07 Jul What’s the difference between a Faqih and a Mufti?
What’s the difference between a Faqih and a Mufti?
Assalamu Alykum brother, I hope you’re doing well. I’m a bit confused because I’m not sure if it can be interchangeable, but is it alright to ask you if you could please distinguish what a “Faqih” and a “Mufti” is?
Wa alykum as-salaam,
Alhamdulilah, I am doing well, thank you so much for asking. Rabina yu’barik feek[i].
That’s an important question, and a Faqih is–in general–someone who is an expert in Islamic Law. Sometimes, though this is not always the case, a Faqih is a term used to denote someone of exceptional understanding of Fiqh, like Imam Shafi’i, for instance, but it usually simply means someone who is an expert in Fiqh (law).
A Mufti is different and it means different things in different places, but it generally is someone who is an expert on Islamic Law that may issue a Fatwa (legal opinion) on a matter, and they are generally administrative positions. Unlike a Qadi (Judge) the legal opinion (Fatwa) of a Mufti does not have to be relevant to a court case in particular, therefore a Mufti’s Fatwa is non-binding because it does not deal with a particular case.
Now, a Grand Mufti is the highest ranking official in a country, except in one particular case (which I’ll get to), so the Grand Mufti of a country is selected in different ways, but ultimately they are the highest authority on religious matters in a given country or territory (like a city, for example).
The exception to this is Egypt, as Egypt has a Grand Mufti, who is currently Dr. Ali Gomaa, but Egypt’s highest ranking religious figure is not the Grand Mufti, it is the Sheikh Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb. In Egypt, the Grand Mufti is an administrative position while he also heads Dar al-Ifta or the Fatwa Council as well as supervises the sentences involving capital offenses, but because of the importance of Al-Azhar, and Sheikh Al-Azhar’s position as the highest ranking religious scholar in Sunni Islam, the Sheikh Al-Azhar is the highest ranking religious figure in Egypt, but that is not to denigrate the Grand Mufti in the slightest, they simply perform different roles.
I hope this clears this up, it can get confusing, especially as titles are thrown around a lot among Western Muslim leaders.
I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.