Applied Ethics in the Ottoman Legal System in the Balkans: A Case Study of Bitola (Macedonia) with Reference to the Sijillāt al-Shar῾iyyah
Keywords:Environmental Ethics, Shari’ah Law, Balkans, Ottoman Legal System
After the Ottoman withdrawal, numerous researchers of the Balkan peoples evaluated centuries of Ottoman domination in a negative and often hostile manner by interpreting it in a nationalistic and often myopic view. Based on archival materials left by the Ottomans, it has become incumbent upon the students to investigate and analyze as objectively as possible the history of Ottoman rule and its legal system in this region. Among all the documents contained in the archives those of the Sijillat al-Shar‘iyyah (Islamic Judicial Records) are considered to be the most important, where in them the reliable objective case-by-case sources are found, not only in legal aspects but also in socio-economic matters and religio-cultural institutions related to both Muslims and non-Muslims. In recent decades, the notion of “Applied Sharī‛ah and Ethics” has been used in a loose manner without a real and proper definition, mostly in matters related to the legality of contemporary business transactions. This article will attempt to discuss and present the correct meaning of applied Sharī‛ah and ethical approach by claiming that the most remarkable sources are the recorded documents preserved in the Sharī‛ah courts. In order to do so, the article focuses on two combined points: the Ottoman judicial records and a case study of the famous Balkan region of Ottoman Bitola (formerly known as Manastir) in Macedonia, where the former archival documents are found. Bitola is chosen as a model for how the Islamic laws were applied during the dominance of Ottoman Empire in the territory. It is well-known that the region of Bitola was a melting pot and a mosaic of various ethnic groups mainly Greeks, Turks, and Albanians, with different religious beliefs comprising of Muslims, Christians and Jews.
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