It is a good thing that it is not April 1st because this would an obvious April Fool’s joke. Then again most of the fatwas coming out of Saudi Arabia seem like jokes to most people living in the 21st Century. Saudi cleric Saleh al-Fawzan has issued fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets in Saudi Arabia — declaring that the popular lunch establishments will now be viewed as unlawful under Sharia law. You might want to get Sharia defense counsel before going to that Smörgåsbord in Jetta.
It appears that many Muslims missed the buffet chapter in the Koran but there must have been a scene of Mohammed walking into an all-you-can-eat tend and being appalled.
Fawzan says that the value and quantity of the food is clearly unIslamic so “Whoever enters the buffet and eats for 10 or 50 riyals without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia (Islamic) law.”
It is not clear if you have your tongue cut off or you will be simply flogged by undercooked pasta under Sharia justice.
What confuses me is the specific elements of the Sharia offense. If I go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant, but do not eat all that I can, am I still guilty? What if I go to an ordinary restaurant and eat like a pig? (well that would be wrong on a number of levels)
In reality, the latest fatwa might be an effort to control the weight gain following the earlier fatwa against female workout clubs. It could be part of a low-fatwa diet.
The nightmare, of course, for those following the growing list of fatwas would be Salmon Rushie walking into an all-you-can-eat restaurant. It would be fatwa overload.
24 thoughts on “Getting The Fat Out Of Fatwas: Saudi Cleric Declares Buffets To Be Anti-Islamic”
AS usual, more to it than meets the eye:
Below is a commentary from http://musafurber.com/blog/2014/03/14/banning-all-you-can-eat-buffets/?utm_content=buffer36a88&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
I want to offer a few thoughts an article in Al Arabiya concerning a fatwa banning all you can eat buffets.
Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzan issued a fatwa on TV banning all you can eat buffets. His fatwa has triggered online discussion and ridicule. The Sheikh’s reasoning is that “the value and quantity of what is sold should be pre-determined before it is purchased.” This is not surprising or shocking since one of the requirements of a valid sales transaction (bayʿ) in Shāfiʿī and Ḥanbalī fiqh is identifying the goods being exchanged. So the Sheikh’s ban is reasonable if we treat the all you can eat buffet as a sales transaction.
But this is not the only way to look at the transaction. We could restructure it as one where the customer rents table space for an hour in a place that offers free food or as membership in a club offering the same. The transaction now involves renting a service (ijārah) – namely the service of access to a space where there is free food.
Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzan considers all you can eat buffets to be a sale. This is reasonable since it is the first type of contract that comes to our minds. It is similarly reasonable that he would consider it an invalid sale due to it failing to meet the requirements of a sale.
There may be other approaches to the issue that would place it under a different category of transaction – each with its own conditions, obligations, and liabilities. The challenge is in identifying which type of transaction we should consider the all you can eat buffet. But more important yet is having a method for doing it in a consistent way.
UPDATE Sh Salih bin Fawzan al-Rawzan on his own website clarifies that he did not declare all you can eat buffets unlawful, but rather said that [the sold good] is unknown, and it is not permissible to sell an unknown good until it is defined and known.
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