Islamic Fiqh Academy: Deliberations
of the 97 Meeting
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Translated from Urdu by Khalid Baig.
Although the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has not yet succeeded in solving
major problems of the Muslim world, it has at least provided a platform for the discussion
of our collective problems. It has also produced some academic, research, and economic
institutions that are active in various fields. One of these important institutions is the
Islamic Fiqh Academy.
The idea of the Islamic Fiqh Academy was proposed by King Khalid in the OIC meeting of
Rabi Awwal 1401 (January 81) that was held in Masjid Haram in Makkah Mukarramah. The
suggestion was to have a body consisting of scholars and jurists of the Muslim world that
would focus on the new problems presented by the contemporary world and propose Islamic
answer to those problems. The OIC accepted this suggestion and the idea of the formation
of Islamic Fiqh Academy was approved. Next year (22 August 1982) the Islamic Foreign
Ministers conference in Nigeria approved the bylaws of the Academy and the OIC Secretariat
was instructed to establish the Academy in accordance with those bylaws. A founding
meeting was held in Makkah Mukarramah in Shaban 1403 (July 1983) which was attended by
representatives from the entire Muslim world. The meeting approved the bylaws with certain
changes. The changed bylaws were subsequently approved by the Islamic Foreign Ministers
Conference and the Academy was finally established.
The secretary general of the Islamic Fiqh academy is nominated by the secretary general
of the OIC. At that time Habib Shatti was the OIC secretary general and he nominated Mufti
Dr. Habib Balkhouja of Tunis as the secretary general of the Academy who continues to
serve in that position. Each Muslim country was asked to nominate an expert in Islamic
disciplines as its representative. While governments nominate the representative, once
nominated only the Academy can revoke their membership. This writer has been the
representative from Pakistan and for the past six years has been working as the deputy
chairman of the Academy. The first meeting of the general council of the Academy,
consisting of all the nominated members, was held on 26 Safar 1405 (19 November 1984). Dr.
Bakr Abu Zaid of Saudi Arabia was chosen as the president of the academy in that meeting.
The operating procedure of the Academy was also decided upon in that meeting.
The planning committee of the Academy selects topics for research. Then a selection of
these topics is sent to the Academy members as well as other Islamic experts who are asked
to write research papers on them. The research papers are then circulated to all the
members for review. In the annual meeting of the Academy, these papers are presented and
freely discussed. Every word said in those discussions is recorded and published later.
For every topic, a drafting committee is formed to draft the proposed resolution in light
of that discussion. Finally, the draft proposal is once again presented to the meeting of
all the members for discussion and approval.
So far, ten annual meetings have taken place in accordance with this procedure.
Resolutions about many modern issues have been produced in these meetings. What is of even
greater importance is that on these issues research papers authored by Islamic world's
great scholars have been collected and published. Every year the Academy publishes a
several volume collection of these papers and the transcript of full discussion on them by
the experts. So far, twenty-six such volumes have been published, providing an invaluable
treasure for those interested in research into the contemporary fiqh problems. Some of the
topics covered by these publications and the resolutions of the Academy include problems
related to banking and insurance, stock market and money markets, trade using modern means
of communications, international trade, currency transactions, Zakat, test tube baby,
organ transplant, artificial heart, and other modern medical techniques.
In addition, the Academy is also compiling an encyclopedia of fiqh about finance and a
compilation of fiqh rules in collaboration with other organizations of the Muslim world.
The 1997 Meeting
The meeting was held from 28 June through 3 July. The Governor of Makkah Mukarramah
inaugurated the meeting and about 125 representatives from all parts of the Muslim world
attended it. Three issues discussed in this meeting deserve special mention.
Cloning (Translated as Intinsakh in Arabic) is a hot issue in the entire world today.
The issue arose after the experiment in Scotland in which a cell from the body of a lamb
was nurtured and it turned into another lamb physically identical to the original lamb. It
raised the possibility that this could also be done with human beings, although no cloning
experiments involving humans have been done so far. The debate the world over is whether
human cloning experiments should be permitted. Many western countries including the U.S
have banned such experiments. The Pope has also declared it wrong and has demanded a legal
From an Islamic perspective, two issues have been discussed regarding cloning. First,
does it bring into question Islam's belief about Allah's attribute as the Creator in any
way? Second, should it be permitted? The Islamic Fiqh Academy first contacted the
Organization of Muslim Doctors in Kuwait and organized a preliminary conference in
Casablanca. Then the issue was discussed in this year's meeting of the Academy. The
medical experts were also invited to the meeting who explained the process and its
implications to the Academy.
Regarding the first issue, there was a consensus that cloning does not bring into
question any Islamic belief in any way. Allah is the Creator of the universe but He has
established the system of cause-and-effect in this world. Sowing a seed in the ground is
the cause but only Allah produces the effect from it in the form of a plant. Similarly
cloning is a cause and only through Allah's Will it can produce the effect. Just as the
person sowing the seed is not the creator of the resulting plant, so the cloning
technician is not the creator of the resulting animal. Allah alone is the Creator and all
creation takes place solely through His Will.
Regarding the question of permissibility, the majority of the Academy members after
discussion reached the conclusion that cloning is permissible in case of plants as well as
in case of animals except human beings. The extension of cloning to human beings would
create extremely complex and intractable social and moral problems. Therefore cloning of
human beings cannot be permitted.
Another topic discussed in this year's meeting was the impact on fasting of various new
medical procedures. The meeting discussed which procedures invalidate the fast and which
ones can be used without any harm while fasting.
Back to Top
The third important topic of discussion was the new methods of slaughtering animals.
The meeting discussed which of these new methods are in accordance with Shariah and which
are not. In many Muslim countries, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, meat
imported from non-Muslim countries is widely used. The Academy was told by its
researchers, based on their personal experience, that the Halal label put on such imported
meat is not reliable. The producers exporting this meat from non-Muslim countries to the
Muslim countries do not take care to meet the requirements of the Shariah. Therefore the
Academy appealed to the Muslim businessmen that before importing such meat, they should
ensure that the slaughter is certified to be performed in accordance with the Shariah, the
certification being given by observing Muslims who are knowledgeable about Shariah
requirements regarding animal slaughter. The Academy also appealed to the Muslim
governments that they should use their embassies in the exporting countries to keep the
exporters from using the Halal label without proper Halal certification by reliable Muslim
Back to Top