Chapter 56: Fatwa, Usul al-Fiqh and INFAD

My experience socializing and interacting with various races during my studies truly open my mind and paradigm regarding the vastness of customs and culture of certain races and countries. Moreover, even in a certain race, there may be differences in customs and culture. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and other Arab countries have different cultures although they share some similar cultures.

Allah SWT states:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”

Surah al-Hujurat (13)

A famous commentary scholar, Imam al-Zamaksyari when interpreting this verse states that mankind was created from Adam and Eve. We are all created from a mother and father and none is declared as better than the other. Hence, there’s no reason for a person to feel he is better than another in terms of his lineage.

Getting involved in various international seminars also granted Zulkifli a great opportunity to better understand the vastness of fiqh and multifarious fatwas issued by previous and contemporary scholars. The experience he gained he then fully utilized when he held the position as the Deputy Director for the World Fatwa Management and Research Institute (INFAD) USIM.

“Scholars presented many definitions regarding fatwa. You can refer to the opinion of Imam al-Qarafi, Imam al-Munawi, Imam al-Buhuti and others. Our teacher Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili explained that fatwa is the answer given by a mufti regarding a certain matter when he is asked about it. For me, there is a point that is similar for all the definitions presented and that is, it answers, explains, describes or inform a ruling. Such is also the opinion of usul scholars who differed from fiqh scholars.” Zulkifli then gets up from his chair and walked towards the first row of students of his BTS 2.4 Syariah and Law Faculty Class, USIM.

He studied the notes some of his students were taking before continuing his lecture. “I’m inclined towards the definition of the Malikiyyah scholars which is informing a syarak ruling without a commandment that it should be followed and according to me, it is also unbinding. This differentiates between fatwa and the ruling of the court of which obligates certain parties to obey it when it has been decided by the qadhi. For example, in our country, when a fatwa is gazetted, then it became a binding legal obligation and can be used in court rulings.

Such is the in-depth explanation given by Zulkifli in his tutorial class. Just like it was when he was teaching in UNITI, his style of teaching remained the same. He isn’t restricted to certain reference texts and is more comfortable sharing anything that he deemed necessary related to the topics discussed.

Are there any questions?” Zulkifli asked his class, breaking the silence in the BTS 2.4 lecture hall. The clock showed that it is already 3.30 p.m. This is a “crucial” time for students. The weather is dreadfully hot outside, but in the comfort of the air-conditioned lecture hall, it is as though the soft wind is blowing on their faces. He glanced briefly to his left and saw two students have already “martyred”. Another student is struggling her hardest, fighting from falling asleep.

Taking a nap after Zohor is surely a great pleasure. However, the hearts of students and seekers of knowledge should be firm.

Tarmizi raises his hand. “Dr, what is the ruling for a fatwa issued by a person who isn’t qualified?

Zulkifli nodded. “A good question, Mizi. A person who issued a fatwa when he hasn’t the sufficient knowledge is a sinner and has transgressed. This is stated by Imam Ibn Hamdan al-Harrani himself in Sifat al-Mufti wa al-Mustafti. I’m reminded of the words of Syeikh Hasanain Makhluf, former Egypt’s Grand Mufti. Syeikh said: ‘The position to issue fatwa at the beginning of Islam is one of the most honoured in religion and its dangers are also grave. It is a replacement of Rasullullah PBUH in conveying knowledge from His God, spreading His religion to His blessed slaves. This includes teaching lessons, guiding, trying to explain or give understanding the meaning of al-Quran and al-Sunnah as well as performing ijtihad to do istinbat rulings from them…’ Thus, we shouldn’t take the matters regarding fatwa lightly.


Whenever he’s free, Zulkifli would like to be in the INFAD’s Library, studying and reading one by one of the fatwa books there. It isn’t as complete as other huge libraries, but it is sufficient and is always improved from time to time.

For a seeker of religious knowledge, it is a must to always read and study the fatwas issued by either previous or contemporary scholars for there are 1001 pearls of wisdom regardless of whether it is in terms of fiqh, benefits or the art in issuing a fatwa. Sometimes, it cannot be found in any syllabus taught.

In madhhab Hanafi, there are several famous fatwa books such as Tanqih al-Fatawa al-Hamidiyyah, Fatawa QadikhanAl-Fatawa al-Sughra dan al-Fatawa al-Kubraal-Fatawa al-Bazzaziahal-Fatawa al-Zainiyyahal-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah/Alamgiri, Fatawa al-Qadhi Husain.

