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Fatwa has been translated by many as an 'opinion' but its correct definition in conformity with the Arabic language is; 'Directive', 'Instruction' or 'Giving guidance by advice.'

In the Quran, Allah says, "They ask thee for a legal decision. Say: God directs (thus) about those who leave no descendants as ascendants as heirs..." (Quran 4:176)

Sheikh Jafar Subhani comments on this verse by saying, "Fatwa means to give an answer to a question that has been asked." (Book: تاريخ الفقه الاسلامي)

In Shari'ah, a fatwa is the guidance and instruction given by a Scholar (often called Mufti) who use the principles of Islamic jurisprudence in order to derive rulings from various sources (Quran, Hadith etc).