Definitions

mufti

mufti

[muhf-tee]
mufti, in Islamic law, attorney or judicial/religious scholar who writes his opinion (fatwa) on legal subjects for private clients or to assist judges in deciding cases. The recorded opinions of the muftis are a valuable source of information for the actual working of Islamic law as opposed to the abstract formulation. Only in the fields of marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the fatwas binding precedents; on other subjects they might be set aside. In the Ottoman Empire the muftis were state officials, and the mufti of Constantinople was the highest of these. The British, who retained the institution in some Muslim areas under their control, gave to the office of Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, great political importance.

Islamic legal authority charged with issuing an opinion (fatwa) in answer to an inquiry by a judge or a private individual. Such a judgment requires extensive knowledge of the Qurhamzahān and the Hsubdotadīth as well as of legal precedents. During the Ottoman Empire the mufti of Istanbul was Islam's chief legal authority, presiding over the whole judicial and theological hierarchy. The development of modern legal codes in Islamic countries has significantly reduced the authority of mufti, and they now deal only with questions of personal status such as inheritance, marriage, and divorce.

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This article is about an Islamic scholar. Mufti can also refer to civilian dress.
A mufti (مفتي) is an Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law (Sharia). A muftiat or diyanet is a council of muftis.

Qualifications

A Mufti will generally go through an Iftaa course and the person should fulfill the following conditions set by scholars in order that he may be able to issue verdicts (fataawa). They are five:

First: He must be a Muslim.

Second: He must have reached the age of puberty.

Third: He must be just and trustworthy.

The scholars have unanimously agreed upon these first three.

Fourth: Ijtihad. This is the opinion of a majority of the scholars.

Fifth: He must have the qualities of intellect and be of a good mind. So the verdict of a one who makes too many mistakes is not correct.

The authority of the Mufti

An example of the influence of the mufti can be taken from this incident in Tunisia: Habib Bourguiba, the late President of Tunisia once argued in 1961 (1381 Muslim Calendar) that "fasting" during Ramadan should not be observed for it reduces productivity. He then appeared on television with his cabinet, eating and drinking during Ramadan. Bourguiba then asked the Grand Mufti of Tunisia, Sheikh Altaher Ibn Ashoor (الشيخ الطاهر بن عاشور), to issue a fatwa accommodating the desires of the state.

The Grand Mufti of Tunisia went on television and addressed the audience and read sura Al-Baqara:183 (2:183) :

''O you who believe! Observing the fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become the pious.

God said the truth (صدق الله العظيم), and President Habib Bourguiba lied.

Then issued a fatwa that not observing Ramadan is a sin and whoever doesn't observe the fasting has knowingly rejected his well-known religious duty forcibly and added that fasting does not reduce productivity.

See also

References

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