European Council for Fatwa and Research
of the Twelfth Ordinary Session
of the European Council for Fatwa and Research
that was held at its Headquarters in Dublin, Ireland
during the period
6-10 of Dhul-qi’dah, 1423 AH
31 December 2003 – 4 of January 2004
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah, the Worlds’ Sustainer, and peace be upon our Master Muhammad and on all his family and his Companions.
With the Blessings of Allah Almighty and His Assistance the Twelfth Ordinary Session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research was held at its Headquarters in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, during the period 6-10 of Dhul-qi’dah, 1423 AH corresponding to 31 December 2003 – 4 of January 2004, under the presidency of His Eminence Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and at the presence of most of the Members.
The Council opened its session with the recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an and then his Excellency delivered a comprehensive instructive speech in which he welcomed the Eminent Members of the Council, the guests and the mass media representatives who were present to cover the proceedings of the Session, and all those who attended the opening ceremony.
His Excellency also complimented the role of the Council and the enlightened methodology it offers in its fatwas, which has made the Muslims in Europe eagerly await these, which barely satiate the desire of the enquirers and the Muslim public in spite of their abundance. His Excellency said that the Council was holding this meeting during the last days of the year 2003, which witnessed many horrors, disasters, wars and unexpected events and during which the Muslim nation suffered greatly. He expressed his hope that the year 2004 would be a year of peace and security for all nations and all people.
Among the most important unexpected events of the past year His Excellency talked about was the issue of Hijab, with respect to the call of the French President Jacque Chirac to prohibit the Muslim women from wearing Hijab.
His Excellency pointed out that the matter is not new to France, for it was aroused in 1994 when it was claimed that the Hijab was a symbol, whereupon he responded to that a long while ago by saying: “The woman wearing Hijab complies with the command of her Lord and does not use it as a symbol. What men and women wear in the light of the convention of secular ideology is personal freedom, and there is no connection between wearing the Hijab and interference in the state affairs.” He wondered, saying: “What is the connection between a woman’s wearing a headscarf and the general policy of the state?”
He also added: “The issue of Hijab is concerned with personal and religious freedom. If France does not prohibit nudity and immorality, why does it forbid Muslim women to wear the Hijab?” His Excellency cited Chirac’s saying as evidence: “The freedom of doctrine is guaranteed for every citizen and every human, and so is the freedom of expressing one’s doctrine.”
His Excellency added: “Expressing one’s doctrine may be done verbally or through one’s behavior and practice, and the woman expresses her faith through wearing the Hijab. Otherwise, expressing one’s doctrine that Chirac advocated is unsubstantial or just useless nonsense.”
He continued saying: “If Islam calls upon its followers to be tolerant with the others, why do non-Muslims not treat Muslims with tolerance? Chirac’s declaration represents an address to the Muslim women to obey his order and disobey Allah Almighty.”
He added: “We as Muslims, in our Shari’ah, do not compel non-Muslims to abstain from what is permissible for them in their religion. They are allowed to eat pork though it is unlawful for us by a Qura’nic text, and to drink alcohol, the source of all evils in the sight of Islam. Imam Abu Hanifah said: ‘If somebody damages wine belonging to a dhimmi (a non-Muslim living in a Muslim country peacefully), he shall pay its value, because it is property that has value in his life.’”
His Excellency the President of the Council expressed his sorrow for the negative stance of some Muslims towards the issue of Hijab in France, considering that “some of those belonging to Islam say something that is unreasonable and incomprehensible and is not based on any Islamic perspective.”
His Excellency dealt with the issue of moderation and showed that it has been the approach adopted by the Council since its establishment and that the international circles nowadays – on all levels in West and East, both among Muslims and non-Muslims – call for adopting it. He was also afraid that the calling for moderation might be addressed to the wrong people, be placed in the wrong position, or used for personal or despotic purposes not for the good of the Islamic nations, but just for achieving some political advantages under the guise of moderation.
In order to keep the methodology of moderation a straight one that would yield its fruits, and would not be manipulated in achieving objectives irrelevant to its origin, His Excellency has set up twenty controlling criteria for the methodology of moderation that will highlight its features and outline its characteristics, and determine its motives and objectives, and distinguish it from other trends. These criteria are:
- 1. Coordination between the constant tenets or precepts of Shari’ah and the variables of the age.
- 2. Understanding the partial texts of the Qur’an and the Sunnah in the light of their total objectives.
- 3. Being lenient in giving fatwa, and giving glad tidings while preaching.
- 4. Being strict in basic principles and comprehensive rulings, and being lenient in subsidiary and partial matters.
- 5. Being constant with respect to the objectives, and flexible with respect to the means.
- 6. Paying attention to the essence before the form, and the hidden before the manifest, and the acts of the heart before the acts of the limbs.
- 7. Understanding Islam as a comprehensive system: a doctrine and a law, managing religious as well as worldly affairs, a da’wah and a state.
