Edited by Özlem Sandıkcı and Gillian Rice
Chapter 3: Fatwa Rulings in Islam: A Malaysian Perspective on their Role in Muslim Consumer Behaviour
Nazlida Muhamad INTRODUCTION For many, the word fatwa is synonymous with the infamous death penalty sentence declared by Ayatollah Khomeini for Salman Rushdie in 1989. For others, a fatwa permits Muslims to use suicide bombing in Middle East conflicts. In reality, fatwa rulings play a larger role than permitting the death penalty in the Muslim community. In the modern world, fatwa rulings guide and shape Muslim consumers’ marketplace behaviours. The Muslim market is a large and growing religious segment whose behaviour tends to be significantly influenced by Islamic rulings. Recently, there has been evidence of a religious awakening and greater conservatism in the Muslim world (Bokhari, 2007; Hague and Masuan, 2002; Pereira, 2005; Perlez, 2007). A recent survey reported that the majority of Muslims identify themselves as Muslims first, rather than as belonging to a particular nationality (for example Malay or Malaysian, British or English) (Anonymous, 2006; Yusof, 2009). Frustrated with problems of the modern world, such as materialism, many Muslims report seeing Islamic teachings as a solution to modern social problems (Aziz and Shamsul, 2004). This highlights the huge potential influence of fatwa rulings on Muslim consumers. A fatwa declaration is a mechanism that allows new rulings to be introduced into sharia law. It is a product of Islamic scholars’ (ulama) interpretation and adaptation of Qur’anic verses and hadith on contemporary issues, rather than explicit doctrine from the Qur’an or hadith (Wiechman, et al. 1996). A fatwa declaration is a dynamic ruling mechanism in sharia law that makes it...
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