Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Question: Asslamu Alaykum
I understood from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf that a fatwa is what the trained scholar (mufti) believes is Allah’s judgement on the case presented to him. Is there a reward for the scholar and the individual who follows the fatwa? If the fatwa was wrong will Allah forgive them both?
Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
Thank you for your question.
The word ‘fatwa’ literally means ‘an answer’ so every answer to a question can be called a fatwa in the Arabic language. In the parlance of the Jurists the word is used to refer to an answer given to a legal question.
The ruling of Allah
When a scholar answers a question his answer could be based on one of the following:
a. A direct quote from the Qurʾān or a sound Hadith, the meaning of which is decisive and clear. In this situation he has answered by giving the ruling of Allah.
b. An interpretation of a verse or Hadith that lend themselves to valid interpretation, a principle derived from the primary texts, or another s ource of law approved by the Sharīʿa. In this scenario the ruling has an element of human endeavour to reach the intent of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). Therefore, if there are multiple possible interpretations, what we are certain of is that one of them is the actual ruling of Allah, and the others are sanctioned efforts to reach the ruling of Allah.
Practice and knowledge
All the possible rulings which the Ulema have derived from the primary sources are valid, and the scholars who reached those conclusions are rewarded by Allah. ʿĀmr b. al-ʿĀṣ narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘When a judge (this term also extends to the mujtahid) endeavours to reach a decision, and moreover is correct, he is rewarded twofold. And if he does so but if wrong he is rewarded [nonetheless] – Bukhārī).
This shows that all rulings that are arrived at through a valid ijtihād by someone qualified to do so are valid to follow. For our religious practice this is enough, as having certainty of a particular ruling being the judgement of Allah is not necessary. What is necessary is a reasonable degree of certainty – which is attained by following qualified scholars – and both the scholar and layman are rewarded for their efforts and application.
Based on the above Hadith, if the conclusion is incorrect both are pardoned and the act remains valid if the ruling was based on a valid interpretation.
Allah knows best.
May Allah bless you with the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.
Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.
In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.
His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.
When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.