Since I'm unable to read Arabic, I only inspect English-language fatawa. I'm wondering if this biases the fatawa I access. It seems reasonable to speculate that scholars who write fatawa in Arabic might be more traditional, and have less "progressive" views, than English-language authors.

Question: Are English-language fatawa biased differently to Arabic-language fatawa?

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    I think that on some fatwa sites such as islamqa and islamweb the english text is just a translation made by a translater not a mufti based on the original fatwa. Once the site is in an english speaking country it could be an original fatwa.
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 15, 2017 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


Now that I'm back a bit longer "answer" ;). I guess by biased you mean adapted to circumstances of Muslims living in a non-Muslim country.

My answer is based on my experience as a Muslim living in Germany, so whether you count it as a satisfactory answer or not is up to you :)

I think that on some fatwa sites such as islamqa and islamweb the English versions of fatwas are no more than a translation made by a Translator not a mufti based on the original fatwa which was given or dictated by a scholar (mufti).

About 10 years ago a couple of known scholars such as al-Bouty (may Allah have mercy with him) al-Jafri, ibn Hamza مصطفى بن حمزة and others during a "congress" in Frankfurt have invited and called Muslims in Germany to let some of them take classes and training (by scholars they would suggest) to become muftis and scholars as there is a necessity of such scholars for Muslims who live as a minority in non-Muslim countries to have their own scholars who are able to do ijtihad in matters related to Muslims in such a situation. So the fiqh in non-Muslim countries should be adapted to the local situation. The idea was to train students who are aware of the situation in their local communities to become able for ifta' (giving fatwa).
Why? Most so called scholars who live in these countries are self-made scholars, or scholars indoctrinated by Saudi-Arabia or functionaries of the Turkish ministry of Religious matters (DITIB) so most of them are giving fatwa based on their doctrine not even thinking of the local circumstances. Of course there are counter-examples as some of the al-Azhar Students/Scholars, but most of the Imams in Germany who are neither legates of the Turkish Ministry (in DITIB mosques) or followers of the (inner Turkish opposition) like Milli Görüs or ATIB and a few other rather national Groups (Macedonian, Bosnian, Albanian etc.) are self-made scholars and Imams who are mostly following the salafi doctrine. I can't say much about non sunni-mosques, as the only shi'a mosque i ever visited is in Hamburg at a time I was too young to recall.

I don't know to what extent the situation is better elsewhere, but as far as I've experienced the European Fatwa council is giving somewhat biased and adapted fatwas. I'll assume that this would be the case for other fatwa councils for other Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries around the world.

So basically you must be aware that most of the scholars in non-Muslim countries will either follow in their fatwas their given doctrine (school of fiqh etc.) or their hawa and nafs unless they are part of one of the fatwa councils (in fact there's a council of German Imams, but I don't see the declared fatwas of this council applied in most of the mosques I've visited so far, this needs a lot of elaboration with the help of an active community as we need here on the site too).

I've posted some of these fatwas before in some of my answers:
Ramadan: is there a solution to long summer days?
How are praying times handled in countries with a long day light?
What to do after converting to Islam while happily married to a non-Muslim husband?

So I can't say whether English fatwas are biased differently, as i have only found a few of these fatwas translated so far. But on the whole in most cases the English text would be a (more or less good/accurate) translation of a former Arabic fatwa!

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    Danke. (: Judging from your answer, it looks as if language per se would determine bias in fatawa; it's probably insignificant compared to the mufti's experiences. [And, as far as I know, answers based on experience are acceptable (Constructive subjective questions: ... invite sharing experiences over opinions).] Jan 16, 2017 at 10:36
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    In Germany 90% of all Muftis either speak Arabic or Turkish even if German has become more important due to the actual development in politics and the negative view about Muslims in the society ... Basically Imams are asked to perform the Friday sermon in German or at least translate it ...
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:41
  • "council of German Imams" - do you mean the Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland? I'm not aware of a body of scholars like that in Germany, would be interesting.
    – G. Bach
    Jan 16, 2017 at 12:40
  • @G.Bach nope de.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 16, 2017 at 12:42
  • @G.Bach Zentralrat only came back to life due to the Islamkonferenz :S and by this Muslims communities fell back from a progressive work of over 10 years which was about to be achieved :(
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 16, 2017 at 15:02

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