The 3-day Seminar organized by the Islamic Research Institute of the International Islamic University (IIUI) on Islamic Legal Thought and Institutions in South Asia. Concluding here after a ceremony with Sahibzada Hamid Saeed Kazimi, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs in the chair. Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik Rector IIUI. Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari Director of the Institute, addressed on the occasion. Hamid Saeed Kazmi spoke on the significant role of the Fiqh in formulating daily lives of the Muslims. He lauded the efforts of the International Islamic University in this regard and assured his full support for promotion of Fiqhi literature. Here is a report on the 3rd day of the Seminar.
Dr. Zafarul Islam, of the Aligarh Muslim University, made a presentation on the famous Tatarkhani Fatawa compiled in the period of Delhi Sultanate. He particularly highlighted the relevance and validity of the Fiqh thinking of the period in the context of the issues of the present times.
Another Indian scholar, Dr. Mufti Shamim Akhtar’s paper on the well-known Fatawa-i-Alamgiri (Al-Fatawa-i-Hindiya, as known in Turkey, Egypt and Syria) dealt at length with the process of compilation of that monumental work by a team of some forty dedicated scholars and the interest personally taken by Emperor Aurangzeb in that activity of great scholarly significance.
Maulana Zahidur Rashdi, Director, Shariah Academy, Gujranwala presented his paper in which he reviewed the Islamic juridical trends of the period 1857-1947, covering a wide range represented by (Hanafi) Deobandi, (Hanafi) Barelvi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of thought. He also shed light on the directions taken by the process of Ijtihad during this period leading to the passing of the historical Objectives Resolution by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. He said despite their best efforts the imperialist forces could not disrupt the scholarly tradition nor shake the belief system of Muslims mainly due to the intellectual guidance and historical resistance provided by the well-known band of dedicated eminent scholars of South Asia.
The distinguishing features of the Fiqh thinking of the scholars belonging to Ahl-i-Hadith school of thought were the subject of the papers presented by two scholars, viz Dr. Abdur Rauf Zafar and Dr. Sohail Hasan. Among them is the emphasis laid on comparative study of the principles and methodology pursued by jurists of other schools of Fiqh. A number of legal issues of historical significance addressed by the scholars belonging to this school of thought were discussed in detail by Dr. Zafar and Dr. Sohail Hasan.
The wrong-held notion that the door of Ijtihad or research in Islamic law was closed in the previous centuries was opposed in the presentation of Dr Muhammad Qasim Zaman, professor of Near Eastern and Religious Studies at Princeton University, United States. The professor held a contrary view, saying that Muslim scholars might have been guided by abundant caution, yet they did not give up the exercise of Ijtihad during the past few centuries.
‘Ulema, before and after the advent of British rule, continued to play a valuable role in the lives of the people of the Indian subcontinent, and kept up research on Ijtihad,’ he said. In the process, they continued to consult Muslim religious scholars from many parts of the world, including countries of the Middle East and the African continent. ‘In fact they maintained academic links with scholars even during the suffocating British rule.
Former Religious Affairs Minister Dr Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, who spoke on the past, present and future of Fiqh (laws of Muslim jurisprudence) proposed introduction of what he called a new cosmopolitan Fiqh to meet challenges of globalisation. ‘We cannot live in Fiqh Hanafi or Jafri or any other Fiqh; we need a global Fiqh to live like a global Muslim,’ he said. In his opinion Muslims had never ignored the importance of Fiqh because laws of Muslim jurisprudence regulate their lives in accordance with principles laid down in the Holy Quran. Dr Ghazi also paid tributes to Allama Iqbal and his contribution to Islamic legal thought as well as in the development of religious approach to respond to the challenges of the present and the future, in intellectual and practical spheres.
The first session of the 3rd day of the seminar, which was devoted to papers on Fatawa collections, was presided over by Mufti Mohammad Rafi Usman, Head of Darul Uloom Karachi. In his paper Dr. Tajuddin Azhari emphasized the need for due deliberation and moderation in issuing Fatawa. Another scholar Dr. Tahir Hakim also dealt with the trend of issuing Fatawa and cautioned those who issue edicts against the shortcomings sometimes found in their pronouncements.
Mr. G.A. Haq Muhammad reviewed the 30-volume compilation of Fatawa issued by Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi, known as Fatawa-i-Razawiyyah. Dr. Hafiz Ghulam Yusuf made a presentation on thirteen (13) selected collections of Fatawa issued by the scholars of Deoband, particularly Fatawa-i-Rashidiyyah, a compilation of the edicts attributed to Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi.
In his presidential address Mufti Rafi Usmani pointed out that the generally-held concept of Fiqh falls short of what is envisaged in the Quran and the Hadith. Fiqh does not merely deal with particular aspects of human conduct but also with matters related to man’s inner self, his motivations, weaknesses like jealousy, pride, avarice, love of material things, etc. The purpose is purification and elevation of the total self and cultivation of love for God. Fiqh in this sense is deep understanding of the vision of the Quran and the Hadith.
The recommendations and proposals that emerged from the papers read and the discussions held during the 3 days of the seminar were presented for ratification at the concluding session of the moot. One of the recommendations said that arrangements be made for electronic preservation of important manuscripts related to Islamic Fiqh and the collections of the Fatawa that are available in Pakistan.
Another recommendation said that different collections of Fatawa constitute a significant part of the Fiqh or legal legacy of Muslims. Out of the Fatawa collections of the period up to the 10th Hijra century only two or three have so far been published. There is need for research on the remaining ones which should also be preserved and published after proper editing.
A comparative study of different schools of Fiqh and development of consensus on what may be termed a cosmopolitan corpus of Fiqh was recommended through another proposal.
Main Source: IIUI by Syed Muzammil Hussain
Secondary Sources: Dawn News, Daily Times, AP Pakistan, International Seminar
Author: UmerSultan writes at his blog ‘The Key To Power‘ and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Maulana Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Rector, Prof. Fateh Muhammad Malik, International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), Dr. Zafar-ul-Islam and Ziauddin Falah from Aligarh Muslim University of India, Director Islamic Research Institute, Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari and Director Shariah Academy, Dr. Yousaf Farooqi addressing the concluding ceremony of the seminar on "Islam Legal Thought and Institution in South Asia"
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