Abu Dhabi: The newly-established UAE Fatwa Council will regulate religious fatwas, ensure preaching of the true moderate values of Islam and combat extremism and radicalisation, scholars said on Monday.

Dr Mohammad Matar Al Ka’abi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi’s General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said that UAE Fatwa Council 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 Ka’abi.

The UAE Cabinet on Sunday set up the UAE Fatwa Council — a single authority — to regulate fatwas and ensure preaching of the true moderate values of Islam.

The new council will be the sole reference and will ensure the alignment of all issued fatwas in the country, according to Emirates News Agency WAM.

The council will be the official reference for fatwas in the UAE and will work to unify efforts, visions and objectives to regulate the work of government agencies, institutions and individuals regarding fatwas.

The UAE has become 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.

The council shall be entitled to issue general fatwas on various issues or at the request of governmental institutions or individuals, and to train muftis (Islamic scholars) to develop and foster their skills.

The council will be also tasked with publishing Islamic studies and researches related to various development fields and overseeing the fatwa centre at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

The Council will supervise the fatwas issued by the concerned authorities after coordination with them and will represent the UAE in all conferences, forums and international jurisprudence councils related to the fatwa affairs and other relevant jurisdictions.

Dr Al Ka’abi 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 Ka’abi said.

Dr Ahmad Al Qubaisi, a leading scholar, said manned by trusted muftis and scholars who are known for their moderate and tolerant approach as well as high academic qualifications, the council will succeed in winning the public’s trust and become a reliable point of reference for all their religious queries.

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 sole 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 carried out by scholars who are well-versed in Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence).

High-profile scholars

The UAE Fatwa Council is chaired by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, chairman of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and vice-president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Mauritania.

Shaikh Bin Bayyah is a Mauritanian professor of Islamic studies at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is a specialist in all four traditional Sunni schools, with an emphasis on the Maliki one.

Bin Bayyah, who worked alongside Shaikh Zayed in his noble cause for helping the needy around the world and also accompanied him to many Arab summits and global events, was the first Minister for Islamic Affairs and Education in Mauritania. He also assumed the ministerial portfolios of Justice and State for Human Resources — with the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

Bin Bayyah was a member of the cabinet and the permanent committee of the ruling Mauritanian People’s Party from 1970-1978.

The council will feature high-profile scholars in the country including Omar Habtoor Dhibi from the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Ahmad Abdul Aziz Al Haddad from the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai, Salem Mohammad Al Doubi from Sharjah Department of Islamic Affairs, Shamma Yousuf Mohammad Al Dhaheri from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Ibrahim Obaid Ali Al Ali from Umm Al Quwain Court, Abdullah Mohammad Ahmad Al Ansari from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments and Ahmad Mohammad Ahmad Yousuf Al Shehhi from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.