Oppression and Salvation
Annotated Legal Documents from the Ottoman Book of Complaints of 1675
Studien zur Sprache, Geschichte und Kultur der Turkvölker 27
Klaus Schwarz Verlag
1. Auflage (2018)
Hardcover, 188 Seiten
Verfügbarkeit: Neuauflage in Vorbereitung, vorbestellbar
The phenomenon of complaints was a central tenet in the ideology of the Ottoman Empire, an obsession it inherited from former Middle Eastern empires, Islamic and pre-Islamic. Attention was directed in particular to the tendency of state officials to overstep the bounds of their authority, exploiting vast areas of the countryside to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor citizens and, as a consequence, to undermine the legitimacy of the ruler himself.
On the other hand, so many complaints of harsh abuses might give the impression that the Ottoman Empire in its entirety should have collapsed as a consequence.
In the first place, the Şikayet Defteri is a legal document because many of the complaints stem from the point of departure that a certain Shari’a law has been broken, violating the natural rights of certain groups of citizens. More important than this, however, the Şikayet is a legal document from an additional, methodological perspective: the document provides a perspective on the Kadi, his court, and his position in the state, which are unlikely to be obtained from any other source. Particularly, such information cannot be had from the Kadi record (sicill) itself, as this source only looks at itself from the inside, solving day-to-day problems.