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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.


(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.



(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.

References in periodicals archive ?
The fatwah specifies he should receive 56 lashes and then be stoned if he was not dead by that stage.
See, for example, the fatwah of Osama Bin Laden issued after September 11, 2001 calling on Muslims to kill Americans around the world.
And indeed, the study of so-called peripheral literature testifies to the force of culture as difference, not only for contemporary readers of it, but also in terms of its very production (often under the most trying of circumstances, from the furtiveness imposed on Jane Austen's writing by her household to the fatwah against Salman Rushdie and every imaginable kind of harassment in-between).
For example, the chapter on religion and women's human rights recommends that "proposing a fatwah should be an illegal act" (SSJ, 112) This seems to assume that a fatwah is a call to violence; otherwise, there would be no liberal justification for declaring fatwahs illegal.
Usama bin Laden preaching a Fatwah to his similarly deluded followers.
ISLAM, Muslim, Taliban, Jihad, Fatwah - the terms and classifications are flowing fast from a media that assumes an awful lot.
The last thing I want is a Fatwah (religious decree to kill) on my head.
Nasrin also suffered a fatwah in Bangladesh, but fortunately she was able to escape to Sweden.
Now that the Iranian government has disowned the mercenary and murderous elements of the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwah against Salman Rushdie (leaving only the hysterical denunciation of his novel to stand, as the mother of all bad reviews), there is an occasion to celebrate a huge moral victory.
Rushdie offended Muslim communities in Britain and worldwide by his book The Satanic Verses and a fatwah, or death sentence, was issued against him.
As it happens, no mailroom girls have been injured in the course of eight years' defiance of the fatwah.
It's important to say that the fatwah is not theoretical because it is actually being carried out.