An Ottoman Firman of Sultan Abdul Hamid II
This firman contains 7 lines written in an elegant chancery diwani script in alternating gold, black and red ink on paper. The large tughra of Sultan Abdul Hamid II is finely drawn in gold. The text of this rare document grants the honourable status of Farashat (servant of the Holy Shrines) to Mufti Hafiz Mohammad Amine as per the recommendation of Othman Nuri Pasha, the Ottoman Wali on Mecca and the Hejaz. This honorific office was held by the Sultan's family, viziers and high government functionaries.
The Ottoman firman was a royal decree issued by the Sultans of the Ottoman empire. The word firman comes from Persian, meaning “decree” or “order”. Given the Ottoman Sultan’s authority was derived from his role as executor of the Shari’a, yet the Shari’a did not cover all aspects of Ottoman political and social life, the Sultans were empowered to issue firmans in order to regulate the relations of the aristocracy and subjects, and to define the “status, dueties, and dress codes of each” (Ira M, 2002; pp.260-1). These decrees were then gathered in codes called kanun, a form of secular and administrative law that is seen as a valid extension of religious law.
Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002, pp. 260-261