Considering the fact that Islam literally means submission and a Muslim is expected to be compliant with the dictates of Islam, the maxim therefore becomes imperative so as to be careful not to commit things which are contrary to Islam.
However, with the sophistication of the contemporary world, it is not difficult to find Muslims doing things which they do not know the exact Islamic rulings on. What is the Islamic stance on blood donation and transfusion? Is it permissible for Muslims to have organ transplant? Is it Islamic to use contraceptives and modern family planning methods? What is Islamically wrong in pre-marital tests to ascertain the health status and compatibility of the potential spouses? What has Allah said about DNA tests, identification of gender of fetus?
Other issues begging for answers could be what the Islamic ruling on using modern technology for is moon sightseeing. Is it permissible for Imams to use projector for Friday sermons? Are on-line marriages valid in Islam? How about learning the Qur’an through Skype? Is it Islamic to have marriage certificate? How about the use of Gregorian calendar for Islamic activities? Are cloning and genetic engineering acceptable in Islam? Where will a Muslim face to pray while on space – up, down, east or west? Is it Islamically acceptable to use video clips as exhibits to testify that one committed adultery in absence of having four human beings as witnesses?
The absence of clear-cut and generally agreeable Fatawahs on many of the enumerated questions may compel Muslims to look for Islamic solutions to their pressing demands. The social media have become “fatawah production and distribution firms”. Modern communication technologies are both bloom and gloom. The internet has contributed in speedy dissemination of Fatawah. Yet, the veracity of such fatawahs, the validity of the text and context upon which the fatawahs are based could be subject of controversy and contentions among many scholars.
What are the classical methodologies of juristic reasoning for the formulation of fatwahs? Why do scholars differ in their verdicts? How do we recognize when verdicts contravene the classical methods? How to apply the fundamental maxims of Islamic jurisprudence Al-qawa’id al-Fiqhiyya in the approach to modern verdict? How do scholars reconcile and regulate their opinions towards higher purposes and internet of Islam maqasid shari’ah?
It is against this backdrop that the Da’awah Institute of Nigeria, Islamic Education Trust National Headquarters, Minna organised a seven-day intensive workshop on “Shari’ah Intelligence: The Basic Principles and Objectives of Islamic Jurisprudence” from 21st to 27th November, 2014. The workshop was attended by members of the academia, da’awah workers, Jumu’at Imams, Islamic organisations and institutions across the country.
Malam Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu, the Head of Research and Training of the Institute, said one of the objectives behind the workshop is for the participants to appreciate Islamic jurisprudence and “the way scholars approach Qur’an, Sunnah, their reality and context to reach different conclusions with the hope that it will help them handle the different opinions more gracefully and with less disunity”
“Unless you understand the methodology the scholars used, it is difficult to respect the opinion of scholars. And when we face contemporary issue it is easy to disrespect the opinion of contemporary scholars when scholars of the past have not commented on these issues of today. So, by understanding the classical methodologies of various Madhhabas, it allows us to follow the arguments of scholars and appreciate where are some of our contemporary scholars coming from in reaching conclusions on various contemporary issues” he said.
According to him “the more people understand Usul fiqh and Madasid al-Shari’ah, the more it gives them an operating system that allows them to have a greater level of compatibility, understanding and appreciation of what contemporary Mujtahids are doing or what the contemporary fatwahs are. “When looking at past opinions we will understand the structure and the evidence of the argument and whether the old fatwahs are relevant to our reality and appropriate for our context or they are not and we need to rethink.”
Lemu also noted that the workshop was not meant to produce mutjahiduuns but to appreciate the role of mujtahid and realise that it is not every question that goes to every scholar and be conscious on which we should direct our questions to.
The workshop covered areas of methodologies used by scholars in issuing valid Islamic verdict, the mujtahid’s tools and principles, sources of Islamic legislations, maqasid shari’ah, usul fiqh and inter-face activities and appreciating diversity in search for truth.
One of the participants of the workshop, Mr. Oyesanya Oyekolade Sodiq of the Department of Religious Studies Tai Solarin University of the Education, Ijagun Ogun State said “the workshop came at a time when the Muslim Ummah is bedeviled by sheer ignorance about Islam. The consequences of which include misinterpretations and misapplications of the sources of the religion. The workshop has therefore, unraveled the “how” and the “why” of the objectives of Shari’ah with a view to engendering mutual respect, mutual cohesion and peaceful co-existence among Muslims and non-Muslims.”
Gwandu wrote from Kano