As for in madhhab Malik, several fatwa books are usually used for their references which are Fatawa al-Imam Ibn RusydFatawa al-Imam al-Syatibi, al-Mi’yar al-Mu’rib wa al-Jami’ ‘an Fatawa Ahl Ifriqiyyah wa al-Andalaus wa al-Maghrib, Fatawa Ibn ‘Ulaysh.

Whilst in madhhab Syaife, the most renowned volumes of fatwa books are Fatawa al-Imam al-Nawawi, Fatawa al-Imam al-Ghazali, al-Fatawa al-Kubra, al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyyah, al-Hawi li al-Fatawi, al-I’lam wa al-Ihtimam bi Jam’i Fatawa Syaikh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari, Kitab al-Fatawa li al-Imam ‘Izz al-Din Ibn Abdul Salam, Fatawa al-Subki fi Furu al-Fiqh al-Syafie, Fatawa wa Masail Ibn al-Salah.

As for madhhab Hanbali, the famous fatwa reference book is Majmu’ al-Fatawa.

As for modern fatwas, there are too many books available and it would be quite impossible to finish reading all of them. Among them are Bughyah al-Mustarsyidin by Syeikh Sayyid ‘Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad bin Husain bin ‘Umar Ba ‘Alawi, al-Fatawa by Syeikh Mutawalli al-Sya’rawi, al-Fatawa al-Mu’asarah by Syeikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Yas’alunaka fi al-Din wa al-Hayah by Syeikh Ahmad al-Syarbasi, Fatawa Syar’iyyah wa Buhuth Islamiyyah by Syeikh Hasanain Makhluf, Fatawa al-Syeikh al-Kisyk: Humum al-Muslim al-Yaumiyyah by Syeikh ‘Abd al-Hamid Kisyk, The Compilation of al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah Encyclopaedia which is the compilation of the fatwas of all of Egypt’s Grand Mufti from the first Mufti to the latest, Majmu’ al-Fatawa Ibn Baz by Syeikh ‘Abdulaziz bin Baz, Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn ‘Uthaimin by Syeikh Muhammad bin Soleh al-Uthaimin and of course, Al-Fatawa al-Fathaniyah by Syeikh Wan Ahmad bin Wan Muhammad Zain al-Fathani.

He dreams that one day, INFAD will have a strong relationship with other world Islam fatwa authorities such as Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami al-Duali, Jeddah’ al-Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami, Mekah; Rabitah al-‘Alam al-Islami, Dar al-Ifta’ al-Misriyyah; Lajnah Fatwa al-Azhar, Lajnah Hai’ah Kibar Ulama’ Arab Saudi’ and
United Arab Emirates Fatwa Council.

Likewise, he would also like for them to have a great relationship with Muftis in Southeast Asia and other countries with Muslim minorities such as Europe, the United States of America, China, Japan and others.

Sometimes, Zulkifli will smile by himself, imagining INFAD having an electronic fatwa compilation and issuance centre. Maybe in the future, with the help of Artificial Intelligence, the public could easily access fatwa and rulings. Zulkifli has already started to think about a need for INFAD to have its own Facebook account, a social media founded in 2004. He is also thinking of the suitability of INFAD to be active on Twitter, a social media which is introduced recently when it was launched in 2006. All of it with just a click of the button. Easing the affairs of the ummah.

Cooperation with JAKIM could also be improved making INFAD a strategic partner in research as well as the main reference apart from the Mufti Departments.


Firdaus, I’ve written a draft of the list of books of Usul Fiqh of the 4 Madhhab. I need you to type them up. Insya-Allah, pray for me that I get to complete my new book, Fiqh and Usul Terminologies: The Four Madhhab.” Zulkifli instructed his student before he entered his class.

Noted, Dr. will do Insya-Allah…” Firdaus said as he took the A4 paper passed by his teacher. He read and analyze one by one the words written by his teacher, before typing and editing them.

Before we share the books written in the field of usul fiqh regarding the division on the madhhab, we’d like to explain that among the four fiqh madhhabs available, the group which has written the most on the knowledge of usul fiqh is al-Syafi’iyyah, then Al-Ahnaf, then Al-Hanabilah, then Al-Malikiyyah. Thus, the following we include the most important books according to madhhab and they are also arranged according to the fiqh madhhab.

