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Economic Interventionism, Islamic Law and Provincial Government in the Ottoman Empire

M. Safa Saraçoğlu
Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
Vol. 2, No. 1, Law and Legality in the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey (Spring 2015), pp. 59-84
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/jottturstuass.2.1.59
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jottturstuass.2.1.59
Page Count: 26
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Economic Interventionism, Islamic Law and Provincial Government in the Ottoman Empire
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Abstract

Abstract Intervention into market activity was a common administrative practice in the Ottoman Empire particularly prior to the nineteenth century. This article focuses on the two key practices of market control, market inspection/inspectors (ihtisab/muhtasib) and the setting of price-ceilings (narh). A discussion of the basis for these practices in Islamic law is followed by an explanation of their gradual disappearance in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the course of the nineteenth-century institutional transformation of the Ottoman Empire, a significant role in market control was delegated to the provincial administrative councils, which were commissioned with the task of overseeing economic activity in addition to maintaining a proper environment for the functioning of markets as spontaneous, natural mechanisms. The second half of the article examines this nineteenth-century transformation by analyzing a key 1849 regulation that established a new kind of provincial council (eyalet meclisleri) that took over the market related responsibilities of the muhtasib.

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