On the auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI) joins fellow Muslims all over the world in sending our best wishes to Muslims in the United Kingdom and around the globe. Whichever day you celebrate, may Allah bring happiness and joy into your homes and hearts.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique occasion that provides us with a golden opportunity to renew our spiritual lives and engage in soul searching to improve our character and our absolute faith in Allah. It is also a unique opportunity to strengthen our unity, brotherhood and sisterhood.
While we enjoy the celebratory delights of this great occasion, we must not forget our brothers and sisters who are suffering across the world. Our sincere prayers of love, compassion and mercy are with them. And we pray Allah showers them with His infinite mercy.
We wish the entire Muslim ummah guidance and divine protection. May He turn our efforts, expectations and prayers into reality.
The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI)
In the Name of Allah, Merciful to all, Compassionate to each!
As mentioned in our earlier post, we present the Zakatpedia platform. An independent, diverse scholarly led initiative to educate the global Muslim community about Zakat and asses and verify Zakat institutions and programmes.
This is the first phase of the project. The Zakat Standards are laid out clearly on the website – this will be improved and refined in the next few months, Insha’Allah. The Zakat Assessment & Verification Tool (ZAVT) is based on the Zakat Standards, which the Zakat Assessor will use to verify Zakat institutions.
There will be regional Zakat Councils across the (at least western world) world led by Zakat experts and scholars. We have started with the first phase in the UK.
We pray this platform becomes a source of trust and gives confidence to Zakat payers that independent scholarly boards are facilitating their Zakat needs.
Please visit the Zakatpedia website: zakatpedia.org
If you see anything that needs improving or any mistakes, please do not hesitate to let us know.
The Global Imams & Scholars’ Charter
Seven of the world’s leading scholars and imams councils and boards have developed a historic charter for Western imams and scholars.
The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI), Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), European Council of Imams, Canadian Council of Imams (CCI), North American Imams Federation (NAIF), United Ulama Council of South Africa, and Ulama Council of New Zealand have come together to collaborate on mutually beneficial work.
The Global Imams and Scholars Network aims to share knowledge and promote traditional and orthodox principles and the message of Islam and preserve the Islamic identity for Muslims living in the west.
The Global and Imams & Scholars’ Charter are general principles the network seeks to inculcate within their work and encourage other imams and scholars to adopt.
Download the PDF: Global Imams & Scholars Charter
Zakat is one of the five core aspects of Islam, and as a ritual act of worship, it has set conditions and criteria detailing Zakat assets, the amount, and the recipients of Zakat. There are some legitimate differences among the classical madhāhib, but there is a broad agreement on the definitions. We witness throughout the UK two methods of discharging Zakat; either the individual conducts this independently by investigating to determine the individual’s eligibility (masārif al-zakāh – eligible recipients of Zakat), or they delegate this act by deputising a registered charity or non-profit organisation. The registered charity (now termed Zakat Institution) then ensures the eligible recipients receive the Zakat.
The only direct legal/review body overseeing the work of charities is the Charity Commission. The Charity Commission’s legal responsibility is to ensure that the money charities collect is sourced, managed and expended appropriately and with due care. While this provides strong and clear regulation for some Zakat institutions (not all are registered, and some are companies), it is beyond the remit of the Charity Commission to determine the religious eligibility or processes used for Zakat by Zakat Institutions.
Moreover, the standard informal Zakat processes can be crippled by the conflict of interest among Zakat scholars and Zakat institutions.
With these issues and the growing demands of the British Muslim community for Zakat to be discharged in a valid and responsible manner, the need for Zakat Standards and Assessment and Verification tools have been developed. BBSI recognises this pressing need, and its UK Zakat Council project would facilitate the independent assessment and verification of how zakat money is sourced, managed and expended by Zakat Institutions.
The BBSI, given its diverse and ecumenical nature, recognises the importance of such an endeavour and how much the Muslim places trust in the charity sector and the religious scholarly field. It is with these sentiments we have the UK Zakat Council.
We have developed a dedicated website called ‘ZakatPedia’ where you, the donor and zakat payer can learn about Zakat and pay according to the shari’ah to your charity. The website hosts the most comprehensive Zakat Standards, which the Zakat Assessment and Verification Tool (ZAVT) is based on and from which the Zakat Assessor will assess and verify zakat projects, Insha’Allah.
The website will be launched hopefully within Ramadan 1443, Insha’Allah, and we will be working to make it fully functional in the coming months. Our work will start and continue throughout the year, Insha’Allah.
