List of fatwas

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A fatwa (Arabic: فتوى), is a legal pronouncement in Islam, issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue. The following is a list of notable historical and contemporary fatwas.

Fatwa against the printing press[edit]

In the year 1515, Shaykh al-Islam of the ulema (learned scholars) issued a Fatwa that printing was haram (forbidden). As a result, Ottoman Sultan Selim I issued a decree of a death penalty on anyone using the printing press. The fatwa has been attributed as one of the reasons for the stagnation of knowledge, invention and discovery in the Muslim world, at a time when Europe was in the midst of the Renaissance period.[1][2]

Fatwas against vaccination[edit]

In the 2000s, clerics in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria issued fatwas forbidding Muslims from vaccinating their children with the Polio vaccine saying that the vaccine was an American plot to sterilize Muslim populations. As a result, there was a resurgence of polio in these countries.[3]

In 2007, Sheik Sadeq Abdallah bin Al-Majed, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, issued a fatwā that prohibits vaccination of children claiming it is a conspiracy of the Jews and Freemasons.[4][5]

In August 2018, The Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa declaring the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine as haram, and claimed the vaccine contains traces of pork and human cells.[6][7]

Imrana rape case fatwa[edit]

On 6 June 2005, Imrana, a 28 years old mother of five children, was raped by her 69-year-old father-in-law Ali Mohammad in Charthawal village in the Muzaffarnagar district Uttar Pradesh, India. Darul Uloom Deoband, the leading Islamic seminary issued a fatwa,[8] which quotes from Quran 4:23: wa la tankihoo ma nakaha aaba-o-kum (and marry not women whom your fathers married), and said that as a result of her father-in-law's act, she should now be treated as the mother of her husband and she could no longer live with him even though Imrana had not married her father-in-law.[8] The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) also concurred with the Darul Uloom of Deoband fatwa, while the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) and All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) refuted and opposed the fatwa.[9]

Fatwas related to women's rights[edit]

In 2014, Malaysia's Selangor Islamic Religious Council the Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) issued a fatwa declaring that Sisters in Islam, a civil society organisation focused on challenging laws and policies made in the name of Islam that discriminate against women such as gender-based violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as any other organisation promoting religious liberalism and pluralism, as "deviant".[10][11]

In Bangladesh, fundamental rights of women are reported to be repeatedly violated by religious clerics and Islamist groups by passing fatwas preventing women from voting, forcing seclusion and segregation, social ostracisation, physical punishments and forcing parents to withdraw their daughters from schools.[12][13]

The Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa "It is unlawful for Muslim women to do job in government or private enterprises where men and women work together and women have to talk to men frankly and without a veil". However, after an angry reaction from other clerics, the media and women's groups, it clarified that it only insists women must be "covered properly".[14][15]

Fatwa against Ahmadiyyah community[edit]

In April 1974 the Muslim World League issued a fatwa stating that followers of the Ahmadiyyah movement are to be considered "non-Muslims".[16]

Oran fatwa[edit]

The Oran fatwa was issued in 1504 to address the crisis that occurred when Islam was prohibited in Castile in 1500–1502, and Muslims in the realm were required to convert and conform to Christianity.[17] The fatwa sets out detailed relaxations of the sharia (Islamic law) requirements, allowing the Muslims to conform outwardly to Christianity and perform acts that are ordinarily forbidden in Islamic law, if necessary to survive.[18] It includes relaxed instructions for fulfilling the ritual prayers, the ritual charity, and the ritual ablution, and recommendations when obliged to violate Islamic law, such as worshipping as Christians, committing blasphemy, and consuming pork and wine.[19] The fatwa enjoyed wide currency among Muslims and Moriscos (Muslims nominally converted to Christianity and their descendants) in Spain, but its influence was limited to that country.[20]

Fatwa against Man sa yarbah al malyoon[edit]

In 2001, Egypt's Grand Mufti issued a fatwa stating that the show من سيربح المليون؟ ("Man sa yarbah al malyoon?" – literally "Who will Win the Million?"), modelled on the British show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, was un-Islamic.[21] The Sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar University later rejected the fatwa, finding that there was no objection to such shows since they spread general knowledge.

Fatwa regarding theology[edit]

"The Jafari fiqh of the Shi'a is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought."
A fatwa prohibiting insulting of the most religious figures of Sunni Islam was published by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, on 30 September 2010. The fatwa was issued following the insult of Aisha by Yasser Al-Habib.

