January 17, 2024
How Fatwa Appeals are submitted and Fatwas issued – a summary from a 7 century work on Fatwa

Islamic Values

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The following is a summary of the section Kayfiyyat al-Istiftā’ wal-Fatwa (How Fatwa Appeals are submitted and Fatwas issued) from Ibn Hamdān al-Hanbali’s (695h) Sifat al-Fatwa.

1. Mufti’s Response to Inquiries: The Mufti should clarify inquiries either orally or in writing. If translation is needed due to the inquirer’s language, it must be done reliably. The Mufti can elaborate on the question if necessary and should cover all aspects relevant to the inquirer’s situation.

2. Understanding the Inquiry: The Mufti should strive to fully comprehend the inquiry, especially complex or unclear parts. He should revise the inquiry for clarity and rectify any errors or ambiguities for the benefit of the fatwa.

3. Consultation in Issuing Fatwas: It’s recommended for the Mufti to consult with other jurists and scholars, even if they are junior, while formulating a response, unless the content is sensitive or could negatively impact the inquirer.

4. Clarity in Writing Fatwas: Responses should be written clearly and understandably for a general audience, with attention to layout and legibility to avoid misinterpretation.

5. Format of Fatwa Response: The Mufti may choose the format of the response, whether on the left, right, or bottom of the page. The conclusion of the answer should acknowledge Allah’s guidance and knowledge.

6. Conciseness in Fatwas: The Mufti should provide concise answers, clearly stating if something is permissible or not, right or wrong. In complex cases like leadership or stoning, the conditions and details should be mentioned.

7. Inheritance and Family Issues: When addressing inheritance and family matters, specific shares and conditions should be clearly stated, following Islamic inheritance laws.

8. Responding to Incomplete Inquiries: If the inquiry is incomplete or vague, the Mufti should clarify the missing information and respond accordingly.

9. Responding to Narrow Inquiries: If the inquiry is limited in scope, the Mufti should ensure that the response is attached directly to the inquiry to prevent misuse.

10. Responding to Fatwas Issued by Unqualified Individuals: If an unqualified person has previously responded, the Mufti has the right to correct it, emphasizing the importance of seeking fatwas from qualified individuals.

11. Handling Contradictory Answers: If the respondent disagrees with a provided answer, the Mufti should focus on explaining his own interpretation without altering the original inquiry.

12. Addressing Errors in Other Fatwas: If the Mufti finds errors in fatwas from others, he should correct them, especially if the error contradicts conclusive evidence or established doctrine.

13. Responding to Ambiguous Inquiries: If the inquiry is unclear, the Mufti should seek further clarification before responding, especially if the original questioner is not present.

14. Mentioning Evidence in Fatwas: The Mufti should include clear and concise texts as evidence in fatwas but avoid detailed analogies or inferences unless necessary.

15. Prioritizing Inquiries: The Mufti should prioritize inquiries based on the urgency and need of the inquirers, using methods like lot drawing in cases of equal importance.

16. Impartiality in Fatwas: The Mufti must remain impartial and avoid bias towards either party in a dispute, focusing solely on the legal aspects of the inquiry.

This concludes the summary of the section Kayfiyyat al-Istiftā’ wal-Fatwa from Ibn Hamdān’s (695h) Sifat al-Fatwa.

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