Among the usul fiqh books of madhhab Hanafi are Al-Taqrir wal-Tahbir by Muhammad bin Muhammad Amir al-Haj al-Halabi, Syarh al-Talwih ‘ala al-Taudhih by Mas’ud bin Umar al-Taftazani, Fath al-Ghaffar Syarah al-Manar by Ibn Nujaim, Al-Fusul fil Usul by Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Ali al-Jassas, Al-Usul by Ali bin Muhammad al-Bazdawi, Al-Usul by al-Syaasyi.

While the most important books of madhhab Hanafi are Al-Fusul lil Usul by Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Ali al-Jassas, Taqwim Usul al-Fiqh by Abu Zaid al-Dabusi, Al-Usul by al-Sarkhasi, Kasyf al-Asrar Syarh al-Usul al-Bazdawi by ‘Ala’uddin Abdul Aziz bin Ahmad al-Bukhari.

As for the usul fiqh books in madhhab Malikiyyah, they are Syarah Tanqih al-Fusul by Ahmad bin Idris al-Qarafi, Al-Muwafaqat by Ibrahim bin Musa bin Muhammad al-Syathibi, Al-Isyaarat fi Usul al-Fiqh by Sulaiman bin Khalaf Abu al-Walid Al-Baji.

Whereas, the usu fiqh books of madhhab Syafie are Al-Risalah by Muhammad bin Idris al-Syafie, Al-Ibhaj fi Syarah al-Minhaj, Al-Ihkam fi Usul al-Ahkam by Saifuddin al-Amidi, Irsyad al-Fuhul by Muhammad bin Ali al-Syaukani, Al-Bahr al-Muhith fi Usul al-Fiqh by Muhammad bin Abdillah al-Zarkasyi, Al-Burhan fi Usul al-Fiqh Abdul Malik al-Juwaini, Jam’ul Jawamik by Abdul Wahhab bin Ali al-Subki, Hasyiah al-Attar ‘ala Syarh Jam’ul Jawamik by Jalaluddin al-Mahalli, Syarah al-Mahalli ‘ala Jam’ul Jawami’ by Jalaluddin al-Mahalli, Fawatih al-Rahamut by Ibn Abd al-Syakur, Al-Mahsul fi Ilm al-Usul by Fakhrur al-Razi, Al-Mustasfa fi Ilm al-Usul, Abu Hamid Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Ghazali, Nihayah al-Sul Syarah Minhaj al-Usul by Abdullah bin Umar bin Muhammad al-Baidhawi, Al-Tabsirah fi Usul al-Fiqh by Abu Ishak al-Fairuz Abadi, Al-Burhan by Imam al-Haramain Abdul Malik al-Juwaini, Al-Mustasfa by Abu Hamid Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Ghazali, Qawathi’ al-Adillah by Mansur bin Muhammad bin Abdul Jabbar al-Tamimi al-Sam’ani, Syarah al-Luma’ by Abu Ishak Ibrahim al-Shirazi.

Among the usu fiqh books of Hanabilah madhhab are Syarah al-Kaukab al-Munir by Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Ibn al-Najjar, Al-Uddah fi Usul Fiqh by Muhammad bin Husain Ibn al-Farra’ Abu Ya’la, Al-Musawwadah fi Usul Fiqh by Aalu Taimiyyah, Raudhah al-Nazhir by Muwaffaquddin Abdullah bin Ahmad Ibn Qudamah, Usul al-Fiqh by Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Muflih, Al-Tahbir Syarh al-Tahrir by Abu al-Hasan al-Mardawi.

While the most important usul fiqh books of madhhab Hanbali are Syarah al-Kaukab, Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Ibn al-Najjar, Musawwadah fi Usul al-Fiqh by Aalu Taimiyyah, Al-Uddah by Abu Ya’la Muhammad bin Husain.

Firdaus eyes were wide in surprise looking at the long list of usul fiqh books of the four madhhabs. “Masya-Allah! When will I ever have the time to complete reading all of these books?” he whispered in his heart.

Suddenly, he smiled sheepishly alone turning to Zulkifli who was trying to tie his tie at the time.

Dr….Hehe…All of these books in the list, will they be included for the exam?” He asked naively.

Who knows…?” Zulkifli answered simply, leaving his dumbfounded student.

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