The fatwa against production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons[edit]

It refers to the fatwa against the acquisition, development and use of nuclear weapons by supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei.[22] While the fatwa originally dates back to the mid-1990s,[23] the first public issue of it is reported to be that of October 2003, which was followed by an official statement at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, two years later in August 2005.

The fatwa have received criticisms regarding the existence, applicability and constancy of it.[24][25] According to Khalaji, Khamenei may alter his fatwa under critical circumstances, in a similar manner as Khomeini did.[25] While, according to Gareth Porter in Foreign Policy, Iran has sincerely banned the atomic bombs considering the "historical episode during its eight-year war with Iraq", when Iran never sought revenge for Iraqis chemical attacks killing 20,000 Iranians and severely injuring 100,000 more.[23] Also, the fatwa is considered consistent with Islamic tradition.[25]

Fatwa against illegal hunting and wildlife trade[edit]

In March 2014 the Indonesian Council of Ulama (Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical body) issued a fatwa against illegal hunting and wildlife trafficking. The fatwa instructed Muslims to protect endangered species by conserving their habitat and stopping illegal trade. The World Wide Fund for Nature described the fatwa as a positive step.[26]

Fatwas against terrorism, al-Qaeda and ISIS[edit]

Fatwa against terrorism, suicide bombings, killing innocent people[edit]

In 2008, Indian Ulama from the world-renowned seminary of Deoband have categorically issued a fatwā against terrorism and mentioned that any sort of killing of innocent people or civilians is haram (forbidden).[27] The fatwā also clarified that there is no jihad in Kashmir or against India as freedom of religion is guaranteed by the state as any state that guarantees freedom of religion cannot have jihad sanctioned against it.[28] This fatwā was reiterated in 2009 where Indian Home Minister P. Chidrambram hailed the move.[29][30]

The Fatwa on Terrorism is a 600-page Islamic decree against terrorism and suicide bombings released in March 2010. This fatwa is a direct refutation of the ideology of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is one of the most extensive rulings, an "absolute" condemnation of terrorism without "any excuses or pretexts" which goes further than ever and declares terrorism as kufr under Islamic law.[31] It was produced in Canada[32] by an influential Muslim scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and was launched in London on March 2, 2010. Dr Qadri said during the launch "Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses or ifs or buts." According to CNN, experts see the fatwa as a significant blow to terrorist recruiting.[33]

On July 2, 2013 in Lahore, 50 Muslim scholars of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) issued a collective fatwa against suicide bombings, the killing of innocent people, bomb attacks, and targeted killings declaring them as haram or forbidden.[34]

In December 2015, about 70,000 clerics of Dargah Aala Hazrat in India issued a fatwa against terrorism and terrorist organizations like ISIS, Taliban and Al Qaeda and said these organization were not Islamic organizations.[35]

In 2017, suicide bombing in any form has also been declared haram by Indian ulama.[36] This stand is also supported by Saudi scholars such as Shaykh Muhammad Bin Saalih al-'Uthaymeen, who have issued fatwā declaring suicide bombings are haram and those who commit this act are not shaheed (martyrs).[37]

Others have also declared that terrorism is not Islamic by issuing fatwas against terrorism and fifteen lakh Muslims support it.[38][39]

Fatwa against al-Qaeda[edit]

Spanish Muslims proclaimed a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden in March 2005[40] issued by Mansur Escudero Bedate, Secretary General of the Islamic Commission of Spain. The ruling says that Bin Laden and "his" al-Qaeda had abandoned their religion and should thus be called "al-Qaeda terrorists" without using the adjective "Islamic". The fatwa urges other Muslims to make similar proclamations. They were followed in July 2005 by the Fiqh Council of North America, a ruling council that issued a fatwa against providing support to "terrorist" groups that make up their own rules by unjustifiably referring to Islam (see Istihlal).

Fatwa against ISIS[edit]

On August 27, 2014, Sheikh Abubakr Ahmad, the current Grand Mufti of India is issued the first[41] fatwa against ISIS.[42][43]

On March 11, 2015, Syed Soharwardy, the founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, and 37 other Muslim leaders of various Islamic sects from across Canada gathered in Calgary and issued a fatwa condemning followers of the Islamic State (ISIS) as non-Muslims. Soharwardy cited capturing opponents and beheading them, killing Muslims who disagree with ISIS's actions, destroying mosques, burning enemy soldiers alive and encouraging Muslim girls to join ISIS, among others, as acts by ISIS that violate Islamic law. Under this fatwa, anybody who even wishes to join the group will be "excommunicated from the Muslim community" and no longer considered Muslim.[44][45]

