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A fatwā (/ˈfætwɑː/, also US: /ˈfɑːtwɑː/; Arabic: فتوى‎; plural fatāwā فتاوى) is a nonbinding legal opinion on a point of Islamic law (sharia) given by a qualified jurist in response to a question posed by a private individual, judge or government. A jurist issuing fatwas is called a mufti and the act of issuing fatwas is called iftāʾ. Fatwas have played an important role throughout Islamic history, taking on new forms in the modern era.


  • In a word, fatwas are the shariah in action.
    • Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins)
  • “We should, in particular the Muslim liberal should speak the whole truth about the condition of Muslim society—for instance about the plight of women within it. And not flinch from tracing it back to its roots—the text, the laws, the ways of thinking. We should document the social practice of the Ulema [Muslim religious leaders] and of the fundamentalist politicians.…We should document what the Ulema etc. have been saying and decreeing on religious issues themselves.…We must, in particular the Muslim liberal must, take the consistently secular position on every matter—that is the only way to confront the fundamentalists, it is the surest way to bring home the alternative viewpoint to the community.…Fatwas and the rest which impinge upon the civil rights of a person are manifestly a criminal infringement of law; we should show them up as such; and join others in demanding that anyone who seeks to trample upon the rights of others by using…fatwas should be brought to book under the law. Similarly, we must expose, and work to thwart concessions by our opportunist politicians which are meant to appease, and will in the end strengthen the grip of these reactionary elements.…
    • —Arun Shourie, 1995. The World of Fatwas (Or The Shariah In Action), quoted in Bostom, A. G. (2015). Sharia versus freedom: The legacy of Islamic totalitarianism.
  • And yet I find in the majority judgement a fatal innocence... The judgement quotes the proclamations from the Rig, Yajur and Atharva Vedas - about all human beings being one, about their being the children of the same Mother-Earth, about the yearnings that all of use be friends. But it does not note that less than a mile from its building volumes upon volumes of fatwas are being sold and distributed which exhort Muslims never to trust Kafirs, never to allow them into their confidence; which tell them that their first duty and allegiance is to their religion and not to sundry laws...
    • Arun Shourie in: India., & Dasgupta, S. (1995). The Ayodhya reference: The Supreme Court judgement and commentaries. p. 171-3
  • If some people do not like a representation of art, there are other ways to counter it. I never support violent attack on artistic freedom. I also do not support the trend of issuing fatwa. But, there are politicians, who support or protest on the basis of religion.
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