Fiqh Council of North America

The Fiqh Council of North America (originally known as ISNA Fiqh Committee) is an association of Muslims who interpret Islamic law on the North American continent. The FCNA was founded in 1986 with the goal of developing legal methodologies for adopting Islamic law to life in the West.[1][2]

According to its website, the Fiqh Council traces its origins back to the Religious Affairs Committee of the then Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada established in the 1960s.[3] In 1980, after the founding of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Religious Affairs Committee evolved into the Fiqh Committee of the Islamic Society of North America, and was eventually transformed into the Fiqh Council of North America in 1986.[3]

Its 18 members issue religious rulings, resolve disputes, and answer questions relating to the Islamic faith. As outlined in its by-laws, the Council's primary objectives include: "To consider, from a Shari'ah perspective, and offer advice on specific undertakings, transactions, contracts, projects, or proposals, guaranteeing thereby that the dealings of North American Muslims fall within the parameters of what is permitted by the Shari'ah." The Council's opinions are not binding.[4]


  • Terrorism: In July 2005, the Council issued a fatwa stating that all forms of terrorism against civilians are haram (forbidden under Islamic law), that it is forbidden for Muslims to cooperate with anyone involved in terrorism, and that it is a duty of all Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement to protect civilian lives.[5]
  • Divorce: No Muslim marriage can be terminated except through the court system of the state in which the Muslim is resident.[6]
  • Capital Punishment: The Council has issued a fatwa calling for a moratorium on capital punishment in the United States, based on the fact that several of the presupposed requirements for the carrying out of the law, according to Sharia, are not being met in most cases.[7]
  • Apostasy: The Council issued a fatwa which declared that apostasy could not, on its own, be the grounds for any fixed punishment, especially capital punishment. The fatwa states: "The preponderance of evidence from both the Qur’an and Sunnah indicates that there is no firm ground for the claim that apostasy is in itself a mandatory fixed punishment [Hadd], namely capital punishment"[8]


Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, a University of California law professor, said in 2001 that the Council lacked authority among Muslims in the US, in part because it was known for analyzing Islamic law for the American military and media and other non-Muslim organizations rather than responding to the needs of Muslims. Then chairman of the council, Dr. Taha Jabir Alalwani, agreed to some extent about these criticisms saying that the Council had a limited budget and thus could not tackle all the kinds of problems faced by American Muslims.[4]

Executive Committee and members[edit]

Executive Committee:[3]


Once affiliated to the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood (1973-1977), Mohammed Adam El-Sheikh was a founding member of the Muslim American Society (MAS), which, in his words, was started by ex-Muslim Brotherhood members who felt that "we should cut relations with the [Brotherhood] abroad and regard ourselves as Americans...[who] don't receive an order from any organization abroad".[9] As of 2004, El-Sheikh was serving as the imam of Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, the same Mosque where Anwar al-Awlaki was once an imam. El-Sheikh stated that the mosque's sermons never promote terrorism, and that suicide bombings are never legitimate.[10] Jamal Badawi was mentioned among the unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development trial, the largest case of terror financing trial in U.S. history.[11]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Hendrickson, Jocelyn (2009). "Law. Minority Jurisprudence". In John L. Esposito (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Dallal, Ahmad S.; Hendrickson, Jocelyn (2009). "Fatwā. Modern usage". In John L. Esposito (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ a b c d "History of the Fiqh Council | Fiqh Council Of North America". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  4. ^ a b Glaberson, William (October 21, 2001). "Interpreting Islamic Law for American Muslims". Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  5. ^ Heard on All Things Considered (July 28, 2005). "U.S. Muslim Scholars Issue Edict Against Terrorism". NPR. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Muslims on the Americanization Path? Oxford University Press, 2000. p. 76
  7. ^ "General Fiqh Issues Articles". June 14, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Is Apostasy a Capital Crime in Islam?". Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans (". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  10. ^ "Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans (". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  11. ^ List of Unindicted Co-conspirators and/or Joint Venturers, Attachment A, United States of America v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development et al.