- 8. Preaching Muslims with wisdom, and arguing with non-Muslims gently and benevolently.
- 9. Coupling between allegiance to the faithful, and tolerance with the opponents.
- 10. Fighting and preparing to resist the aggressors, and being peaceful with those who choose peace.
- 11. Cooperation among the Muslim bodies in matters of agreement, and tolerance in matters of controversy.
- 12. Taking into consideration the change in the effect of time, place, and people when giving fatwa, preaching, teaching and judging.
- 13. Adopting the approach of wise graduation in preaching, teaching, giving fatwa and changing.
- 14. Linking up science and faith, material creativity and spiritual loftiness, economic power and ethical power.
- 15. Stressing the human and social principles and values, such justice, consultation, freedom and human rights.
- 16. Emancipating women from the traces of the ages of backwardness and regression, and the impact of the Western cultural invasion.
- 17. Calling for internally refreshing the religion, and reviving the obligation of Ijtihad (juristic interpretation) by its followers appropriately.
- 18. Being keen to be constructive rather than being destructive, to gather together rather than disunite, to bring closer together rather than alienate.
- 19. Benefiting by the best that is in our heritage as a whole: the reasonableness of the scholastic thinkers, the spirituality of mystics, and the commitment of the Hadith scholars, and the precision of the jurist and methodological scholars.
- 20. Coupling between receiving inspiration from the past, living the present, and looking into the future.
To conclude his speech His Excellency called upon Muslims to abide by Islam, which is the greatest grace Allah Almighty bestowed on mankind, and not to disunite and fragment. He also called upon them to cooperate in matters of righteousness and piety, in obedience of the Saying of Allah Almighty: “Cooperate in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate in sin and rancor.” (V: 2)
After the opening session, the Council held an administrative meeting in which it considered the proposed agenda which included the periodical report of the General Secretariat and other subjects, and took the necessary decisions on administrative and financial affairs.
On the following days the working sessions continued and the Council was pleased during them to invite Professor Peter Conningsfield, Head of the History Department, London University and the Director of the Institute of Religious Studies in Holland, and Professor David Denis, Head of the Department of Islamic Studies in Exeter University. During the sessions of the Council they both presented appreciated contributions that were commended by the President and Members of the Council. The sessions were also attended by a number of both male and female researchers and students of Shari’ah knowledge.
The Council then looked into a group of subjects listed in its agenda and made the appropriate decisions, fatwas and recommendations, the most important of which are the following:
The right of Muslim women to wear the Hijab
The Council handled this serious topic because of the ramifications of the tendency of the French Government to prohibit the so-called “religious symbols” that touch the Muslim women in France. After detailed discussions the Council issued the enclosed statement and formed a committee to follow up the dialogue about the subject under the presidency of His Highness the Scholar Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Bayyah, the former Minister of Justice in Mauritania and Member of the Council.
The times for prayers and fasting
in countries located at high latitudes
The Council discussed the topic of the times for prayers and fasting (i.e. Mawaqit) in the countries that are located at high latitudes and listened to the Shar’I (legal) and astronomical studies that were submitted by some of the Members, and the illustrations of the relevant technical aspects recommended in the Eleventh Session of the Council, and decided the following:
First: Confirming the Sixth Resolution taken by the Muslim World League’s Islamic Fiqh Academy concerning the times for prayers and fasting in the countries located at high latitudes. Following is its text:
Praise is due to Allah Alone, and peace be upon our Master and Prophet Muhammad.
In its Ninth Session held at the building of the Muslim World League, Makkah al-Mukarramah during the period from Saturday, Rajab 12, 1406 AH to Saturday, Rajab 19, 1406 AH the Council of the Islamic Fiqh Academy looked into the topic of “the times for prayers and fasting for those who live in the regions at high latitudes”.
In agreement with the spirit of Shai’ah that is based on leniency and the elimination of inconvenience, and according to the report of the Committee of Astronomical Experts, the Council took the following Decision on the subject:
First: In order to remove the disorders resulting from the multiplicity of the ways of calculation, there shall be determined for every one of the prayer times the astronomical signs that agree with what the Shari’ah has indicated and with what the scholars of Shar’i Miqat have shown regarding changing these signs to astronomical calculations related to the position of the sun above or below the horizon, as follows:
- Fajr (Dawn): it correlates with the appearance of the first white light and its spread across the horizon “true dawn”, and this corresponds to the angle 18 degrees below the eastern horizon.
- Shuruq (Sunrise): It correlates with the emergence of the upper edge of the solar disc from under the eastern horizon and it is estimated at an angle of 50 minutes under the horizon.
- Zuhr (Noon): It correlates with the passage of the sun across the meridian that represents the highest daily position of the sun corresponding to the shortest shadow cast by standing objects.
