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William Cleveland wrote in his A History of the Modern Middle East that muftis were "experts in Islamic law qualified to give authoritative legal opinions know as fatwas; muftis were members of the ulama establishment and ranked above qadis."
Within Islamic legal schools, a mufti is considered the pinnacle in the hierarchy of scholars because of the advance training required out of the individual inspiring to be a mufti. Originally, muftis were private individuals who gave fatwas informally, regulated their own activities, and determined their own standards of the fatwa institution. A mufti could also be defined as an individual well-grounded in Islamic law.
"Reaching the status of mufti normally requires that one study the principle books of fiqh, usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence), books of fatwa (legal verdicts), and other related subjects, and then sit with muftis and practice researching issues of fiqh and providing answers to them with reference to the source books. Studies in other Islamic sciences are also very important: for instance aqida, tafsir, and hadith, since many fiqhi questions involve these subjects and a mufti is oftentimes required to have deep understanding of these sciences too."-by Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf Mangera
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