Fatwa against Taliban[edit]

Deoband Ulama in India have repeatedly mentioned that the Taliban government in Afghanistan was un-Islamic. This was most recently reiterated at a convention in Karachi in 2009.[46] These include the idea of establishing shariah rule with force in the name of Jihad and levying of jizya on Sikh citizens of Pakistan, which was termed as nothing more than extortion by armed gangs.[47] The stand was explained by Maulana Abu Hassan Nadvi as below

This can't be called a war in the name of Islam. Even during a legitimate jihad, which is fought not by a rag-tag army of misguided youth but by the state against identified aggressors, Islam has set certain principles like you can't harm the old, sick, women and children. You can't attack any place of worship. But terrorists kill people indiscriminately. They are earning Allah's punishment.

Fatwas promoting violence against a particular individual[edit]

Fatwas involving violence are more likely to be well known than other fatwas, especially to non-Muslims. One possible reason is that non-Muslims regard most fatwas as not affecting them, but fatwas involving violence can potentially affect them. Fatwas do not only affect non-Muslims. It is important to note that a Fatwa is meant to be issued by a legal scholar, not by any political entity. Generally, any given case may have many fatwas (legal opinions) written by the scholars of the region and time. The fatwa backed by the State is the one with legal power.[citation needed]

Muammar al-Gaddafi[edit]

In 2011, an Egyptian Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, issued a fatwa that urged soldiers to kill Muammar al-Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, if they were able to do so.[48]

Geert Wilders[edit]

An Australian imam named Feiz Mohammad has issued a fatwa calling for the beheading of the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, as of 2010.[49]

Jerry Falwell[edit]

In an interview given on September 30, 2002, for the October 6 edition of 60 Minutes, American Southern Baptist pastor and televangelist Jerry Falwell said: "I think Muhammad was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war."

The following Friday, Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari, an Iranian cleric, issued a fatwa calling for Falwell's death, saying Falwell was a "mercenary and must be killed." He added, "The death of that man is a religious duty, but his case should not be tied to the Christian community."[50]

Salman Rushdie[edit]

One of the first well-known fatwas was proclaimed in 1989 by the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, against Salman Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses. The reason was an allegedly blasphemous statement taken from an early biography of Muhammad, regarding the incorporation of pagan goddesses into Islam's strongly monotheistic structure. Khomeini died shortly after issuing the fatwa. In 1998 Iran stated it is no longer pursuing Rushdie's death; however, that decree was again reversed in early 2005 by the present theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In 1991, Rushdie's Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to death in Tokyo, and his Italian translator was beaten and stabbed in Milan. In 1993, Rushdie's Norwegian publisher William Nygaard was shot and severely injured in an attack outside his house in Oslo. Thirty-seven guests died when their hotel in Sivas, Turkey was torched by locals protesting against Aziz Nesin, Rushdie's Turkish translator.

In February 2016, in celebration of the anniversary of the fatwa against Rushdie, Iranian state-run median agencies added $300,000 to the estimated $3.3 Million bounty for the death of Rushdie.

Taslima Nasreen[edit]

Fundamentalists in Bangladesh proclaimed a fatwa against Taslima Nasreen in 1993, against a series of newspaper columns in which she was critical of the treatment of women under Islam. The next year she wrote Lajja (Shame) which described the abuse of women and minorities. Again there were calls for her death, and her passport was confiscated. Within the legal system, she felt that she might have faced a jail term of up to two years, where she was likely to be murdered. She managed to escape the country via Calcutta, was granted asylum in Sweden, and then lived in Paris, and finally went to India. Even in India, she had to flee the city of Kolkata and move to Delhi under the Indian government's strict orders following riots in Kolkata.

Isioma Daniel[edit]

Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, the deputy governor of Zamfara state in Nigeria, issued a fatwa in November 2002 calling for the death of journalist Isioma Daniel for comments suggesting that Muhammad may have chosen a wife from one of the Miss World contest.[51] Other Muslim authorities have questioned the validity of the fatwa.[52]

Mariwan Halabjaee[edit]

In an audio file published on the Kurdish website during September 2008, Mullah Krekar allegedly threatened to kill Mariwan Halabjaee, the Iraqi Kurdish author of Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam, who also resided in Norway. "I swear that we will not live if you live. Either you go before us, or we go before you," said Krekar.[53] Krekar compared Halabjaee with Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.[54]

