(pl. fuqaha’, derived from Arabic fa-qi-ha meaning to have a correct understanding of matters). Faqih is an expert in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). Early in the 10th century CE, the fuqaha’ represented a major part of the religious elite. They functioned as judges (qudat) and jurisconsults (muftin). The importance of the fuqaha’ has steadily declined during the twentieth-century as a result of the massive legal reforms which took place in most Muslim countries during and after the colonial period. The fuqaha’ have largely been replaced by modern lawyers, jurists, and judges.