Fatwa is very important in Islamic law and Islamic jurisdiction. Fatwa is opinion of Islamic scholar about a specific issue in the light of Holy Quran and Sunnah. Now days many Islamic Ulams issued such Fatwas that are criticised by western law makers and human right activists.
Recently The Darul Uloom, Deoband, India, thought it does commendable work, also issues fatwas which reduce women to a status that is secondary to that of a man. Similarly fatwas about Talaq are also criticised.
Such judgments and fatwas are issued because some jurist or the other had so opined hundreds of years ago keeping in view the social and local conditions of that time. Many of these fatwas are based on controversial Hadiths/Sunnah and there is no Ijma (consensus) in such affairs. These scholars only consult medieval sources and followed Taqlid (mechanical followings) because it is considered as safest by many Islamic jurists.
Ibm Hazm was famous Islamic jurist of medieval times from Spain. He was also of the opinion that one can be called alim (knowledgeable) as long as one is engaged in seeking knowledge. But one who thins the knows enough is, in fact, ignorant. Today most of our Islamic scholars think that they know enough. Ibn Hazm also said that independence of thinking is very important in juristic judgments.
The Quran is the fundamental source for Islamic jurisprudence, but Ibn Hazm puts the Quranic verses in three categories; first those verses which need no other source to understand, second those verses which can be understood in the light of other verses and third those verses which can be understood in the light of authentic hadith (authentic is one which has been narrated by most reliable and many narrators).
Today most of the jurists rely more on Hadiths than on Quran while issuing Fatwas. Ibn Hazm strongly criticised those scholars who blindly follow taqlid and not think independently. Al Shatibi was also very creative scholar and he said that one must first understand the maqasid and masalih means the basic objectives and welfare of the people for whom the Sharia law are being framed.
Due to such fatwas the image of Islam is negative in today world. If we keep the objectives and welfare of the people foremost and delve into thinking for ourselves in our own time, Islamic laws would become not only highly just but model to be followed by all. We must directly consult Quran and accept only very authentic Hadiths for issuing fatwas.