“The principles and fundamentals of the Shariah concerning the injunctions and the good of humankind in this life and the next are all based on justice, mercy, the good of human and wisdom. Every situation in which justice succumbs to tyranny, mercy to cruelty, goodness to corruption, wisdom to foolishness, has nothing in common with the Shariah.“1
1 Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, I‘lām al-Muwaqqi‘īn vol. 3 (Riyadh, Makkah: Maktabah Nazar Mustafa al-Baz, 1996), 797.
When explicating the role of a mufti as a religious leader whose fatwa becomes a guide for the people’s benefit, Imām al-Shāṭibī states:
“The competent mufti, of the highest authority, is one who leads people towards a natural balance, appropriate for the laity. He does not lead them to extremism, nor does he lean with them towards the excess of unbridled liberalism.”
1 Al-Shātibi, al-Muwāfaqāt fi Usūl al-Aḥkām, vol. 4, 149.
- Fiqh al-muwāzanāt (understanding balance)
- Fiqh al-awlawīyāt (understanding priorities)
- Fiqh al-wāqiʿ (understanding contexts and realities)
- Fiqh al-sunan (understanding fitrah – cause and effect)
- Fiqh al-ikhtilāf (understanding etiquettes of disagreements)
- Fiqh al-naṣ (understanding scriptural texts)
Imam Muḥammad Ibn ʿIdrīs al-Shāfiʿī, was born in Gaza, Palestine in the year 105H. He studied under the tutelage of scholars in Mecca, Medīna, Yemen, Kufa, Baṣra and Egypt. Among his teachers were the Mufti of Mecca Muslim Ibn Khālid al-Zanjī, Imam Abū Yūsuf, and Imam Mālik Ibn Anas. He wrote and published many books, including al-Risāla which discusses the science of Islamic jurisprudence. He passed on in Egypt in the year 204H. 1
1 Zulkifli Mohd al-Bakri, Istilah-istilah fiqah dan usul: Empat Mazhab (Selangor: Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia: 2010), 361-362.
Qawā’id fiqh are Islamic legal maxims that have been outlined by the classical ‘ulamā to solve fiqh issues. The five general Islamic legal maxims are:
- Al-Umūr bi Maqāṣidihā
- Al-Yaqīn la Yuzālu bi al-Shakk
- Al-Masyaqqa Tajlibu al-Taisīr
- Al-Ḍarar Yuzāl
- Al-ʿĀdah Muhakkamah
Sections 30 to 33 of AMLA1 provided for the appointment of the State Mufti, his jurisdiction, the Fatwa Committee, the fatwa procedure, and the observance of the main mazhab (school of law). Based on this Act, the Mufti is officially appointed by the President of the Republic of Singapore and his appointment is notified in the Government Gazette. The Mufti is also an ex-officio member of the MUIS2 Council and remains a member of the Council until his retirement.3 The key roles of the Mufti of Singapore include:
- To chair the Fatwa Committee as stated in Sections 30-33 (AMLA).
- To advise the MUIS Council or other MUIS committees on religious affairs.
- To act with the President and Secretary of MUIS for immediate decisions in urgent matters.
- To declare the beginning of Ramadan, Shawwal and Dzulhijjah.
- To prepare the Islamic calendar (Hijri) and prayer times for Singapore.
- To announce the annual rate of zakat fitrah.
- To be responsible for the production of Friday and also ‘Eid sermons prepared by MUIS.
- To interview and approve the appointment of imams for all mosques in Singapore.
- To be the religious advisor in certain matters that might arise at such time.
1 Please refer: The Statutes of The Republic of Singapore, ‘Administration of Muslim Law Act (Chapter 3) – Revised Edition (October 31, 2009).
2 Stands for Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura or Islamic Religious Council of Singapore
3 In August 1968, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore started operation and subsequently, the first Mufti of the Republic of Singapore was appointed.