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in Islamic law, an opinion made by a judicial/religious scholar (a muftimufti
, 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.
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) on a legal, civil, or religious matter. The fatwa is usually a valuable source of information on any subject for private individuals or for judges or other authorities, and it is normally used as a guide and does not have the force of law. Under normal circumstances, a fatwa is legally binding only in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Fatwas are often issued to raise awareness and provide clarification regarding a specific issue for Muslims, who then may or may not follow them. Over the centuries, hundreds of thousands of fatwas have been produced. They came to the attention of many Westerners in 1989 when Iran's Ayatollah KhomeiniKhomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah
, 1900–1989, Iranian Shiite religious leader. Educated in Islam at home and in theological schools, in the 1950s he was designated ayatollah, a supreme religious leader, in the Iranian Shiite community.
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 issued a fatwa calling for the death of author Salman RushdieRushdie, Sir Salman
, 1947–, British novelist, b. Bombay (now Mumbai, India). He is known for the allusive richness of his language and the wide variety of Eastern and Western characters and cultures he explores.
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, whom he accused of blasphemy. Another well-known and deadly fatwa was issued by Osama bin Ladenbin Laden, Osama or Usama
, 1957?–2011, Saudi-born leader of Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization devoted to uniting all Muslims and establishing a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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 in 1998 and called for Muslims to execute Americans and their allies.
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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

An Islamic religious scholar is called an 'alim, a word meaning "one who possesses knowledge." Specifically, it refers to a man who has extensively studied the Qur'an and related commentaries. Some 'ulama (the plural of 'alim) specialize in learning the text from memory and reciting it in a ritualistic style known as tajwid. Others act as judges, basing their verdicts on Qur'anic texts. Such a judge is called a faqih ("one who understands deeply"). Other scholars are called mufti. These are the ones who define Muslim action in society. When a mufti pronounces a legally or morally binding Islamic law, the judgment is called a fatwa.

The Qur'an alone cannot possibly cover modern ethical dilemmas. What should a Muslim do, for instance, when given the responsibility to end life support for a loved one dying of cancer or heart failure—a choice Muhammad could never have conceived during his lifetime? Only one who has studied enough Muslim tradition to apply the "spirit" of older laws to the morality of new social issues can decide the question. The issuance of a fatwa helps establish a precedent for future cases, enabling Islam to change with the times while remaining true to its roots and tradition.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Arabic, “opinion”), in Muslim countries, a juridical decision regarding the correspondence of a given action or phenomenon to the Koran or to the sharia (the body of formally established sacred law in Islam). Afatwa is rendered by a high religious authority, such as a mufti or shaykh al-lslam, and is usually given in the form of a question and answer. Since the Middle Ages, Muslims have been required to obtain afatwa on every important question, including declarations of war and conclusions of peace.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The fatwa also calls religious clergy and religious people to maintain stability in the country and to be vigilant against the forces that create conflicts in the ceremonies abusing the religion: 'Religious people and believers should help law enforcement to prevent any provocations'.
The judge also said on the Selangor fatwa applies to SIS Forum (Malaysia) even if it was a company.
Users will be able to connect through video calls with a group of Muftis in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to access fatwas and advice in a number of languages.
Summary: TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior member of the al-Saud family lashed out at King Salman for freedom of immoral entertainments in the country, cautioning against forged Fatwas (religious decree) by the royal dynasty to even sanction wine as a halal drink.
Al-Azhar stated that the department is an executive body, not a scholarly one, and demanded that the state's Ministry of Religious Endowments' General Fatwa Department be excluded, in order to ensure the independence of fatwas from the state.
Zul Qarneyn Abas, MOH deputy minister, said the MOH has asked the Regional Darul Ifta to come out with the fatwa after discovering that many parents in the region 'tend to refuse immunization because they were unsure if vaccination was consistent with their faith.'
'The aim behind this move will be to give the CII a mandate of issuing fatwas which have national and international consequences and impact.
Dr Mohammad Matar Al Ka'abi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi's General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said the council will oversee all fatwa centres across the country and issue general fatwas on various issues or at the request of governmental institutions or individuals, and to train muftis (Islamic scholars) to develop and foster their skills.
The responsibilities and imperative follow-up of the fatwa should lie at the feet of the government.
President Ashraf Ghani said the Pakistani fatwa should have included the entire Muslim world including Afghanistan.Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, however, clarified that the suicide bombing was un-Islamic "whether it takes place on the moon or in any part of the world" in an effort to dispel the impression the move was not sufficient enough to cover Afghanistan.
The fatwa said it is not permissible for people to use what belongs to others without payment or, at least, without their permission.
28 -- Fatwa is an Arabic word, and it literally means "opinion".