Final fatwa is from the King, asserts Crown Prince

March 03, 2022

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH – Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that the King has the authority to issue the final fatwa (religious edict).

Speaking to the US magazine “The Atlantic,” he noted that in Islamic law, the head of the Islamic establishment is wali al-amr, the ruler. So the final ruling is not for the mufti as the mufti and the Fatwa Board are like advisers to the King, to give him what they advise. But in Islamic teachings, the ruler, has the final fatwa, has the bay'a (allegiance). The final word is for the King of Saudi Arabia.

They know that they can argue – you have to argue, you have to explain yourself, you have to use evidence, based on Islamic jurisprudence, based in the Prophet's time, based in the Caliph’s' time, you have to look into the Holy Qur’an you have to argue Hadith (Tradition of the Prophet), until you make your point. And then you have to make sure the people are ready for it and believe in it. And then the King makes that decision. But just if you use the power as a King and make the decision, without going through the whole process, this could create a shock in the street and shock to the people.

Replying to a question about the role of muftis, the Crown Prince explained that mufti’s job is to answer the people who ask day-to-day questions, questions of daily interest. So for example, if someone ate in Ramadan and he wants to know what he should do, did he sin or not, and then he wants to call someone to give him an answer to that, that should be regulated. So no one can just say, "I know how to do it" and can answer his question. it has to be regulated. You have to have certificates from the government. So the ifta' board and all the people working in that area, that's their goal: to answer the people’s questions about their needs.

Foreigners are free to practice their faith

The Crown Prince noted that in Islam, some things are forbidden for Muslims and God specified a punishment for it, and some other things God didn’t specify a punishment—that means the judgment is between people and God. But if you are foreign, Islamic teachings cannot be applied to you. So if you are a foreign person who's living or traveling in Saudi Arabia, you have all the right to do whatever you want, based on your beliefs, regardless of what they are as long as they are in line with the country’s laws. That's what happened in the Prophet's time and the period of the four Rightly Guided caliphs. They didn't apply social rules to non-Muslims, regardless of whether they are citizens, or just traveling in their country.

No penalty without a law

Referring to the flexibility in application of stringent penalties, including capital punishment, the Crown Prince stated that Saudi Arabia got rid of the death penalty except for one category, and this one is written in the Qur’an. We cannot do anything about it, even if we wished to do something, because it is clear teaching in the Qur’an . If someone killed someone, another person, the family of that person has the right, after going to the court, to apply capital punishment, unless they forgive him. Or if someone threatens the life of many people, that means he has to be punished by the death penalty. That's a teaching in the Qur’an. Regardless if I like it or not, I don't have the power to change it.

We are doing that. So if you have time, we can take you to all governorates, and if you go to the headquarters, there is a department just working on that issue. And if there is a death penalty, it's not carried out right away. It would be carried out after six months or even one year, to give time to the family of the victim to cool down, to stop and think. And a high percentage of executions are canceled based on these kinds of settlements. So we are doing our best in that area. But we are going to do more about that. The flogging penalty—that's being cancelled totally in Saudi Arabia.

There's nothing. It's been canceled one hundred percent. The only issue that we’re working on you're trying to close is to be sure that there is no penalty without a law. And we are working with that. So there are a few penalties that are up to the discretion of the judge. And now we are trying to be sure that there is no penalty in Saudi Arabia without a law. We're talking about that and trying to stop that in the next two to three years.

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