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Ottoman Qāḍīs in DAMASCUS IN THE 16TH–18TH centuries

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the chief Ottoman qādīs of Damascus. It is based mainly on the chronicles and biographical dictionaries of contemporary Damascene ʿulamāʾ, all of whom were thoroughly familiar with the Ottoman judicial system. Indeed, they, or members of their families, often served as deputy judges in the law courts, enhancing their knowledge of the details of the system. Their loyalty was given first and foremost to their community and by extension to the Ottoman Empire, the only Muslim government they knew (with the exception of Shams al-Dīn Muhammad b. Tulun, the great scholar and historian who chronicled the last decades of the Mamluks and the first decades of the Ottomans in Damascus. He lived from 880/1475 to 953/1546). These writers were bilingual and occasionally traveled to the Ottoman capital. Culturally and socially they were Arab and Damascene, but this did not conflict with their loyalty to the Empire.

Keywords: Damascus; judicial system; Mamluk state; Ottoman qādīs; religiosity



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