Mulla in Bosnian ejalet

  • Azra Gadžo-Kasumović
Keywords: natkadija, mulla, valija, sudska vlast u provinciji Bosna, Glavni sud/Bab i mahkame, Saraj-Bosna, vojne ostavstine


Rumeli military judge was responsible for all legal system of Ejalet (province) intermediary /indirectly by mulla as his representative with high military – judiciary rank (from the category of zabit). Within the court of any Ejalet there existed both a military and civilian judicial sector. The mulla had the complete oversight of both sectors, but his primary responsibility was for the military task. All the sidjils of mulla appointed in Bosnian ejalet with headquarters in Sarajevo from the 18th and 19th century had on its cover compulsory label Sicil-i mahfuz vekaji’ ve kismet-i askeriyye der zaman faziletlu that stated Sijil-i mahfuzi which were, in fact, the main reason for the compilation of the sijil. The task of the mulla was recording of important documents (vekayi’) and care of military individuals and their situation and needs. Its seat was in Saraj Bosnia, but area of its judicial and military responsibility was the region of the whole Ejalet. The whole Ejalet in judicial terms was at the rank of mevlevijjet – judicial area which belongs to responsibility of the mulla. The mulla had, in addition to his judicial and administrative role, a dual responsibilities: responsibilities of chief qadi of Saraj Bosnia region to organize and oversee the inheritance – related affairs of military persons as well as the transfer of his sharia and legal jurisdictions to one or more deputies. The second responsibility of chief qadi of Bosnia was implementing all orders from the Porte. These tasks included hearing cases at the level of High Court (Bab-i mahkame) for which he was responsible (unless these were not resolved at the lower qadi level across Bosnia). The tasks included resolving cases related to inheritance of the military persons, military property and similar, as well as to be present during mobilization, supplying military clerks, participation in international border commissions.

In addition to registry military inheritance, the most important role was to participate in solving problems ordered from the Porte, sometimes in his own capacity and sometimes with vali of Bosnia, especially when dispute deals with rent of state properties and about provision of salary to the mili- tary individuals which were financed out of taxes collected from the rent of the state property. The mulla was responsible to protect law and order in Sharia legal issues as well as other work ordered by Porte. He was responsible, in cooperation with vali, to deal with legal appeal in the area with mili- tary officers from the whole Ejalet. It was the responsibility of the mulla was to intervene to solve problems in cases when these could not be solved by local qadi or his deputy. In his register were recorded all main administrative regulation and legal verdicts and permission given for economic activities.

Apart from the above mentioned responsibilities, mulla’s duty was to send regularly very precise and detailed reports to the Porte about all duties dealing with functioning of the system. The mulla had the right to propose promotion or demotion of government officers and military persons, to undertake necessary measures for protection of borders of the Ejalet, to suggest and appeal to the sultan to send financial and military support to carry out military defense. In that sense he has not only judiciary but military and mediatory engagements in the administration. He personally composed reports but reports of highly ranked officers he registered and send them. Since mulla sometimes did not come personally to Bosnia he used to appoint his main deputy (bab-i naib) in the Main Court (bab-i mahkeme) to carry out his duty and delegated him his own obligations to deal with sharia legal work and to deal with registration and distribution of military estatelegacy. The Main naib, in fact, was ćehaja or deputy of mulla who replaced mulla in all his competencies. The Main Court (Bab-i mahkeme), was main regional court where mulla as one of the two main members seated in Saraj Bosnia, while vali as a second member was stationed in Travnik. They had meetings from time to time in Main Court in Sarajevo or in Bosnian divan in Travnik along with vezir who, apart from being head of all power.

  • V. GHB, sidžil 50, str .
  • The work is based on the analysis of all sidjils of Sarajevo court (especially from 18th and 19th centuries), numerous individual documents from the collection of Gazi Husrev-bey’s library and other sidjils from many kadiluks of Bosnian ejalet which were preserved up to day.
How to Cite
Gadžo-Kasumović, A. (2008). Mulla in Bosnian ejalet. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 15(27-28), 5-68. Retrieved from