Sheikh al-Islam

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Illustration of a Sheikh al-Islam, 1809

Sheikh al-Islām or Sheikh al-Islam ( Arabic شيخ الإسلام, Turkish Şeyhülislam ; also: Scheichülislam , Scheichulislam , Scheikulislam and Sheikh ul-Islam ) is a title of honor for Islamic religious scholars, which is from the 10th century to use. In the Ottoman Empire he was the title of the Mufti of the capital (from 1453 Istanbul ), who also represented the highest religious authority of the state.

Ottoman Empire

The first Shaikh al-Islam was Mullah Fenarî in 1424 and the last was Medenî Nuri Efendi in 1922. This results in a continuity of almost 500 years.

For example, they were considered outstanding incumbents

Raschīd Ridā criticized in a paper published in 1901 that the title “Sheikh al-Islām” was an invention of kings and emirs who had no relation to religion themselves and who had only introduced this title to impress the uneducated masses .

The Young Turks curtailed from 1916, this system largely one. After the establishment of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1920, the office of “Sheikh ul-Islam” was resident in the Ministry of Sharia and Foundations ( Şeriye ve Evkaf Vekaleti ) until 1924 . The Sheikh al-Islam had the task of appointing the chief kadi (judge).

Due to the separation of religion and state , the ministry was abolished in Turkey. The “ Presidium for Religious Affairs ” (Diyanet) was set up as a successor institution, which sees itself as the successor to Shaikh al-Islam in a secular state.

Outside the Ottoman Empire

In other states, too, the supreme mufti (or chief mullah ) is still occasionally referred to as Sheikh al-Islam. B. currently Allahşükür Paşazadə in Russia or in the Caucasus or the Chula Raja Montri in Thailand.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, the supreme mufti of Baku bore the title of Sheikh al-Islam , as a sign that Shiites also live in his area.

See also


  • Art. “Shaykh al-Islām.” In: Encyclopaedia of Islam Second Edition. Vol. IX, pp. 399-402. (1. JH Kramers / RW Bulliet: Early history of the term. 2. RC Repp: In the Ottoman Empire. )
  • Richard C. Repp: The Müfti of Istanbul: A Study in the Development of the Learned Ottoman Hierarchy. London 1986.

Individual evidence

  1. See Malcolm Kerr: Islamic Reform. The Political and Legal Theories of Muḥammad ʿAbduh and Rashīd Riḍā. Berkeley 1966. pp. 178 f.
  2. The “Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı” operates in Germany through the “ Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion ” (DITIB) and
    in Austria through the “ Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria ” (ATIB).
  3. Encyclopaedia of Islam , article about Thailand (X: 430a) ( memento of August 18, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) and homepage of the Sheikhul Islam Office (Thai) ( memento of the original of January 4, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was used automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Martin Robbe , Gerhard Höpp : World of Islam - History and everyday life of a religion , page 178. Urania-Verlag Leipzig 1988