Accepted Paper:

Muslim orphans in colonial Tashkent according to Qāḍī court records  


Nasriddin Mirzayev (International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan)

Paper long abstract:

According to Islamic law, an orphan is an under-aged infant (saghir) before the age of puberty whose father or both his/her parents have died. Yet in the qaḍī court record cases produced in colonial-era Tashkent, under-aged children who lost their mother were not defined as orphans. This novel way of defining orphans reflects the changing socio-economic roles played by fathers and mothers. In this paper I focus on the transformation of Tashkent qāḍī court records, with special attention to four books written in Sibzar 1888, Beshaghach 1888, Kukcha 1899, and 1890 Shaykhantaur districts respectively. These sources have been almost entirely neglected by scholars, despite their importance for illuminating the social and economic circumstances of orphans in Muslim society in Tashkent.

In 1867, when Russian colonial authorities started to reform juridical system in Turkestan, the qāḍis were ordered to give information to the colonial administration by written annual registers about all issues which they judged. Therefore, everytime someone of even lower socioeconomic status went to a qāḍī court, the case was documented. I apply statistical and comparative methods to these qāḍīs register ledgers in order to approach answers to the following questions:

- what were the new orders of Russian statutory law in the register books?

- were the court recordings which contained full information on ophans created to safeguard the livelihood of orphans or for registering orphans' inherited properties to control it?

- what were differences between qāḍīs' old and 'new' register books (i.e. before and after the colonial legal reforms)?

- howwere the proceedings forappointing a guardian for orphans held?

Preliminary findings suggest an increasing importance of documentation and paperwork in the colonial context. It also suggests that Muslim judges to innovate new procedures and solutions within the broader framework of Islamic law to address new challenges in colonial society.

Panel HIS-15
Turkestan and the "Great Game"