In February 2012, Krekar confirmed in the Oslo District Court that he had issued a twenty-page fatwa against Halabjaee.[55] The fatwa was sent to several hundred Islamic scholars around the world. While Krekar said he thought he might be able to "guarantee the safety" of Halabjaee, Krekar confirmed that his fatwa "implies" that it is "permissible" to kill Halabjaee in Oslo or anywhere else.[55] Krekar compared Halabjaee to Theo van Gogh, the film director who was killed by an Islamist in the Netherlands in 2004.[55]

Ulil Abshar Abdalla[edit]

In 2003, a group of Indonesian Islamic clerics from Forum Ulama Umat Islam issued a death fatwa against Ulil[56] for an article that Ulil wrote in Kompas in 2002, "Menyegarkan Kembali Pemahaman Islam" (Rejuvenating the Islamic Understanding)[57][58] that is considered heretical by the clerics. In March 2011, a letter bomb addressed to Ulil at Komunitas Utan Kayu exploded, injuring a police officer.

Farag Foda[edit]

In June 1992, Egyptian writer Farag Foda was assassinated following a fatwa issued by ulamas from Al-Azhar who had adopted a previous fatwa by Sheikh al-Azhar, Jadd al-Haqq, accusing Foda and other secularist writers of being "enemies of Islam".[59] The jihadist group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya claimed responsibility for the murder.[60]

Fatwas effecting personal choice[edit]

Fatwas on usage of products[edit]

In September 1951, the mufti of Egypt issued a fatwa stating that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were permissible for Muslims to drink. In order to arrive at that decision, the Department of Fatwas had the Ministry of Public Health analyze the composition of the two drinks. As they did not find the pepsin or any narcotic or alcoholic substances to be present, nor any "microbes harmful to health", the mufti found that it was not forbidden under Islamic law.[61] Occasionally the debate regarding whether or not Coca-Cola or Pepsi is drinkable by Muslims does continue to appear, notably recently in 2012 when a French study was released declaring that Coca-Cola contained a small amount of alcohol. Muslims are not permitted to drink alcohol, however the amount of alcohol found in the beverage was discovered so small as to be permissible according to the fatwa system.[62]

In 2001, religious authorities in the United Arab Emirates issued a fatwā against the children's game Pokémon, after finding that it encouraged gambling, and was based on the theory of evolution, "a Jewish-Darwinist theory, that conflicts with the truth about humans and with Islamic principles".[63]

In Syria, Grand Mufti Ahmad Badruddin Hassoun issued a fatwa prohibiting every type of smoking, including cigarettes and narghile, as well as the selling and buying of tobacco and any affiliation with tobacco distribution (see also Smoking in Syria). Another example of a fatwā is forbidding the smoking of cigarettes by Muslims.[64]

Yusuf al-Qaradawi released a fatwā on April 14, 2004, stating that the boycott of American and Israeli products was an obligation for all who are able. The fatwā reads in part:

If people ask in the name of religion we must help them. The vehicle of this support is a complete boycott of the enemies' goods. Each riyal, dirham ... etc. used to buy their goods eventually becomes bullets to be fired at the hearts of brothers and children in Palestine. For this reason, it is an obligation not to help them (the enemies of Islam) by buying their goods. To buy their goods is to support tyranny, oppression and aggression. Buying goods from them will strengthen them; our duty is to make them as weak as we can. Our obligation is to strengthen our resisting brothers in the Sacred Land as much as we can. If we cannot strengthen the brothers, we have a duty to make the enemy weak. If their weakness cannot be achieved except by boycott, we must boycott them.

American goods, exactly like the great Israeli goods, are forbidden. It is also forbidden to advertise these goods, even though in many cases they prove to be superior. America today is a second Israel. It totally supports the Zionist entity. The usurper could not do this without the support of America. "Israel's" unjustified destruction and vandalism of everything has been using American money, American weapons, and the American veto. America has done this for decades without suffering the consequences of any punishment or protests about their oppressive and prejudiced position from the Islamic world.[65][66]

Fatwas on sexual practices[edit]

In 2006, Rashad Hassan Khalil, dean of Al Azhar University’s faculty of Sharia passed a fatwa that nudity during sexual intercourse invalidates a marriage. The fatwa sparked a debate among Egypt's religious scholars.[67][68]

In 2007, Dr Izzat Atiya, head of the Department of Hadith at Al Azhar University of Egypt passed a fatwa that would allow females to work with male colleagues. According to the fatwa, "male colleagues should be directly breast-fed at least five times to create a maternal bond so they can work together, without having sexual urges for each other".[68] After public protests, the fatwa was withdrawn.[69]

