Documenting Justice

New Recording Practices and the Establishment of an Activist Criminal Court System in the Ottoman Provinces (1840-late 1860s)

in Islamic Law and Society
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Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964).


See, for example, Rudolph Peters, Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 103, 127-33; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 21, 51-3, 61; Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 24-9; idem, Hırsova Kaza, 1, 7. For revisionist studies of Ottoman socio-legal change in the nineteenth century, see Iris Agmon, Family and Court: Legal culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman Palestine (New York: Syracuse Uni­versity Press, 2006); idem, “Recording Procedures and Legal Culture in the Late Ottoman Shari’a Court of Jaffa, 1865-1890,” Islamic Law and Society 11:3 (2004): 333-69; Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts; idem, “Legal borrowing and its impact on Ottoman legal culture in the late nineteenth century,” Continuity and Change 22:2 (2007): 279–303; idem, “Ottoman Judicial Change in the Age of Modernity: A Reappraisal,History Compass 6 (2008): 1-22; Huri İslamoğlu and Peter C. Perdue, ‘Introduction’, Journal of Early Modern History, 5:4 (2001): 1–11. On modernity in Middle East studies, see Dror Ze’evi, “Back to Napoleon? Thoughts on the Beginning of the Modern Era in the Middle East,” Mediter­ranean Historical Review, 19:1 (2004): 73–94.


Mirjan R. Damaška, The Faces of Justice and State Authority: A Comparative Approach to the Legal Process (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986).


Ibid., 97.


Ibid., 80-8, 147-80.


Benjamin C. Fortna, Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 1-11.


Ehud R. Toledano, As If Silent and Absent: Bonds of Enslavement in the Islamic Middle East (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 108-12.


Stanford J. Shaw, “Local Administration in the Tanzimat,” in 150. Yılında Tanzimat, ed. Hakkı Dursun Yıldız (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, 1992), 33.


Leslie Peirce, Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003), 90.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 57.


Ronald C. Jennings, “Kadi, Court, and Legal Procedure in 17th Century Ottoman Kayseri,” Studia Islamica 48 (1978): 155-61; Peirce, Morality Tales, 124.


Peirce, Morality Tales, 89. In practice, most lawsuits are the result of a private action taken by the plaintiff. Illicit sex, slander, and theft are prosecuted only when a person files a lawsuit with the court (ibid).


Eyal Ginio, “The Administration of Criminal Justice in Ottoman Selanik (Salonica) During the Eighteenth Century,” Turcica 30 (1998): 192, 206-8; Boğaç A. Ergene, “Social Identity and Patterns of Interaction in the Sharia Court of Kastamonu (1740-44),” Islamic Law and Society 15 (2008): 42-8; Işık Tamdoğan, “Sulh and the 18th Century Ottoman Courts of Üsküdar and Adana,” Islamic Law and Society 15 (2008): 55-83.


Peirce, Morality Tales, 89; Ginio, “The administration of criminal justice,” 188, 192, 204-5; Boğaç Ergene, Local Court, Provincial Society, and Justice in the Ottoman Empire: Legal Practice and Dispute Resolution in Çankırı and Kastamonu (1652-1744) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003), 210-11.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 59-60.


Peirce, Morality Tales, 124. On the reactive nature of the appeals procedure in the Ottoman legal system, see Martin Shapiro, “Islam and Appeal,” California Law Review 68 (1980): 350-2; David S. Powers, “On Judicial Review in Islamic Law,” Law and Society Review 26:2 (1992): 324; Eyal Ginio, “Coping with the State’s Agents “from below”: Petitions, Legal Appeal, and the Sultan’s Justice in Ottoman Legal Practice,” in Popular Protest and Political Participation in the Ottoman Empire - Studies in Honor of Suraiya Faroqhi, ed. Eleni M. Gara, Erdem Kabadayi, and Christoph K. Neumann (Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi Universitesi Yayinlari, 2011), 45.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 65.


Peirce, Morality Tales, 102-3. Documentation was sometimes used to complement a testimony. See Boğaç Egene, “Evidence in Ottoman Courts: Oral and Written Documentation in Early-Modern Courts of Islamic Law,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 124:3 (2004): 471-91.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 73.


Ibid., 78.


Heyd, Studies, 250; Ergene, Local Court, 202.


Heyd, Studies, 250; Ginio, “The Administration of Criminal Justice,” 206-8.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 17. Before the nineteenth century, naibs were not necessarily trained. We do not know much about them except that kadis hired individuals to fill these positions.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 61.


Peirce, Morality Tales, 102-3.


Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 129; Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 85.


Ginio, “The Administration of Criminal Justice,” 185-209. See also James E. Baldwin, “Islamic Law in an Ottoman Context: Resolving Disputes in Late 17th/Early 18th Century Cairo” (unpublished PhD dissertation, New York University, 2010), 20-74; idem, “The Pasha’s Diwan: Litigation and Politicsin late 17th/early 18th-century Cairo,” in New Approaches to Modern Egyptian Legal History, eds. Amr Shalakany and Khaled Fahmy (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, forthcoming). İlber Ortaylı argues that some local councils prior to the Tanzimat were composed of local notables (ayan and eşraf) and headed by the judge (kadi). These councils tried cases and were responsible for public order, see İlber Ortaylı, Tanzimattan Sonra Mahalli İdareler (1840-1878) (Ankara: Sevinç Matbaası, 1974), 14, 25-6. Prior to the Tanzimat, the governor’s council and the Şeriat court collaborated in criminal cases. In a criminal case, if a judge issued a verdict that required punishment, he did so in the presence of the governor, who together with the judge, took part in sentencing habitual criminals (saî bi’l-fesâd). In such cases, the judge’s court convened either in the governor’s mansion or in his council; the judgment was issued by the judge. See Ginio, “The Administration of Criminal Justice,” 195, 201; idem, “Coping with the State’s Agents,” 48-9.


