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BIO: Yavuz Aykan is a historian of early modern Ottoman Empire with a particular focus on the Islamic law and social practices. He earned his PhD from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (2012), under the direction of Gilles Veinstein. He was postdoctoral researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin and at the Centre for Advanced Study, Law as Culture Program in Bonn. At present he is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Nantes, France.


ABSTRACT: This paper explores the judicial authority of the Ottoman provincial governor (vâli) of the Diyarbekir province in early eighteenth century. It focuses on the legal procedural relationship between the governor and the qadis of both the city of Amid, the provincial capital, and the city of Harput, one of the sub-districts of the province. Central to my inquiry is the role of the Provincial Council (Divân-ı Amid) headed by the governor played in the administration of justice and how it handled local petitions to the governor. My research is based on the information found in court records (sicils) of Amid and Harput.     


Copies of commandments (buyuruldus) issued by the governor and petition letters (arzuhals) as found in the court records of Harput indicate that the governor systematically pushed the qadis and local notables (ayâns) to respond to injustices committed in Harput. These documents reveal that the governor became involved in the process of law enforcement primarily by instructing the qadi of Harput to file specific types of lawsuits in the presence of an agent (mübaşir) representing the governor. In the case of petitions, the governor could ask the qadi to review cases (in the form of trial de novo) that had already been decided by the latter.


Contrary to what has been argued in recent Ottoman historiography, I argue that this crystallization of the siyasa power of the provincial governor did not stem from a judicial hierarchy in the Ottoman legal structures that positioned the governor above the qadi. My paper rather sheds light on the institutionalization of a form of mazalim justice administered both by the qadi and the governor at provincial level in the context of the rapid changes that took place in the political economy of the Empire in the 17th and the 18th centuries. In doing so, my paper characterizes the judicial division of labor between the governor and the qadi and defines their respective responsibilities in mazalim procedure in the eighteenth-century Ottoman context.


BIO: Faiz Ahmed (Ph.D., UC Berkeley; J.D., UC Hastings College of Law) is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.  A specialist in the “sociolegal” history of the modern Middle East, Ahmed’s primary research explores the individuals and institutions inspiring Islamic legal modernism, especially the production of constitutional charters, civil law codes, and “rule of law” ideology in the late Ottoman empire, Qajar Iran, and Afghanistan.  Trained as a lawyer and social historian, his current work focuses on transborder exchanges among Islamic scholars (ʿulamaʾ) and constitutional movements during the long nineteenth century.


ABSTRACT: In August 1919, a newly crowned king in Afghanistan named Amanullah Khan (1892-1960) launched an ambitious reform program with the goals of reordering his kingdom into a constitutional monarchy.  In this paper I show that the Nizamnama codes of Shah Amanullah constituted one of the twentieth century’s premier examples of Islamic legal modernism in power, based on a careful study of three integral features of the Nizamnama codification project in particular. First, I turn to the major sources of law consulted by the drafters and cited in the texts themselves—primarily canonical treatises of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. Second, the premium Shah Amanullah placed on promoting a “modern Muslim” vision of society and “Sharia-compliant” identity for the Afghan state is evident in the composition of Shah Amanullah’s cabinet and the Nizamnama drafting commission itself.  Both bodies comprised an eclectic and multinational group of Muslim professionals and jurists not only from Afghanistan’s two largest cities, Kabul and Qandahar, but as far as Istanbul, Damascus, Baghdad, and Lahore.  Finally, the paper focuses on one of the only extant documents attributed to the pen of Shah Amanullah—four Friday sermons he delivered in the southern city of Qandahar, Afghanistan in 1925.  Here I show that as Shah Amanullah sought to propel dramatic top-down social change in Afghanistan through law, he was at pains to stress his reforms were a legitimate interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence in light of modern conditions, all the while hoisting the modernist and populist banner of an “Islamic rule of law” in Afghanistan.