- Asr (Afternoon): It correlates with the position of the sun when the shadow of an object becomes equal to its length plus the minimum length of the shadow of midday. The angle of this position varies with the variation of time and place.
- Maghrib (Sunset): It correlates with the complete disappearance of the solar disc below the Western horizon. Its angle is estimated at 50 minutes below the horizon.
- Isha’ (evening): It corresponds with the disappearance of the red twilight when the sun is situated at the angle of 17 degrees below the western horizon.
Second: When determining the times it is enough to add two minutes of time to the times of Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha’, and to subtract two minutes of time from the times of Fajr and Shuruq.
Third: The regions at high latitudes are divided into three zones:
The first zone: It is the region that lies between the latitudes of 45 degrees and 48 degrees north and south. It is characterized by the existence of the apparent signs of the times during twenty-four hours, no matter whether the times are long or short.
The second zone: It lies between the latitudes of 48 degrees and 66 degrees north and south, where some of the astronomical signs of times are nonexistent for a number of days during the year, as, for example, the case when the twilight does not disappear to indicate the beginning of Isha’, and thus the end of the Maghrib time trails till it overlaps Fajr.
The third zone: It lies at the latitude of 66 degrees north and south and extends to the two poles. In this zone the apparent signs indicating the times are nonexistent for a long period of the year both by day and at night.
Fourth: The ruling for the first zone is that its people observe the prayers at their Shar’i times, and observe fasting for its Shar’i time, from true dawn till sunset, in compliance with the Shar’i texts indicating the times for prayers and fasting, and if someone is unable to fast or complete his fast on a certain day because of its excessive length, he or she may break his or her fast on that day and compensate for it on some other suitable days
Fifth: The ruling for the second zone is that the times for Isha’ and Fajr prayers be determined with the proportional measurement on the analogy of the corresponding times in the night of the closest region where the signs of the times of Isha’ and Fajr can be distinguished. The Council of the Academy suggests the latitude of 45 degrees as the closest region where worshipping or recognition is comfortably possible. If Isha’ begins after the third part of the night at the latitude of 45 degrees, it will start similarly in respect of the night of the latitude of the place wherein the time is to be determined, and the same is true regarding Fajr.
Sixth: The ruling for the third zone is that all the times are calculated with the proportional measurement in analogy of the corresponding times at the latitude of 45 degrees, by dividing the twenty-four hours in the area extending from 66 degree up to the two poles in the same way the times are divided at the latitude of 45 degrees.
If the length of the night at the latitude of 45 degrees is 8 hours and the sun sets at 8 o’clock, and Isha’ is at 11 o’clock, the same times will be observed in the country where the time is to be determined. If the time of Fajr at the latitude of 45 degrees is 2 a.m. the Fajr in the country where the time is to be determined will be at 2 a.m. and fasting will begin at that time and continue up to the estimated time of Maghrib.
All this is on the analogy of the estimation mentioned in the hadith about Antichrist where we read: “We said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! How long will he (i.e. Antichrist) live on earth?’ He said: ‘Forty days: one day as long as a year, and one day as long as a month, and one day as long as a week…’ We said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! During the day that will be as long as a year will it be sufficient for us to perform only the prayers of one day and night?’ He said: ‘No. But estimate (the prayer times) for it'” [narrated by Muslim and Abu Dawud in the Book of Malahim]. And Allah is the source of all success. Peace be upon our Master Muhammad and his Family and Companions.”
(End of the Resolution of the Fiqh Academy.)
Second: Since this issue is a matter of Ijtihad, due to there being no definitive final texts pertaining to it, the Council does not find any harm in depending on other estimations made by other Islamic committees of fatwa, such as resorting to the solar depression of 12 degrees corresponding to the Fajr and Isha’ prayers, and the fixing of the time interval between the times of Maghrib and Isha’, on the one hand, and the time of Fajr and sunrise, on the other hand, as one and a half hours.
The Council advises Islamic bodies in charge of mosques and Islamic Centers to follow the method suggested by the Council that agrees with the conclusions arrived at by the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Makkah al-Mukarramah, as mentioned above.
Third: The Council confirms its previous Decision no (3/3) concerning the legitimacy of performing the Maghrib and Isha’ prayers together on missing the sign of Isha’ or the delay of its time, in order to save the Muslims living in the West inconvenience and difficulty.
Muslim children enjoying the benefits of human milk banks in Western Countries
The Members of the Council discussed the topic of providing Muslim children -particularly the premature and underweight babies – with milk from the human milk banks widely available in Western countries, which such babies are badly in need of to save their lives.
