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Turkish Mufti, Spanish drawing of the 17th century, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana

A mufti ( Arabic المفتي, DMG al-muftī ; indet.مفت / muftin ) is an official issuer of Islamic legal opinions . The Mufti is a legal scholar who issues an Islamic law opinion ( fatwa ) on a legal question according to the standards of jurisprudenceFiqh ” and justifies this according to the Sharia law school he follows . Comparable to the iuris prudentes in Roman lawthe mufti plays a crucial role in shaping Islamic law. Fatwas can also be obtained from private individuals, sometimes also representatives of the state - in arbitration proceedings of state concern - from the Mufti Office.

The office of the Supreme Mufti is exercised by the so-called Grand Mufti. He heads a central institution to which several regional muftis belong. While muftiates are headed by muftis, the higher-level organizational units, the grand muftis, are headed by grand muftis .

The beginnings of the fatwa being

Already in the Koran there are references to legal questions and their answers. While questions in the Meccan period of Muhammad's activity were still of a purely theological nature (e.g. sura 79 , verse 42; sura 20 , verse 105), the first questions and their answers in the area of ​​ritual law arose in the Medinan period of prophecy. The formula is almost identical everywhere: "They ask you about ... Say: ... etc." So the prophet is asked what and how much one should donate ( sura 2 , verse 215). Similarly, one asks whether it is permissible to fight in the holy month (sura 2, verse 217). At other passages in the Koran one uses another formula: "They ask you for information about ..."; the Arabic verb for this is "yastaftuna-ka ..." and is derived from the same root as the words Fatwa / Mufti / ifta '. According to the diction of the Koran, the legal information is sometimes given by God himself: "Say: God gives you information about it ...": Qul: Allahu yuftikum fi ... (Sura 4, verse 127 and verse 176). God and Mohammed are the authorities to which the Muslims of the Medinan community have to turn in the event of problems and disputes:

“You believers! Obey God and the Messenger and those of you who have to command [or: are responsible]! And if you argue about a matter [and cannot come to an agreement], bring it before God and the Messenger, if [otherwise] you believe in God and the Last Day. "

- Sura 4 , verse 59

The emergence of the Mufti office after Mohammed

The shaping of Islamic law in the non-Quranic area was initially the responsibility of the respective ruler, the caliph and his governor in the provinces. Already in the early days of Islam there was not only official advice in the office of the caliph but also private legal advice (ifta '). In the scholarly biographies, several scholars of the late 7th and early 8th centuries are referred to as muftis who have made a name for themselves through their advisory work in the legal world. The Mufti of Mecca and his deputy were appointed for life under the Umayyads , which went hand in hand with the establishment of an institution of legal life that has endured to the present day. Reports on the first muftis in Mecca include Muhammad ibn Saʿd in his class register; among them he also mentions the Koran exegete Mujāhid ibn Jabr and others.

In Islamic Spain in the Middle Ages, the judgments of the Islamic judges were made according to the legal information provided by the advisory legal scholars (Arabic: faqīh mušāwar; jurisconsulte ), who thus fulfilled the tasks of the mufti vis-à-vis the judge. This institution existed at least since Abd ar-Rahman III. The advisory lawyers were called by the judge as muftis. In addition to this institutionalization of the binding consultation, there were also “free” legal experts in Córdoba ; but they were only responsible for the traders, for the people in the market (ahl as-suq).

In the Ottoman Empire , the government appointed a mufti for each province. The institution of the Grand Mufti at the top of the advisory hierarchy played an important role here. With the title Şeyh ül-Islam , the mufti represented the highest religious and legal authority in the empire until 1924. In some modern states whose state religion is Islam, but which are largely secularized, the mufti office continues to exist; The Grand Muftis (Mufti of the Republic; Mufti of the Kingdom of ... etc.) are appointed by the government - head of state or king - and are responsible for the management of the highest religious office in the country (Dar al-ifta ').

How strong the position of the mufti was even at the time of the legal reform in Egypt based on the European model is shown by the provision anchored in the penal code, according to which a death sentence by the civil court - and no longer by the Sharia court - is only passed with the consent of the mufti and after consideration the legal doctrine of the Hanafis had legal force.

Requirements for the Mufti office

With the development and consolidation of the Mufti office in the state, Islamic legal doctrine has defined prerequisites that are necessary for the fulfillment of this high office up to the present day:

  • Male gender (efforts are being made to bypass this rule, however),
  • Belonging to the Islamic religion. A non-Muslim cannot issue a fatwa.
  • Understanding. The insane cannot issue fatwa.
  • Of legal age.
  • The ability for the fatwa-issuing ijtihad apply.

Ash-Shafii describes the last requirement as follows: knowledge of the Koran, the abrogation , the interpretation of the Koran, further knowledge of the Hadith , the Sunnah of the Prophet, the Arabic language and the controversial legal views in the provinces in Dār al-Islam .

