IT’S been a long time since I’ve made my lists, so in keeping with recent issues I thought I would make a list of fatwas (edicts) I’d like to see.
Now, some people think that I have something against fatwas. Actually, I think fatwas can be helpful in providing guidance to Muslims on how to conduct their lives. But I do have issues with fatwas that deal only with petty things while ignoring much more important things in life.
What’s more, most fatwas seem to be only about what you cannot do, rather than what you can do.
Having seen how the National Fatwa Council will respond to individual complaints and suggestions for fatwas, I thought I would come up with a list of “Can Do” fatwas they should consider issuing.
None of them will attract punishment if not adhered to, at least not in this world. But I think they would go a long way towards making Muslims, and even non-Muslims, better people. So here goes.
We should have fatwas that:
1. Tell people that the only way to make money is to work hard.
No get-rich-quick schemes that promise you can earn thousands in a week, no pyramid plans, no going to bomohs, no cosying up to the influential, and certainly no bribery and corruption.
2. Say that women can be leaders in any field or workplace, as long as they treat those they lead with equality and fairness.
And those men who have problems with women being leaders are forgetting that the Prophet Muham- mad used to work for his wife Khatijah; and that everyone considered Aishah, the youngest of his wives, a respected leader in her community.
3. Emphasise that the best men are those who never neglect their wives and children, even when they are no longer married to the wo- men.
Therefore, men who abscond from their duties are not to be excused or celebrated in any way.
4. Say that the best parents are those who stay home and read with their children and help them with their homework every school night.
5. Emphasise that the best Mus- lims are those who read the Quran and work to understand it.
6. Say that discriminatory attitudes towards people different from ourselves are not allowed in Islam.
7. Outline ways in which we should show consideration for one another, such as by keeping public toilets clean, not throwing rubbish everywhere and not parking indiscriminately so that other people are inconvenienced.
8. Point out that envy and jealousy are the worst traits anyone could have, especially when other people are successful.
The good Muslim should be happy for others when they are successful and not begrudge them or cast aspersions on their abilities.
9. Encourage charity to be active and not passive.
Charity means actually devoting time and effort to doing something to help others and not merely writing cheques. Charity also means helping those truly in need and not just to get attention.
10. Underscore that a good Muslim is one that is polite and well-mannered, and should never curse, swear and act in an offensive manner to others, especially women, the disabled and people from other communities.
This is not least because such bad manners reflect poorly on one’s upbringing and is therefore disrespectful to one’s own parents.
11. Take to task judges in any court who are biased towards anyone based on sex, race, religion or creed.
12. Declare fatwas and laws that are unjust as null and void.
13. Encourage people to be happy by doing what makes them happy, such as by making music, creating art or engaging in sport, as long as they don’t harm anyone else.
And if these things offend anyone, they have to say clearly why they are offended so that they do not spoil everyone else’s fun.
14. Remind people that nature is a gift from God and should not be taken for granted, nor disrespected and exploited.
Disasters are not to be blamed on God when there are perfectly human explanations for them. Keeping our rivers, forests and air clean is the duty of each of us, not someone else’s.
15. Emphasise that learning and being knowledgeable is also a duty because it helps us to be better people and citizens.
Furthermore, we should learn from far and wide and especially learn science and technology.
16. Encourage people to deal with real-life problems with contemporary solutions and not pretend they don’t exist, or deal with them through unjust solutions or hocus pocus.
17. Assures people that life is not a booby trap where you spend all your time trying to avoid small mistakes out of fear of major retribution.
God is Ever Merciful and Com- passionate and understands that you’re only human.
That’s my fatwa wish list for 2009. May at least some come true!