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According to University of Pennsylvania professor George Makdisi's paper "Scholasticism and Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West", https://www.jstor.org/stable/604423, the term mufti is a direct equivalent of the later western term professor, meaning one who is qualified to profess independent opinion on a subject (same as fatwa). According to him, this was the highest level of academic credentials in classical Islamic academic tradition, above mudarris (doctor meaning teacher), and faqih (meaning Master)--a hierarchy later adopted in Western academic tradition.
William Cleveland wrote in his A History of the Modern Middle East that muftis were "experts in Islamic law qualified to give authoritative legal opinions known as fatwas; muftis were members of the ulama establishment and ranked above qadis".
Within Islamic legal schools, a mufti is considered the pinnacle in the hierarchy of scholars because of the advanced training required for the individual aspiring to be a mufti. Originally, muftis were private individuals who gave fatwas informally, regulated their own activities, and determined their own standards of the fatwa institution. A mufti could also be defined as an individual well-grounded in Islamic law.
A mufti will generally go through a course in iftaa, the issuance of fatwa, and the person should fulfill the following conditions set by scholars in order that he may be able to issue verdicts (fatwas):
- Knowing Arabic,
- Mastering the study of principles of jurisprudence,
- Having sufficient knowledge of social realities,
- Mastering the study of comparative religions,
- Mastering the foundations of social sciences,
- Mastering the study of Maqasid ash-Shari`ah (Objectives of Shari`ah),
- Mastering the study of Hadith,
- Mastering legal maxims.
Mufti, Mirza Huseyn Qayibzade of Tbilisi
Travelling Mufti's of the Ottoman Empire
Mufti, Jakub Szynkiewicz
Mufti, Absattar Derbisali
Tomb of Mufti in Indonesia
Mufti, Talgat Tadzhuddin
Mufti, Ebrahim Desai
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