After looking into the decision (2/6)-6 taken by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy concerning the establishment of milk banks in the Muslim World and the prohibition of nursing from them, the Council reviewed the technical and Shar’i studies submitted by some of its Members on milk banks. Due to the change in the criteria on which the decision of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy was based, particularly what concerns the Muslims residing in the Western countries, where there are milk banks that have existed for a long time and where they increase in number and spread from one country to another, besides the increase in the number of the Muslims residing in the West and the absence of identified wet nurses, as is the case in the Muslim World, the Council decides the following:
First: There is no objection in terms of Shari’ah to benefiting by the milk of the milk banks when necessary.
Second: Benefiting by this milk does not entail prohibiting marriage because of nursing, partly because the number of the times of nursing is unknown, and partly because of mixing up the milk and the inability to identify the wet nurses because of the legal prohibition of disclosing the names of the donors of the milk that is applied in these banks. This is in addition to the large unlimited number of such donors. The decision is based on consulting the jurists’ decision that marriage is not prohibited in the case when a baby is nursed by an unknown woman in a village, due to the impossibility of identifying her, and on the fact that the milk offered by these banks is a mixture of milk donned by a number of unidentified nurses and the major proportion of it is unknown. Allah knows best.
Concerning stock markets and their applications
The Members of the Council discussed the topic of stock markets (bourse) and the applications practiced in them, and dealing with the shares of stock companies and listened to the Shar’i (legal, from the Islamic perspective) and economic studies submitted by some of the Members and the discussions made about them. The Council then decided the following:
The European Council for Fatwa and Research confirms decision (7/1) 63 taken by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy concerning stock markets, adding some Shar’i viewpoints the Council chose, as follows:
The decision of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy:
- 1. Participation in companies:
- a. Since dealings are lawful in principle, the establishment of stock companies that have lawful objectives and activities is permissible.
- b. There is no controversy about the prohibition of participating in companies whose basic objective is prohibited, such as dealing with usury or producing and trading prohibited products.
- c. In principle it is forbidden to invest in stocks of companies that sometimes deal with prohibited transactions, such as usury, etc., although their main line of business is lawful.
A complementary decision taken by The ECFR:
Concerning the Muslim minorities in the West – where there are no Islamic institutions or companies that have lawful objectives and activities – the ECFR decides that “there is no objection to their dealing with the shares of stock companies whose main objective is lawful and that avoid unlawful lines of business, such as breweries, pork, and gambling, even if these companies have usurious deposits or loans or unlawful subordinate assets, provided that one observe the conditions set up by the Shar’i (legal) committees and by the fatwa given in the banking forums. They are as follows:
- a. The loans from conventional banks should not exceed one-third the assets of the company
- b. The interest earning must not make more than %5 of net earning.
- The unlawful assets should not exceed %10 of the total assets,
Provided that one should get rid of the interests and unlawful earning, whatever their proportion may be, through disposing of them for charitable purposes and that the circulation, in the case of increase in kind assets and benefits, should be confined to debts and cash.
One should refer to the institutions approved by the legal (Shar’i) agencies to classify the acceptable companies, such as Islamic Dow Jones index which is approved by the Shar’i agency of the index and others.
Underwriting is an agreement on establishing a company with the person who is committed to underwriting an issue or part of that issue, and it is a pledge by the committed person to subscribe for all the remaining shares that are not subscribed for by others.
This is not forbidden in according to Shari’ah if the pledge taken by the one who is committed to subscribe at the nominal value without a compensation for that pledge. It is permissible for the committed person to receive compensation for an action he performs – other than underwriting – such as preparing the studies or marketing the shares.
- Paying the value of the share in installments on underwriting:
It is not forbidden in terms of Shari’ah to pay an installment of the value of the subscribed for share and postpone the payment of the other installments, for this is regarded as participation in what is paid in advance and the promise to increase the capital. This entails nothing unlawful because this covers all the shares, and the company remains responsible with all its declared capital before the others, for it is the amount agreed upon and known by the parties dealing with the company.
- Bearer shares:
Since the sold share in the (bearer shares) is a common portion of the assets of the company, and the share certificate is a document to confirm this right in the portion, it is not forbidden in terms of Shari’ah to issue and circulate shares in the company in this way.
- The place of the contract in selling the share:
The place of the contract in selling the share is the common portion in the assets of the company, and the certificate of the share is a document securing the right in that portion.
- Preference shares:
It is impermissible to issue preference shares with financial properties that lead to guaranteeing the capital, a minimum return, or priority in paying at time of liquidation or on distributing the profits.
It is permissible to give privileges related to procedural or managerial matters to some shares.
- Dealing with the shares usuriously:
- It is impermissible to buy shares with a usurious loan offered by a broker or somebody else to the buyer in exchange of mortgaging the share, because this involves usury and documenting it through the mortgage, and both deeds are unlawful in the light of the text that curses the eater of usury, the usurer offering it, the one that writes it and the two witnesses to it.
- It is impermissible also to sell a share the seller does not possess, but the seller is promised by the broker that the latter will lend him the share on the time of delivery, for this belongs to the case of selling what the seller does not possess. The prohibition is stressed if the seller stipulates that the value be given to the broker to benefit by it through depositing it on interest to obtain compensation for lending.
