consent and after due consultation, there is no blame on them”.
However, if they fail to reach an agreement, then the husband shall have the authority to decide, but within the boundaries of “Ma’aroof”, explained. It is not for the husband to force his wife under merely to fulfil his desires under the pretence of ‘obedience of the husband’, as any obedience must be within the boundaries of “Ma’aroof”. It is correct to say: that the wife must obey her husband within the limits of Ma’aroof alone, according to the Quran when addressing of the oath of allegiance given by women to the Prophet (ppbuh): “and they will not disobey you in any just matter” (60:12). The authentic hadith also stated: “Obedience is verily in just matters”.
The ruling of Vinegar manufactured from alcohol
The Council ruled that if alcohol naturally becomes vinegar then it is halal and pure (Tahir), by virtue of the consensus of scholars. However, scholars differed regarding if became vinegar as a result of deliberate processing and treatment, such as adding salt, bread or a particular chemical. Some said that it is pure and may be used as it has completely transformed from the original state of being alcohol. Others said that it does not become pure and may not be used, because we are commanded to stay away from alcohol. Having considered both opinions, the European Council for Fatwa and Research concluded that the first opinion which states that vinegar made deliberately from alcohol is pure and may be used, is correct. This is because acetification (making something vinegar) removes the element which makes alcohol principally haram: intoxication, and thus becomes permissible, particularly that there are many benefits to be gained from vinegar such as medicine, food and others. It is important to note that any ruling is entirely bound by the reason and wisdom and in the case of vinegar, we realise that the element of intoxication has been completely eliminated. This is affirmed by the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (ppbuh): “What a good seasoning is vinegar” without specifying the kind or type of vinegar. We also note that the Prophet (ppbuh) did not order us to seek the origin of the vinegar nor to make any enquiries in that respect. As for the statements which state the prohibition of acetification, these are to demonstrate the firm position of Islam in regards with alcohol itself, so that no one becomes complacent in this regard.
First: The Council calls upon the United Nations and all its peripheral organisations to respect and observe the religious and cultural characteristics and traits of nations and not to force them, under the banner of globalisation, to adopt matters which contradict their faiths and values. We specify, in this regard, the attempts to criminalise the capital punishment, even in the case of a deliberate murderer. We emphasise that Islam considered subjecting a deliberate murderer to capital punishment is an obligation from Allah (swt) upon all believers, as He (swt) stated in the Quran: “O you who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder” (2:178). Allah (swt) then goes on to describe the effect of this: “In the law of equality there is saving of life to you, o you men of understanding that you may restrain yourselves” (2:179).
The Council wishes to confirm the resolution of Islamic Shari’a to conduct a just trial for all and to provide all assurances and rights and to provide for each party’s rights to defend themselves before a qualified and competent judge without any injustice or unfairness.
The Council also emphasises that the guardian of the victim maintains the right to forgive either in exchange of compensation or not. Allah (swt) state: “But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand and compensate him with handsome gratitude. This is a concession and a mercy from your Lord” (2:178).
Second: due to the near arrival of the blessed month of Ramdhan, the Council wishes to remind all Muslims of its resolution made at its third session:
The beginning of Ramadhan and Shawwal is decided as a result of viewing, either by the naked eye or by means of observatories, when made in any Islamic country by sound legal means, in accordance to the holy prophetic saying in the authentic hadith: “When you see the crescent begin your fasting and when you see it again break your fasting”, and in another: “Fast when you see it (the crescent) and break your fast when you see it (the crescent)”. This is on condition that the firm scientific astronomical calculations do not contradict the possibility of such sighting in any country. If these calculations rule out the possibility of sighting, however, the sightings of individuals are rejected and refused as they may have occurred out of mistake, imagination or even a false and untrue claim. Moreover, the testimonies of individual witnesses constantly carry the element of imperfection, whilst astronomical calculations are sound and unequivocal, and the scholars have agreed that what is imperfect does not stand up to nor overtake what is deemed firm
and sound. The Council also affirms that by astronomical calculations, by no means is it referring to the prohibited and outlawed astrology, nor is it referring to the various calendars which have become widespread throughout Islamic countries, as many may believe. Rather, we mean by astronomical calculations, the fruits of the modern science of astronomy which is built upon sound arithmetic and scientific bases, which has advanced enormously and helped man to reach the moon and other planets, and in which Muslim scientists all over the world, have excelled.
The Council wishes to take this opportunity to forward to all Muslims the recommendations passed in the previous session as well the matters decided in this present one:
1- To maintain and preserve their Islamic identity and personality, by abiding by the commands and prohibitions decreed by Allah Almighty in relation to all their acts of worship, dealings, behaviour, family and social relationships as well as pleasant and beautiful interaction with others.
2- The Council advises Muslims residing in Europe, to actively seek from their respective states, recognition of Islam as a religion and of Muslims as a religious minority, similar to other minorities, which would enable them to enjoy and practice their full rights and organise their civil status concerning matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. The Council also calls upon the European states to recognise the Islamic religion and the rights of Muslims, similar to the policies of countries such as Belgium, Austria, Spain and Hungary. For this purpose, the Council encourages Muslims to establish legal councils which would overlook their civil matters according to the pure Islamic Shari’a and in accordance with the laws and regulations in effect within their respective countries.
3- The Council also advises the Muslims and emphasises the importance of the teachings of the Holy Quran and the pure Sunna, as well as the consensus of scholars of Islam in regards with our commitment towards honouring our agreements and the regulations which govern our residence in the European states. This includes:
- a) The firm belief that the lives, wealth and honour of non-Muslims must never be transgressed upon in accordance with the agreement and treaty by which entry to these countries was granted, and without which such entry would never have been granted nor allowed. Allah Almighty stated in the Holy Quran: and fulfil your treaties. Verily, treaties will be accounted for.
- b) To respect and abide by the laws of these lands which have welcomed them, given them shelter, granted them protection and allowed them to prosper and enjoy all means of good living. Allah Almighty stated in the Holy Quran: is the reward of good, but good.
- c) To refrain from all means of false livelihood, such as the attempt of some Muslims to gain Social Security benefits whilst maintaining proper employment or practising a trade.
- d) To spend all their efforts in bringing up the young generations, both boys and girls, in a modern Islamic manner, through establishing schools and educational and recreational centres, so that they may be protected from going astray.
4- The Council also advises all Muslims and those living in the West particularly, to hold tight to the rope of Allah and to the principles of brotherhood, forgiveness, moderation, co-operation in regards with what is good and pious as well as abiding by the manners of debate and dialogue in regards with matters of controversy, away from extremist actions which offer a blemished image of Islam and harm Muslims greatly, as these will undoubtedly be taken advantage of by the enemies of Islam and the ignorant. Allah Almighty stated in the Holy Quran: call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful remembrance and argue with them in the way that is best.
The President of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and all members wish to extend their gratitude and appreciation to the General Secretariat for all its efforts towards making the work of the Council a success and they also wish to thank the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe for its active role to achieve the same objectives. The Council expresses its appreciation and thanks to Al-Maktoum Charitable Committee, the Islamic Cultural Centre in Ireland and all their staff for their hospitality in hosting and perfectly organising the procedures of this session and their invitation to the Council for all the forthcoming sessions. The Council wishes also to thank the Irish government which granted its members permission to enter its lands and to facilitate all matters in that respect.
Praise and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammed, his descendants and companions and praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.