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The Calligraphic StateTextual Domination and History in a Muslim Society$
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Brinkley Messick

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076051

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076051.001.0001

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Relations of Interpretation

Relations of Interpretation

(p.135) Chapter 7 Relations of Interpretation
The Calligraphic State

Brinkley Messick

University of California Press

This chapter is concerned with the division of interpretive labor between two categories of worldly interpreters. The main activity of the mufti is the writing of fatwas. A mufti is a type of Muslim jurist who delivers a nonbinding legal opinion known as a fatwa, exercising in the process the form of legal interpretation called ijtihad. The muftiship and the judgeship are distinguished in the shari'a manuals. While the mufti is sought out by single questioners for nonenforceable fatwas, a judge rules in contexts of two-party adversarial conflict, and his judgments are enforceable. The difference between a fatwa and a judgment is elaborated. Fatwas and judgments are interpretive reciprocals: they come to rest at opposed points on the same hermeneutical circle.

Keywords:   interpretive labor, mufti, fatwas, muftiship, judgeship, shari'a manuals, judgment

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