x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Muftis urge Islamic 'middle way'

Panel discussion hears not only of shunning extremism, but also of staying true to Islamic principles.

ABU DHABI // Islamic authorities yesterday called on influential elements of society to present the flexible "middle way" of Islam through their work. At a panel discussion with representatives from the police, media, universities and experts on women's issues, Dr Farouq Hamada, senior adviser to the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said: "A culture of the 'middle way' in Islam tells Muslims and non-Muslims that Islam is suitable for all."

The emphasis on the "middle way of Islam" has long been official policy at the authority, which emphasises the capacity for Islamic teachings to reflect the reality of the time and place in which a Muslim lives. It issues 1,000 fatwas a day within the teachings of what it calls a moderate approach to interpreting Islamic law. Dr Hamada cited examples of flexibility dating back to the time of the Prophet. A Muslim who cannot find water for ablution can use sand, and one who is unable to stand to pray may stay seated.

But while the "middle way" meant avoiding a fundamentalist interpretation, it also meant shunning the other extreme. "The middle way does not mean renouncing Islamic principles." Dr Ahmed al Mousa, also a scholar and mufti, said that apart from the daily fatwas, other players in society could convey these principles through their work. "We ask the media and entertainment business to inject the 'middle way' into their programming," he said. "The media can reach all elements of society because it's both entertaining and influential."

Many Arab countries used this approach. The Syrian government, for example, funds popular drama series that broach culturally sensitive topics such as domestic violence and Aids. Dr al Mousa suggested dramas about issues arising from women's liberation and the changing structure of the family. relass@thenational.ae