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Monday, 30 January 2017

Al-Majallah al-Ahkam al-Adaliyyah (Al-Mejelle) - a complete code on Islamic civil law

Al-Majallah al-Ahkam al-Adaliyyah
by: Ahmed Cevdet Pasha
Al-Majallah al-Ahkam al-Adaliyyah was the civil code of the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was the first attempt to codify a part of Islamic law of the Ottoman empire. 

The code was prepared by a commission headed by Ahmet Cevdet Pasha, issued in sixteen volumes (containing 1,851 articles) from 1869 to 1876 and entered into force in the year 1877. In its structure and approach it was clearly influenced by the earlier European codifications. Covering most areas of civil law, it exempted family law, which remained a domain of religious law. 
The substance of the code was based on the Hanafi legal tradition that enjoyed official status in the Empire, put into European code-form. However, it also incorporated other legal opinions that were considered more appropriate to the time, including from non-Hanafis. 
As the Majalla was eventually applied in the secular courts as well as in the Islamic courts of the Empire, Jews and Christians were for the first time subjected to Islamic law instead of their own law, but could now be called as witnesses in court. 
After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Majalla remained a lasting influence in most of its successor states . The Mecelle was long-lasting in most places since it was effective, coherent, and difficult to dislodge.  
It remained in force in the following states: 
- Turkey until 1926 
- Albania until 1928 
- Lebanon until 1932 
- Syria until 1949 
- Iraq until 1953 
- Cyprus until the 1960s 
- The British Mandate for Palestine and, later, Israel formally until 1984. 
The Majalla also remains the basis of civil law in Jordan and Kuwait.

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