Section Banner Images

Rulership and Justice

Islamic Period

Image Resource Bank

Image Gallery | Back Button On 5 of 15 Next Button On

Sharī‘ah and Justice in the Ottoman Empire

Sharī‘ah and Justice in the Ottoman Empire

By the middle of the sixteenth-century, an ascendant Ottoman sultanate, approaching its zenith under the rule of Süleyman the Lawgiver, had conquered Anatolia, Iraq, Syria, the Hijāz (including Mecca and Medina), Egypt, North Africa, the Caucasus, and Southeastern Europe. Similar to their predecessors, the Ottoman sultāns and their network of bureaucrats presided over a body of secular qānūn law, but unlike the sacral sultanates of the early middle period, there was no separate Sunnī Jamā‘ī Imamate to confer legitimacy upon the Ottoman ruler. Much later, when the Ottoman sultān was accorded the title of caliph-imām, a corps of state-appointed legal scholars and jurists was assembled to validate his claim. At the center of this institutional body was the Shaykh al-Islam, a high-ranking dignitary appointed by the sultan who managed the religious affairs of the state. This diagram illustrates the reconfiguration of the Sunnī-Jamā‘ī Imamate during the Ottoman age, perhaps the most transparent and complete subordination of religious authority to that of the state in the political history of Islamic civilization.

Next Button Off Historical Evolution of the Sunnī-Jamā‘ī Imamate

Rulership and Justice » Islamic Period » Image Resource Bank

© 2010 The Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago  |  Page updated: 12/29/2010

Contact Information  |  Rights & Permissions