Ottoman Fatwâ : an essay on the legal consultation (ifta') in the Ottoman Empire

Date
1997
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İnalcık, Halil
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Bilkent University
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English
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Abstract

Legal consultation {/fla) is one important legal institution in Islamic legal culture since the consolidation o f the Islamic law. In the Ottoman empire legal consultation was carried out by the chief m ufti and the appointed provincial muftis. The provincial m uftis were academic figures; most o f them performed teaching in the respected colleges and legal consultation at the same time. The main functions of the provincial m uftis were to issue fatwas for the private applications o f the people o f their loealities and sometimes to give legal opinions to the kadis for complex problem as legal experts. In the capital o f the Ottoman empire, the legal consultation for the private applications was carried out by a bureau, fetvahane, subordinated to the chief mufti. The fatwa department issued fatwa signed by the chief m ufti for the petitioners to be presented in their lawsuits. The fatwa department had bureaucratic characteristics in the process o f fatwa-issuance. In the fatwa-issuance, the main function of the fatwa department was to construct appropriate queries fitting the legal problem exposed by the petitioner. The fatwa had an important role in the court procedure, with other legal instruments. Most of the tim e the fatwa was presented by the litigants to support their claim, theoretically. The main function o f the fatwa was to sugge.st appropriate adjudication for the kadi in the litigation at hand. In the court registers it appeared that the litigant holding a fatwa most often won the suit.

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