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What is a “Fatwa”

Let us quote from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia:

A fatwa’’ (Arabic: فتوى) plural ‘fataawa’, is a legal pronouncement in Islam, issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue. Usually a fatwa is issued at the request of an individual or a judge to settle a question where fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence, is unclear. A scholar capable of issuing fatwas is known as a Mufti.

Until the Islam Comic Book has been translated into other languages, this AltaVista Babel Fish link will have to do!


Because Islam has no centralized priestly hierarchy, there is no uniform method to determine who can issue a valid fatwa and who cannot. Some Islamic scholars complain that too many people feel qualified to issue fatwas.

Different Islamic clerics can issue contradictory fatwas. The effect depends upon whether or not this takes place in a nation where Islamic law (sharia) is the basis of civil law.

In nations where Islamic law is the basis of civil law, fatwas by the national religious leadership are debated prior to being issued. Thus, they are rarely contradictory. If two fatwas were contradictory, the ruling bodies (combined civil and religious law) attempt to define a compromise interpretation that will eliminate the resulting ambiguity.

In nations where Islamic law is not the basis of law, Muslims often must face two contradictory fatwas. In such cases, the fatwa deriving from leadership of their religious tradition would be honored. For example, Sunni Muslims would favor a Sunni fatwa over a Shiite one.

The overwhelming majority of fatwas are on mundane matters (for examples see the archives linked below). Those declaring war or pronouncing death sentences are indeed representative of many issued fatwas, and the fact that they draw attention in English-language media is probably a good thing. Such fatwas have caught the attention of the western media and become widely renowned, especially among critics of Islam.

The best known of these was proclaimed in 1989 by the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, against Salman Rushdie‘s novel ’’The Satanic Verses’’. The argument related to an ostensibly blasphemous statement from an early biography of Prophet Muhammad, regarding incorporating pagan goddesses into Islam’s strongly monotheist structure. Khomeini died shortly after issuing the fatwa. In 1998 Iran stated that it is no longer pursuing Rushdie’s death; however the decree was again reversed in early 2005 by the present theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. See ’’Salman Rushdie’’ for details.

Fundamentalists in Bangladesh proclaimed a similar fatwa against Taslima Nasreen (which see for details) in 1993, against a series of newspaper columns in which she was critical of the treatment of women under Islam.

Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan, jointly with Ayman al-Zawahiri, proclaimed a fatwa in 1998 in the name of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, declaring, "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the holy mosque (in Mecca) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.'" For more information, see: Osama bin Laden Fatwa.


Spanish Muslims proclaimed a fatwa against Bin Laden in March of 2005 [1] (http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/03/11/madrid.anniversary/). They said that he had abandoned his religion and they urged other Muslims to make similar proclamations.

Well, if a Mufti in Spain can issue a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden, then our own Dr. Abdullah Aziz, with two earned doctorates in Islamic studies, can certainly issue a fatwa against all Muslims who reject the inspired teachings of Mohammed as recorded in the Qur'an and the Hadiths and as illustrated in the Islam Comic Book and as summarized here.

The Fatwa of Abdullah Aziz

Our fatwa is loosely based on the text of Osama Bin-Laden's own fatwa against the United States and thus the reader can be assured that it follows the proper form of Islamic jurisprudence.

Text of Fatwah Urging Conversion of Unbelieving Muslims

Published in Mecca in the Islam Comic Book on May 11, 2005

Statement signed by Abdullah Aziz, publisher of the Islam Comic Book in Mecca, Egypt, Persia, Palestine, and throughout the world.

A curse on Allah, who is alleged to have revealed the Quran, is alleged to control the clouds, is alleged to defeat truth, and is alleged to say in the QuranBut when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); and a curse be upon the Prophet Muhammad Bin-Abdallah, who said “I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but Allah is worshipped, Allah who put my livelihood under the shadow of my spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my orders.

In the light of the grave situation and the lack of belief in the teachings of the Prophet, we and you are obliged to discuss such events, and we should all agree on how to settle the matter. No true Muslim argues today about three facts that are known to all Muslims; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:

  1. First, the Quran is alleged to be the revealed word of Allah.

  2. Second, Mohammed is alleged to be Allah's Prophet.

  3. Third, if a Muslim refuses to believe the words of the Prophet as recorded in the Quran and in the Hadiths, he or she is to be treated as dar-al-Harb”—that is to say, as if he or she is a part of the world at war against Islam.

