Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas
The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa (also The Standing Committee for Scholarly Research and Fatwa, or The Committee for Research and Religious Edicts, or The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research & Verdicts, or The General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Iftaa’ in Arabic, al-Lajnah ad-Daa'imah lil-Buhooth al-'Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa اللجنة الدائمة للبحوث العلمية والإفتاء ) is an Islamic organization in Saudi Arabia established by the King that issues rulings in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and prepares research papers for the Council of Senior Scholars, which advises the king on religious matters. Its members are drawn from the Council of Senior Scholars, of which it is a committee, and consist of the most senior Sunni scholars of fiqh in Saudi Arabia, including the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as its head. The issuance of fataawa in Saudi Arabia is limited to members of the Council of Senior Scholars and a few other clerics.
The committee was established along with the Council of Senior Scholars by royal decree on August 29, 1971 (8th of Rajab 1391 AH) by King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Under section four of the decree, it stated,
“The Permanent Committee has been left the task of selecting its members from amongst the members of the Council (of Senior Scholars) in accordance with the Royal Decree. Its aim is to prepare research papers ready for discussion amongst the Council (of Senior Scholars), and issue fataawa on individual issues. This is by responding to the fatwa-seeking public in areas of 'aqeedah, 'ibaadah and social issues. It will be called: The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa (al-Lajnah ad-Daa'imah lil-Buhooth al-'Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa.)”
It is possible to write to the Permanent Committee asking for a fatwa on a specific topic. Since its inception, the Permanent Committee has replied to Muslims not only in Saudi Arabia but in many other countries, seeking rulings in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) on a variety of questions, including Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), Ibadah (worship), and Aqeedah (Islamic creed) issues.
In their fataawa, the Permanent Committee strive for thoroughness. All fataawa are derived from evidence from the three sources of Islamic knowledge: the Qur'an, authentic Sunnah, and understanding of the rightly guided companions of the Prophet Muhammad. The fataawa writers will usually explain all the potential Islamic viewpoints of an issue and will then explain, which in their view is the most authentic opinion based on the evidence. The fatwas issued by the committee have been arranged in a compendium of 32 volumes.
In 2010, Saudi King Abdullah decreed that only officially approved religious scholars would be allowed to issue fatwas in Saudi Arabia, namely the 21 member Council of Senior Scholars, the country's highest religious body, and the (four or five) member Permanent Committee, whose members are drawn from the Council of Senior Scholars. A new committee affiliated with the Permanent Committee and headed by one Saleh bin Mohammed al-Luhaydan was created by the Council of Senior Scholars to supervise the issuance of fatwas and prevent unauthorized scholars from issuing any. All imams and preachers were instructed by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to abide by the edict and explain it their Friday sermons and violators were reprimanded. In 2010, the Islamic fatwa website Islam-QA run by Saudi Islamic scholar Muhammad Al-Munajid was banned in Saudi Arabia due to the fact that it was issuing independent fatwas.
In 2011, a fatwa purported to have been issued by Grand Mufti stating that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were following the correct path in their efforts to reestablish the Islamic caliphate was denounced by the committee as a fabricated lie.
A fatwa available in English on the government-run website of the committee reads, "Whoever refuses to follow the straight path deserves to be killed or enslaved" and "it will be known that the origin of slavery is the capturing in Jihad against the disbelievers to correct those who were captured by isolating them from the evil environment they lived in "
As of early 2014 the members of the committee include
- Shaykh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al Shaykh (Head)
- Shaykh 'Abdullaah Ibn Ghudayyaan; (Deputy Head)
- Shaykh 'Abdullaah Ibn Qu'ood
- Shaykh 'Abdullaah Ibn Munee'
- Shaykh Saalih Ibn Fowzaan.
- Carnegie Endowment: "Saudi Fatwa Restrictions and the State-Clerical Relationship" by Christopher Boucek October 27, 2010
- Islamopedia: "Standing Committee for Scholarly Research and Issuing Fatwas, (Saudi Arabia)" retrieved from archive.org March 13, 2014
- Al Arabiya: "Saudi Arabia blocks 'Islam Question and Answer'" (in Arabic) September 2, 2010
- Saudi Gazette: "Aal Al-Sheikh refutes fatwa misquoting senior Ulema"| June 22, 2013
- Asharq Al-Awsat: "Saudi Grand Mufti cries foul over fake fatwa"| aawsat.net| February 17, 2011
- Fatwas of the Permanent Committee: "It is said: Why does Islam not prohibit slavery?" Fatwa no. 1977
- "The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa". Kingdon of. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- The Official website of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas -- English language
- fatwa-online.com — summary of the Permanent Committee
- aliftaFatwas.WordPress.Com — The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research & Verdicts