Morocco’s King urges Ulema to exert positive influence on people by highlighting virtues of moderation, balance
Ulema have a duty to have a beneficial presence in people’s lives, by introducing them to the virtues of moderation and tolerance, and by neutralizing any negative sway ignorant extremists may have on innocent minds, stressed King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, on Saturday.
In a message addressed Saturday to participants in a symposium on the theme “The rules of Fatwa in the African context”, being held from July 8 to 10 in Marrakech, the Sovereign pointed out that Ulema have always been entrusted with a noble mission, which today is gaining in sensitivity and complexity, noting that the duty of scholars is all the more imperative “as perverted extremists present most of their views as fatwas, exploiting the sanctity of fatwa in people’s minds.”
“In order to protect the faith willed for us by the Almighty, I took measures to create an institutional framework for the issuing of fatwas in the Kingdom of Morocco, making it a collective endeavor falling within the remit of the Higher Ulema Council,” the Commander of the Faithful added.
It is up to the Ulema, on the other hand, to initiate the community individually to the rest of the provisions of religion that do not fall within the scope of the Fatwa, continued the King in this message, which was read out by the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq.
“This is, perhaps, the approach that African countries should adopt, namely to entrust the issuing of fatwas on public affairs to a collective institution made up of moderate, trustworthy religious scholars committed to the immutable values and madhab of their country,” the Sovereign said.
Emphasizing the importance for the Ulema of Africa to engage in periodic collaboration and consultation in order to keep abreast of new variants in the demand for and formulation of fatwas, the King indicated that it is up to the African Ulema in charge of issuing fatwas to develop more skills and to engage in exchanges notably around the jurisprudence of reality (or Fiqh al-Waqi’).
“They should also record the findings of their research work through all electronic means available in order to benefit more people and contribute to better qualification of religious leaders,” continued the Commander of the Faithful.
Welcoming the symposium as an initiative of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema, created at the Sovereign’s instigation, the King pointed out that this institution has devoted its eight years of existence to achieving the objectives initially assigned to it, which essentially consist in pooling and coordinating the joint efforts of Moroccan ulema and their counterparts in African Muslim countries to promote and firmly establish the values of tolerant Islam.
“Its mission is also to ensure, through initiatives of its own, that the sense of moderation, the spirit of conciliation and the propensity for Ijtihad are the catalysts of any reform aimed at consolidating the foundations of development, on the scale of the entire African continent or within any one of its countries,” insisted King Mohammed VI.
The Commander of the Faithful added that his first concern in creating the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema was that it should “leverage the rich heritage bequeathed by our righteous ancestors over the centuries in the Kingdom of Morocco as well as in sub-Saharan African countries.”
These ties draw their essence from the intangibility of the religious values that Morocco shares with brotherly African countries in terms of faith and Sunni rites, which have the major characteristic of advocating moderation, insisted the Sovereign, noting that these immutable principles are rooted in the codes of conduct instituted by Sufi orders and in the foundations of Sharia sciences, brought down to us through successive lineages of trustworthy sheikhs.
Morocco is linked to the Mashyakhas of African Sufi brotherhoods through centuries of exchange and interaction, the King said. He also called on the participants in this Symposium to adopt a dynamic of virtuous interaction, to deploy their inventiveness and to exchange their respective experiences. “This should make it possible for each group of religious scholars in a given country to benefit from the knowledge and proficiency of all African Ulema who commit to this initiative. It goes without saying that the right of religious scholars in each country to take into account their own particularities shall be preserved.”
The Commander of the Faithful was keen to point out that the work of this Symposium, which aims to define the conceptual field of Fatwa, can only be fully successful if women scholars (Alimates) are involved in all aspects of this undertaking. “This is because, in our religion, women are sisters of men in terms of rulings,” states the Sovereign, pointing out that the Kingdom of Morocco, availing itself of this postulate of equality, entrusts the religious guidance of citizens, both men and women, to Alimates and Morshidates.
In the same spirit, women play a leading role in the religious guidance provided by the mass media, the Sovereign pointed out.
The symposium is attended by over 350 ulema, men and women, from 72 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, representing Fatwa institutions and Higher Islamic Councils in these countries, as well as presidents and members of sections of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulemas on the continent.
This event is part of the efforts made by the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema, under the leadership of the King, Commander of the Faithful, President of the Foundation, to unify the action and positions of African ulema in the fight against all forms of mystification by zealots, false allegations by impostors and interpretations by the uneducated, and to make noble religious values a lever for stability and development in their respective countries.
The symposium debates will deal in particular with the conceptual authentication and scientific anchoring of Fatwa, the scientific norms and principles of Fatwa, and the reality of Fatwa in the African context.