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The Digital Transformation Revolution in Fatwa Institutions

We are about to make a significant leap in the world of Islamic law thanks to the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide, the Egyptian body in charge of coordinating religious decrees – or fatwas – worldwide. In its upcoming conference, titled “Fatwas in the Digital Age,” the General Secretariat is planning on discussing the changes that occurred in the world of Islamic jurisprudence due to the coronavirus pandemic. The most important item on the General Secretariat’s agenda is the expansion of the digitization project of religious verdicts, with the goal of making them easily accessible to any Muslim around the world. Through digital collaboration, the General Secretariat hopes to identify ways in which various fatwa institutions can collaborate to issue collective verdicts and reduce the risk of individual verdicts, especially those issued by non-experts, which can lead to widespread misconceptions. There is no doubt that the time has come to adopt means of modern digital technology to support collective jurisprudence. In between the main discussion sessions, conference attendees are expected to meet with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. They will also take part in scholarly workshops covering contemporary issues they are facing in their respective countries. In addition, a special session will be devoted to the question of training muftis – Islamic jurists – remotely, through virtual programs. The Egyptian Dar al-Ifta, one of the Muslim world’s leading religious powerhouses, will present its first specialized program aimed at training and ordaining muftis remotely. Ultimately, the hope is that the conference will give birth to a memorandum of understanding that establishes the values, principles, and controls mechanisms that will govern international cooperation between jurisprudence institutions. In doing so, participating organizations will be able to come together to refute the intricate web of religious fallacies on which extremist organizations base their ideologies. This will be an important step toward understanding extremism and, ultimately, coming up with national strategies to defeat it. –Ibrahim Najem (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)