BIO: Guy Burak is the Middle East and Islamic Studies Librarian at Bobst Library, New York University. Before coming to NYU, Burak was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at the Harvard Law School. His publications appear in IJMES, The Mediterranean Historical Review, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and Journal of Islamic Studies (forthcoming). His forthcoming book (with Cambridge University Press) deals with the rise of the state madhhab in the Ottoman Empire. He is currently working on a monograph on the history of kanun.
ABSTRACT: My paper will trace the Ottoman introduction of kanun to the Arabic-speaking Middle East in the first decades following the Ottoman conquest of the Arab lands in 1516-17. In particular, it will look at the two supplementary discourses that accompanied the conquest: (1) the Ottoman attempt to invent a Mamluk kanun, despite the fact that the concept was alien to the Mamluk political-legal vocabulary, and (2) the denunciation of the Ottoman kanun as yasa by jurists from the Arab lands. By examining these discourses, the paper intends to draw attention to some particular features of the Ottoman (and in fact post-Mongol) dynastic law and to point to the difference between the Ottoman dynastic law and other forms of sultanic legislation, namely siyasa.