Fatwa Chaos...

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by 2cents, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. `Fatwa Chaos' Bewilders Muslims as Clerics Duel on Sex, Suicide
    2007-11-05 17:14 (New York)


    By Daniel Williams
    Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A century ago, the fatwa department
    at Cairo's Al-Azhar University issued fewer than 200 edicts a
    day. Now it turns out about 1,000.
    The university, a center of Islamic learning for more than
    a millennium, isn't alone. Around the world, an explosion in
    the number of fatwas -- pronouncements by religious leaders
    intended to shape the actions of the faithful on everything
    from sex to politics -- is sparking efforts by prominent
    Muslims to rein in the practice. That's proving a nearly
    impossible task, given Islam's decentralized nature and the
    growing number of outlets for the edicts.
    Muslims in Egypt seeking religious guidance may now turn
    to satellite television and the Internet for opinions from as
    far afield as Indonesia and Morocco -- unless they follow the
    fatwa issued in 2004 by the Dar ul-Ulum, India's largest
    Islamic seminary, that ruled Muslims shouldn't watch TV.
    With no pope or patriarch to arbitrate orthodoxy, ``it's
    the nature of Islamic thought to have many options,'' says
    Abdel Moti Bayoumi, who heads the Islamic Research Compilation
    Center in Cairo. ``But there are too many unqualified opinions
    being spread, and this is wrong.''
    The result is what MENA, Egypt's official news agency,
    calls ``fatwa chaos.''

    Proliferation

    Mainstream Islamic scholars blame TV and the Web for the
    proliferation of pronouncements, which are supposed to be based
    on the Koran and words attributed to Mohammed, the founder of
    Islam. Confusing opinions are reaching millions of believers,
    these critics say.
    Dissident preachers fault establishment clerics for
    issuing what they consider abstruse and sometimes ridiculous
    judgments. As evidence, they cite recent fatwas from the
    university that ban sculptures, authorize female circumcision
    and one in May saying women who meet alone with men ought to
    breastfeed them to create a ``maternal'' bond that precludes
    having sex.
    Among non-Muslims in the West, fatwas burst into
    prominence in 1989, when the late Iranian leader Ayatollah
    Khomeini put a death sentence on author Salman Rushdie for
    supposed blasphemy in his novel ``Satanic Verses.''
    Clerics are supposed to have religious and legal training
    on which to base their authority. Even trained scholars have
    issued contradictory fatwas about whether suicide bombing and
    attacks on civilians are justified, creating political and
    theological controversies.

    Unified Standards

    After the breastfeeding edict gained worldwide notoriety,
    Ali Gomaa, the chief scholar at Al-Azhar mosque, suggested that
    Muslims establish unified standards for pronouncing fatwas.
    On Sept. 28, Al-Azhar University, which is affiliated with
    the mosque, announced it is setting up its own TV station to
    issue proper edicts and avoid ``fatwa chaos,'' according to
    MENA. A week later, the Council of Senior Muslim Clerics in
    Saudi Arabia said it is creating a Web site to provide quick
    access to its rulings.
    The mishmash of opinions has created ``crises and
    confusion'' at a time when Muslims are ``in utmost need of
    coherence and unity,'' Seif Abdul Fattah, a professor of
    Islamic political thought at Cairo University, wrote in an Oct.
    4 article for Al-Ahram newspaper.
    The Web site for Dar al-Ifta, Al-Azhar University's fatwa
    department, currently includes pronouncements about the
    propriety of keeping dogs indoors (no, because ``dogs are
    filth'') and stealing using credit cards to strike back at the
    United States and Israel for ``waging war'' on Muslims (credit-
    card fraud ``does not conform to the teachings of Islam'').

    Criticism

    Mohammed Salmawy, head of the Egyptians Writers Union,
    wrote a sardonic column in the Oct. 20 edition of Cairo's Daily
    News newspaper criticizing fatwas that urge women to cover
    themselves from head to foot and travel in taxis only in the
    company of a male relative -- practices uncommon in Egypt.
    ``The competition between our revered sheikhs has reached
    such heights that not a week goes by, after an issuance of a
    new and ingenious fatwa in one country, before another fatwa
    crops up in another to out-do-it,'' the secular commentator
    wrote.
    Adding to the tension is a rivalry between establishment
    clerics and a new breed of television preachers, says Amr
    Khaled, a former accountant turned ``tele-imam'' who eschews
    the customary robes of Muslim imams for a coat and tie. His
    show, ``Paradise in Our House,'' appears on four Middle East
    satellite stations, and Time Magazine picked him as one of its
    100 most influential people for 2007.

    Optimistic Style

    Khaled, 40, acknowledges that he lacks formal theological
    training and models his program on Oprah Winfrey's optimistic
    style seasoned with religious teaching. He says mainstream
    scholars are out of touch with the needs of young people,
    especially women.
    ``If I can take viewers away from following bad fatwas, I
    will,'' he says. ``Unfortunately, there's some injustice said
    in the name of Islam, and they come out of even respected
    institutions.''
    Even if tele-imams like Khaled don't issue formal edicts,
    ``it is a fine line between giving advice and fatwas, and
    people are rightly confused,'' says the Islamic Research
    Compilation Center's Bayoumi.
    ``The real problem is that religion is being put out front
    at all times and injected into everything,'' says Aly Elsamman,
    head of Al-Azhar University's Dialogue and Islamic Relations
    Committee. ``This makes the need for knowledge more pressing,
    but the need isn't met.''
     
  2. ``fatwa chaos.''

    Blame Bush.
     
  3. makes sense... Bush is a serious contender in that space... kinda like the Eminem of the fatwa space i'd say...

    oh but u were only kiddin'...
     
  4. On the flip side my first impression was psych ops. I do not underestimate any part of this administration.
     
  5. agree it could be an extra-terrestrial ploy too... who knows...

    inch' allah mesays :)