Endowments During the Ottoman Rule
Islamic law, with certain limitations, alIows Jews and Christians to found endowments (waqfs) under the 1'ules of their leligions and before their re- ligious representatives.
In the relations between the Ottomans and non-Muslims (the so-called zimiye or wards) Shari’a was the main but not sole legal soui.ce: there was al- so Kanun (provisions with force of law), ^(settled practice oftlie supreme administration) and Adet (common law in the broadest sense ofthe word).
Finally, religious issues were also adjusted to the State interests (the so-called Millet System).
As for the categories ofownership over land, a customary classification was miri, mulk and waqf (endowment) lands, which also related to tlie monastic land. But, this land was mostly included in the State ownership (miri), with only its smaller part as full ownership (mulk) to be disposed of freely, i.e. it had ة sis aud VI extra commercium.
Applying a Shari'a principle, according to which two thirds ofa deceased person's property belonged to next ofkins as legal heirs: "each Cliristian can endow a third ofhis property to a churcil, monastery, patriarch, metropolitan or episcope, and non-Muslims are also accepted as his wltnesses.” Turklsh authorities did recognize sucli spirihral endowments and ensured their protection.Turkish official laws also regulated estates ofthe deceased, unmanied priests and metropolitans. When taking estate ovei', there aften arose problems, created either by heirs to the deceased or by local Turkish authorities, or even by local metropolitans themselves. Troubles also came from fisk, as some monks, especially in the monasteries with idiorrhythmic organization (where religious and economic particularism of monks existed), owned considerable property. The intention ofthe authorities to protect collective monastic property, as well as individua! one is quite manifest, at leastjudging by the informa- tion we have had to date.
Fragmentariness ofthe information preserved does not allow us, for the time being, to make more concrete conclusions about the role and relevance of Christian endowments over long centuries ofthe Turkish rule in the Balkans. Nevertheless, it is quite certain that it was a lasting phenomenon, legalized, and, to a certain extent, even protected by the non-coreligionist authorities.