Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg





The judiciary of late Mamluk and early Ottoman Damascus: the administrative, social and cultural transformation of the system

The study compares the profiles of judges (qadis), deputy qadis (na’ibs), and the personnel of the courts in Damascus mainly in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Although both the Mamluks and the Ottomans were committed to the Shari‘a law, their legal and administrative practices and policies were quite different. This was the result of the obvious political realities and the status of Damascus within the Mamluk and the Ottoman states. Damascus in the transition period is a good test case, owing to the many excellent sources in sixteenth century Damascus, that were even richer than the sources of Cairo during the same period. The involvement of the qadis with the local population under both rules and their relations with the center (Cairo and then Istanbul) are recorded in the chronicles, biographical dictionaries and other literary and documentary sources of Damascus. The social and cultural differences between the local (Arabic speaking) qadis and the Turkish speaking nominees from Istanbul call for an extensive comparative study.