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Mufti is institutionally appointed or authorised to pronounce fatwah or expound Shariah law. A socially recognised authority on Shariah law is also often called a mufti. In all states run according to Muslim law, there are muftis who help the qazi or judge in interpreting Muslim laws. During the Mughal regime in Bengal, muftis and qazis helped the adalat (court) and the nawab in rendering justice. The tradition continued down well into Lord cornwallis regime (1786-1793) when the mufti lost his former importance, though not his existence as a law officer.

Under the Regulation 9 of 1793, the courts were reorganised structurally. According to this Regulation, the European judges got predominance over the native judges. Henceforth, the sadr and district courts engaged Muslim officers under the designation of Maulvi, instead of Mufti. This change was brought ostensibly to affirm the downgraded status of the traditional authority of the Muftis. The system of keeping a Maulvi, a shadow of the Mufti, was also discontinued from 1862 when the modern High Court system was introduced.

Though abolished as a law expounder in the British courts, the institution of Mufti is still there informally in Bangladesh. Highly learned person in the Shariah law is often termed as a mufti by the members of the Ulama class. Even without being recognised by the Ulama class, an aspirant may style himself as a Mufti and normally, other Ulamas do not object to such appropriation of this extinct judicial title. [Sirajul Islam]

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