European Council for Fatwa and Research
The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) is a Dublin-based private foundation, founded in London on 29–30 March 1997 on the initiative of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe. The Council is a largely self-selected body, composed of Islamic clerics and scholars, presided over by Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
The ECFR aims "to present to the Muslim World and the Muslim minorities in the West particularly" its interpretation of "the manifestation of Allah's infinite mercy, knowledge and wisdom". For the ECFR, the shariah clearly embodies the superior rules in life: "the Shari'ah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards, rather, it is the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform; it is the frame to which they must be referred; it is the scale on which they must be weighed".
It wants to achieve these through:
- bringing together Islamic scholars who live in Europe
- attempting to unify the jurisprudence views between them in regards with the main Fiqh (Islamic law) issues, especially with regard to the minority status of Muslims in Europe;
- issue collective fatwas which meet the needs of Muslims in Europe, solve their problems and regulate their interaction with the European communities, all according to the shariah;
- research how issues arising in Europe can be resolved with strict respect for the shariah.
Among others, it wants to promote, and control, the local education of native imam's for the Muslim minorities in European countries. Amongst others, it participates in such initiatives in France (in cooperation with the European Institute for Humanitarian and Islamic Studies) and the United Kingdom.
It also strives to become an approved religious authority before local governments and private establishments in all countries where Muslims are a minority.
Evaluation of the positions of the ECFR
According to its Mission Statement the ECFR wants to assume a leading role in all dogmatic and accordingly also in all worldly issues in the worldwide Islamic community, the Ummah. Among others, it wants to address the younger Muslim generations living in outside Islamic countries, especially those in Europe and the United States. It wants to project a relatively contemporary position, all through it is heavily criticized for very undemocratic and non-contemporary positions:
- Its fatwas often rely on the four classical Islamic law schools (four schools of Fiqh), as well as all other schools of the people of Islamic law (Fiqh) knowledge, although with exclusion of modernist Islamic scholars in Europe as French ex-great-imam from Marseille, Soheib Bencheikh and Zaki Badawi, president of the London-based Muslim College and a keen promotor of interfaith dialogue (among other publishing regularly together with the Archbishop of York and the British Chief Rabbi).
- Its fatwas also insist on a strong priority for religious law over secular law.
On the other hand, it regularly pleads for mutual respect for non-Muslims, and for respect for civil procedures; e.g. marriage is considered valid only if the rights of both spouses are respected and if the civil procedure is followed to (any marriage which is conducted purely in the mosque is not considered Islamic).
Aside from the exclusion of non-Sunni Muslims, and more importantly, other people criticize the ECFR for its fierce refusal to accept separation of church and state as an element of democracy, as well as several principles of democracy. The fatwa's of the ECFR's chairmain, Yussuf al-Qaradawi, are clear on how this tendency in Islam sees democracy and universal human rights:
- On the separation of state and church (secularism): "Since Islam is a comprehensive system of `Ibadah (worship) and Shari'ah (legislation), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari'ah, a denial of the Divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. (...) the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari'ah is a downright apostasy".
- On equal rights for women "Those misguided people cudgel their brains in finding out lame arguments that tend to give both males and females equal shares of inheritance ... it’s the nature of woman to be maintained and cared for by man ... irrespective of whether she is poor or rich".
- On democracy -where per definition a majority vote might differ from the commands in the Qur'an and Sunnah, "the Shari'ah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards, rather, it is the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform ...".
- On the freedom of religion: "All Muslim jurists agree that the apostate is to be punished. However, they differ regarding the punishment itself. The majority of them go for killing; meaning that an apostate is to be sentenced to death".
Also, in August 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Council had used the infamous anti-Semitic forgery known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its theological deliberations. They also reported that "the council is part of a web of organizations that spread ideology close to the Muslim Brotherhood throughout Europe".
Cooperation with other Islamic organisations in Europe
- Al-Maktoum Charity Organisation, Dublin, Ireland
- Millî Görüş (German and other sections)
- Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe
- European Islamic Council in Belgium
Members of the ECFR
- Yusuf al-Qaradawi, President of ECFR (Egypt, Qatar)
- Faisal Maulawi, Vice-President (Lebanon).
- Hussein Mohammed Halawa, General Secretary (Ireland)
- Dr. Ahmad Jaballah (France)
- Dr. Ahmed Ali Al-Imam (Sudan)
- Mufti Ismail Kashoulfi (United Kingdom)
- Ahmed Kadhem Al-Rawi (United Kingdom)
- Ounis Qurqah (France)
- Rashid al-Ghannushi (United Kingdom)
- Abdallah Bin Bayyah (Saudi Arabia)
- Abdul Raheem Al-Taweel (Spain)
- Abdullah Ibn Ali Salem (Mauritania)
- Abdullah Ibn Yusuf Al-Judai, (United Kingdom)
- Abdul Majeed Al-Najjar
- Abdullah ibn Sulayman Al-Manee’ (Saudi Arabia)
- Dr. Abdul Sattar Abu Ghudda (Saudi Arabia)
- Dr. Ajeel Al-Nashmi (Kuwait)
- Al-Arabi Al-Bichri (France)
- Dr. Issam Al-Bashir (Sudan)
- Ali Qaradaghi (Qatar)
- Dr. Suhaib Hasan Ahmed (United Kingdom)
- Tahir Mahdi (France)
- Mahboub-ul-Rahman (Norway)
- Muhammed Siddique (Germany)
- Muhammed Ali Saleh Al-Mansour (United Arab Emirates)
- Dr. Muhammed Al-Hawari (Germany)
- Mahumoud Mujahed (Belgium)
- Dr. Mustafa Cerić (Bosnia)
- Nihad Abdul Quddous Ciftci (Germany)
- Dr. Naser Ibn Abdullah Al-Mayman (Saudi Arabia)
- Yusf Ibram (Switzerland)
- Salah Soltan (Egypt, United States)
- Salem Abdelmeguid (Netherlands)
Half of the members are from the European continent and half are from the Arabian Peninsula, Northern Africa or Northern America. This is a breach of the internal rules of the ECFR, as members not residing in Europe "must not constitute more than 25% of the total members of the Council at any one time".
- "المجلس الأوروبي للإفتاء والبحوث". e-cfr.org.
- "Challenging the Applicability of Shari`ah". Islam Online. July 23, 2003.
- "Al-Qaradawi Turns Down Offer to Assume Leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood". al-Jazeera. January 12, 2004.