The issuing of a fatwa without sufficient knowledge regards legal doctrine as a great offense and refers to the following Quranic verse:

"... and that you say something against God that you have no knowledge of."

- Sura 7, verse 33

The rules of issuing fatwa

With the development of the fatwa essence, a separate literary genre emerged, known as Adab al-mufti wal-mustafti أدب المفتي والمستفتي / Adab al-muftī wal-mustaftī  / called 'The good behavior of the mufti and the person seeking advice'. These writings set out the types of questions that can be asked, whether the Mufti may go beyond the actual question in his advisory activity and in what form he must state the sources that he uses in his argumentation. In general, Islamic scholars hold the view that the Mufti should not accept wages or gifts for his work. His allowances are limited to paper and ink. The best-known treatise on this topic was written by Ibn Qayyim al-Jschauziya († 1350) according to the rules of the Hanbali school of law.

In the Islamic West, Ibn Hazm († 1064) wrote a monograph on the rules of conduct for counselors from the companions of the prophets to later generations.

The fatwa collections

In the first collections of the traditions of the 8th century relating to both ritual law and profane life, legal information relating to specific individual cases is referred to several times. The legal literature contains many fatwas from the founders of the Islamic schools of law at that time. However, it must be examined on a case-by-case basis whether the questions asked and their answers were created against the background of actual legal practice or can only be assigned to the legal theory of Islamic jurists. The contents of the Islamic legal opinions and the description of the functions of the muftis are important historical sources for studying the doctrinal development of Islamic law.

The practice-related advisory work in the early days can be especially in al-Andalus, during the reign of the above-mentioned Abd ar-Rahman III. be well traced. Although these are not mufti, but court files from the Kadi office of Córdoba, the respective legal judgments (hukm / ahkam) of the judge are based on corresponding instructions and advisory activities of the interviewed muftis. The oldest of these collections, which should then lead to an independent literary genre, comes from Ibn Sahl al-Qurtubi († 1093), who after his archival work was able to fall back on such legal opinions from the late 9th and early 10th centuries.

The fragmentary fatwa collection attributed to Abū Hanīfa and his disciple al-Shaibani is of later origin ; they date from the 16th century. Another collection is attributed to the Hanafite Abu l-Laith as-Samarqandi († around 983); the oldest copies of it are from the 12th century. A similar collection is ascribed to the Shafiite al-Qaffal († 1026), which was used by later generations of the law school.

The best-known advisory activity in the 20th century developed on the pages of the magazine al-Manar (Cairo, 1898–1940), where Raschīd Ridā answered daily questions. These fatwas are in six volumes under the title "Fatawa al-Imam Muhammad Raschid Rida" (فتاوى الإمام محمد رشيد رضا / Fatāwā al-Imām Muḥammad Rašīd Riḍā ) published in Beirut in 1970.

Muftiate in Russia and the Soviet Union

In tsarist Russia, the "Orenburg Spiritual Mohammadan Assembly" was created in Ufa in 1788 as part of the new policy of tolerance by Catherine II (1729–1796) , which was headed by a mufti. This spiritual congregation acted as a muftiate and was revived after its closure at the beginning of the Soviet era in 1944. In addition, three more muftiates were created on the territory of the Soviet Union in 1944, one in Baku (for the Muslims in Azerbaijan , Georgia and Armenia ), another in Buinaksk (for the Muslims of the North Caucasus) and a third in Tashkent (for Central Asia and Kazakhstan ) . The seat of the North Caucasian muftiate was moved to Makhachkala in 1973 .

While only four official muftiates existed in the post-war Soviet Union , numerous other muftiates emerged in the 1990s, not only in the independent states of the CIS , but also in the individual republics, regions and cities of the Russian Federation. There are currently two large rival muftiates in the Russian Federation, firstly the Central Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Russia (ZDUM) under Mufti Talgat Tajuddin , which sees itself as the successor to the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly, and secondly, the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Central European Region Russia's (DUMER) under the direction of Mufti Rawil Ismagilowitsch Gainutdin , a former student of Tajuddin. In 1996 he became chairman of the newly created Russian Mufti Council, which as an umbrella organization is supposed to represent the authority of all Muftis in the Russian Federation.


The authority that muftis had and have at times can be recognized by the phrase “par ordre du mufti” that occurs in French, but also in German, Dutch and Italian (in German-language texts often “per order di mufti”, “per order mufti " Etc.). What is meant here is an opaque ordinance issued from above.

