Fatwa On Demand

Ever since the Salman Rushdie incident, the word Fatwa has had a negative connotation. Perhaps no word has been as misunderstood, with the exceptions of jihad and madrassa.

It turns out that a fatwa is a kind of judicial opinion from an islamic religious authority. In nations that have adopted the Shariah as part of the legal system, a fatwa could have the force of law. But mostly, it is guidance for the faithful. Because Islam does not have a hierarchy like the Catholic Church, each religious authority has to rely on its own reputation as the force behind its fatewa.

Outside of the Middle East, the most respected school of Islamic studies is Darul Uloom, located at Deoband near Delhi in India. It was founded in 1866 after the defeat of Indian forces by the British. The school played an important role in the Freedom Struggle of India. It opposed the creation of Pakistan, and asks its followers to participate peacefully in Indian democracy. Its influence extends well outside of India. The mainstream of Islam in Pakistan is historically of the Deoband school. After Partition, certain logistical difficulties clearly exist and Saudi Arabia is playing an increasing role in providing support to the madrassas.

More remarkably, the Taleban (who are, after all, seminary students) claim to be adherents of the Deobandi school of Islam. This causes some discomfort to the Muftis (professors) of Deoband. They organized a meeting to denounce terrorism, and have issued several fatwas distancing themselves from the extreme forms of Islam.

Still, many muslims in South Asia look to this school in India for spiritual guidance. Somewhat analogous to the situation of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul, the Deobandis have to step carefully because their word is not law in India. They preach a form of Islam that is moderate yet uncompromising. It does not recognize national boundaries: the first loyalty of every Muslim has to be to God and not to Country. Yet it does not require those living in Muslim minority nations to fight directly for power. Rather, it asks them to respect local laws and to participate in the political process.

They issue fatwas on matters of personal law: marriage, divorce, food, children. India does allow for a separate legal civial code for muslims, so the Deoband school’s opinion has more influence in these matters. The school has an internet division which maintains a webpage. You can ask them any question and an answer -yes, a fatwa- will be emailed to you. If of sufficiently wide interest, it will be posted on the website. For example,Fatwa: 1414/1183=L/1429

Is it permissible for a woman to leave her house while unaccompanied by a mahram? (2) Is it permissible for a woman to drive a car?

Answer: 8668 09 Nov, 2008 (Fatwa: 1414/1183=L/1429)

(1) She can go in nearby places without a mahram observing hijab provided there is no fear of fitnah (evil/mischief). But for a journey, she should be accompanied by any mahram.

(2) It is not allowed.

and Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) Knows Best

That is, a woman cannot travel far without a chaperone. And she cannot drive a car. Allah Knows Best. No ambiguity here. That is what moderate Islam says these days.

They are also uncompromising on sectarian matters. For example,to them, the Shia are not muslims. Fatwa: 989/844=B-1429

The beliefs and faiths of Shiah found in their books are against the Quran and Hadith. Therefore, they are not Muslims.

The Deobandhi recognize some boundaries for the Shariah in non-Islamic countries.

(Fatwa: 1249/1249=M/1429)
In non-Islamic countries, the penalty of rajm (stoning to death) is not implemented.

All Right.


1. If some one does blasphemy against Hazrat Mohammed (Pbuh) or uses derogatory language for his character, then what should be his punishment in india? 2.what should be the punishment under inlamic law?

Answer: 2019 10 Nov, 2007

(Fatwa: 1386/1226=B)

(1) Punishing a criminal or a guilty is the duty of a government not individuals like we and you. In India, though we do not have an Islamic government, but we should try our level best to get such a perpetrator punished according to the Indian Constitution.

(2) Under an Islamic country, the culprit of blasphemy is to be killed.

Where would you rather live?

If you think Proposition 8 was bad, read this:

What is the fatwa against sodomy (homosexuality)? If anyone does tauba is that enough or there is some kind of kafara?

Answer: 268 30 Apr, 2007

(Fatwa: 371/B)

Undoubtedly, sodomy (homosexuality) is haram and forbidden in Islam. Because of this sin, the nation of Hazrat Lut (Alaihis Salam) was punished by Allah in this world. There is no fixed punishment for perpetrator of this crime, but according to Imam Abu Hanifa such person should be pushed from a mountain to death. But, this punishment will be implemented by a Qazi. In our country there is neither an Islamic government nor an Islamic Qazi; therefore he should repent sincerely to Allah and ask for his forgiveness, and should never return to this act.

By their own words shall we know them. The Muftis are giving us all a little window into what would happen if their word were to become law.

Please feel free to get a fatwa issued on your own.Click here.

Note Added July2009 An Indian Court has (finally!) declared the British era law against homosexuality invalid.

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