INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST STUDIES, vol.54, no.3, pp.442-461, 2022 (SSCI)
Article / Article
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST STUDIES
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distant reading, fetva, Ottoman empire, seyhulislam, topical analysis
Istanbul Technical University Affiliated:
Using a distant reading methodology, the article examines the thematic compositions of fetva compilations by four Ottoman seyhulislams in the early modern era. Our analysis of the fetvas from the late 17th and early 18th centuries reveal that the majority of these opinions concerned a small number of issues, including women, family problems, contractual matters, and disputes and litigations. The article also demonstrates that the representation of fetvas with such concerns increased compared to what we find in the opinions of Ebussuud Efendi, a 16th-century seyhulislam. But interest in religious issues, non-Muslims, and taxation declined over time. Finally, the article proposes computational procedures to identify the complex contextual characteristics of the seyhulislams' opinions.