Riyadh: Islamic scholars have softened their position with regard to the topic of whether competent women scholars are qualified to issue religious edicts (Fatwas) or not.
“Issuing Fatwa is not restricted to men alone. Well-qualified women scholars can also do it,'' this was the message given by the recently concluded Makkah International Conference on Fatwa and Its Regulations.
The “Fatwa Charter,'' which will serve as a guideline on the issuing of Fatwas, adopted by some 170 prominent Islamic scholars from around the world, does not contain any provisions that prohibit women from issuing Fatwas.
The eighth article of the Fatwa Charter clearly explains that the scholars, who are pronouncing Fatwas must have the following conditions: “Islam, Justice, maturity, intelligence, and deep knowledge in Islamic rules.'' None of the 41 articles of the Charter prevents women from issuing Fatwas.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdullah Al Manie, member of the Saudi Senior Scholars Commission, said that it is permissible to incorporate women as members of the Commission and allow them to take part in bodies that pronounce Fatwas as they are like men in performing their religious obligations and responsibilities.
Speaking to reporters, he said that membership in the commission is not at all a monopoly of men, and women have the right to take part in issuing religious edicts.
“Really, I see no objection for women becoming a scholar or mufti or involving in any consultative bodies, provided that she should be keen in protecting her dignity and no mixing with men,'' he said.
Naif Al Shahri, a noted Saudi preacher, told Gulf News that it is essential that no Fatwa shall be issued by any individual scholar on a public topic effecting the interests of Muslim Ummah and its future.
“In such cases, the Fatwa shall be announced by a group of scholars.'' It is noteworthy that the Makkah Conference highlighted the significance of Fatwa in Islam and its regulations and set the mufti's conditions and duties.
The scholars also stressed moderation in Fatwa and detailed the problems facing Fatwa and its negative effects.
The scholars made general recommendations for supporting Fatwa and its institutions in the Islamic Ummah.
The conference called on institutions that teach Islamic law to incorporate the basic principles and guidelines for Fatwas in their curricula, as well as to organize frequent panel discussions and meetings to familiarize scholars with the principles of the right method of issuing Fatwas and to warn against the dangers of issuing ill-prepared rulings.