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SHEIKH, or SHAIKH, an Arabic title of respect. Strictly it means a venerable man, of more than fifty years of age. It is specially borne by heads of religious orders, chiefs of tribes and headmen of villages. Every village, however small, every separate quarter of a town, has a sheikh in whom is lodged the executive power of government a power loosely defined, and of more or less extent according to the personal character and means of the individual who wields it. A village sheikh is a sort of head magistrate and chief of police. The Koran, the sole authentic authority in all matters, legal or civil, never accurately distinguished between the sheikh and the cadi (?..), and its phrases, besides, are vague and capable of admitting different and even opposite interpretations. (For the Sheikh ul-lslam see MUFTI.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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