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Articles


Some Etiquettes of the Mufti

Author : Dr. Hassan Abu_Arqoub

Date Added : 17-11-2022


Some Etiquettes of the Mufti

 

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May Allah`s peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

A Mufti represents the Seal of the Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), since he delivers the rulings of Sharia and extrapolates rulings about matters that have no evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah. Therefore, he has to have a number of essential etiquettes. In his book "E`lam Al-Moakkie`n" Ibn Al-Qayem referred to the most important of these etiquettes." Following are the most salient in question-answer form with examples:

First: When should the Mufti answer the questioner?

If the Mufti is asked about the ruling of Sharia on a certain matter/incident and the asker needed an immediate answer, then the Mufti should answer him/her immediately and he isn`t permitted not to point out the ruling.

Example:

 If it was announced that tomorrow is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan and a person asked the Mufti-before the second call for Fajir prayer-about the time of making the intention (Niyyah) of fasting, then the Mufti must explain that its time extends from the sunset of the day before until the emergence of the true dawn. However, if the Mufti didn`t make that clear to the asker then the fasting of the latter is unacceptable and he must make up for that missed day.

Second: When shouldn`t the Mufti answer the questioner?

There are four cases in which the Mufti shouldn`t answer the questioner:

1-If the Mufti is asked about the ruling of Sharia on a matter/incident that he has no knowledge about, then it is prohibited to give a Fatwa without knowledge. The evidence on this is that Almighty Allah says {What means}: " Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to God, for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about God of which ye have no knowledge." {Al-A`raf, 33}. Allah the Almighty also says {what means}: "But say not - for any false thing that your tongues may put forth,- "This is lawful, and this is forbidden," so as to ascribe false things to God. For those who ascribe false things to God, will never prosper." {An-Nahil, 116}.

In this situation, the Mufti must say: "I don`t know" for this isn`t considered a drawback on his part because this absolves him from liability on the Day of Judgment.

In his book "Al-Risalah," Al-Shafie` stated : "It isn`t permissible to give Fatwa without the needed knowledge. Even if he gave the correct answer, this isn`t preferred in Sharia and he receives no reward for that."

Al-Ghazali said: "Happy is the one who dies and his evil deeds die along with him." The one who gives Fatwa without knowledge will bear its sin and the sin of those who act upon it until the Day of Resurrection.

2-If the Mufti is asked about a matter/incident that hasn`t taken place or there is no Sharia evidence concerning it, then he doesn`t have to give an answer.

Example:

If the Mufti was asked how should the one who was swallowed by a big fish and got out by some sort of miracle cleanse/purify himself to perform acts of worship? This is a hypothetical question that a Mufti doesn`t have to answer. The righteous predecessors {May Allah have mercy on them} used to ask the one seeking Fatwa: "Did this incident take place?" If the answer was "No" then they wouldn`t give a Fatwa and advise him to ask about necessary matters of the religion.

The reason behind this is that giving Fatwa about matters on which there is no evidence in Sharia nor scholarly consensus depends on Ijtihad, which is allowed upon necessity, such as eating dead meat. However, if there is evidence on that matter then it isn`t discouraged to give Fatwa.

However, if there was no evidence from Sharia and the matter/incident wasn`t excluded and the asker wanted to know the ruling in the event that it took place, then the Mufti is encouraged to give a Fatwa because the asker may not find a Mufti to do that when the matter/incident actually takes place.

3-If the Fatwa will cause greater evil than abstaining from delivering it, and then the Mufti is required not to deliver it to ward off greater evil with lesser evil.

For example, the Prophet (PBUH) didn`t give a Fatwa to knock down the Kaba and rebuild it on the foundation of Ibrahim (PBUH) because the people of Quraish have recently embraced Islam. Therefore, had he given that Fatwa, they would have hated Islam and some of them would have committed apostasy as a result. It was narrated from Aisha that the Messenger of Allah said to her: "O Aishah, were if not for the fact that your people have recently left Jahiliyyah, I would have commanded that the House be knocked down, and I would have incorporated into it what was left out of it. I would have made its (door) in level with the ground and I would have given it two doors, an eastern door and a western door. For they built it too small, and by doing this, it would have been built on the foundation of Ibrahim, peace be upon him." {Related by Bukhari}.

