Fiqh Council of North America: An Interview With Shaikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah
by Sheila Musaji
Q: Are the 18 members listed on the recent Fatwa against terrorism the only members of the Fiqh Council, or only those who signed the Fatwa?
A: yes, at this time these are the only members.
Q: Is there a board of directors or an executive council of some kind? (Example, a chairman, president, etc.)?
A: Yes, there is a 5 member Board - Muzammil Siddiqui, Chairman; Shaikh M. Nur Abdullah, Vice-Chairman; M. Adam Shaikh, Executive Director; Ihsan Bagby and Jamal Badawi. And two advisors: Ali Shaukat and Muhaib Durrani.
Q: Is the Fiqh Council an ad hoc group or under the umbrella of an organization or group of organizations?
A: The Fiqh Council has existed for about 20 years. It developed from the MSA Fiqh Committee, then in the 1980’s it became a part of ISNA Shurah, and in about 1986 the committee itself decided that they should be independent. Our legal opinions were always independent, but we felt it would be best if our structure was also independent. The FCNA is registered as a non-profit organization. (Note: According to Louay Safi the FCNA when it completes its restructuring will be supported by ISNA so that they can have an office and one staff person to help with scheduling, website updates, maintaining correspondence, etc.)
Q: How are members selected?
A: Qualified individuals may be nominated by community members or by a member of the FCNA. Once an individual is nominated, then it will be discussed by the FCNA and at least three members must endorse the individual for membership
Q: What are the qualifications required.
A: All members of the FCNA must be proficient in both Quranic Arabic and English. They must have a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies or the equivalent from an Islamic Institution specializing in Sharia or Fiqh.
Q: Is there an effort to include all madhabs?
A: yes, we attempt to include all madhabs, and are open to increasing our membership.
Q: Which madhabs are represented?
A: At this time we have all 4 Sunni madhabs as well as the Shia Jafari madhab represented on the Fiqh Council. The FCNA currently has among its 18 members, 3 African Americans, 2 women, 3 African-Americans, and 1 Shia scholar.
Q: When do you meet?
A: We currently meet in May at the ISNA Central Zone Regional Conference and in September at the annual ISNA conference. We attempt to meet at least two more times during the year.
Q: Why no website or mailing address? Unless someone happens to know one of the scholars they donҒt know where to send questions to be addressed.
A: Currently the FCNA is in the process of completely restructuring and reorganizing from scratch. We will be setting up an office at ISNA in Plainfield, Indiana, and a website for FCNA is currently being developed. I have to admit that we have not been as organized as we should have been, and we hope to address and correct that issue.
In the meantime if an individual or community has a question they may contact Shaikh M. Nur Abdullah, Fiqh Council of North America, c/o Islamic Society of North America, P.O. Box 38, Plainfield, IN 46168, USA
Q: Where are the FCNAs FatwaҒs published?
A: In the past when fatwas were requested of individual members or from the entire FCNA we prepared written fatwas, and a copy was kept in our files. We are planning to collect all of these and put them online on the FCNA website as soon as it is developed so that anyone may have access to existing fatwas.
Current Members of the Fiqh Council
1. Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
2. Dr. Abdul Hakim Jackson
3. Dr. Ahmad Shleibak
4. Dr. Akbar Muhammad
5. Dr. Deina Abdulkadir
6. Shaikh Hassan Qazwini
7. Dr. Ihsan Bagby
8. Dr. Jamal Badawi
9. Dr. Muhammad Adam Sheikh
10. Shaikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti
11. Shaikh Muhammad Nur Abdallah
12. Dr. Salah Soltan
13. Dr. Taha Jabir Alalwani
14. Shaikh Yahya Hindi
15. Shaikhah Zainab Alwani
16. Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah
17. Dr. Mukhtar Maghraoui
18. Dr. Nazih Hammad
Sheila Musaji is the editor of The American Muslim