Dr Hamdan Al Mazroui Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The newly established Fatwa Council will regulate religious fatwa practices, spread moderate values of Islam and combat extremism and radicalisation, scholars said on Wednesday.

Dr Hamdan Al Mazroui, chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said that a single fatwa authority will ensure alignment of fatwas (Islamic rulings) in the country and ensure preaching of moderate Islam.

“Unifying and regulating fatwa practices in the UAE will prevent personal or improvised fatwas and rebut extremist and terrorist fatwas, in keeping with the leading role played by the UAE in combating terrorism and radicalisation,” said Dr Al Mazroui.

Dr Al Mazroui added that the UAE — the first Arab country to enact a law that criminalises the belittling of religions and all forms of discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin — follows the footsteps of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the country.

The UAE Cabinet on Tuesday created a single authority to regulate fatwas and ensure preaching of the true moderate values of Islam.

At present, Abu Dhabi has a fatwa centre, as part of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, which answers queries regarding matters related to worship and creed, social relations, business transactions, family relations and women’s issues.

The centre’s website receives more than 1,000 calls daily, but the numbers cross 3,000 a day during Ramadan.

The new UAE Fatwa Council will be the sole reference and will ensure the alignment of all issued fatwas in the country, according to the state news agency WAM.

Dr Al Mazroui said the council will also ensure that religious scholars advocate moderate Islam and eliminate any source of conflict among existing and future fatwas.

“The Fatwa Council will issue Islamic rulings on various issues at the request of government entities, institutions or the general public, resorting to a defined system to issue, announce and archive rulings,” Dr Al Mazroui said.

Dr Ahmad Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Grand Mufti and head of the Fatwa Department at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai, said the new council will regulate the issuance of fatwa and ensure compliance with the required licensing and training with the aim of eradicating all extremism and ill-motivated practices.

Dr Al Haddad added the move will also establish direct contact between people from all walks of life and Islamic law scholars as the council represents a realistic view about the community, for it contributes to learning more about the society’s needs, and helping people resolve their problems in compliance with Sharia.

Dr Al Haddad said the council will enhance the religious fatwa reference in the UAE and facilitate communication channels between the council and the public.

“Manned by trusted muftis and scholars who are known for their moderate and tolerant approach as well as high academic qualifications, the council will succeeded in winning the public’s trust and become a reliable point of reference for all their religious queries,” Dr Al Haddad said.

Dr Ahmad Al Qubaisi, a leading scholar, agreed and called the move a “brave decision in the right direction for the Muslim world”.

Dr Al Qubaisi said the new council will protect and regulate the issuing of fatwas to reduce the huge number of religious edicts affecting the lives of millions of Muslims.

“The council will limit fatwas by scholars as not all of them are qualified to issue them. Setting up a single fatwa authority is necessary because many individuals have started bypassing the authority of official religious bodies and have issued fatwas that cause disputes and dissent among Muslims,” Dr Al Qubaisi said.

Dr Al Qubaisi added religious fatwas are meant to offer a jurisprudential point of view, clarifying all its relevant terminologies, principles and objectives. Such a task can only be done by scholars who are versed in Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence).