“God’s agents" — that was the term that famed 13th-century Islamic Jurist Ibn al-Qaayyim al-Jawziya gave to reflect how critical and sensitive it is to be a mufti, an Islamic scholar approached for religious opinions pertaining to all matters of Muslims’ lives.
Despite that sensitivity, several fatwas (religious edicts) that were issued throughout 2014 not only stirred controversy, but also inspired biting sarcasm from observers. Here are a number of those opinions that are believed to have failed to live up to the earnestness of the position.
1. Take a stealthy look at your bathing fiancee
Social network users circulated a video of preacher Ossama al-Quosy, who said it was permissible for a man to take a quick, stealthy look at his fiancee while she is showering, only on the condition that he has an earnest intention of getting married to her.
Literal interpretation of Islamic teachings prohibit women from showing any parts of their bodies, except the face and the hands, to men other than their husbands.
2. The return of concubation
A video was also trending on Youtube of Jordanian preacher Yassin al-Aglouny, in which he stated that female Syrian refugees are allowed to ask financially-able Muslim men to shelter them as “concubines.”
3. Open buffet is “haram”
Saudi preacher and member of Saudi Arabia’s senior scholars authority, Saleh al-Fawzan, had the lion’s share of contentious fatwas during 2014, most notably that open buffet banquets are impermissible on the basis that they do not quote a clear price for transactions.
4. Elections prohibited
Politics had their role in fatwas during the year, with the most outstanding political fatwa made by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, prohibiting participation in the presidential elections that brought Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power.
Qaradawy is the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and an ardent supporter of Sisi’s predecessor, deposed President Mohamed Morsy.
5. Lying is halal
Contrary to the popular opinion, Yasser Borhamy, deputy chairman of the Salafi Daawa, said it was even permissible for a wife to lie to her husband to be able to get out and vote in the constitutional referendum last January.
Opponents to the document said the fatwa resembled a manipulation of religion for political goals.
Borhamy backed the ouster of Morsy in 2013 and the adoption of the new constitution.
6. Living on Mars impermissible
On of the weirdest fatwas was made by United Arab Emirates’ General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, prohibiting life on Mars. In an official statement, the authority said living on Mars was against Islam, responding to Dutch-run project, Mars One, which proclaims plans for a human colony on the red planet by 2025.
The authority’s argument was that heading to Mars would resemble a suicide given the dangers such a step could involve.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm