Fatawa in Islam

Every Muslim finds himself faced with life situations where he is required to make choices. Those choices are expected to be in conformity with the Shariah, but not everyone knows exactly what the Shariah expects of them. Therefore, like any other legal system, there exists in Islam the institution whereby the one in need of information addresses his query to a recognised expert. The answer which he receives is called a fatwa.

The authority of the fatwa resides not as much in the person of the issuer as in the fact that it is rooted in the sources of the Shariah: the Qur'an, the Sunnah, ijma (scholarly consensus) and qiyas (analogy). It is through these sources that the supreme legislative authority of Allah is communicated to humans. The human interpreter - be he the independent mujtahid or the non-mujtahid scholar – has no inherent authority to legislate, but only to deduct and infer the law.


Except where stated otherwise, questions on this website are answered according to the Shafi'i madhhab.

A madhhab is a systematic approach to the sources of the Shariah. It consists of the identification of these sources, and a systematic methodology of deducting from them. The consistent application of this methodology to the sources gives rise to the body of rules and regulations that is commonly referred to as the madhhab. At a more seminal level, however, the madhhab is the methodology that lies at its core.

The major advantage of a madhhab is its methodological consistency. In the study and development of fiqh this internal cohesion is greatly beneficial. The longevity of madhhab-orientated fiqh could also be traced to this particular element.

With the passage of time the image of madhhab-orientated fiqh came to be marred by certain excrescences. One of these was ta'assub, a fanatical devotion to one's madhhab that leads to detraction of other madhahib or even the twisting of evidence. It gave birth to the insistence that under no circumstances should a person born into one madhhab ever depart from his madhhab, no matter how convinced he may be of the evidence.

At this site ta'assub and its consequences are avoided as far as possible. Due care is given to evidence and variant opinions. The basic approach, however, remains that of the Shafi'i madhhab, and wherever there is departure from the position of that madhhab, it will be duly stated.

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