collections khutbah Fatwa: A Reflection of the Dynamics Between Law and Context
Fatwa: A Reflection of the Dynamics Between Law and Context

Islamic Religious Council of Singapore

Friday Sermon

16 February 2024 / 1445H

Fatwa: A Reflection of the Dynamics Between Law and Context

My blessed Friday congregants,

Let us continue in our efforts to elevate our taqwa towards Allah (s.w.t.), by obeying all His orders, and by abstaining from all His prohibitions. May we be among those whom He loves. Amin ya Rabbal ‘Alamin!

My beloved brothers and sisters,

Once, a Companion came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) asking, what is the most important practice in the religion? The Prophet (s.a.w.) replied,

‏إِيمَانٌ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ

Which means: "Believe in Allah and His Messenger." [Hadith narrated by al-Bukhari]

On a separate occasion, another Companion asked the Prophet (s.a.w.) the same question, but the Prophet (s.a.w.) answered differently by saying,: "The most important practice is to perform your prayers on time, and to be filial to both your parents." [Hadith narrated by al-Bukhari]

My fellow Muslims, 

Our Prophet’s (s.a.w.) careful and measured approach towards answering questions teaches us a fundamental principle in issuing religious guidance: every answer or response must take into account the reality and the unique circumstances of the questioner.

This principle can be observed from the stages of revelation of the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), which answered questions and responded to issues that arose at different times and places. Due to this, in the field of Ulumul Qur’anor the Qur’anic sciences, there is a specific discussion regarding the chronology of the verses, and whether they were revealed before or after the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) emigration from Mecca to Medina.

In relation to this, one of the roles of revelation was to solve the problems of the receiving community, through a language that was widely understood by that community. As decreed by Allah (s.w.t.) in Surah Ibrahim, verse 4:

Which means: “And We have not sent a messenger except in the language of his people to clarify the message for them. Then Allah leaves whoever He wills to stray, and guides whoever He wills. And He is the Almighty, All-Wise.”

My brothers and sisters,

The reality and circumstances of the questioner affect the deliberations of the fatwa. This is in line with the fiqh methodology, which states:

اَلْحُكْمُ عَلى الشَّيْءِ فَرْعٌ عَنْ تَصَوُّرِهِ

Which means: "The determination of law on a specific matter depends on an accurate understanding towards it."

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim once advised in his book “I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in 'an Rabb al-'Alamin” that a mufti will not be able to issue an accurate fatwa except by mastering two types of understanding: firstly to understand the reality and circumstances of the issue at hand, and secondly to understand all the laws related to the subject.

In fact, Imam al-Qarafi, a 13th century scholar, once told muftis to first study the situation and the circumstances of the questioner before giving an opinion. This was his advice: "And do not be complacent, relying on existing knowledge for all your life. Should someone who is not from your country come to you and ask you about religious matters, you should not answer him based on the 'uruf (customs) of your country. Instead, you should ask him about the 'uruf of his country and give an opinion that is compatible with the 'uruf of his country. That is the clear truth, and to only quote the opinions that have already been previously decided and written down is misguidance in religious matters and shows ignorance of the maqasid of the Muslim scholars and the Salaf of the past."

My beloved brothers and sisters,

Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the technological developments in the fields of nutrition, medicine, and financial systems raise many new questions that invite sound and appropriate religious responses. In their efforts to understand and provide religious views on issues that have arisen in the context of recent developments, fatwa institutions at the local or global level have the responsibility to study and examine religious texts and principles, going beyond the boundaries of the lens of traditional jurisprudence. This means that it requires continuous consultation with experts in specific fields.

For example, in Singapore, when dealing with novel issues and new developments in science and technology, the Fatwa Committee will often visit the factories or laboratories to witness any debated processes, and to view any significant technological advancements in person. This is so that they can obtain a more accurate and comprehensive picture of the issues raised. This approach minimises the risk of errors in any religious guidance that is issued and averts the issuance of a fatwa that is based on a partial understanding.

My brothers and sisters,

Today's sermon has outlined several principles that must be observed during the formulation of a fatwa.

First: The formulation of fatawa and religious guidance should not be limited to merely quoting the verses of the Qur’an, the hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w.), as well as the opinions of the scholars of the past. Fatawa exist because of new issues, and so it stands to reason that we should also consider and sometimes defer to the opinions of the scholars and experts of today.

Second: Fatawa should reflect the circumstances and realities of life. Failure to understand the context only produces fatawa and religious guidelines that deviate from the truth, and do not provide the desired solutions.

Third: A sound and convincing fatwa needs to have considered and integrated the views of experts, who are knowledgeable in the fields related to the debated matter.

May Allah (s.w.t.) grant us beneficial knowledge, protect us from going astray, and guide our every step towards the path that pleases Him. Amin ya Rabbal 'Alamin!



Second Khutbah

الحَمْدُ للهِ حَمْدًا كَثِيرًا كَمَا أَمَرَ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَن لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ الله، اِتَّقُوا اللهَ تَعَالَى فِيمَا أَمَرَ، وَانتَهُوا عَمَّا نَهَاكُم عَنْهُ وَزَجَرَ. 


أَلَا صَلُّوا وَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى النَّبِيِّ الْمُصْطَفَى، فَقَدْ أَمَرَنَا اللهُ بِذَلِكَ حَيْثُ قَال فِي كِتَابِهِ العَزِيزِ: إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَـا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ. 


وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ المَهْدِيِّينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيِّ، وَعَن بَقِيَّةِ الصَّحَابَةِ وَالقَرَابَةِ وَالتَّابِعِينَ، وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ، وَعَنَّا مَعَهُم وَفِيهِم بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ. 


اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِلمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالمُؤْمِنَاتِ، وَالمُسْلِمِينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتِ، الأَحْيَاءِ مِنهُم وَالأَمْوَاتِ. اللَّهُمَّ ادْفَعْ عَنَّا البَلَاءَ وَالوَبَاءَ وَالزَّلَازِلَ وَالمِحَنَ، مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ، عَن بَلَدِنَا خَاصَّةً، وَسَائِرِ البُلْدَانِ عَامَّةً، يَا رَبَّ العَالَمِينَ. اَللَّهُمَّ انْصُرْ إِخْوَانَنَا اْلمُسْتَضْعَفِيْنَ فِي غَزَّة وَفِي فِلِسْطِينَ وَفِيْ كُلِّ مَكَانٍ عَامَّةً، يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ. اللَّهُمَّ بَدِّلْ خَوْفَهُمْ أَمْنًا، وَحُزْنَهُمْ فَرَحًا، وَهَمَّهُمْ فَرَجًا، يَا رَبَّ العَالَمِينَ. رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنيَا حَسَنَةً، وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً، وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.  


عِبَادَ اللهِ، إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي القُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ، فَاذكُرُوا اللهَ العَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ، وَاشْكُرُوهُ عَلَى نِعَمِهِ يَزِدْكُمْ، وَاسْأَلُوهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ يُعْطِكُم، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ، وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ.