The Danger of Rushing to Issue Fatwas – Shaykh Muhammad Mawlud & Shaykh Rami Nsour

This text is an except from the book “The Prohibitions of the Tongue” written by Shaykh Muhammad Mawlud. This book has been translated and commented in english by Shaykh Rami Nsour. For more information, click on the picture below:


The second thing that Muhammad Mawlud is mentioning here in this Fatwa is, “hastening to give Fatwa”. The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu alaihi wa’sallam said in a Hadith narrated in al Jami’ah, “The most bold of you in hastening to Fatwa are the most bold in hastening to the fire”. And Al Manawi said the reason for this Hadith, meaning that if a person is quick to give Fatwa it’s as if he is quick to run into the fire. What’s the reason behind this, Imam al Manawi mentions that the reason for this is that the Mufti, the person given the Mufti is Mubayyin an’illah, he is a representative of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in clarifying the ruling of Allah. So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given a ruling in a certain matter, either in explicit textual reference in the Quran, an understanding of the Ayah within the Quran, the Hadith of the Prophet Sallalahu alaihi wa’sallam and understanding of that Sunnah derived from that Sunnah, the Ijtihad of the Ulema who are based in their understanding on the Quran and Sunnah and so on and so forth. So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given us the Hukum. When the Mufti comes and says this is Halal or this is Haram, essentially he is saying Allah has said that this is Halal or Allah has said that this is Haram and so he is acting as a representative of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and so if he makes a mistake based on this, an unexcusable mistake just by hastening to a Fatwa either by not checking the sources properly or not understanding the situation properly, then he may be saying that something is Haram when in fact it’s not. So for that reason it’s one of the conditions for the Mufti is that he takes his time to understand the situation, understand the person who is asking about the thing and then understand the ruling and then make sure that this ruling is applicable to this exact situation.


So if a person gives Fatwa out of ignorance and how would a person give a Fatwa out of ignorance? Both he is trained as a Mufti and he has a certain level of knowledge but this Hukum that he is asked about this ruling that he is asked about he does not know about it but maybe he is too ashamed or too modest to say that “la adri”, that “I don’t know” and so he just makes up an answer. And so now he has hastened to give that Fatwa to show in front of all these people that I know the answer to this.


Whereas the real sign of a scholar is the fact that he says ‘la adri’. Imam Malik once was asked forty questions and to over thirty of them he responded ‘la adri’, I don’t know. And they said that ‘la adri jannatul a’lim, saying I don’t know is the paradise of a scholar because at that point if he truly does not know then his responsibility is taken away from him. If he knows the answer and same thing goes for any person that knows the answer they have to respond to it, but in responding there is a responsibility, there is a burden placed on your shoulders and so it’s a heavy burden. If you don’t know the answer that burden is not placed upon you and so that’s why there is a relief in being able to honestly say I don’t know. And the sign of a scholar is that he says I don’t know and that he says let me check on that. If you ever go to a person and find that every question you ask him he has an answer for, start doubting about what he knows because unless he is one of the greatest scholars living at our age, unless that’s the situation he probably doesn’t have a grasp of knowledge because if he really understood, if he really had the grasp of ‘Ilm he would know that most masa’il, most rulings haven’t been addressed and so you don’t have to use your own personal reasoning. You can go and look up in the books, you can go and confer with scholars and seek counsel but it takes time.


And so if a person says let me check on this that’s a sign that he knows, he has a vague recollection of the discussion of that matter and he has to go check on it or he recognizes I don’t know, I’ve never heard this but I know where I can start looking and so he goes and he looks. So from my personal experience if you find a person saying let me check on this don’t think that that’s the sign he doesn’t have knowledge, that’s actually the sign that he does actually have knowledge. If the person that says that has an answer to everything that is asked and gives that answer immediately that’s the sign that the person most probably is not giving sincere and true Fatwa. So Al Manawi says if a person gives Fatwa out of Jahal. Now this was the scholar that we are talking about, the person who may have a good amount of knowledge but in a situation where he feels embarrassed to say I don’t know, he says he gives a Fatwa out of Jahal. The most common times that this happens where a person gives Fatwa on Jahal is amongst the common people. If a common person is asked a question rarely do you see a person say I don’t know because everybody thinks that just because they are Muslim they have a right to speak about the religion. And so the common person starts making up his own reasoning, maybe something he read in the books, something he heard at the conference and then he says this is the Hukum of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And so he doesn’t have the requisite knowledge, he’s answering a question, he’s clarifying what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has stated about that matter or what he thinks Allah has stated about that matter and so essentially he is giving a Fatwa, but he’s giving a Fatwa based on ignorance, he’s not trained, he has not studied.


So if a person gives a Fatwa out of Jahal out of ignorance that’s a person who is hastening to give Fatwa and that is haram. If a person gives Fatwa without knowledge, he knows that this answer is wrong but he goes ahead and gives it that’s also haram. Or a person doesn’t take serious deliberation in understanding that situation and understanding the person asking and he hastens to answer that question that’s also another situation where he is being bold and hastening to give the Fatwa and this is where this Hadith applies and so in these situations where he is giving Fatwa out of Jahal, out of no knowledge or he is not taking the time to understand the situation or the ruling. If it’s one of these three reasons then he has caused himself to go into the Fire and that’s why the Prophet salallahu alaihi wa’salam said, ‘the most bold of you and hastening to give Fatwa are the most bold of you in hastening to the Fire’.


And there is also an Ayah in the Quran where Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, ‘do not speak about that which you do not have knowledge’. If a person does not have knowledge then they are not given the authority to speak, whether it’s on the Shari’ah or whether it was such as in the situation discussed earlier about dream interpretation. If the person does not have pre requisites of interpreting dreams then they are not given the authority to interpret dreams and if they do that they’re speaking about that which they have no knowledge.


And there is also an Ayah where Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, ‘did Allah give you permission or are you lying against Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’? And Zamakhrashi said that in this Ayah is enough of a warning against those people who are lax in giving Fatwa. And in this Ayah is a motivator for the people to be very careful about giving a Fatwa and a person shouldn’t just say this is Ja’iz, this is permissible or this is not Ja’iz until they have become certain and they have become certain. He says, ‘And except after having certainty and having surety and having surety. And if a person does not have absolute surety then he should fear Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and be silent. Other wise he is lying against Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’. One of the other scholars said that the Mufti stands in between Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the creation. He is standing as a representative between Allah and between His creation. And so he should look at how he does and he has to be firm in his giving answer and understanding the situation. And he should also be very careful because of the seriousness and the greatness of this matter.

In continuing, the same scholar that said that a person giving a Fatwa, we stand in between Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His creation. He said, ‘and so for this reason it is Haram for a Mufti to become lax or easy in giving Fatwa. So sometimes the human compassion overrides our judgment or overrides what we should be doing. So say for example we know what the Mash’hoor is but we say ok we are going to make it easy for this person. Maybe he doesn’t have a serious situation. If he does has a serious necessity a dire necessity where he needs some ease in his life, then if you know of a weaker opinion, an easier opinion although it might be daif you can give it to that person. Again this is only to be done by a person that knows what is an acceptably follow able weaker opinion because there are opinions that are so weak that the scholars have warned against following them. So it doesn’t mean that just because you heard oh this is a weak opinion I can go ahead and give it out, this requires training. So when we say you we say at a certain level this is applicable to everybody and the basic rulings and the themes that everybody is aware, pig is Haram, khamar (intoxicants) is Haram, alcohol is Haram, gambling. This is the Faraidh of wudhu, when you clarify those things you have to give them as they are stated and there is no laxity in those. And then in a higher level where a person has a broader understanding of Fiqh. He may have come across weak opinions, he may have heard them from a scholar, but you should not repeat those opinions just for the purpose of making things easy for people for tasahul.