Ginio, “The Administration of Criminal Justice,” 202.


Ibid., 201.


Ibid., 200.


Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde, 185; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 125. While Musa Çadırcı has argued that governors’ councils rarely operated as a court during the reign of Mahmud II, and ceased to do so after 1826, Ekrem Buğra Ekinci maintains that this practice continued throughout the period, see Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde, 20; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 125.


Ortaylı, Tanzimattan Sonra Mahalli İdareler, 26.


Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde, 214-15; Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 52-4; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 127-8.


Ortaylı, Tanzimattan Sonra Mahalli İdareier, 15-6.


Ibid., 22-4; Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde, 214; Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 55-6; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 128.


Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 64-5; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 132.


See Ferdan Ergut, Modern Devlet ve Polis: Osmanlı’dan Cumhuriyet’e Toplumsal Denetimin Diyalektiği (Istanbul: İletişim yayınları, 2004), 106; Omri Paz, “The Policeman and State Policy: Policemen’s Accountabilities, Civil Entitlements, and Ottoman Modernism, 1840-1860s,” in Society, Law, and Culture in the Middle East: Modernity in the Making, ed. Ehud R. Toledano and Dror Ze’evi (London: Versita, forthcoming).


Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde, 218-24; Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 67-73; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 134-6.


Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 136.


Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 74-5, 85.


Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde, 218-24; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 140-2.


BOA, AYN.D 490, p. 39 Konya end of Muharrem 1279 (ca. 27 July 1862). By 1862 charges in Ankara were already pressed in a Nizamiye court, see BOA, AYN.D 490, p. 102 Ankara 4 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal) 1279 (30 August 1862); BOA, AYN.D 490, p. 104 Ankara 4 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal) 1279 (30 August 1862); BOA, AYN.D 490, p. 160 Ankara 29. Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal) 1279 (24 September 1862); BOA, AYN.D 491, p. 3 Konya 14 Rebiülahir (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Thani) 1279 (8 October 1862); BOA, AYN.D 491, p. 54 Konya 11 Cemaziyelevvel (Ar. Jumada al-Awwal) 1279 (4 November 1862); BOA, AYN.D 491, p. 64 Konya 18 Cemaziyelevvel (Ar. Jumada al-Awwal) 1279 (11 November 1862); BOA, AYN.D 491, p. 75 Konya 2 Cemaziyelahir (Ar. Jumada al-Thani) 1279 (24 November 1862).


Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, 28.


Akiba, “From Kadı to Naib,” 52-6.


See Mehmet Seyitdanlıoğlu, “Tanzimat Döneminde Yüksek Yargı ve Meclis-i Vâlâ-yı Ahkâm-ı Adliye (1838-1876),” in Adalet Kitabı, ed. Bülent Arı and Selim Aslantaş (Ankara: Adalet Bakanlığı Yayınları, 2007), 207-220. In Egypt, similar developments took place beginning in 1842, when councils began to try criminal cases. See Peters, “Administration and Magistrates,” 381-90.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 40.


Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004), 48-9.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 20, 50.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 33.


Christopher Dandeker, Surveillance, Power and Modernity: Bureaucracy and Discipline from 1700 to the Present Day (Cambridge: Polity, 1990), esp. 41-82. See also James Beniger, The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), 13-16.


BOA, AYN.D 488, p. 51 Sivas, 9 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal), 1278 (12 November 1861).


BOA, AYN.D, 502, p. 89 Hüdavendigar, 4 Zilkade (Ar. Dhu al-Qaʿdah), 1282 (21 March 1866).


Türker, “Alternative Claims on Justice and Law,” 85. For the case itself, see BOA. A.MKT.DA (DES) 9/66, 21 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal), 1288 (10 June 1871). Türker, in her rich dissertation, uses the case to illustrate why rural men and women preferred to take their matters outside the court system.


Türker, “Alternative Claims on Justice and Law,” 85. For the case itself, see BOA. A.MKT.DA (DES) 9/66, 21 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal), 1288 (10 June 1871). Türker, in her rich dissertation, uses the case to illustrate why rural men and women preferred to take their matters outside the court system.


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 47.


Petrov, “Everyday Forms of Compliance,” 730-59; Türker, “Alternative Claims on Justice and Law.”


Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 153.


Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 71.


Pierce, Morality Tales, 106.


Türker, “Alternative Claims on Justice and Law,” 78-79; Petrov, “Everyday Forms of Com­pliance,” 743.


BOA, AYN.D, 486, pp. 12-13, 15 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal) 1277 (15 Oct. 1860).


See BOA, AYN.D, 471, p. 73 Ankara, 10 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal) 1264 (15 February 1848).


Damaška, The Faces of Justice, 16-17, 24. See for example: “Translation of a Turkish Temporary Code of Regulations Concerning the Apprehension, Trial, and Detention of Persons Accused of Crime and Offenses in Constantinople” Art. 28 TNA FO 97/418 (5 March 1859); BOA, AYN.D, 471, pp. 142-143 Izmir, 27 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal)1264 (3 March 1848).


Bingöl, Tanzimat Yargı Reformu, 98; Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 137.


Ekinci, Osmanlı Mahkemeleri, 130. See BOA, AYN.D, 471, pp. 142-3 Izmir, 27 Rebiülevvel (Ar. Rabīʿ al-Awwal), 1264 (3 March 1848).


Paz, “Crime, Criminals and the Ottoman State,” 140-63.


Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, 7.



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