"Electronic Mufti" - AI designed to issue Islamic fatwas

French researchers are working on an AI engine that can issue fatwas, or Islamic edicts, allegedly more accurately than a human can. The device will be known as the “Electronic Mufti” and will depend on Artificial Intelligence to issue opinions on contemporary Muslim affairs and matters. Will it revolutionize the field of Islamic jurisprudence? Or is it just a hoax?

The system will hold a database of the writings and proclamations of various Islamic historical figures. The user selects a person, for example Jesus or the Prophet Mohammad, and then queries it on a specific contemporary situation. The “Electronic Mufti” would then simulate a proclamation or edict from that person.

Engineer Dr. Anas Fawzi, who is part of the team based in France describes the device as “a very large capacity computer on which all the information that is relevant to a given [historical] figure is uploaded; everything that has been mentioned in history books or chronicled documents that indicate his/her responses and attitudes towards all positions adopted in his/her life. Through a process that relies on AI, the computer then simulates responses based on the available data so that the answers are the expected response that the person in question would give if they were alive”.

The device deduces the expected response through consulting thousands of examples that have been uploaded on to the machine, pertaining to that person whilst taking into account their reactions so that it may relate the expected response in accordance with their personality as created by the Artificial Intelligence apparatus.

Dr. Fawzi admits that it would be highly controversial – if not downright contentious – to implement this technology. However, he claims to have consulted with several Islamic scholars and clerics in elevated positions who have assured him that such a device is not “haram” (prohibited by Islam). “But there are fears and scepticism regarding misuse and causing any misrepresentation or defamation to the figure of the Prophet. There are also fears in terms of Arab and Islamic public opinion and their acceptance of a machine such as this”, said Dr. Fawzi.

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