Jacobus Kann
forgotten founder of Tel Aviv

Miri mulk land in Jaffa, petition to The Porte 1885



Source: BOA..I. S¸D., 115/6885 (1), 21 Kânunuevvel 1307[2 January 1892](for a reproduction of this document, see Document 13.1)


A decision (mazbata) prepared by the S¸ûra-yı Devlet  concerning the statusof lands in Jaffa that caused a controversy with the local population overwhether their status should bemiri ormülk.Fifty-eight people from thekaza of Jaffa submitted a petition by tele-graph asking for a halt to intervention on their privately owned properties[mülk] which is against shariʿ a andkanunilaw. [They petitioned] afterthey learned that thetapu official in Jaffa was instructed to treat thelands in thekaza of Jaffa asmiri lands by order of the inspector of Defter-iHakaniin Beirut, Zekati Efendi. The S¸ûra-yı Devlet  has received corres-pondence with Defter-i Hakaniincluding a note from Sadaretand it wasread at the Department of Interior.In the answer from the department mentioned above [ Defter-i Hakani]the following is stated. During an inspection it was discovered that even though the lands in the kaza of Jaffa had been considered miri lands,since the year 1294 [1877] appointed tapu officials [in Jaffa] started considering these lands as mülk and issued certificates to this effect. Some of the landowners built houses on these lands and [eventually] formed localities resembling neighborhoods. [Moreover] vacant land and landwhich was not cultivated [mahlula] were seized by certain people. Earlier,upon receiving information from the yoklama [land survey] official in theDistrict of Beirut as part of the investigation, the records in the archiveswere consulted. [It turned out that] for the lands of Jaffa one third of thewinter crops and one quarter of the summer crops was paid as tax to statecoffers. Although the lands were defined askharaji, with the passing oftime they took on the status ofmiri lands. It emerged that an imperial fermandated S¸aban 1278 [1861] sanctioned the exchange of these landsfor similar lands [or financial compensation].Given the above, the aforementioned inspector wrote in his answerthat according to the above-mentioned ferman it was irregular to issuemülk certificates for such lands and to legally transfer them in such a way.As for the areas on which houses were built without imperial consentbased on these [erroneous]mülk certificates, they should be linked to thetithe tax regime, and their certificates should be replaced. From now on itis forbidden to build houses on these lands without an imperial order.[Based on this answer] the local authorities [in Palestine] must make thefollowing decisions known to the people [of Jaffa] officially: Places whichwere consideredkharajilands and which were designated by the owners aswaqf s and other declarations before the issuance of the above-mentioned fermanshould be treated as before. In terms of ownership, according tothe ferman mentioned above, since it is not proper to seizemiri lands fromthe hands of their possessors, in cases of buying and selling such lands,miri certificates should be issued and they should be maintained underthe provisions of the imperial land code. From now on, nomülk certifi-cates should be issued for such places under any circumstances.The department [of the interior in the S¸ûra-yı Devlet ] found the consid-erations presented to it to be proper and suitable and therefore decided torefer the matter to the Ministry of the Interior to take the necessary stepsand inform the District of Jerusalem of its decision on this matter. The order is in the hands of the Authorities.

APPENDIX 7.2 A LETTER FROM THE GRAND VIZIER TO THE SULTAN TO APPROVE THE DECISION Source: BOA..I. S¸D., 115/6885 (2), 23 Kânunusani 1307[4 February 1892](for a reproduction of this document, see Document 13.2)

Our honorable master,People in thekaza of Jaffa submitted a petition asking to halt aninjustice inflicted on them by thetapu official in Jaffa, who considerslands in thekaza that they own [asmülklands] asmiri lands, and to pre-vent [the act of registration] from taking place. A consultation with the Defter-i Hakanihas revealed that despite the fact that these lands havebeenmirilands, since 1294 [1877] localtapu officials in Jaffa have startedtreating these lands asmülk and distributed land certificates to this effect.[As a result] some landowners have started building houses on these lands[gradually] creating neighborhoods. [Moreover], it was discovered duringan investigation that many vacant lots and lands which were not culti-vated [mahlula] were seized by some people. A verification of the recordsrevealed that these lands were [originally]kharajilands for which onethird of the winter crops and one quarter of the summer crops were paidto state coffers.

With time these lands acquired the status ofmiri lands. As a result,an imperial ferman issued in S¸aban 1278 [1861] [authorized] substitutingthese lands with similar lands [or money]. [However] it was not properto distributemülk certificates for such lands or to authorize their replace-ment based on the content of this ferman. It was understood that at thattime the [people of the] place were informed officially of the follow-ing restrictions: Places in which houses were previously built withoutimperial approval, based on these mülk certificates should be linked to the tithe [miri] tax system and the certificates should be replaced accordingly.[Moreover, it was decided that] from then on no houses would be builtwithout imperial permission.[Now, upon being asked to handle this matter] the ministry referred toabove [the Defeter-i Hakani] responded that the local government [in theDistrict of Jerusalem] should officially notify the local people [of Jaffa] ofthe following decisions. Parts of thekharaji lands which were designated by their landowners aswaqf  lands and other designations prior to theissuance of the above-mentioned ferman should be maintained as before.In terms of ownership, according to the ferman, it is not proper to takeplaces which have the status ofmiri lands from the hands of their hold-ers. In case of buying and selling such places,miri certificates should beissued and they should be administered as areas under the imperial landcode. From now on areas such as these should under no circumstances beissuedmülk certificates.The proposed suggestions presented [by the Defter-i Hakani] werefound by the Council of State to be proper. Hence, the District of Jerusalem should be notified as to what needs to be done by the Ministryof the Interior, as specified in themazbata [proposed decision] prepared bythe Department of Interior [in the S¸ûra-yı Devlet ] which is attached andpresented to you. To comply with the matters specified in themazbata,a note is presented to you by the Grand Vizier. Whatever the imperial[center] commands us will be carried out. Our master.Grand Vizier Cevat