1 Mayıs 2015 Cuma

Fiqh/Law and Handasa/Geometry

While reading Sadri Maksudi's Hukuk Tarihi Dersleri (Lectures of Legal History) in Ottoman-Turkish, the section titled “Leibniz'in Hukuk Tarihine Hizmeti (Leibniz's service to legal history)” drew attention to me [1]. I checked whether there was any recent study dealing with the same topic. I encountered the paper titled “Law & Geometry: Legal Science from Leibniz to Langdell” [2], which reminded me of an old Turkish couplet [3]:

Hendese ilm-i fıkhın mizanıdır 
Kim anı kem eyleye, nasın çinganıdır. 

Handasa (geometry) is the balance of the science of fiqh
Whoever looks down to it or neglects it is the most inferior of people.

Geometry is deemed a balance for fiqh in this couplet. Those who ignore geometry are criticized. “Islamic law” terminology is commonly used instead of fiqh, but does not wholly cover the meaning of fiqh. This couplet establishes a relationship between law and geometry. In geometry, definite knowledge is obtained through proving theorems, which is mentioned in Tahafut al-Falasifa by Imam Ghazali. Because of this importance, geometry kept its position in the curriculum until the Ottoman madrasas were abolished. Toderini, an Italian Jesuit, could not fail to mention the importance of geometry in the madrasas [4].

References and Notes

[1] Sadri Maksudi, İkinci Sene Hukuk Tarihi Dersleri, 1926-1927 sene-i tedrisiyesinde takrir edilen ders notları, Ankara Hukuk Mektebi, p. 9.  The book can be downloaded here.

[2] M. H. Hoeflich, "Law & Geometry: Legal Science from Leibniz to Langdell", The American Journal of Legal History, vol. 30, no. 2 (Apr., 1986), pp. 95-121.

[3] Prof. Ekrem Bugra Ekinci said on a radio program that this couplet was hung on the wall in Darü'ş-Şafaka High School in the Ottoman era.

[4] Giambatista Toderini, Türklerin Yazılı Kültürü [Turkish Literature], Translation from French into Turkish by Ali Berktay, İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2012, p.65-67. 

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