So again, going back to Fiqh al aqal-liat. If fiqh al aqal-liat is just to make people’s life easy then that’s what the Ulema have warned against in giving Fatwa. But if it’s to be able to look at people’s situation and see if there is a specific need that needs to be relieved by giving a weak opinion then that can be done but again it has to be done on an individual basis. So he says that the Mufti should be aware of becoming lax, giving Fatwa and just trying to make things easy for the person. And then the Mufti also must be careful in responding. He should not hasten to respond even if this matter is very clear. So the adab of the Mufti is that once he hears the question he should think about it even if it’s very clear he should give himself some time and then respond. If it’s a situation where he doesn’t know the answer then it’s not adab for him to wait, it’s actually wajib, an obligation for him to wait, find out what is the Hukum and give the answer. And he also must find out the particular situation of the questioner. And then also the Mufti has to be careful in giving a blanket Hukum in areas where there’s various aspects of this Hukum. So there may be one topic, one mas’ala but depending on the circumstance it could have various rulings. Sometimes it might be permissible sometimes it might be Haram, sometimes it might be Makruh, for example marriage. If somebody asked you the ruling of marriage, the basic hukum is that it’s Sunnah because the Prophet salallahu alaihi wa’sallam told us to get married and to have children. So the basic ruling is that it’s Sunnah. Sometimes though marriage is Haram, sometimes it’s Makruh. It’s Haram in a situation where a person is going to get married to a person and he knows that this marriage is going to take him away from the Deen or he knows that he’s not able to support this person and so he’s going to have to go into doing the Haram to support his spouse. Sometimes it might be Makruh, sometimes it might be recommended and sometimes it might be obligatory.


So the Mufti has to understand the person’s situations, understand the circumstances that the person is living in and then give the response, and that’s why I’ve seen one of the scholars in our area here, in San Francisco Bay area, California, Sheikh Salek Bin Seedina Hafidhaullah (May Allah preserve him). When people ask him about marriage he tells them, it is Sunnah but in his opinion for majority of young people living in this age, he said it’s wajib, and so he says it’s most probably wajib upon you and he will tell that to people when they ask about marriage. So the Mufti has to clarify the Hukum and understand the circumstance and if there are multiple facets to this one topic then he has to clarify it. So if a person asks a ruling he should say, if this is the situation then this is the ruling, and that’s why if you find a person who when you ask them a question speaking about a Mufti. If you go to a Mufti or scholar and you ask them about a Hukum, before they answer you they’re going to ask you a number of questions. They’re going to say is it this or is it this? Ok, is it this or is it this? Is it this or is it this, ok, then this is your Hukum because you know if you study the books of Fiqh the scholars have been very specific. They don’t just give general rulings.


Fiqh is very specific, just to give you an idea, the Mukhtasar of Khalil which is a book I was granted the ability to study in Mauritania; the Mukhtasar of Khalil is the highest book that’s studied now in the circles of knowledge where they focus on Maliki Fiqh. It was written about 700 years ago by Khalil Ibn Ishaq al Maliki, who was Turkish and he comes originally from a Hanafi background but his father was very impressed by one of the Maliki scholars and so he wanted his grandson to study the Maliki Madh’hab. And Khalil has a very amazing story for those of you who are interested; it will be good to learn about his story. But for brevity we will just mention that he was a great scholar and a Wali of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and had karamat, had miracles appear on his hands. Khalil’s book that he wrote about the Maliki Madh’hab it contains 100,000 Hukums. By the implied meanings, meaning that if he clarified a ruling and give its conditions and so he will say this is Haram and this is Makruh, by understanding that specific ruling with its conditions you understand that it’s implied that the opposite of that ruling or where those conditions are present would be the opposite of the ruling. So the Ulema who have studied this text of Khalil have said that just his book, the Mukhtasar al Khali just contains 100,000 rulings, explicitly mentioned, 200,000 can be immediately be derived based on his conditional way that he expresses the rulings, and then the commentaries and there’s almost a 100 commentaries on Khalil can easily take now this book into the millions of Hukums. So if a person studies the Mukhtasar of Khalil he will literally have studied millions of Hukums. So if a person is asked about a question before he goes on and gives a general response or he gives something based on his ruling, he should be able to gather from that vast amount of knowledge, of Fiqh rulings, of specific Fiqh rulings this is Halal, this is Haram, this is Makruh, this is Mubah, this is Mandub, this is conditional, this is so on and so forth. He will be able to gather a specific answer to that question. So when a Mufti who is well trained is asked a question, he is going to ask more questions to clarify what is that exact situation that this person is talking about. Is it this or is it this or so on and so forth and then he is able to arrive at a Hukum. So on this angle now we are just talking about the actual matter that is being discussed there could be multiple facets to it based on the conditions around it, you would have a specific ruling.

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