- Selling or mortgaging the share:
It is permissible to sell or mortgage the share but in conformity with the rules of the company’s system, such as allowing the sale unconditionally, or conditional on observing the priority of the old shareholders to purchase the share. Similarly allowing the partners to mortgage the common portion depends on referring to this in the system.
- The issuance of shares with fees of issuing:
The addition of a certain proportion to the value of the share to cover the expenses of issuance is not impermissible in terms of Shari’ah as long as this proportion is appropriately estimated.
- Issuing shares with issue bonus or issue deduction:
It is permissible to issue new shares to increase the capital of the company, it they are issued at the actual value of the old shares (according to the experts’ assessment of the assets of the company) or at the market value.
11.The guarantee of the company to buy the shares (the ruling on which was postponed in the decision of the Academy).
The European Council for Fatwa and Research resolves that it is permissible for the company to issue an obligatory promise to buy the shares from some of their bearers during their period or on liquidation at the market value or at a value agreed upon on purchase. It is not permissible to promise to buy at the nominal value.
The rest of the decision of the Islamic Fiqh Academy that the Council confirms:
- Determining the liability of the limited stock company:
It is not forbidden in terms of Shari’ah to establish a stock company with liability limited by its capital, for this is known to those who deal with the company, and due to this knowledge those who deal with the company become free from gharar (risk).
Nor is it impermissible in terms of Shari’ah for the liability of some shareholders to be unlimited in respect of the creditors without receiving compensation for this commitment. This is in companies including cooperative partners and partners with limited liability.
- Confining the circulation of the shares to authoritative brokers and stipulating fees for dealing in their markets:
It is permissible for the relevant authorities to regulate the circulation of some shares, such as confining that to special brokers with permits to do the job, for this is among the official procedures that realize some legitimate interests.
- The right of priority:
The Council suggests postponing taking a decision on this topic to another session for further investigation and study.
- The certificate of the right of ownership:
The Council suggests postponing taking a decision on this topic to another session for further investigation and study.
Second: Option trading
The nature of the contract:
Option contract means: substitution for commitment to sell something well defined, or buying it at a specific price during a certain period of time or at a certain time, either directly or through an agency that guarantees the rights of both parties.
Its ruling in terms of Shari’ah:
Option contracts – as they are dealt with nowadays in the international stock markets – are innovated contracts that do not belong to any category of the known contracts of Shari’ah.
Since the contract does not involve a fund, a benefit, or a financial right that can be substituted for, the contract is impermissible in terms of Shari’ah, and as such contracts are initially impermissible, they are impermissible to circulate.
Third: Dealing with goods, currencies and indices in organized markets:
Goods are dealt with in organized markets in one of the four following methods:
The first method:
That the contract includes the right of the immediate delivery of the salable articles and the value, and the goods or receipts representing them should be in the possession of the seller and his hold.
Such contract is permissible in terms of Shari’ah with the known conditions of selling.
The second method:
That the contract includes the right of the immediate delivery of the salable articles and the value, and the possibility of the delivery thereof being guaranteed by the agency of the market.
Such contract is permissible in terms of Shari’ah with the known conditions of selling.
The third Method:
That the contract is for delivering a defined article in one’s debt at a deferred date and paying the value on delivery, and that it includes a condition that the contract ends with delivering and receiving the article.
This type of contract is impermissible because of deterring the two exchanged things. This contract can be amended to comply with the known conditions of selem (full payment at the time of the contract) whereupon the contract becomes permissible. It is also impermissible to sell an article that is bought by selem before receiving it.
The fourth method:
That the contract is for delivering a defined article in one’s debt at a deferred date and paying the value on delivery, without including a condition that the contract ends with actually delivering and receiving the article, but can be settled with an opposite contract.
This is the more common type in the markets of goods, and it is primarily impermissible
- Trading currencies:
Trading currencies in the organized markets is practiced in one of the four above-mentioned methods followed in trading goods. It is impermissible to purchase or sell currencies according to the third and fourth methods.
As to the first and second methods, it is permissible to purchase and sell currencies conditional on observing the known condition of “sarf” (currency exchange).
- Dealing with the index:
The index is a calculative number calculated by a special statistical method, to find out the size of change in a certain market and dealings wit it are carried on in some international markets.
It is impermissible to buy or sell the index because it is pure gambling, and it is just the process of selling something imaginative that cannot exist.
- The Shar’i alternative to unlawful transactions in goods and currencies:
An Islamic market for goods and currencies should be organized on the basis of dealings permitted in Shari’ah, particularly bay’ al-salam (payment in advance), sarf (currency exchange), promise to sell at a deferred date, and istisna’ (custom order).
The Council opines that it is necessary to undertake a comprehensive study of the conditions of these alternatives and the methods of applying them in an Islamic organized market.
