Articles Tagged with: and Foundation Aims

Endowments, Donations, and Foundation Aims


The specifications of the sixteenth-century Kasap ƒlyas vakıfs list the broad range of endowments that were set up by the local inhabitants.11 First of all, various amounts of cash, ranging from one thousand to thirty thousand aspers (akçe) were donated. In most of the deeds of trust it was clearly specified that the yearly return of these moneys would be 10 percent. Then there is real estate (a total of sixteen houses and five shops, all situated within the mahalle) which had been endowed. This is quite considerable, given that Kasap ƒlyas could not, in all probability have contained at the time much more than fifty or sixty houses. Besides cash and real estate, some utensils for daily use (a
cauldron, a large tray, a copper bucket, a basin, a pickaxe, a spade, etc.) were also bequeathed to the Kasap ƒlyas mosque, as well as, more appropriately, some manuscript copies of the Coran.
Three of the twenty-six vakıfs provided funds for the upkeep of a dervish lodge (tekke) situated elsewhere. The Süleyman Halife tekke belonging to the Halvetî Sufi order was situated in the neighborhood of Sofular, about a kilometer to the east, and three Kasap ƒlyas deeds of trust dating
from 1515 and 1521 provided funding for this lodge. This leads us to presume that there existed no such tekkes in or near Kasap ƒlyas in the first half of the sixteenth century.12
The deeds of trust directly and openly state that their object is one of local common benefit. The upkeep and repair of the Kasap ƒlyas mosque is the most often-cited aim and endowed moneys and their future revenues are clearly earmarked for that specific purpose. The provision of oil for the oillamps of the mosque and the purchase of candles for lighting the mosque on special days is also important. The care and cleaning of the two communal water-wells of the mahalle have also been provided for, as well as the expenses of a small local primary school (muallimhane) which was endowed as early as 1514. In another important chunk of the deeds of trust both the management
of, and the revenues that would accrue from, the bequeathed property (houses and shops) are directly left to those who are to officiate as imam and/or as müezzin of the Kasap ƒlyas mosque. These indirect donations to the imam are often conditional upon his regular recitation of Coranic prayers for the rest of the soul of the deceased donor. The existence of officiating local religious leaders must be seen as an object of common benefit from the point of view of the local community.
From a strictly technical and legalist point of view, though, about half of the sixteenth-century Kasap ƒlyas pious foundations belonged to the type called hereditary (evlâtlık or zürrî) vakıfs. Technically, this means that the initial donor could decide that the donated cash or property forming the initial endowment would at first be entrusted either to one or more of his direct descendants or to another person of his choice. The endowed property would then be managed by these selected “heirs” and would revert to the trusteeship of the imam of the local mosque only after the death of those persons or the complete extinction of their line of descendants. As suggested by Barkan and Ayverdi in their introduction to their modern edition of the 1546 list of Istanbul vakıfs, this mode of constitution of the vakıfs could also have been used as a way of bypassing the very strict Islamic rules (ferâiz or
muhallefât) concerning the partition of inheritances.13
In the middle of the sixteenth century, the imam of the Kasap ƒlyas mosque who was also the local leader of Kasap ƒlyas, was managing the revenues of twenty-six different local pious foundations. From among these, the use of, and/or the revenues accruing from, six houses and three shops had
been given to him by the various donors. As we shall see, the imams of the Ottoman Kasap ƒlyas mahalle have always enjoyed fairly comfortable income levels, and the basis for their regular income flow seems to have been already established in the early sixteenth century.

Filed under : istanbul

Find Your Destination

Most Commented Articles

Featured Video

Photo Gallery