In 2011–2012, Abdel-Bari Zamzami of Morocco issued a series of religious edicts that a man has the right to engage in sexual intercourse with his wife up to six hours after her death.[70] Despite recognizing that such an action is despicable in mainstream society, Zamzami persisted in backing his original fatwā, claiming marriage does not end in death.[71] Zamzami also announced that it is against the religion to take to the streets after the King delivers a speech; this fatwā made the population, as well as the media, question his intentions.[72]

In 2013, Saudi Salafi cleric Sheikh Mohamad al-Arefe issued a fatwa calling for Sunni women above the age of 14 to come forward for jihâd al-nikâh (sex jihad) to boost the mujaheddin fighting the Syrian government in Iraq and Syria. The fatwa allowed them to "enter into hourly 'contract marriages' with the mujahideens, thereby making the mujahideen fighters stronger". Doing so would secure them a place in paradise.[73][68]

Fatwas on singing[edit]

In 1980, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Gad al-Haq Ali Gad al-Haq issued a fatwa that "Listening to music, attending musical gatherings, and studying music of all genres and instruments is allowed as long as it is not accompanied with immoral and sinful acts, or used as a pretext to incite people towards haram (prohibited) behaviour, and it does not preoccupy a person away from observing the obligatory acts of worship (al-wajibat)".[74]

In June 2010, Shaikh Adil al-Kalbani, former imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah (Masjid al-Haram) issued a fatwa that "There is no clear-cut religious ruling that says singing and music are not permissible in Islam".[75]

In 2013, the grand mufti of Kashmir Bashir-ud-din Farooqi issued a fatwā terming singing as un-Islamic, forcing Kashmir's only all-girls rock band to abandon it.[76]

Miscellaneous fatwas[edit]

On December 2, 1947, the University of Al-Azhar religious scholars, the most respected in the Sunni Muslim world, called for holy war against the Zionists.[77]

In 1998, Grand Ayatollah Sistani of Iraq issued a fatwā prohibiting University of Virginia professor Abdulaziz Sachedina from ever again teaching Islam due in part to Sachedina's writings encouraging acceptance of religious pluralism in the Muslim world.[78]

In 2003, on his television show John Safran vs God, Australian comedian John Safran tricked Sheikh Omar Bakri into placing a fatwā on Safran's colleague Rove McManus by showing him falsified evidence seeming to indicate that McManus had been making fun of Islam.

In September 2007, the Central Java division and Jepara branch of the Indonesian organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (the Awakening of the Religious Scholars) declared the government's proposal to build a nuclear power station nearby at Balong on the Muria peninsula haram or forbidden. The fatwā was issued following a two-day meeting of more than a hundred ulama to consider the pros and cons of the proposal addressed by government ministers, scientists and critics. The decision cited both positive and negative aspects of the proposal, which it had balanced to make its judgment. Key concerns were the question of long-term safe disposal and storage of radioactive waste, the potential local and regional environmental consequences of the plant's operation, the lack of financial clarity about the project, and issues of foreign technological dependence.[79]

In 2006, undercover reporting by a private TV channel in India exposed the Fatwas for cash scandal which showed several respected clerics demanding and receiving cash for issuing fatwās. In response, some were suspended from issuing fatwās and Indian Muslim leaders announced that they would create a new body that will monitor the issuing of fatwās in India.[80][81]

In 2008, a Pakistani religious leader issued a fatwā on President Asif Ali Zardari for "indecent gestures" toward Sarah Palin, U.S. Vice Presidential candidate.[82]

In 2012, Sheikh Murgan Salem al-Gohary of Egypt, a former Taliban, issued a fatwa calling for "the destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt", because "God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols."[83] These monuments are a major attraction to tourists and scientists interested in ancient Egyptian culture, and not worship. It is unclear why the pyramids were added to the fatwa because they are tombs of pharaohs and not statues or idols.

In 2012, Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, issued a religious edict prohibiting contact and cooperation with foreign media outlets because they seek to "spread chaos and strife in Muslim lands". He added that contacting foreign media outlets to "divulge the country's secrets or address various matters" was tantamount to "treason and major crime". He said that "It is not permissible and is considered betrayal and assistance to the enemies of Islam." Also, "A believer has to help keeping security, that of his nation and community, and protecting his religion."[84]

In 2012, the Indonesian Ulema Council issued an edict for Muslims not to wish Christians a happy Christmas. The edict said that wishing a happy Christmas was akin to confirming the "misguided" teachings of Christianity.[85]

See also[edit]


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