Fiqh (Jurisprudence) of Minorities
The Council discussed for a whole day the topic of the Fiqh of minorities, to which it pays special attention, for this will lead to better understanding of the reality of the Islamic existence in non-Muslim countries and pass the appropriate Shar’i rulings concerning that reality. The following papers were reviewed in this meeting:
- 1. On the Fiqh of Minorities, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the President of the Council.
- 2. The difference between necessity and need, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Ibn Bayyah, Member of the Council.
- 3. An Introduction to the Fiqh of Minorities, Dr. Taha Jabir Al-‘Alwani, , Member of the Council.
- 4. The Consequences of Acts and their Effect on the Fiqh of Minorities, Dr. Abdul-Majid al-Najjar, Member of the Council.
- 5. Views on the Fiqh of Muslim Minorities, Shaikh al-Arabi al-Bishri, Member of the Council.
- 6. The Methodological controlling criteria of the Fiqh of Muslim Minorities, Dr. Salah al-Din Sultan, Member of the Council.
The Council ultimately agreed that the use of the term “Fiqh of Minorities” is correct and there is no problem with it. It is adopted in the modern discourse and, moreover, the international convention uses the term (minorities) as a political term meaning: “Groups or strata of the subjects of a certain state that belong, regarding ethnics, language or religion, to other than that to which the majority belong.”
The final opinion of the Council on the Fiqh of minorities is that it means: the juristic rulings concerning the Muslim who lives outside the Islamic land.
The Council received a number of questions. It answered some of them. Following are the most important of them:
Here in Britain, the Friday sermon is attended in the mosque by those who understand Arabic as well as those who do not, and all or most of them understand the language of this country, i.e. English. Is it then permissible to deliver the sermon of Friday in the language of the audience even if it is other than Arabic?
Since the aim of the Friday sermon is to teach and instruct, the principle is to take into consideration the language of the audience when addressing them. The Holy Qur’an draws our attention to this meaning when it shows the function of the Messengers. Allah Almighty says: “We sent not a Messenger but (to teach) in the language of his own people, in order to make things clear to them.” (XIV: 4) Allah Almighty also says: “But what is the mission of Messengers but to convey the message clearly?” (XVI: 35) and the message conveyed cannot be understood clearly unless expressed in a language that is understood by the addressee.
The Friday sermon is primarily supposed to be in Arabic if most of the audience can understand it, for the sermon usually requires citing evidence from the Qur’an or the Hadith attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), and glorifying Allah Almighty in order to carry out its objective. The ideal solution is to deliver the sermon in Arabic and then translate as much as possible of it for those who do not understand Arabic. Perhaps this was the intention of the majority of jurists who opined that the sermon should be in Arabic. But if those who know Arabic among the audience are just a few or nonexistent, it is permissible to deliver it in their language, and this is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah, who permitted delivering the sermon in other than Arabic.
It happens that some Islamic institutions, such as centers, mosques or charities, invite Muslims to donate for the sake of a certain project, and then some of the fund remains after executing the project, or the project is cancelled. What is the ruling regarding the unused funds? Are those in charge of the institution entitled to dispose of it for the good of other public projects without notifying the donors? If they should notify the donors but they cannot do so, what are they to do?
One should look into the matter as follows: What can be distinguished as imposed zakat should be distributed according to the instructions given in the Holy Qur’an in the Verse: “Sadaqat (Zakat) are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to collect the funds and those whose hearts have been recently reconciled, for those in bondage and in debt, in the Cause of Allah and for the wayfarer. (thus is it ) ordained by Allah” (IX: 60), for the payer of zakat does not have the right to stipulate that it be spent in a specific way. Those who run these institutions shall dispose of this portion of the fund in the way mentioned in the Verse and according to what they think will be for the good of their society.
What is not distinguished as obligatory zakat must have been intended to be spent on the particular project that the donor had been invited to donate for. In this case the donor is a waqif (giver of an endowment), and the condition of the waqif should be observed and the fund should be spent the way he or she had indicated. Therefore, if the donor is identified and can be asked for permission, the duty is to do so. If this is impossible, but it is possible to secure the permission of the group of donors, similar to the funds collected from the worshippers in the mosques, for example, let it be done. If none of these alternatives is possible, there is then no objection to spending the fund on a project similar to the one for which it has been collected. The leading principle in all that is the Saying of Allah Almighty: “And fear Allah as much as you can.” (LXIV: 18)
Question: I suffer from chronic cold continuously throughout the year and cannot do without the nasal drops during daytime. What am I to do with fasting in Ramadan? Is my fasting valid though I use the drops, bearing in mind that I usually swallow the fluid and cannot avoid that? Also, I cannot afford to pay a ransom (compensation), in case this renders my fasting invalid.
There is no problem with your fasting in the state you have described as it is valid, for fasting is just abstaining from desires as Allah Almighty says in the Qudsi Hadith: “He abandons his food, drink and desire for My Sake.” The nasal drop is neither sexual appetite nor food; and it is not taken through the usual route of food.
Question: I got acquainted with a foreign lady that embraced Islam and because it was impossible for us to meet in our own country to marry, I traveled to another country to meet her. In that country we, to our surprise, discovered that it was impossible to contract our marriage due to legal reasons. We were told that we could marry ourselves and take Allah as a witness to our marriage. Her family and mine know of our marriage, for I had requested her hand in marriage from her mother whom had subsequently consented. Thus we married without a guardian or witnesses, thinking that it was correct, and lived as husband and wife. What is the ruling on what we have done?
The contract in the way the enquirer has described is invalid because it lacks the Shar’i (legal) conditions. It was made without a guardian or witnesses, and none of the followed Imams has validated a contract of this type. The Hanifites and those who share their opinion, who do not stipulate the guardian, claiming that a Muslim woman can marry herself, stipulate the presence of witnesses to that. Those who do not stipulate witnesses to the contract stipulate it before the consummation, which is the view of the Malikites, who stipulate that the contract be made at the presence of the legal guardian of the Muslim woman, and in case he is not available because of his death or due to him being legally unqualified (because he is not a Muslim) the guardianship is transferred to one of the other Muslims present.
Therefore, you have to stop indulging in a sexual relationship till you make a new contract at the presence of Muslim witnesses and the guardian of the woman if available, and if he is not available it will be enough for her to authorise one of the Muslims to marry her to you. As to the sexual relationship you practiced before this ruling, you must ask Allah’s forgiveness for it.
Is it lawful to wear a coat made of pig skin?
Is what is used of the skin of a pig after tanning it treated as impure skin, or is it purified after being tanned?
All pieces of evidence indicate that all impure skins are rendered pure through tanning, as Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) says: “If a hide is tanned it becomes pure.” (narrated by Muslim in his Sahih on the authority of Ibn Abbas) In another narration we read: “Any hide that is tanned is pure.” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi) So, the hadith in its two versions informs that tanning purifies the skin of any dead animal, for the words “any” and “hide” have a general sense covering all hides without excluding a pig or a dead animal.
Therefore, it is permissible to use the tanned skin of a pig in clothing and similar things.
What characterizes the poor person that is entitled to receive the zakat?
Jurists differ in the description of the poor person that Allah Almighty regards among those who are entitled to receiving zakat in His Saying: “Sadaqat (zakat) are for the poor….” (IX: 60) The acceptable among their sayings is that he is the person who does not possess enough money to cover his food, dress, accommodation and whatever is necessary to him and to those he is responsible to sustain, without extravagance or niggardliness, like somebody who is in need of ten German Marks but has no more that two or three Marks.
But we have to say that it is permissible to give zakat to the person whose poverty is evident, and to that who claims to be poor credibly and so is given the zakat, unless his apparent state indicates otherwise.
Some companies attach some pictures to their goods in order to promote them. If consumers collect some of these pictures and send them to the company, they may win a prize assigned by the company to whomever does that. Is it lawful for one to do so to win the prize?
It is permissible for a Muslim to take such prizes because they are offered by one party, i.e. the donning company, without stipulating an increase in the price of the commodity, but it is just a way to promote its goods, and the other party (the consumer) does not bear any loss that would involve him or her in the rulings of unlawful gambling.
What is prohibited in this matter is only that the Muslim buys these goods with the intention of winning these prizes, for this intention would involve him in gambling that is unlawful.
I reside in The United Kingdom and work as a translator in health centers, social services, financial aids, etc. I encounter a problem in my work in that some of the clients come to me to translate their statements, and I do that though I know they tell lies. I do not have the right to interfere and say that they are telling lies. Am I sinful in keeping silent about this?
The work of the translator is lawful in what is permissible to translate, such as what he or she conveys of the statements of people to the relevant institutions; therefore, do not exert yourself to discover the truthfulness of these statements, for Allah does not order you to do so, and it is not among the duties of your job. Therefore, you may translate any statements made even if the speaker is not truthful. The most that may be required from you is that if you are sure of his telling lies, you may advise him, if that would not result in a worse outcome than that of telling lies and would not lead to a legal offense.
Similarly, if you are a private translator, you do not have to investigate the truthfulness of your clients, and you should not follow their defects or have suspicions about them. If you find out for sure that what you translate is a lie that would lead to usurpation of sanctified right, be it public or private, in this case it is impermissible for you to assist your client in that matter, for Allah Almighty says: “Help one another in righteousness and piety but do not help one another in sin and rancor.” (V: 2)
What is the ruling concerning Public Liability Insurance, which is a form of insurance on places that are frequented by the public and are under our responsibility, such as libraries, centers, etc. where some accidents may happen and we would not be able to cover the required compensation?