See also


  • R. Dozy: Supplement aux dictionnaires arabes . 3rd edition. Brill, Leiden / G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose 1967. Vol. 1., p. 801.
  • Klaus Kreiser, Werner Diem, Hans Georg Majer (Ed.): Lexicon of the Islamic World. Verlag W. Kohlhammer. Stuttgart, Berlin, Cologne, Mainz 1978. Vol. 2, pp. 188-189, ISBN 3-17-002161-3 .
  • Hilmar Krüger: Fetwa and Siyar. On the international legal expert practice of the Ottoman Şeyḫ ül-Islām. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1978, ISBN 3-447-01783-X (= writings of the Max-Freiherr-von-Oppenheim-Stiftung , Volume 10; also dissertation at the University of Cologne ).
  • Harald Motzki: "Religious advice in Islam. Origin, meaning and practice of the muftī and the fatwā " in Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 2 (1994) 3–22.
  • Harald Motzki: The Beginnings of Islamic Jurisprudence. Their development in Mecca up to the middle of the 2nd / 8th centuries Century. Treatises for the customers of the Orient. Vol. L, 2. Steiner, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-515-05433-2 .
  • Christian Müller: Legal practice in the city-state of Córdoba . On the law of society in a Malikite-Islamic legal tradition of the 5th / 11th Century. Brill, Leiden 1999, ISBN 90-04-11354-1 .
  • David S. Powers: Fatwās as sources for legal and social history . In: al-Qanṭara 11 (1990), pp. 295-341

Web links

Wiktionary: Mufti  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill, Leiden, Vol. 7, p. 313
  2. Harald Motzki: Religious advice in Islam. Origin, meaning and practice of the muftī and the fatwā . In: Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft (ZfR) 94 (1), p. 3ff; here p. 6–7
  3. Harald Motzki, op. Cit. P. 8
  4. Harald Motzki, op. Cit. Pp. 13-14
  5. Harald Motzki: The beginnings of Islamic jurisprudence, p. 221; see also ibid. 235; 257
  6. See Dozy, Supplément , Vol. 1, p. 801
  7. ^ Christian Müller: Judicial practice in the city-state of Córdoba . Pp. 151-153
  8. Harald Motzki: Religious Advice in Islam , p. 15: Joseph Schacht: An Introduction to Islamic Law. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press 1965. pp. 73-74
  9. ^ JND Anderson: Law Reform in Egypt : 1850-1950. In: PM Holt (Ed.): Political and Sozial Change in Modern Egypt . Oxford University Press. 1968. pp. 209-230
  10. JND Anderson: Law Reform in the Muslim World . London 1976. p. 18
  11. Ms. Becomes Mufti , 20 Minuten Online on November 3, 2009
  12. al-mausūʿa al-fiqhiyya . 1st edition. Kuwait 1995. Vol. 32, p. 24
  13. al-mausūʿa al-fiqhiyya. 1st edition. Kuwait 1995. Vol. 32, pp. 27-28
  14. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill, suffering. Vol. 3, p. 821
  15. Harald Motzki: Religiöse Ratgebung , pp. 18-19 and note 35
  16. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam . New Edition. Brill, suffering. Vol. 3, p. 790
  17. Harald Motzki: Religiöse Ratgebung , p. 19 and note 34
  18. Harald Motzki: Religious Advice in Islam , p. 17
  19. Harald Motzki: Religious Advice in Islam , p. 18
  20. Thami Azemmouri: Les Nawāzil d'Ibn Sahl. Section relative a l'Iḥtisāb. In: Hespéris Tamuda, Vol. 14 (1973), pp. 7ff; Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Ḫallāf (Ed.): Ibn Sahl: tres documentos sobre processos de herejes en la España. Cairo 1981; Miklos Muranyi : The Kitāb Aḥkām Ibn Ziyād. In the journal of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft ZDMG, Vol. 148, 1998, pp. 241-260. Readable online [1]
  21. Fuat Sezgin: History of Arabic literature. Brill, Leiden 1967. Vol. 1, p. 432, No. XVII
  22. Fuat Sezgin: History of Arabic literature . Brill, Leiden 1967. Vol. 1, p. 447, No. 3
  23. Fuat Sezgin: History of Arabic literature . Brill, Leiden 1967. Vol. 1, p. 501
  24. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Brill, Leiden, Vol. 6, p. 360
  25. See Michael Kemper and Shamil Shikhaliev: "Administrative Islam: Two Soviet Fatwas from the North Caucasus" in Alfrid K. Bustanov and Michael Kemper (eds.): Islamic Authority and the Russian Language: Studies on Texts from European Russia, the North Caucasus and West Sibiria . Pegasus, Amsterdam, 2012. pp. 55-102. Here pp. 55–57.
  26. See Michael Kemper: Mufti Ravil 'Gainutdin: The Translation of Islam into Language of Patriotism and Humanism in Alfrid K. Bustanov and Michael Kemper (eds.): Islamic Authority and the Russian Language: Studies on Texts from European Russia, the North Caucasus and West Sibiria . Pegasus, Amsterdam, 2012. pp. 105-142. Here pp. 105-107.