UAE NEEDS ON­LINE MUFTIS TO GIVE MORAL GUID­ANCE AND FAT­WAS, FNC MEM­BER SAYS

▶ Move would en­sure young peo­ple do not look for re­li­gious edicts else­where and find more hard­line stances

The National - News - - NEWS - HANEEN DAJANI

Re­li­gious fig­ures should have a pres­ence on so­cial me­dia to en­sure young peo­ple do not go search­ing else­where and find hard­line fat­was, a mem­ber of the Fed­eral Na­tional Coun­cil said yes­ter­day.

Saeed Al Remeithi, the youngest mem­ber of the cham­ber, said di­rect con­tact with the pub­lic was im­por­tant and so­cial me­dia is the key medium.

Mr Al Remeithi asked the Au­thor­ity of Is­lamic Af­fairs and En­dow­ments, or Awqaf, how it was train­ing and pre­par­ing re­li­gious fig­ures for the on­line world.

“We want the au­thor­ity to have fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia, to keep up with up­dates and have di­rect con­tact with the pub­lic,” he said.

“The fear today is that peo­ple look­ing for fat­was in the UAE will go out­side to look for it, if they were not able to find it here, and even­tu­ally lis­ten to fat­was that we don’t want them to lis­ten to.

“We want to pre­vent our na­tion­als from lis­ten­ing to fat­was from out­side the coun­try.”

Mr Al Remeithi asked the head of the au­thor­ity about its pol­icy about muftis post­ing fat­was on their per­sonal so­cial me­dia ac­counts.

Awqaf chief Dr Mohammed Al Kaabi said none of the au­thor­ity’s muftis had ac­counts.

But the is­sue will be cov­ered by the Fatwa Coun­cil, an­nounced by the Cab­i­net in May, which will gov­ern and unify fat­was is­sued, Dr Al Kaabi said.

There are 50 trainee muftis study­ing at Al Muwatta Is­lamic Re­search Cen­tre, and 50 oth­ers study­ing Sharia at Mohammed V Univer­sity in Abu Dhabi. When they grad­u­ate they will take so­cial me­dia in­quiries and ad­dress them.

“So there will be a re­sponse from their side,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

And ev­ery mufti who ap­pears on ra­dio, tele­vi­sion or the in­ter­net has to be au­tho­rised by the coun­cil, so the process will be well reg­u­lated.

“We are in the process of ac­ti­vat­ing the coun­cil and ap­point­ing a chair and mem­bers, and with that there will be bet­ter con­trol over fatwa is­suance,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

He said the au­thor­ity’s fatwa cen­tre, which was launched in 2008, is­sues re­li­gious edicts to the pub­lic with phone calls, text mes­sages and on the web­site.

Users can also search through thou­sands of archived fat­was avail­able on the site if their fatwa query has been al­ready an­swered.

The cen­tre also re­ceives calls from peo­ple out­side the UAE, so it has be­come glob­ally recog­nised as a sam­ple of re­li­gious mod­er­a­tion, he said. It re­ceives about 1,300 calls a day.

“The au­thor­ity ad­dresses fat­was with cau­tion and fol­lows the col­lec­tive fatwa method be­cause it is more ac­cu­rate,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

Mr Al Remeithi said he was im­pressed that so many peo­ple used the cen­tre, in­clud­ing from abroad, but stressed the need for a so­cial me­dia pres­ence.

Ex­perts said the Fatwa Coun­cil would seek to counter con­tro­ver­sial and hard­line fat­was spread on the in­ter­net by unau­tho­rised sources.

The fatwa depart­ment at Al Azhar Univer­sity in Cairo, the global seat of Sunni Mus­lim learn­ing, has com­plained of “fatwa chaos” in the past, with some re­li­gious fig­ures seek­ing to shape the ac­tions of the faith­ful across the Mus­lim world.

Edicts have gov­erned top­ics rang­ing from re­la­tion­ships to pol­i­tics to home life.

Yes­ter­day the FNC also passed a draft law reg­u­lat­ing mosques. Un­der the new law, any­one who breaches the se­cu­rity or sa­cred­ness of mosques will be given fines of be­tween Dh20,000 and Dh50,000, a min­i­mum of three months’ jail sen­tence, or both.

Any­one who begs, in­ter­feres with preach­ing or call­ing for prayers faces up to three months in jail, a fine of up to Dh5,000, or both.

The same penalty ap­plies to any­one who, with­out ap­proval from the au­thor­i­ties, preaches or holds re­li­gious lessons, col­lects do­na­tions, es­tab­lishes li­braries, re­cruits some­one, or holds so­cial events or gath­er­ings.

The law also made it manda­tory to re­cruit only Emi­ratis in mosques. They must have a his­tory of good con­duct with no con­vic­tions for in­de­cent of­fences and be medically fit.

The fear is peo­ple look­ing for fat­was will go out­side to look for it, and lis­ten to fat­was that we don’t want them to lis­ten to SAEED AL REMEITHI FNC mem­ber

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