Ebussuud Efendi

Ebussuud Efendi
Personal details
Born 30 December, 1490
Died 23 August, 1574 (aged 84)
Parents Sheikh Muhiddin Efendi (father)

Ebussuud Efendi (Turkish: Muhammad Ebussuûd Efendi, b. 30 December 1490 – d. 23 August 1574[1]) was a Hanafi Ottoman jurist and Qur'an exegete. He was also called "El-İmâdî"[1] because his family was from İmâdiyye.[1]

Ebussuud was the son of İskilipli Sheikh Muhiddin Muhammad Efendi.[1] In the 1530s, Ebussuud served as judge in Bursa, Istanbul and Rumelia, where he brought local laws into conformity with Islamic law (sharia). Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent promoted him to Shaykh al-Islām – supreme judge and highest official – in 1545, an office Ebussuud held until his death and which he brought to the peak of its power.[2] He worked closely with the Sultan, issuing judicial opinions that legitimised Suleiman's killings of Yazidis and his successor Selim's attack on Cyprus.[2] Ebussuud also issued fatwās which labeled the Qizilbash, regardless of whether they lived on Iranian or Ottoman soil, as "heretics", and declared that killing them would be viewed as praiseworthy, other than just being allowed according to law.[3]

Together with Suleiman, the "Lawgiver", Ebussuud reorganized Ottoman jurisprudence and brought it under tighter governmental control, creating a legal framework joining sharia and the Ottoman administrative code (qānūn). While the previously prevailing opinion held that judges were free to interpret sharia, the law that even the ruler was subject to, Ebussuud instituted a framework in which the judicial power was derived from the Sultan's and which compelled judges to follow the Sultan's qānūn-nāmes, "law-letters", in their application of the law.[2]

In addition to his judicial reforms, Ebussuud is also remembered for the great variety of fatwās he issued. His opinions allowing Karagöz plays and the consumption of coffee, a novelty at the time, are particularly celebrated.[4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 İsmail Hâmi Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, Türkiye Yayınevi, İstanbul, 1971, p. 114. (in Turkish)
  2. 1 2 3 Schneider, 192.
  3. Matthee 2014, p. 9.
  4. Schneider, 193.


  • Matthee, Rudi (2014). "The Ottoman-Safavid War of 986-998/1578-90: Motives and Causes". In Karpat, Kemal; Balgamış, Deniz. International Journal of Turkish Studies. 20, Nos 1& 2. 
  • Schneider, Irene (2001). "Ebussuud". In Michael Stolleis (ed.). Juristen: ein biographisches Lexikon; von der Antike bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (in German) (2nd ed.). München: Beck. p. 192. ISBN 3-406-45957-9. 
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