Islamic legal ruling or edict, the formal opinion of a mufti or Mujtahid. For example, the Iranian supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa on Feb. 14, 1989, that called on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, who wrote the "The Satanic Verses" that was deemed blasphemous to Islam. A fatwa cannot be rescinded, except by a higher or equal authority in religious status.
A fatwa cannot be rescinded unless a higher authority can offer a different interpretation. Since the death of Imam Khomeini in June 1989, there has not emerged another authority with greater or even equal stature to rescind the fatwa. In any case, it is based on sound Islamic principles and is supported by Qur'anic commands as well as numerous ahadith. Muslims throughout the world, of all Schools of Thought, support the fatwa. On September 29, three senior Ayatullahs in Iran reaffirmed the fatwa and said that it cannot be rescinded. ("For Rushdie, It is Not Over Yet!", Harakah, Oct 26, 1998)
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