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The Legal Methodology of “Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat” and its Critics: An Analytical Study

Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat — the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities — is a legal doctrine asserting that Muslim minorities, especially those residing in the West, deserve a special new legal discipline to address their unique religious needs that differ from those of Muslims resid- ing in Islamic countries.

“Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat”—the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities—is a legal doctrine introduced in the 1990s by Taha Jabir Al-Alwani and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi which asserts that Muslim minorities, especially those residing in the West, deserve a special new legal discipline to address their unique religious needs that differ from those of Muslims residing in Islamic countries. Developed as a means of assisting Muslim minorities in the West, it deals with problems Muslims face in countries where they are minorities and focuses more on devising exceptional rulings pertaining to their unique circumstances. In light of this, this paper attempts to assess this doctrine—its purpose and its methodology—with emphasis on the legal Islamic tools of ijtihad and maslaha whilst also shedding light on its limitations. It argues that while attempts are being made by scholars and writers to make it a successful tool for jurisprudence, it will take a few more years to assess whether “fiqh al-aqalliyyat” is effective in getting more members of Muslim minority societies to follow shari’ah such that it becomes a politically uniting force for Muslim communities in non-Muslim societies and most importantly, if it is effective in establishing an Islamic method that supports the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims within non-Muslim societies.

Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat — the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities — is a legal doctrine asserting that Muslim minorities, especially those residing in the West, deserve a special new legal discipline to address their unique religious needs that differ from those of Muslims resid- ing in Islamic countries. It was introduced in the 1990s by two prominent Muslim religious figures, Shaykh Dr. Taha Jabir al-Alwani of Virginia, and Shaykh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi of Qatar. Developed as a means of assisting Muslim minorities in the West in practicing their faith, it deals with the problems Muslims face in countries where they are minorities (including India) and focuses more on special and exceptional rulings for those special circumstances. At the time, there were members of the American Muslim community who hesitated participating in American politics because it meant alliance with non-Muslims, division of the Muslim community and submission to a non-Islamic system of secular politics as well as giving up the hope of the United States becoming part of dar al-Islam. They consequently asked the Council for a fatwa. In his fatwa Al-Alwani dismissed these objections and argued that the American secular system was faith-neutral, not irreligious.

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Legal Methodology of “Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat” and its Critics: An Analytical Study

Author: Tauseef Ahmad Parray

Published in: Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs Volume 32, 2012 – Issue 1

 Language: English

Length: 19 pages

The Legal Methodology of “Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat” and its Critics

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