[ Disclaimer: I neither possess any extensive knowledge about Fatwa nor do I claim to be even remotely close to a scholar on any other matters. The following is just an expression of my personal opinion about the article and should be treated as such. Of Course we all have the rights to disagree. ]
To understand what I am talking about you must read the article first if you haven’t already. Now after doing that, let me just be crystal clear that I am not buying any of that what the article offers but before you turn away labeling me “Yet another fossilised mind”, you should probably prove that you have a receptive one by going through all that I have to say.
First of all the article is trying a little too hard to prove it’s points. To the extent that it’s trying to bent the word of Allah. To prove the point that Ulama should be “Home grown”, it states that -
“the Qur’an says: وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى – We only sent before you men to whom We reveal, from the people of the towns. [12:109]”
Can this be used as a requirement for an Ulama to be local? So he can understand the people better than others? Ofcourse he will but is there a possibility that Allah (SWT) also sent them from the people of the town so that they are more credible to the people. About whom other can’t have any doubt. Everybody know about their past and present affairs? If it was all about the messenger understanding that people and their circumstances, did he had the rights to change some of rules came for them from Allah (SWT) based on their current conditions? Or could he advice Allah on behave of the people? Please note that I am not trying to say that the article in question is wrong about the ayah and I am offering the right answer. All I’m saying is that you just cannot pick and chose lines from the Qur’an and use it as it pleases.Now I can do line by line investigations but let me just save both of our time and get to the part where I believe what this article is really trying to sell here.
One the surface it may look like that the author is talking about how Muftises should have well understanding about their surrounding and fatwas should have flexibility to change or adopt the current circumstances. Well duh! That’s been happening since the time of sahabas. Withholding the cutting of the hand in time of famine is just one example. Yes a mufti can alway overwrite fatwas temporarily based on the situation of the people its applying to. But no. If you really read between the lines, you’ll see that the author is trying to send out the same message that some present well eloquent mega-star western sheiks are trying to spread. That the so called “American Muslims” (and it seems like you can replace the country name with anything now a days to have your own version of Islam for example; gay Muslims) should cut away from the foreign, mainly arabic scholars. They are trying to build up this modern/moderate version of Islam. And no I am not putting my words in their mouth. They clearly states that there is this thing called Classical Islam and Modern Islam! And you can easily spot their hatetrits towards foreign (Arabic) scholars leaking out by the words they chose. For example the article states - “But the end fatwa must be the preserve of homegrown muftis known, not just for their depth of learning, but also for their piety, measured temperament, and avoidance of pandering to populist public opinion or politicians.” What dose that implies? That the foreign mufties don’t have pieties, measured temperament, and are not avoidance of pandering to populist public opinion or politicians? Ok may be the last one is true but still it is quite bold to claim that for their homies.
If your clothes are too short, you still try to wear them the best you can. You don’t cut off your legs
or hands to fit in. Or maybe you can but if you try to standardise that as the latest fashion for all, then we have a problem. Anyway, at the end I would like to remind all of us the hadit -
The Prophet said, “You must fear Allah, listen to and obey your leaders, even if an Abyssinian slave is put in charge over you. Whoever lives among you will see many disputes, so beware of newly invented matters for they are misguidance. Whoever sees them must adhere to my tradition and the tradition of the upright, guided successors. Bite onto it with your back teeth.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2676