MUFTI, 2 a consulting canon-lawyer in Islam, who, upon application, gives fatwas (Jetvas) or legal opinions on points of canon law (see MAHOMMEDAN LAW). These are asked and given in strictly impersonal form, but the cadi, or judge, then appliesi them to the case and decides in accordance with them. In theory, any learned man whose opinion is respected and whose advice is sought can give fatwas. But generally in a Muslim state there are muftis specifically appointed by the government, one for each school of canon law in each place. Each of these renders opinions in accordance with the law-books of his school; 1 The use of the word for plain or civilian clothes worn instead of uniform is originally Anglo-Indian. It may have been suggested by the loose flowing robes of the stage " mufti," and thus implied any easy dress worn by an officer when out of uniform.
he has no scope for free interpretation ; everything is fixed there and he must follow the precedents of the elders. In Turkey there is a chief mufti, called the Sheikh al-Islam, whose office was created by the Ottoman sultan, Mahommed II., in 1453 after the capture of Constantinople. He is, in a sense, the heac of the ecclesiastical side of the state, that controlled by canon law; while the grand vizier is at the head of secular matters Although his powers are delegated by the sultan-caliph, and he is appointed and can be dismissed by him, yet in his fatwa-issuing power he is independent. The sultan may dismiss him before he has a chance to issue a fatwa; but if he once issues it the result is legally automatic, even though it means the deposition of the sultan himself. Thus it was by a fatwa of the Sheikh al-Islam that the sultan Abdul Hamid was deposed.
See Juynboll, De mohammedaansche Wet., 40 sqq.; De Slane's trans, of Ibn Khaldun's Prolegomenes, I. Ixxviii. 447 seq. ; Turkey in Europe, by "Odysseus," 131 seq.; Young, Corps de droit ottoman I. x., 285, 289. (D. B. MA.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)