Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of fatwa and the dissemination of fatwa rulings among Muslim consumers using two studies. Results from these studies show that contemporary fatwa often extend beyond Muslims' religious beliefs and practices. By advising Muslims on the brands and product categories that are permissible and prohibited for consumption, fatwa rulings can cause boycotts and bans of products or brands. Design/methodology/approach – Content analyses are performed in Study 1 to explore the types of fatwa rulings that are declared by the Malaysian fatwa authorities. In Study 2, a survey instrument is used to collect responses from Muslims regarding their sources of fatwa ruling for two products, their religious motivation and gender. Cluster analysis and an independent χ 2 ‐test are used to test the study's predictions. Findings – Fatwa rulings in the area of social issues and economics have a known tendency to affect Muslim consumers' marketplace behavior. Muslim consumers tend to acquire information on more controversial fatwa rulings through less formal sources, compared to less controversial fatwa rulings. Several clusters of Muslim consumers were found to have their sources of fatwa associated with the product category, gender of respondent, and religious orientation. Research limitations/implications – The findings are limited to Malaysian Muslim University students and Malaysia's fatwa system. This use of young Malaysian Muslims probably restricts the findings to this cohort, rather than the general population of Malaysian Muslims. Practical implications – The paper offers insights into how fatwa rulings affect marketplace behaviors and how information sources are accessed and fatwa information is disseminated among Muslim consumers. The findings lead to suggestions on how marketers can manage fatwa rulings concerning their products. Originality/value – The paper provides an understanding of the nature and types of fatwa rulings circulating in the Muslim world, and identifies factors related to Muslims' knowledge of fatwa rulings.
Journal of Islamic Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 26, 2010
Keywords: Islam; Religion; Consumer behaviour; Information media; Malaysia