The traditional insurance contracts (applied in the West) are prohibited (in Shari’ah) in principle because these are based on mutual compensation in that the company posses the premiums for its own good and is committed to pay the compensation. This process involves risk because the occurrence of danger is not certain, and there is the probability of paying the compensation or not paying it, besides the probability of the company’s benefiting by the premiums or losing them along with other amounts.
The Shar’I (legal) substitute for this is the cooperative insurance that is based on an insurance portfolio for the good of the bearers of the insurance policies, so that they benefit by the earning and bear the losses. The role of the company is confined to administration for a wage, investing the insurance assets for a wage, or for a share on the basis of ‘Mudarabah’. If there remains surplus from the premiums and their bonuses after paying the compensation, it is a pure right for the bearers of the policies. The risk that is in the cooperative insurance is ignored as excusable, for the basis of this type of insurance is cooperation and regular donations, and risk is usually overlooked in donations.
Since cooperative insurance is still new and not widely practiced and cannot cope with big insurances, the Shar’i committees in the Islamic financial institutions have given the fatwa that it is permissible to resort to the conventional insurance when there is crucial need to protect the assets and ensure the activities, on the basis that risk is excusable because of need.
Therefore, it is permissible to enter in the insurance contracts that are available in the West when the cooperative insurance is nonexistent or unable to cover certain dangers.
The Council exhorts the Muslims residing in the Western Countries to:
- observe all rights, and give a good impression and be a good example through their speech, behavior and manners.
- play their role in inventing things and innovating and encouraging invention and innovation on all levels.
- To exert themselves as much as possible to bring up the new generation, both boys and girls, according to Islamic principles through establishing schools, and educational and recreational centers to protect them against deviation.
- earnestly try to establish companies and financial institutions free from offenses in the sight of Shari’ah.
- form Shar’i committees to regulate their personal affairs according to the rulings of the noble Islamic Law, and meanwhile complying with the prevalent laws.
- work hard to secure the recognition of the state where they live, of Islam as a religion and the Muslims as a religious minority like other religious minorities in respect of enjoying their full rights, and managing their personal affairs, such as marriage and divorce in accordance with the rules of their religion.
- comply with the texts of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the consensus of the jurists of the Ummah pertaining to the obligation of fulfilling the requirements of the pledge of security and the conditions or terms of citizenship and residence in the European Countries where they live.
Among the most important things that they should live up to are the following:
- a. to believe that the souls, property and honesty of non-Muslims are sanctified in accordance with the pledge they entered these countries upon and without which they would not have been allowed to enter them and continue staying in them. Allah Almighty says: “and fulfill the pledge for it will be enquired into (on the Day of Judgment).” (XVII: 34)
- b. to respect the laws of the countries that have received and protected them and enabled them to enjoy all the securities of decent living. Allah Almighty says: “Is there any reward for good other than good?” (LV: 60)
- c. to avoid all means of unlawful (haram) earning of all sorts, such as seeking to obtain the benefits of social security although they work or trade.
The Council also exhorts Muslims in general and those living in the West in particular to adhere to Allah’s religion, brotherhood, tolerance, moderation, cooperation in matters of righteousness and piety, to adopt quiet dialogue and sound methods in settling matters of controversy away from the approaches of bigotry and the routes of extremeness that distort the image of Islam and badly defame the Muslims in general and the Muslim minorities in particular. The enemies of Islam and those who are ignorant of it would then manipulate such practices to defame Islam and warn others against it and its followers and provoke other nations against them. Allah Almighty says: “Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (LVI: 125)
The next Session of the Council
The Members of the Council in coordination with the General Secretariat agreed to choose as the date for holding the Thirteenth Session the evening of Wednesday, 20th of Jumada al-Ula, 1425 AH corresponding to 7/7/2004 AD up to Sunday, 24th of Jumada al-Ula, 1425 AH corresponding to 11/7/ 2004 AD, Allah willing.
Its agenda will focus on the problems of the Muslim family in the West and the Shar’i (legal) solutions to them.
The conclusion of the proceedings of the Session:
His Excellency Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi President of the Council concluded the proceedings of the Session by offering sincere thanks to Al-Maktoom Charity Organization for its continuous support of the Council and to all those from the Islamic Cultural Center in Ireland for their efforts of hospitality and generous reception and for the appreciated effort in organizing the meeting. Gratitude was also offered to “al-Jazeera” Satellite channel and to “Islam online” and the Europiyya Journal for their comprehensive coverage of the proceedings of the Council. Thanks were also forwarded to the Brothers and Sisters for their attendance and participation as observers.
The Council would also like to thank the Irish Government that granted travel visas to the Members of the Council to facilitate its holding on its land satisfactorily.
May peace be upon our Master Muhammad and his Family and Companions, and praise is due to Allah, the Sustainer of the Worlds.