Osmanlı Mahkemelerinde Şâhitler: Şuhûdü’l-‘udûlden Şuhûdü’l-hâle Geçiş
AuthorErünsal, İsmail E.
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The institution of witness testimony played a critical role in the Ottoman judicial system. Judges (kadıs) made their final decisions almost solely on the basis of witness testimony. For this reason, great importance was attached to witness selection as the basis of justice, and careful methods were developed to prevent false testimony. Although this phenomenon was critical, scholarship on the institution of witnesses in the Ottoman judicial system, and on the witnesses themselves, is deficient. On one hand, there is no thorough-going study of the subject; the existing scholarship –from encyclopedia articles to doctoral dissertations, from published court registers to research on legal history– does little more than repeat the conventional wisdom. On the other hand, there are publications arguing that this system was a focus of unlawful practices. In this article, first of all, in order to establish the historical roots of the Ottoman implementation of şuhûdü’l-hâl, information will be provided on the concepts of ‘udûl/ şuhûd şuhûdü’l-‘udûl in the medieval Islamic world, where they played an important role in judicial operations. Then a number of examples will be given from the court registers to show how witnesses were selected for particular cases in the Ottoman courts, and how the ta’dil and tezkiye” procedure was used to determine whether these witnesses were trustworthy. The final section will examine different categories of witnesses labeled “şuhûdu’l-hâl ” who are registered in legal deeds (hüccets) and in the court registers in which copies of these deeds were recorded. Different views put forward by researchers on the function of shuhûd al-hal in the judicial system will be discussed, and an attempt will be made to explain how the transition from şuhûdü’l- ‘udûl to şuhûdü’l-hâl occurred.
SourceOsmanlı Araştırmaları Dergisi
- Sayı 53