What is the meaning of “fatwa”?

Fadl Ibn Hasan At-Tabarsi writes:
والاستفتاء السؤال عن الحكم وهو استفعال من الفتيا ويقال أفتى في المسألة إذا بين حكمها فتوى وفتيا

“Obtaining of the fatwa is the question regarding the judgment and it is the tenth branch of Futya and it is said: “He gave a fatwa over the question.” If he clarified the judgement about it, so Fatwa and Futya.” [Majma’-ul-Bayan, volume 3 page 209]

Ibn Manzur Al-Ansari writes:

وأفتاه في الأمر أبانه له وأفتى الرجل في المسألة واستفيته فيها فأفتاني إفتاء وفتي وفتوى اسمان يوضعان موضع الإفتاء ويقال أفتيت فلانا رؤيا رآها إذا عبرتها له وأفتيته في مسألته إذا أجبته عنها

“He gave him a fatwa on the matter means: “He explained it to him.” One person made a fatwa, about the question i asked him about, and he gave me a fatwa and Futya and Fatwa are two terms that are used instead of clarification and they say: “i gave someone a fatwa about a dream vision that he saw when i gave him the interpretation of it and i gave him a fatwa about his question when i answered it.” [Lisan-ul-Arab, volume 15 page 147]

The term “fatwa” (  فتوى  ) thus means “to clarify something/clarification.”


The Qur’an says:

فاستفتهم ألربك البنات ولهم البنون

“Ask them for fatwa: “Does your lord have sons and daughters?” [Ace-Saffat 37:149]

ويستفتونك في النساء قل الله يفتيكم يفتيكم فيهن

“They ask you for fatwa about women. Say: “God gives you a fatwa over them.” [An-Nisa’ 4:127]

يستفتونك قل الله يفتيكم يفتيكم في الكلالة

“They ask you for a fatwa. Say: “God gives you fatwa through the inheritance portion of lateral kinship.” [An-Nisa’ 4:176]

يوسف أيها الصديق أفتنا أفتنا في سبع بقرات سمان سمان يأكلهن سبع عجاف

“Joseph, truthful man, give us a fatwa over the seven obese cows that eat the seven lean ones!” [Yusuf 12:46]

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