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The Grand Mufti (Arabic: مفتي عام muftī ʿām , "general expounder" or كبير المفتين kabīr al-muftīn , "the great of expounders") is the highest official of religious law in a Sunni or Ibadi Muslim country. The Grand Mufti issues legal opinions and edicts, fatwas, and interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence for private clients or to assist judges in deciding cases. The collected opinions of the Grand Mufti serve as a valuable source of information on the practical application of Islamic law as opposed to its abstract formulation. The Grand Mufti's fatāwā (plural of "fatwā") are not binding precedents in areas of civil laws regulating marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In criminal courts, the Grand Mufti's recommendations are generally not binding either.
Muftis are Muslim religious scholars who issue influential legal opinions (fatwas) interpreting Sharia (Islamic law).:16–20 The Ottoman Empire began the practice of giving official recognition and status to a single mufti, above all others, as the Grand Mufti.:5 The Grand Mufti of Istanbul had, since the late 16th century, come to be regarded as the head of the religious establishment. He was thus not only pre-eminent but bureaucratically responsible for the body of religious-legal scholars and gave legal rulings on important state policies such as the dethronement of rulers. This practice was subsequently borrowed and adapted by Egypt from the mid-19th century.:5 From there, the concept spread to other Muslim states, so that today there are approximately 16 countries with sizeable Muslim populations which have a Grand Mufti.:85 The relationship between the Grand Mufti of any given state and the state's rulers can vary considerably, both by region and by historical era.
State-appointed Grand MuftisEdit
Throughout the era of British colonialism, the British retained the institution of Grand Mufti in some Muslim areas under their control and accorded the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem the highest political stature in Palestine. During World War I (1914–1918), there were two competing Grand Muftis of Jerusalem, one endorsed by the British and one by the Ottoman Empire. When Palestine was under British rule, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a position appointed by the British Mandate authorities. In the Palestinian National Authority, the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Grand Mufti is appointed by the president.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, with office created in 1953, is appointed by the King.
The State Mufti of Brunei is nominated by the Sultan.
Nations with elected Grand MuftisEdit
In countries such as Australia where the office of Grand Mufti receives no official seal of government imprimatur, clerics can be elected to the position by one segment of the Islamic community in that country and yet not be recognised by other Muslim communities in that country.
Nations with collective Grand MuftisEdit
- Indonesia has a system of collective mufti, in which the position of Grand Mufti is held by the Indonesian Ulama Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia). This assembly can make fatāwā.
- Malaysia also has a unique system of collective mufti. Nine of the fourteen Malaysian states have their own constitutional monarchy; nine are ruled by their own constitutional monarch while the country is led by a monarch elected from the nine. These nine monarchs have authority over religious matters within their own states: therefore, each of these nine states have their own mufti who usually controls the Islamic Council or Islamic Department of the state. At the national level, a National Council of Fatwa (Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan) has been formed under the Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia or JAKIM). JAKIM appoints five Muftis for the five states which do not have monarchs. The muftis of the nine monarchical states, together with the five officials appointed by JAKIM in the National Council of Fatwā, collectively issue fatāwā at the national level.
- Sri Lanka has a system of collective ulama from different traditions of Islam. The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama has a President who oversees the decisions but does not necessarily have the powers to overturn any decisions made by rest of the ulama. The concept is similar to a democratic coalition system. The current President is Ash-Sheikh Mufti M.I.M. Rizwe.
Prominent past Grand MuftisEdit
- Mohammed Tahir al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from the 1860s to 1908
- Kamil al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1908 to 1921
- During World War I (1914–1918), the Ottoman Empire claimed that As'ad Shuqeiri was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
- Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948
- Hussam Al-din Jarallah, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1948 to 1954
- Sulaiman Ja'abari, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1993 to 1994
- Ekrima Sa'id Sabri, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from October 1994 to July 2006
- Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al ash-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1953 to 1969
- Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz (1910–1999), Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1992 to 1999
- Australian ex-Grand Mufti, Taj El-Din Hilaly
- Abul Qasim Noori, Grand Mufti of Sunni Bangladesh
- Dr. Syed Irshad Ahmad Al Bukhari, Grand Mufti of Sunni Bangladesh
- Bosnian ex-Grand Mufti, Mustafa Cerić (1993 to 2012)
- Ismail Omar Abdul Aziz (First State Mufti of Brunei)
- Ismail Kacholwi, Grand Mufti of Europe (since 1988). In 2007 he migrated to India, although he still remains the Grand Mufti of Europe. In 2007, The President of The Islamic Consultative Assembly of Europe, His Excellency – Shaikh Muhammad Yusuf Motala Sahib appointed Mufti Muhammad Shabbir Ahmed Patel Sahib, of Darul-Uloom Bury as a Deputy of Mufti Ismail Kacholwi Sahib, as Mufti Ismail Kacholwi Sahib still comes to the UK frequently.
- Mustafa Raza Khan Qadri (1950 to 1981), Grand Mufti of India (Barelvi movement)
- Indonesia: Shaykh Abdul Qadir Hassan son of Hassan Bandung
- Pakistan: Grand Mufti Mufti Muneeb Ur Rehman
- Mufti Radha ul Haq Grand Mufti of South Africa
- Syrian Arab Republic's Grand Mufti, Ahmed Kuftaro (deceased September 1, 2004)
List of current Grand MuftisEdit
States recognised by the United NationsEdit
Sui generis entitiesEdit
|Entity||Grand Mufti||Office assumed|
|Europe||Muhammad Shabbir Ahmed Patel (acting)||2007|
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