Applied Ethics in the Ottoman Legal System in the Balkans: A Case Study of Bitola (Macedonia) with Reference to the Sijillāt al-Shar῾iyyah


  • Mesut Idriz International University of Sarajevo



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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Author Biography

Mesut Idriz, International University of Sarajevo

Mesut Idriz, a native of Macedonia, received his graduate and doctoral degrees from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Currently he is Professor of Comparative History of Civilizations, Law and Ethics, and Political Science courses at the International University of Sarajevo. He was Head of the Department of Political Science and International Relations. He was Founder-Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Education at Hasan Kalyoncu University (Formerly known as Gazikent University). He has taught at the International Islamic University Malaysia and the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) respectively and was Chief Editor (Academics) at MPH Group Publishing (Kuala Lumpur). He is a regular Visiting Professor at the International Summer School (PISU) of Prishtina University, Kosovo, teaching a special course on “Public Diplomacy in the Balkans.” He is Vice-President of Dituria Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Macedonia that serves towards the studies on science and culture. He has published, edited and translated numerous academic books and articles concerning the Balkans, Ottoman and Muslim history, Islamic civilization, history of Islamic education (particularly the tradition of ijazah, diploma). Among his books is The Ijazah of 'Abdullah Fahim: A Unique Document from Islamic Education, analyzing and translating into English the Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Grandfather's ijazah. He is co-translator of HE Ali Akbar Velayeti’s voluminous work into English language namely Mawsū‛ah al-Islām wa Irān (The Encyclopedia of Islam and Iran). His works have been published in English, Turkish, Albanian, Persian, French and Malay languages. His recent book is Turkish-Albanian Macedonian Relations: Past, Present and Future (2012). He is co-editor with Osman Bakar a book titled Islam in Southeast Europe: Past Reflections and Future Prospects published by SOASCIS, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (2014). He is currently co-authoring a book on ‘intelligence services’ (istikhbarat) from language and Islamic legal perspectives (2016).




How to Cite

Idriz, M. (2016). Applied Ethics in the Ottoman Legal System in the Balkans: A Case Study of Bitola (Macedonia) with Reference to the Sijillāt al-Shar῾iyyah. IIUM Law Journal, 24(1).