The Position of Custom (Urf/Adat) In Issuing Fatwa
In the works of Ibn Abidin al-Shami (d. 1252/1836)
By: Mohammed Farid Ali al-Fijawi
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Fatawa issued presently by Shari’ah scholars and muftis occasionally fall short of meeting the challenges of modern society. Ibn ‘Abidin’s concept of ‘urf and its application provide a basic guide towards meeting the modern challenges in their totality. The present work refers to his three works—Sharh ‘UqudRasm al-Mufti, Nashr al-‘urf fi binaba’d al-ahkam ‘ala al-‘urf, and Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar SharhTanwir al-Absar (al-Ḥashiyah)—written in 13th century A.H. that present ‘urf as a practical instrument for muftis and jurists. His first work is used as an overall framework, while the other two works offer commentaries on the first one, providing details and cases of application. The present work enunciates that Ibn ‘Abidin identifies custom as effective in Islamic law only if it fulfils the condition to specify (takhsis) nass, without opposing it completely. The variations of ‘urf in society will only affect those legal issues that are custom-related and not directly based on nass. Moreover, all custom-related issues in manifest rulings (zahir al-riwayah) are subject to change as custom changes.