Standing Before the Charter
The Sources, the Viewpoints, and the Choices
All praise be to Allah, the Lord of all creation, and may blessings and peace be upon the most noble of prophets, Muhammad, and upon all of his family and companions.
This Charter is the product of the concerted, collective efforts of a group of scholars who were invited by the International Committee for Woman and Child under the auspices of the Al-Azhar International Committee for Dawa' and Relief. After it was compiled, more than twenty Muslim scholars, from various countries and places, set about to verify and scrutinize the work. Throughout this work, they all exemplified the Words of Allah the Exalted:
]...وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَى أُولِي الأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنْبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ وَلَوْلا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلا قَلِيلاً[ (النساء: 83)
[.But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.] (4: 83)
Thus this Charter was a collective Islamic effort, the value of which will be recorded by history, God willing.
The Islamic Charter on Family meets the needs of one of the most important elements of the Muslim society; the family. In doing so, it reveals the justice, mercy, ease, tolerance, balance, and moderation of Islam in all of its affairs, including the various systems of this worldly life, of which, the family is the most important; for it is like a beating heart with respect the other systems of the body. The family is the nucleus of society. It is the seed of society, the basic unit of its being, and a model of it in miniature.
The scholars responsible for this Charter took the material for all of its chapters and articles from our firmly established, untainted Shari'ah, as well as from the clear verses of the Qur'an and the authentic Sunnah. They also drew upon our vast heritage of fiqh that was taken from the Companions of the Prophet (may blessings and peace be upon him) and those to whom they passed their knowledge, as well as the four main schools of jurisprudence, and other schools as well. They were careful to only adopt the most preponderant opinions and statements, and avoid those which are unusual, particularly in cases where they are not based on strong evidence or are not generally accepted. Likewise, they avoided those opinions that are based on the customs of a certain time which have since changed and for which there is no clear ruling.
In selecting and recording the material for this Charter, scholars made sure that the views were supported by evidence from the Qur'an, the Sunnah, consensus, and legal analogy. They also took into consideration the circumstances and situations that exist in societies today, the advantages and disadvantages that affect these societies, and the consequences of these advantages and disadvantages. Thus, they merged Shari'ah with reason, narration and logic, with extreme care given to choosing the easiest, and the most just and balanced views; those that, in their opinion, are best suited to meet the needs of the modern age, while at the same time, avoiding areas of disagreement as much as possible.
Also, in the phrasing and wording of the Charter, the scholars balanced between that which is undisputable and that which is subject to doubt, that which is agreed upon and that which is not, and between that which is firmly established and that which is subject to change. In each of these cases, the first is referred to in absolute terms, whereas the second is expressed with wording that indicates a probable meaning. The arrangement of the articles and the research methodology is comprehensive and combines the best of the old and the new. It is connected to our heritage and the pure origins of our fiqh in the manner by which the principles and rulings were derived, and even in its terminology, which has been embellished with a modern, legal style. Likewise, it fuses the beliefs, rulings and manners in a complete manner such that one cannot be separated from the other. The behavior of the individual and the group must be regulated by the knot that fastens Imaan (faith), Islam (submission), and Ihsaan (beneficence) together. The phrasing of this Charter also balances between the role of man as an individual, the family as a building block, and the society and the government as a moral entity in its moderateness, justice, preservation of rights, and clarification of obligations. Thus it neither neglects the role of the individual and his obligations towards society, nor does it disregard the role of the society, its rights, and its obligations towards the individual. For this reason, the content of the articles and paragraphs of this Charter is lofty, its style is clear, and its methodology is sound. Family matters, affairs, and needs are harmonized within the articles of the Charter in a manner that is filtered by the purity of their sources, the firmness of their roots, the depth of their principles, and the loftiness of their goals. From the articles spring forth just rulings and noble recommendations that aim to protect the family and the society, strengthening their structure and protecting them from the storms of life. These rulings and recommendations give the articles of this Charter their noble and virtuous form, equipping them to be a source of guidance, to achieve their purpose, and to reach elevated heights.
Behind the precise words of these 164 articles, we find a vision that is comprehensive and based on the purposes and intentions of Shari'ah and fiqh; in the authentic origins that they stem from and the issues that branch out from them, in the logical reasoning behind them, and in the textual narrations, in their citation of examples and evidence, and in their present state and resulting consequences. This Charter reveals precise knowledge and deep understanding of the situational reality as well as understanding of the law. At the same time, it completes the mechanisms of ijtihaad, thus completing the system of ijtihaad, which includes the mujtahid, the issue to which the ijtihad was applied, and the tools of ijtihaad.
As for the Explanatory Notes, they were composed to explain and clarify the enormous academic work that is represented by this Charter, lifting the veil to uncover what is inside, and uncovering the hidden methodological background in the precise phrasing of the articles of the Charter.
We ask Allah to use this Charter to bring all goodness to the Islamic community and to enable it to be implemented according to its social and familial reality. May He allow it to take its due place in its pedagogical, legal, and cultural fields, and may it be an active step towards achieving unity in that which is written about family affairs in the Islamic world .
And our final supplication is "All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation."
 Mujtahid: A jurist who forms independent decisions in legal or theological matters, based on the interpretation and application of the main principles of derivation of Islamic law.