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  BAD TIMES AND BETTER SELF. DEFINITIONS OF IDENTITY AND STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPMENT IN LATE OTTOMAN HISTORIOGRAPHY (18501900)


Sayfa: 2/15


enlargement of infrastructure, the integration of the empire into the
world market, and Ottoman involvement with "western" scientific,
literary, and philosophical concepts.
The paradigm of reform, which incidentally was shared by many
contemporary European observers, has the merit of correcting the
notion of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire as little more than
an object of scorn for Europe. 2 It also provides a criterion by which
one can separate the sheep from the goats, i. e. on the one side are
the reformists and modernists who are the "good guys", on the other
the reactionaries, traditionalists (and the Islamists of 1990s Turkey),
who are seen as the "bad guys". The relevance of the paradigm,
however, is seriously limited by the fact that the controversies occuring
within the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire cannot be described
as a clear-cut case of reform versus reaction. When these controversies
are examined more closely, it becomes rather difficult to categorize
a person or stance as being either reformist or reactionary.
The codification of Hanafite law, the main school of Islamic law
(mezheb] in the Ottoman Empire, may serve as an example. It was
quite late, in the year 1867, that the systematic codification of the
stipulations of the shari'a according to the Hanafi school was undertaken.
3 It was, primarily, the compilation along Western lines of a
civil law founded on Islamic principles and rules. This constituted,
on the one side, an 'act of reform', since it contributed to the centralization
of state institutions and the unification of the empire's system
of law. On the other hand, it was a 'reactionary' act, since it
countered a proposal to adopt a version of the French civil code.
The codification of the Hanafite shari'a meant the victory of the
holy over the secular law. It must be noted, however, that the greatest
opposition to the codification of Hanafite law came from the
office of the §eyhiilislam. In the final analysis, can this codification,
the results of which were known as the Mecelle, be termed a progressive
enterprise? 4
2 As expressed in the titles of books such as La Turquie et ses reformes, by Eugene
Morel (Paris, 1866).
3 Ebiil'ula Mardin, Medeni hukuk cephesinden Ahmet Cevdet Pasa (Istanbul, 1946), p. 66.
4 Mardin, Medeni hukuk cephesinden; Hulusi Yavuz, "Events Leading to the Compilation
of the First Ottoman Civil Code", Islam tetkikleri dergisi 8, 14
(1984 ) 89122,
"Mecelle'nin tedvini ve Cevdet Pa§ a'nm hizmetleri", Ahmed Cevdet Pasa semineri: 2728
Mayis 1985. Bildiriler, ed. by Mubahat Kiitukoglu (Istanbul, 1986), 41102.
Further
information concerning this debate can be found in my Das indirekte Argument: Ein
Pladoyer fur die Tan^imdt vermittels der Historie; die geschichtliche Bedeutung von Ahmed Cevdet
Pasas Ta'nh (Minister, Hamburg 1994), 4750.




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