The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) plays an important role in the Fiqh al-‘Aqalliyyat (“Jurisprudence for Minorities”) world. It is now based in Dublin, having been founded in London in 1999 by the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe. Apart from issuing fatwas (principally those of leading Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi), it aims to supervise the education in Europe of local imams, to bring together Muslim scholars living in Europe, to resolve issues that arise on the continent (and UK) while operating with strict respect for shari’a law (which implies there should be no compromise), and to establish itself as an approved authority wherever Muslims live as minorities. This latter aim would suggest that the ECFR might one day possess an authority that would override that of local and national shari’a councils, and its members would expect to be the first and perhaps only voice to which parliaments and parliamentary bodies would lend an ear in their deliberations on how to treat their Muslim minority communities.
Despite the claim of the ECFR and other bodies involved in guidance for Muslims living outside Islamic jurisdiction to work towards a modus vivendi with Western governments, laws and cultural norms, the members of the ECFR nevertheless tend to approach this challenge in a way that can make the rapprochement problematic. Two matters engage much of their attention, namely secularism and democracy. Al-Qaradawi has spoken and written clearly on these. In one of his books, he separates Christian and Muslim beliefs:
Secularism may be accepted in a Christian society but it can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society. Christianity is devoid of a shari’ah or a comprehensive system of life to which its adherents should be committed. The New Testament itself divides life into two parts: one for God, or religion, the other for Caesar, or the state: “Render unto Caesar things which belong to Caesar, and render unto God things which belong to God” (Matthew 22:21). As such, a Christian could accept secularism without any qualms of conscience….
The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (2:140)…. For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright riddah [apostasy]…. This concept is totally different from that of Muslims. We Muslims believe that Allah is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds. One Who “…takes account of every single thing” (72:28); that He is omnipotent and omniscient; that His mercy and bounties encompasses everyone and suffice for all. In that capacity, Allah revealed His divine guidance to humanity, made certain things permissible and others prohibited, commanded people observe His injunctions and to judge according to them. If they do not do so, then they commit kufr [unbelief], aggression, and transgression.” 
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