Islamic channel launches express fatwa service

Offers round-the-clock answers to Ramadan inquiries


The Islamic satellite channel al-Daleel announced the groundbreaking launch of a new express service that delivers fatwas round the clock to Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

Al-Daleel TV, supervised by prominent Saudi cleric Sheikh Salman al-Oouda, issued a statement declaring that the final touches of its new show Fatwa of the Hour are in place and that it is ready to launch on the first day of Ramadan, which falls on August 11 this year.

The new show is 10 minutes long and will be aired every hour. Each episode, which will be aired live, will feature inquiries via mobile text messages and phone calls and a guest who will answer them on the spot.

The new fatwa express show, the statement added, aims at offering a fast service for Muslims whose request for religious edicts generally increases in the holy month.

"In Ramadan, Muslims have several inquiries about issues like what invalidates fasting, when is it allowed to exceptionally break the fast, and so on," said Abdel Rahman Qaed, head of the channel's Scientific Affairs Department, in a press statement.

Qaed added that the purpose of airing the show every hour is to make sure all inquires are answered without delay.

"We feel it is our duty to offer clear answers to matters that are sometimes ambiguous for many Muslims and to do so promptly," he added.

Qaed declined to reveal the names of guests to be hosted in the show, but stressed that they are all very well-established and trust-worthy scholars whose names are linked to rational interpretation, extensive knowledge, and power of speech.

We feel it is our duty to offer clear answers to matters that are sometimes ambiguous for many Muslims and to do so promptly

Head of al-Daleel Scientific Affairs Department Abdel Rahman Qaed

Satellite fatwas slammed

The increasing number of programs that offer fatwas on satellite channels, commonly known as 'satellite fatwas,' have lately been stirring much controversy amongst Muslim scholars and raising questions about who is authorized to issue religious edicts and what are eligible topics.

The abundance of fatwa offering programs, critics argue, made several Muslims seek legitimacy for their actions through searching for the most lenient cleric and following the fatwas that best suits their purposes. Some call several programs asking about the same issue till they find the fatwa they are more or less looking for.

The issues tackled in fatwa programs have also been the source of heated debates. Some Islamic scholars argue that issuing fatwas about matters that involve the relationship between Muslims and God - - like praying, fasting, and faith - - is not a problem since these involve a degree of flexibility even if clerics differ about them.

However, opponents of satellite fatwas consider issuing edicts about matters related to the rights of others, including civil laws, a genuine problem since of the cleric who issues the fatwa is not necessarily familiar with the relevant laws.

Consequently, people following the edict could inflict damage upon others, thinking their actions are in line with the teachings of Islam.

The al-Feqh al-Islami (Islamic Jurisprudence) website posted a detailed report on satellite fatwas issued in the first quarter of the current Hijri year (1431), highlighting the rise of the phenomenon.

According to the report, programs of 11 Saudi and Arab channels received in 244 episodes more than 5,000 inquiries from 17 different countries,with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Libya, and Morocco at the top of the list.

Muslims from European countries, the report added, also called with their religious inquiries. Most of them from Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and France.

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)