Al-Shafie was once asked: "Why don`t you give a Fatwa on this matter/incident?!" He replied: "I need to make sure which is better, keeping silent or giving an answer."

Example: 

A man asked Ibn Abbas about the interpretation of a verse, then he answered him by saying: "What is the guarantee that telling you its interpretation won`t cause you to disbelieve in Allah."

Third: Is it permissible for the Mufti to refrain from answering the question and address a matter that is more beneficial to the asker?

Yes, it is permissible for the Mufti to do so since this indicates that he cares about the asker and wants to direct him to what is in his best interest. Of course, this is after answering the asker`s question.

Example:

If someone asked the Mufti: "Is it permissible to give the Zakah of my wealth to my poor daughter?" It is allowed for the Mufti to say: "Yes, it is." After that, the Mufti explains what is better and more beneficial by saying: "If you are wealthy, then consider paying her a salary. This will help her, her husband, and your grandchildren to live a decent life, win the reward of their prayers for you, and most importantly this is charity and maintaining of kinship ties."

The proof that such an approach is permissible lies in the following verse: "They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -God knoweth it well." {Al-Baqarah, 215}. In this verse, the question is about what to spend, but the answer is the eligible recipients, because it is more important than what the question is about.

Fourth: Is it permissible for the Mufti to elaborate on the answer?

Yes, it is, and this indicates maturity and wisdom. 

Example:

Abu Hurairah said:

"A man asked the prophet (PBUH): 'O Messenger of Allah, we travel by sea and we take a little water with us, but if we use it for Wudu', we will go thirsty. Can we perform Wudu' with seawater?' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: 'Its water is a means of purification and its dead meat is permissible.'" {Tirmithi}.

The question is about the ruling on using the seawater for wudu`; however, the Prophet (PBUH) answered along with explaining the ruling on eating the dead meat of the sea indicating that the water remains pure, even if the fish is dead.

Fifth: Is it permissible for the Mufti to direct the asker to a permissible alternative, if what he asked about is prohibited?

Yes, it is. Rather, this is recommended because it indicates that the Mufti is well-versed in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and cares about what is in the best interest of the asker. 

Example:

Abu Sa'id and Abu Huraira told that God’s Messenger appointed a man over Khaibar and he brought him dates of a very fine quality. He asked him whether all the dates of Khaibar were like that, and he replied, “I swear by God that they are certainly not, Messenger of God. We take a sa‘ of this kind for two, and two for three." So he said, "Do not do so. Sell the lot for dirhams, then buy the very fine dates for dirhams." He said that it was the same when things were sold by weight. (Bukhari and Muslim.)

In this Hadith, the Messenger gave the asker the way out by selling the poor quality dates and using the money to buy good quality dates.

Sixth: Is it permissible for the Mufti to give Fatwa using direct evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah.

This is advisable and the Mufti should be keen on doing so as much as he can to achieve the following benefits:

1-Mentioning Allah and His Messenger

2-Clarifying the ruling of Sharia

3-Stating the evidence

4-Sterngthening the asker`s confidence in the answer since the texts of Sharia are errorless.

Example:

If the Mufti was asked: "If my father divorced one of his wives (Who isn`t a mother of mine), is it allowed for me to marry her?

The answer is: "And marry not women whom your fathers married,- except what is past: It was shameful and odious,- an abominable custom indeed." {An-Nisa`, 22}.

In addition, it is better to explain the intended meaning of the text since the asker may not understand it.

Seventh: Is it permissible for the Mufti to receive a salary from the state?

It isn`t permissible to receive wages for giving Fatwa because Fatwa is all about delivering the rulings of Sharia, so it isn`t permissible to receive compensation for that. However, it is permissible for the Mufti to receive a salary from the state in return for freeing himself and dedicating his time to giving Fatwas to the people.

This salary isn`t in exchange for Fatwa since he answers questions within and after the official working hours, so the Fatwa isn`t given in return for money. Moreover, a Mufti may answer a hundred questions in a month and two hundred in another but the salary remains the same, which indicates that the salary isn`t taken in return for delivering Fatwas.

Finally, I remind people to be mindful of Allah. The above etiquettes are a drop in the ocean, so whoever wishes to learn more should consult the approved books in this field. And all success is due to Allah. 

 

 

 

 

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