We ask you for your support and duas.
The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI): Welcoming the Month of Ramadan 1443/2022
In the Name of Allah, Merciful to all, Compassionate to each!
All praise belongs to Allah, and may His peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
The British Board of Scholars and Imams (BBSI) would like to extend its congratulation to the British Muslim community in the UK and the Muslim Ummah worldwide for the commencement of the special month of Ramadan 1443. Whichever day the communities begin the blessed month of Ramadan, it asks Allah almighty to help us please Him and get closer to Him.
Fasting in the Month of Ramadan (the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar) is the third pillar of practice of Islam. It is the direct order from Allah in the Qur’an to all Muslims who are able to fast that they must fast this month. ‘O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been upon those who came before you, so that you may be God-conscious’ (Q, 2:183). Ramadan is the month of discipline and self-restraint, patience, noble character, worship and spirituality, awareness of Allah, and a heightened sense of community. These are traits that Ramadan helps us develop if Ramadan is lived the way it ought to be. As such, observing Ramadan can be a transformative act of worship, fulfilling part of the greater purpose of our creation: to come to know – and through knowing, lovingly surrender – to God. The special nature of the month of Ramadan is not simply in that Muslims fast together worldwide and fulfil one of their religious duties. It is a month in which they recharge their spiritual batteries, drawing closer to Allah spiritually; a month in which good deeds are multiplied, and a month of mercy, generosity and guidance. This is the case even if one is not able to observe one or more of the common acts of worship, such as fasting, tarawih or charity. The month has a blessedness in and of itself, which the acts of worship only enhance. Fasting begins each day at dawn, when the Fajr prayer time begins, and continues until the end of sunset, which is the commencement time of the Maghrib prayer. As such, governed by the natural cycles of the seasons, the day of fasting is longer when Ramadan occurs in the summer and shorter in the winter. During the time of fasting, food, drink, and sexual intercourse cause the fast to become invalid; if perpetrated deliberately, they are considered sinful, though not if done accidentally. If any of these acts are done in a state of forgetfulness, they do not invalidate the fast.
The nights of Ramadan are to be spent in (optional) prayer and contemplation, particularly the tarawih, which is traditionally performed in mosques and during which the entire Quran is recited to the congregation over the course of the month. This is a unique religious practice that many Muslims look forward to, and is usually the responsibility of those few honoured members of the community who have made the tremendous effort to memorise the entire scripture.
It is important for Muslims to hold themselves to a higher standard of moral conduct during this period, and so especially avoid acts of disobedience to Allah, vain conversation, and disputes during this month, so that the objective of Ramadan can be attained. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘He who does not leave false speech, acting upon it, and ignorant, boorish behaviour, then Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink.’ (Bukhari) It is from the mercy of God upon us that the Qur’an explicitly decrees an exemption from fasting for those who are travelling or ill. Included in those who are ill are all those who are likely to be harmed or reasonably fear being harmed, by fasting. After making mention of these exemptions, the Qur’an says, ‘Allah wants ease for you and does not want hardship for you’ (Q, 2:185).
General Counsel on Covid-19 Restrictions:
By the Grace, benevolence and Mercy of Allah, most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, and the British public is coming back to some sense of pre-covid normality. Though we are getting back to normality slowly, there are still cases of COVID-19, so we should try our best to take any precautions to protect ourselves and others.
- We should try and wear masks in enclosed spaces, particularly for medically vulnerable ones.
- We should try and ensure that mosques and indoor settings are appropriately ventilated.
- If you show symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, isolate as per medical recommendations.
- Please see our guidance on ’10 things Imams get Asked about Vaccines for vaccinations.
General Counsel on Moonsighting Issues:
For those who wish to read detailed guidance on this issue, please see our moonsighting guidance published on the website.
We would strongly counsel the general Muslim to remember and act upon the following principles in their daily practice:
1. It is a communal obligation (fard kifaya) to accurately determine the prayer times and the start and end times of the fast, as well as the commencement of Islamic months. If some members of the community have fulfilled the responsibility; it is lifted from the remainder.
2. Furthermore, such determinations are a matter of public order (min al-umur al-intizamiyya) – that is, they are not meant to be carried out
by just anyone. Instead, in the traditional Muslim world, fulfilling this particular duty would be the role of a government department or authorized working group.
For those living as minorities in non-Muslim lands, the responsibility devolves onto the community as a whole, which in turn appoints figures of authority, such as the ulama and mosque committees, to fulfil the task on their behalf.
