Theological credibility of “moderate” Islamic rulings in doubt, especially vis-a-vis the authoritative fatwas of Saudi Arabia’s shiekhs. “Islamic preachers to give moderate advice,” by Duncan Gardham, for Telegraph, July 13:
A panel of Islamic scholars to give advice on modern living is to be introduced as part of a Government scheme to counter extremism.
The Muslim clerics will give advice, particularly to women and young people, on how the Koran should be interpreted for life in the 21st century.
The board is bound to be controversial among young Muslims partly because of its state backing but also because only certain scholars are qualified to give Islamic rulings or “fatwas” which normally emanate from Saudi Arabia.
While imams regularly give advice about what is “halal” [permitted] or “haram” [forbidden] their authority is secondary to the sheikhs of the Middle East.
The board is designed to discourage rulings which allow the beating of wives, or compel women to cover their faces.
They would also help young people with issues such as when they can mix with the opposite sex and whether it is permissible to serve in the armed forces.
While technically independent, the panel will receive support from the civil service and will have their expenses paid.
In other words, their credibility will constantly be under attack by “radical” Muslims, who will accuse them of being the infidel government’s lackeys.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities said: “It will be a theological board aimed at engaging communities in Modern Islam.”
But a spokesman for the Muslim Public Affair Committee warned: “To be successful, this initiative must have credibility with the Muslim community as a whole.
“What matters is what happens at the grass roots in someone’s local mosque.”