Vows as contract in Ottoman public life (17th-18th centuries)
Canbakal, Hülya (2011) Vows as contract in Ottoman public life (17th-18th centuries). Islamic Law and Society, 18 (1). pp. 85-115. ISSN 0928-9380 (print) ; 1568-5195 (online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/156851910X517065
Starting sometime in the seventeenth century, vows (nezir, Ar. nadhr) began to be used in the central lands of the Ottoman Empire as a means to seal contracts of a public nature. Although these vows were similar to the more common and older forms of customary compacts that also pertained to public matters, vows had a better defined status in sharia and could entail worldly liability in addition to moral/religious obligation. Using court records and fatwa collections, I argue that vows exemplified the expansion of legality and control of the state over custom and morality, as well as the recognition of a customary device of contract and its penetration into the legal sphere. On a secondary level, I also provide new material on contemporary political culture and the question of legal pluralism in the Ottoman context.
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