The Problem of Reliable Source

The practice of fatwa, which refers to the interpretation of Islam according to everyday life, emerged during the time of the Prophet and has continued up to our day. After the death of the Prophet, the practice continued under the legal activities of sahaba, tâbiîn and tebe-i tâbiîn and acquired its separate meaning as a new branch of fiqh after the fourth century after Hijra. While the problems and premises about the fatwa studies were at first treated within the kitab al qada sections of the fiqh/fatwa books, later on, they started to be treated within usul al-fiqh under the special sections like “ijtihad” or “fatwa” and sometimes treated indepently having titles such as “adab al mufti,” and “rasm al mufti.” The Ottoman state adopted the Hanafi sect, which dominated the territory it governed. The state even constructed the pillars of its fatwa studies on the basis of Hanafism. Along with the difficulty of interpreting, updating and implementing the hundreds of fiqh works, the six-century time interval from the Abbasids to the Ottoman Empire brought along the additional problem of reliability of the Fiqh sources (mu’tabar) and eligibility for fatwa (muftah bih). This study explores how the Ottoman state interpreted such rich legal material within a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural area and how it managed to distinguish namely the mu’tabar and muftah bih from the other. After briefly describing the theoretical studies on the topic, we will apply a statistical analysis through the fatwa collections selected from certain periods and areas and try to demonstrate how these theoretical studies are actually reflected in practical terms.


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