13 Şubat 2015 Cuma

Multaqa al-Abhur (The Confluence of the Seas)

From 16th century, Ottoman qadis (judges) were ordered to judge based on the strong precedents (asahh-i aqwal) of the Hanafi school. These precedents were compiled systematically by Ibrahim Halebi (d. 956/1594) in his book, Multaqa al-Abhur. In the time of Sultan Ibrahim's reign, this book was translated by Mawqufati Mahmad Efendi into Ottoman Turkish with commentaries. From that time on, this translation was used as a code of law in the Ottoman courts [1]. James Lewis Farley, Irish banker and diplomat, states in his book, “The Sultan rules over the Turks, but the Koran and the Multeka rule the Sultan” [2]. This statement is important to show that the Sultan's sovereignty is limited by Multaqa.

Ibrahim Halabi expresses his purpose for writing this book [3]: “Some students wanted me to write a book, which contains knowledge from Quduri, Mukhtar, Kanz, and Wiqaya,  whose sentences could be read easily. I have accepted their request. Furthermore I added necessary masail (judgements of fiqh) from Majma and  some from Hidaya to my book”.  The books mentioned in his statement, al-Mukhtar li al-Fatwa, Kanz al-Daqaiq, Wiqaya al-Riwaya fi Masail al-Hidaya and Majma al-Bahrayn, are four most esteemed books (mutun-i mutabara-i arbaa) in the Hanafi school. Quduri belongs to this group of esteemed books, if we consider the six most esteemed books. Hidaya is a famous Hanafi fiqh book.  

Many researchers doing studies on Ottoman do not even have fundamental knowledge about Ottoman law. Therefore, their analyses and citations are left unsupported. The following citation from Oral Sander's book can be given as an example [4]: “The Ottoman Empire got a more Muslim character  under the rule of Sulaiman; this required  a new legal arrangement. Hence, Halab of Molla Ibrahim was tasked with that; the emerged law was called Mülteka-ul-uther (Kinross, 1972, p. 206)”. If Sander looked at the translation of Multaqa instead of only citing from Kinross, he would have realized that Mulataqa was written for a different purpose and he could have written correctly the title of Multaqa. Moreover, according to Multaqa's manuscript written by the author in  Beyazit Library, this manuscript was written 3 years before the accession of Sultan Suleiman [5].


[1] Ekrem Buğra Ekinci, Osmanlı Hukuku – Adalet ve Mülk [Ottoman Law – Justice and State], Istanbul, 2012, p. 163.

[2] James Lewis Farley, Turks and Christians: A Solution of the Eastern Question, London, 1876, p. 156. This book can be downloaded here.

[3] Ibrahim Halabi, Multaqa Tarjumasi [Translation of Multaqa], Translation into Ottoman Turkish with explanation by Mawqufati Mahmad Efendi, Darsaadat, 1312, vol. I, p. 7.

[4] Oral Sander, Anka’nın Yükselişi ve Düşüşü - Osmanlı Diplomasi Tarihi Üzerine Bir Deneme [Rise and Decline of The Phoenix – An Essay on the History of Ottoman Diplomacy], Ankara, 1987, s. 57. This book can be downloaded here. For the citation from Kinross, refer to  Patrick Balfour Baron Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire, Cape, 1977,  p. 206.

[5] Şükrü Selim Has, “Mülteka’l-Ebhur”, Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi, vol. XXXI, İstanbul 2006, p. 550.

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