Organised by Gombe State University in collaboration with the Da’wah Institute of Nigeria
(DIN), Islamic Education Trust, Minna, held on 29th August 2016 – 2nd September 2016 at
the Gombe State University, Tudunwada, Gombe.

1. Introduction

This Shari’ah Intelligence workshop was jointly organised by the Department of Islamic
Studies, Gombe State University and the Da’wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN), Islamic Education
Trust, Minna. This is with the central aim of helping Da’wah practitioners, Muslim activists,
teachers and students gain a better understanding of the traditional sciences of Usul al-Figh
(Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence) and Maqasid al-Shari’ah (Higher Objectives of the
Islamic Path).

The 5-day programme started on the 29th August 2016 and ended on the 2nd
September 2016.

The specific objectives of the workshop were to:

 Introduce Muslim activists, students, academics and those involved in da’wah to the classical
methodologies of juristic reasoning and the formulation of fatwas.

 Enable participants understand why scholars differ in the verdicts.

 Assist those new to Islamic jurisprudence understand the nuanced language and
terminologies used by scholars, and how to be more precise in articulating their questions
for the consideration of scholars, and in critiquing of the arguments and answers given.

 Explain how scholars reconcile their opinions with the higher purposes and intents of

 Empower participants with knowledge of what actions may be taken when scholars differ on
a particular issue.

 Help participants understand why Muslims should have greater respect for diversity of
opinions and multiple approaches to derivation of verdicts from texts.

The workshop was attended by 63 participants from different states across the Federation.
Workshop facilitators and resource persons were drawn from the Da’wah Institute of
Nigeria, the Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society (NASFAT), the Gombe State University, the
Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Bayero University Kano, among others centres of

The workshop was declared open by the Vice Chancellor, Gombe State University,
Professor Umar Ibrahim Musa while the keynote address was delivered by Brother
Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu, Director, Research and Training, Da’wah Institute of Nigeria, ?Islamic Education Trust, Minna.

The welcome address was given by Dr Rasheed Abdulganiy,
the Head, Department of Religious Studies, Gombe State University, Gombe.

The workshop activities were largely conducted in the form of panel discussions, cohort
group discussions and individual presentations. The first day of the workshop was dedicated
for individual presentations to provide an overview of the course.

The presentations
covered a wide spectrum of issues and themes on Usul al-Figh and Maqasid Shari’ah. These
presentations set the tone for subsequent panels and group discussions in the days that
followed which allowed for an in-depth exploration of the course material and cross?fertilisation of ideas in an interactive relaxed and friendly environment.

2. Observations

At the end of 4 days of intense intellectual discussions, lectures, debates and engagements
with hundreds of study questions, the following observations were made:

i. That there is a widespread lack of basic knowledge of the Shari’ah and its essence
in the country.

This underscores the importance of regular training and capacity
building workshops for religious activists, Da’wah practitioners, academics and
religious leaders.

ii. This widespread ignorance of the Principles and Objectives of Islamic
Jurisprudence makes it difficult for members of the public to differentiate
between well constructed and well grounded fatwas, and those that have been
issued by incompetent or non-specialist scholars.

iii. There is a disconnect between Islamic scholars, on the one hand and other
Muslim intellectuals and opinion leaders, on the other hand. This disconnect
needs to be bridged for the Ummah to forge ahead and effectively come to
terms with the challenges of modernity.

iv. Many Nigerian Islamic scholars are not flexible enough in terms of adherence to
schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and this is affecting their ability to fully grasp
the essence of Shari’ah, especially in changing circumstances.

v. At the core of Shari’ah is maslaha – promotion and preservation of the common
good and benefit, and avoidance and prevention of mafsadah – harm. Thus, all rulings must meet the criterion of aiming to achieve these primary objectives.

vi. Disagreements and differences in understanding and interpretation of
injunctions, especially from secondary sources, are both inevitable and normal.

However, there are well established ethical principles and guidelines for
managing such disagreements and differences. A better understanding of these
ethical principles is crucial to achieving the overriding objectives of the Shari’ah.

vii. Failure to effectively handle or manage such differences is blamed for the
widespread distrust and disunity within the Ummah.

viii. Because of the rapid changes that characterised contemporary societies, there is
the need for regular fatwas on emerging issues from the existing Fatwa Councils? in Nigeria. There is a near consensus among participants that the Fatwah
Councils can be strengthened and improved to become more vibrant and impactful. This will go a long way in providing Nigerian Muslims with unified
positions on issues, thereby preventing possible manipulation and
misinterpretation of religious injunctions by some scholars to advance sectarian
and personal interests.

ix. The process of extracting laws from the sources is gradual and needs extra care,
caution and sensitivity to the potential consequences fatwas on individuals and
the community.

x. Discussions have revealed that there is little emphasis within Islamic groups and among leaders of faith on the need for Muftis and other scholars to understand
local contexts and social situations before issuing fatwas on contentious issues.

xi. Failure of scholars to understand the historical, social and environmental contexts that informed particular fatwas by scholars in other countries is partly responsible for the chaos resulting from attempts by some Muslims to import
and apply fatwas to present issues.

xii. Thus, in addition to general knowledge of religious sources and social situations,
a very high level of specialisation and expertise in specific issues is required
before an individual scholar considers himself competent and qualified enough
to issue fatwas on specific issues.

3. Recommendations

i. Training workshops on Shari’ah Intelligence should be expanded and extended to religious teachers and practitioners at the grassroots using both Arabic and local languages.

In particular, future training workshops on Shari’ah intelligence should
seek to attract secondary school teachers, Qur’anic school teachers, members of
Islamic organisations of all denominations, legal practitioners, legislators and so on.

ii. Institutions of higher learning, research institutions, government agencies and
religious organisations are called upon to provide sponsorship to these kinds of training workshops, as the Gombe State University has done.

iii. Religious activists, da’wah practitioners and leaders are urged to be cautious, careful
and sensitive to local contexts when issuing fatwas on emerging issues, particularly regarding declarations of haram or wajib/fard.
The overarching goal of the Maqasid
al-Shari’ah of providing benefit and preventing harm should always be taken into
account when extracting laws from sources and issuing fatwas.

iv. Actions should be expedited towards ensuring that the disconnect between the laity
and the scholars and experts is bridged.

v. More needs to be done towards promoting understanding and cooperation between ?religious activist and the general public.

vi. Islamic activists and scholars should strive to benefit from the expertise of other
professionals and specialists. This can be achieved through active collaboration and

vii. The existing Fatwah Councils in Nigeria should be reinvigorated and empowered to meet the increasing demand for fatwas and universally accepted positions on emerging religious an?d social issues.

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