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What’s a Fatwa? A Scholar of Faith Strips the Phrase of its Stereotypes

When the late Supreme Chief of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued an Islamic edict in opposition to Salman Rushdie on February 14, 1989, an Arabic phrase the cleric used to name on Muslims to execute the writer reverberated internationally.

The fatwa was issued in retaliation for The Satanic Verses, a 1988 guide by Rushdie that Khomeini deemed blasphemous to Islam.

With that chilling Valentine’s Day decree, the two-syllable phrase, fatwa, inserted itself into the favored lexicon of the West, and has appeared extra tenaciously than maybe another Center Japanese time period.

It got here instantly to the minds of thousands and thousands of individuals once they realized {that a} man wielding a knife final month attacked Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution, a retreat for artists in New York State.

A fatwa, nonetheless, “not often requires demise,” writes Miriam Renaud, a college member within the Division of Spiritual Research at DePaul College, in an August 17 article in The Conversation, an unbiased, nonprofit information group.

Numerous Islamic spiritual authorities can situation fatwas. Most of them are in response to questions on a variety of points posed by people or a gaggle of individuals inside a Muslim neighborhood.

Basically, the phrase fatwa means “clarification” or “clarification” about points surrounding Islamic regulation, says Renaud. “The method of issuing a fatwa often begins when a Muslim, confronted with an issue of life, perception or regulation, is uncertain what to do.”

Usually, Muslim people solicit fatwas from an area cleric or a gaggle of Islamic regulation students when they’re uncertain about the way to conduct themselves or when they’re involved that they is perhaps “deviating from God’s dictates,” writes Renaud. “They could consider that straying from the trail of righteous conduct might jeopardize their entry into heaven. For them, the stakes are excessive.”

As a result of fatwas cowl a variety of subjects—the whole lot from private hygiene and marital relations to inheritance regulation, life-style and nationwide allegiance—they require an intensive grounding in Islamic regulation in addition to a sound data of previous fatwas.

Muslims can not merely seek the advice of the Quran for solutions to non secular questions, Renaud explains, as a result of the holy guide is both silent on sure points or varied passages in it are topic to completely different interpretations, making it tough for believers to decipher the proper studying.

Regardless of their authoritativeness, fatwas are nonbinding—that’s, Muslims are underneath no compulsion to obey them. “The power of a fatwa derives from the authority, belief and respect accorded to the clerics, students or establishments who situation them,” says Renaud. “With this authority comes the ability to form the spiritual and social norms of the fatwa-requesting neighborhood.”

Though fatwas are sometimes solicited by atypical Muslims, they may also be issued in response to sure conditions. For instance, a number one seminary in India, the Dar al-Ulum Deoband, issued a fatwa in 2010 in opposition to the Islamic State after deeming the terrorist group to be un-Islamic.

“Uncommon are the fatwas just like the one in opposition to Rushdie that decision on Muslims to kill a selected particular person,” Renaud concludes. “However for now, the fatwa in opposition to Rushdie stands.”


From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has acknowledged that freedom of faith is a elementary human proper. In a world the place conflicts are sometimes traceable to intolerance of others’ spiritual beliefs and practices, the Church has, for greater than 50 years, made the preservation of non secular liberty an overriding concern.

The Church publishes this weblog to assist create a greater understanding of the liberty of faith and perception and supply information on spiritual freedom and points affecting this freedom around the globe.

The Founding father of the Scientology faith is L. Ron Hubbard and Mr. David Miscavige is the faith’s ecclesiastical chief.

For extra data go to the Scientology website or Scientology Network.


This text was initially revealed on scientologyreligion.org.

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