August 22, 2011
mufti (mŭf'tē) [key], 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.