In countries like Afghanistan the mullahs exert an influence over the populace which sometimes rivals that of the amir himself, and they have been responsible for many disturbances in Kabul.
Rubruquis, who visited East Turkestan in 1254, Marco Polo between 1271 and 1275, and Hois in 1680, all bore witness to great religious tolerance; but this entirely disappeared with the invasion of the Bokharian mullahs or Mahommedan priests.
The new king soon fell under the influence of mullahs, and was led so far to forget his own origin as to persecute the Sufis.
The mullahs are referred to in questions concerning religious law, hold religious assemblies, preach in mosques, teach in colleges, and are appointed by the government as judges, head-preachers, &c. Thus the dignitaries, whose character seems to us specially a religious one, are in reality doctors, or expounders and interpreters of the law, and officiating ministers charged with the ordinary accomplishment of certain ceremonies, which every other Mussulman, true believer, has an equal right to fulfil.
The shah and the government have no voice whatever in the matter of appointing mullahs or mujta/zids, but frequently appoint s/zeilths-ul-islam and cadis, and occasionally chief priests of mosques that receive important subsidies out of government funds.