Fatawa Literature in the Ottoman Era

This study aims to unearth the amount of existing Ottoman fatawa collections. To determine the names of the collections and the collectors, we used catalogues both published materials and online sources, namely, of the Centre for Islamic Studies' (ISAM) Database of Turkey's Libraries and of the National Library of Turkey's Database Search (www.yazmalar.org). Then we checked at least one copy of each book in the libraries of Istanbul, where they are stored overwhelmingly as manuscripts. The primary aims of this article neither examine the concept, function and emergence of fatwa, nor bringing together information of all the manuscripts. Rather it gives emphasis on to dig out the authors of the fatawa books. In addition, I wanted to show, in the article, the shortcomings of contemporary literature. Fatawa literature differs from each other not only in terms of the content and the form of the books but also in terms of the positions of scholars. Some collections included the fatwas issued by the Ottoman Grand Muftis (Sheikh al-Islams) whereas the other some by scholars such as provincial muftis, lecturers at Madrasas (mudarris), judges, and fatwa scribes. Furthermore, while some of these collections are comprised of the actual questions and responses, the other some are the compilation of quotations from the Arabic classical fatawa books. Therefore, within the scope of my article, I tried to classify the books from the perspectives mentioned above. I tried to examine and explore about 160 fatawa collections in this work. I think, It has been the most comprehensive list, among the existing studies, of these collections. However, it does not mean that this article covered all of the Ottoman fatawa books. It should be evaluated just a contribution to the literature for the further studies.


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