The Learned Institution, or hierarchy of religious officials in the Ottoman Empire.
From the early sixteenth century, the İlmiyye became a distinct hierarchy in the Ottoman government. It was headed by the grand mufti, called the Shaykh al-Islam, in Constantinople (now Istanbul) and extended to the lowest provincial qadi (judge) and religious schoolteacher. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the İlmiyye's top posts were dominated by elite families of Constantinople.
In the nineteenth century, Ottoman reforms undermined the İlmiyye's autonomy and influence by organizing the Ministry of Waqfs in 1834 and, in the Tanzimat period, introducing secular courts, law codes, and school systems that competed with religious institutions. While Abdülhamit II increased funding for the İlmiyye, he also furthered its bureaucratization and state control. During World War I, the Young Turks incorporated all religious courts into the secular Ministry of Justice and religious schools into the secular Ministry of Education. The Shaykh al-Islam was reduced to a consultant. The final blow to the İlmiyye institution was the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924 and the ensuing secularization of public institutions by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk).
See also abdÜlhamit ii; atatÜrk, mustafa kemal; caliphate; shaykh al-islam; tanzimat; young turks.
Chambers, Richard L. "The Ottoman Ulema and the Tanzimat." In Scholars, Saints and Sufis: Muslim Religious Institutions in the Middle East since 1500, edited by Nikki R. Keddie. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.
Repp, Richard. "Some Observations on the Development of the Ottoman Learned Hierarchy." In Scholars, Saints and Sufis: Muslim Religious Institutions in the Middle East since 1500, edited by Nikki R. Keddie. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.
Shaw, Stanford, and Shaw, Ezel Kural. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol. 2: Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 1808–1975. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.