In either case, it is imperative to act in consultation with those qualified for the task (ashab al-ahliyya) – in this case, legal and scientific experts.
3. By the Grace of Allah, this fard kifaya has already been performed by a number of scholars over the decades in the UK. Their differing results are likely a function of the sighting difficulties and differing legal positions noted earlier on.
4. Most importantly, it should be noted that senior, qualified scholars have given fatwa on the differing positions – that is, the ‘18° calendar’ and the so-called ‘observation calendar’ have both been approved by different groups of ulama.
a. In accordance with the well-known legal principle, in the absence of a judge (qadi) to rule decisively or a clear preponderance of opinion in a school, the lay Muslim may follow either of the two positions without fear of their prayers or fasts being invalid. By doing so, they have fulfilled their personal responsibility to Allah.
b. Thus, until the matter is clarified further, one may assume that the calendars generally found in local mosques can be used without fear.
c. The possible incorrectness of those calendars does not affect the validity of fasts or prayers, as the responsibility of the general Muslim is to follow qualified scholarship.
5. Finally, it is imperative that we avoid sowing doubt in people’s minds about the validity of their fasts and prayers. This is a matter of genuine scholarly debate and ongoing discussion – there is much work that still needs to be done. Therefore, we would urge everybody to remember that there should be no condemnation about matters genuinely differed upon in the religion.
May Allah provision our minds with clear understanding, our bodies with willing and joyful submission, and our hearts with a unity that comes from love and mutual respect, despite our differences.
‘Oh Allah, let us see the truth as true and follow it, and let us see falsehood as false, and avoid it.
This is a public service message by The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI)
For many years, Muslim students have been negatively affected by the current student loan system. There are various views and opinions regarding taking out a ‘student loan’ from the Islamic perspective, ranging from being impermissible and permissible based on necessity. This sometimes affects the psychology and mental health of students who do not know what to do.
The British Board of Imams and Scholars (BBSI), a national ecumenical board of religious scholars and Islamically literate academics, organised a symposium to explore and discuss the various approaches and views on this issue. It commissioned an internal survey with imams and scholars and a public student survey by Muslim Census that generated around 36,000 responses.
The symposia have proved to be an excellent tool for the professional and academic development of the imams, Muslim scholars and academics. At the same time, this was the first symposium after the lockdown that brought the Muslim scholarly circle of diverse doctrinal persuasions within the Sunni school to discuss a pressing issue concerning Student Loans.
This symposium on the Student Loans was “exceptional,” as Sheikh AbdalHaqq Bewley, Chair, The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI), observed. It was so because of the interest and intellectual appeal it generated. It was also because of being interactive, diverse, allowing different opinions to be shared by the participants, expertly-led with the scholars’ ability to answer the questions head-on and academically.
Diverse scholarly views by those giving the presentation were put on the table, allowing the participants to weigh the arguments. There were occasional interjections and quizzing, which gave the event a broader outlook.
Umer Suliman, General Manager, Wahed Invest, who co-sponsored the symposium, said:
‘It was amazing to attend the session on student loans convened by BBSI that deconstructed from an Islamic, legal and practical perspective the student loan proposition and how it impacts the different communities they serve.’
Sheikha Selina Begum Ali, Chair, Gift of Knowledge, the other co-sponsor of the symposium, said:
‘Gift of Knowledge’s aim and vision is to support imams and scholars on their journey of spiritual, intellectual and academic development. It was our pleasure to support this unique symposium by the BBSI to tackle the important issue of student loans and the Islamic perspectives. We pray this brings some comfort and solace to the Muslim students.’
The BBSI will be publishing its findings and recommendations soon.
The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and religiously learned academics formed to facilitate scholarly intra-Muslim research and dialogue and to provide authoritative ethico-theological guidance and leadership on matters relevant to Muslims whilst promoting wider community welfare. Through the academic symposiums, the BBSI will provide the opportunity for intellectual and practical problems and their solutions to be explored with the full resources available from within the Islamic and academic traditions.
Our diverse body of scholars believes that a new approach is needed to address the unprecedented challenges that face our community. This new approach needs to be deeply informed by Islamic theology, metaphysics, spirituality, ethics and our scholarly inheritance. Simultaneously, it must be receptive to multi-disciplinary academic and professional knowledge. Based upon this, this approach cannot be provided by one body or confessional group. Rather, a broad base of ulama, academics and experts are needed.
More details: BBSI-CallForPapers