Any such individual must make his or her choice:

  1. Accept Islam as completely true, accepting without reservation all of the teachings of Mohammed as set forth in the Quran and Hadiths, including the revelations as illustrated in the Islam Comic Book, or

  2. Reject Islam and the teachings of Islam as completely false and face the consequences of such rejection.

On that basis, and in compliance with the orders of the One True God (and Who is not Allah, and Whose character and Words have already been declared through the People of the Book, and Whose Book most Muslims have never bothered to read for the truths that have already been revealed therein), we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims and unbelievers everywhere:


ou have broken God’s holy Law. You don’t think so? “I’m not so bad,” you tell yourself.

Really? Ask yourself some questions. Have you ever lied? Yes, you have. Have you ever stolen anything? Yes, you have.

Have you ever committed adultery? Yes, you have, because Jesus (God's Peace Is Upon Him) says that to even lust after a woman is the same as committing adultery. My friend, you have broken three out of ten. And by desiring her in the first place, you are coveting someone’s wife or daughter. That’s four.

Shall we try for five out of ten? Jesus says to hate someone is to commit the sin of murder in your heart. And that’s where sin starts. Let’s check the balance sheet. You have admitted that you are a lying, thieving, covetous, murdering, adulterer—and we’ve only looked at five of the ten.

Shall we go for six? By doing all these things, you have dishonored your father and mother. My friend, you’ve broken six out of ten. If you will be honest with yourself, you have broken all the others, too. And these are just a summary of God’s holy Law.

You’ve got a problem, my friend. And it’s a serious problem, because the penalty for breaking God’s Law is severe indeed. But it’s not just your problem. It’s my problem, too. In fact, it’s everybody’s problem. The penalty is death, and not just physical death. The penalty is eternal death, separation from God in a place that you really don’t want to go to.

But there’s some good news. In fact, it’s great news. That eternal penalty has already been paid. God Himself paid it and paved the road for our salvation through Jesus Christ.

The road to salvation through Jesus Christ is clearly presented in the New Testament. These Seven Principles of Salvation are set forth in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

  •  All people are born sinners. We are all unrighteous people.

As it is written, “Not even one person is righteous. No one understands. No one searches for God. All have turned away. Together they have become worthless.” —Romans 3:10-12

This means that no one is righteous before God and, in fact, no one is even searching for Him.

  •  All people sin. Our best efforts will never measure up.

… since all have sinned and continue to fall short of God’s glory. —Romans 3:23

This means that you have sinned. You have not earned, and do not deserve, eternal life. There are two things you need to know to be saved: First, you need to know that you are a sinner who has violated God’s laws. Second, you need to know that there is a terrible and eternal price for sin.

  •   The price of sin is death.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to everyone, because all have sinned. —Romans 5:12

Adam sinned and gave Satan a foothold in the world. By nature, we are all separated from God. We are all born in sin. We deserve death and hell.

  •   Jesus paid your debt by dying in your place.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 6:23

You have earned death, not eternal life. So Jesus, in effect, went to the “Bank of Heaven” and paid your debt for you. Jesus paid the price for you to obtain salvation and eternal life. You cannot earn this payment. Eternal life must be accepted as a gift from God.

  •  Christ died in your place, paying your price, and suffering so that you would not have to suffer eternally.

But God demonstrates his love for us by the fact that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. — Romans 5:8

Due to unconditional love, Christ died in your place, paying a debt He did not owe. We all have an unpaid debt of sin that Christ is willing to pay for us. How do we get our debts paid by Christ? If you accept His payment of your debt by receiving Him as your Lord and Savior, He will make you His child and take you to heaven when you die.

  •   His invitation is open to anyone… even you.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Romans 10:13

The word “everyone” includes you. How do you “call on the name of the Lord” to be saved?

  •  You must confess your sin, declare His Lordship, and believe in your heart that God raised Christ from the dead.

…if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For a person believes with his heart and is justified, and a person declares with his mouth and is saved. — Romans 10:9-10

The Bible promises us that God forgives our sin when we accept the work that Christ did for us when He died on Calvary. You can do this by praying this short, simple prayer:

“Lord, Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I need you. I know that you paid the price for my sins by dying on the cross. I ask that you forgive my sins; and I receive you as my Savior and Lord. I thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.”

Look to God’s Word for encouragement as you begin your new life in Christ. Remember these simple truths from God’s Word:

If we make it our habit to confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us those sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. —Romans 8:16

For by such grace you have been saved through faith. This does not come from you; it is the gift of God and not the result of works, lest anyone boast. —Ephesians 2:8

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us. —Romans 8:18

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. —1 John 5:13

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new! All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ… —2 Corinthians 5:17-18a

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Between Christ and Mohammed by
Dr. Gleason Archer,
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Dr. William Welty. 

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If you have questions or comments about this web site, or if you wish to contact Abdullah Aziz, send email to them here: Contact Us. The Islam Comic Book is copyright © 2012 Abdullah Aziz. Last modified: 02/19/12.