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Law, Empire, and the SultanOttoman Imperial Authority and Late Hanafi Jurisprudence$
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Samy A. Ayoub

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190092924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190092924.001.0001

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The Ottoman Rationale for Codification: The Mecelle

The Ottoman Rationale for Codification: The Mecelle

(p.129) 4 The Ottoman Rationale for Codification: The Mecelle
Law, Empire, and the Sultan

Samy A. Ayoub

Oxford University Press

This chapter is dedicated to the Mecelle, the first Islamic civil law code. It is primarily concerned with the substance of the articles of the Mecelle. This chapter contends that the Mecelle is a culminating articulation of late Ḥanafī legal scholarship in the early modern period. What is important about the Mecelle, this chapter argues, is not only that it represents a faithful synthesis of late Ḥanafī jurisprudential norms in this period but also that it promulgated new social and legal norms for the late Ottoman Empire. The Mecelle underscores the increasing bureaucratization and centralization of judicial and legal authority in the Ottoman Empire. This chapter stresses that the Mecelle should be understood in the context of the Ottoman modernization project and that it constitutes a response from within the Islamic legal tradition to the Tanzimat and the penetration of Western laws into Ottoman society.

Keywords:   Mecelle, legal modernity, codification, state authority, westernization

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