بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه
والتابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين
While Singapore is a country which practices civil law, our Muslim community requires Islamic laws that encompass the jurisprudential, administrative and general matters for its religious needs.
Following Singapore’s independence, Parliament legislated the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) in 1966. This paved the way for the advisory role of a central Muslim body which was previously assumed by the Muslim Advisory Board. AMLA was put into effect two years later in 1968, giving birth to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) as a statutory body. In addition, the Shariah Court and Registry of Muslim Marriages were also constituted under the AMLA. With these institutions in place, various efforts to preserve the religious and communal interests of Muslims could be implemented, such as Haj arrangements, halal certification, mosque management, and others.
On matters pertaining to Islamic law, the Muslim community was in need of a statutory body responsible for determining and providing continued guidance. This is not an easy undertaking as it demands a mastery of religious sciences. While the core teachings and doctrines of Islam have already been outlined in sources such as the Holy Qur’an, Prophetic traditions (hadīth) as well as the consensus (ijmā’) of Prophet’s Companions and established scholars, there are numerous new issues which have no clear explanation nor ready answers, thus, needing more in-depth analysis and research in order to resolve them.
This is where the important role of fatwa, which is essentially an act of ijtihād borne out of a rigorous effort to resolve conflicting issues done based on religious sources, come into play. Issuing fatwa not only requires knowing what is taught by religion, but also a refined understanding and knowledge of how to apply it in order to resolve the problems faced by the inquirer as well as society at large.
Alhamdulillah, the Fatwa Committee in Singapore has sought to fulfil this role since its inception. Despite the Committee members not possessing outstanding qualifications nor having access to relevant reference materials in its early days, they demonstrated remarkable diligence and commendable commitment to offer their best during deliberations – a show of their passion and strong sense of religious responsibility.
In line with the changing times and increasing demand from a society that desires more information, this compilation series aims to give a more detailed discussion on the framework and principles of the Sharī’a that were employed in fatwa work by the various committees over the years.
It is hoped that this information will help the Muslim community to better understand the considerations of the Fatwa Committee in resolving various issues. My sincere hope is for this initiative to unite the Muslim community’s spirit in preserving knowledge, as well as contributing to religious life in Singapore. We further aspire for it to open doors to sharing and exchanging information with international fatwa bodies and other Muslim countries.
Muis, as the administrator of religious affairs in Singapore, will continue its efforts to refine and enhance both religious practice and understanding to suit Singapore’s context.
SHAIKH SYED ISA BIN MOHAMED BIN SEMAIT
ADVISOR, OFFICE OF THE MUFTI