Muhtasib

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A muḥtasib (Arabic: محتسب) was a supervisor of bazaars and trade in the medieval Islamic countries. His duty was to ensure that public business was conducted in accordance with the law of sharia.

In the reign of the Sultan Barqūq, for example, the duties of the muḥtasib of Cairo included "the regulation of weights, money, prices, public morals, and the cleanliness of public places, as well as the supervision of schools, instruction, teachers, and students, and attention to public baths, general public safety, and the circulation of traffic."[1] In addition, craftsmen and builders were usually responsible to the muhtasib for the standards of their craft.[2]

"The Muḥtasib also inspected public eating houses. He could order pots and pans to be re-tinned or replaced; all vessels and their contents had to be kept covered against flies and insects... The Muḥtasib was also expected to keep a close check on all doctors, surgeons, blood-letters and apothecaries."[3]

A muḥtasib often relied on manuals called ḥisba, which were written specifically for instruction and guidance in his duties; they contained practical advice on management of the marketplace, as well as other things a muhtasib needed to know — for example, manufacturing and construction standards.[4]

In the Russian Empire[edit]

Among the Tatars of the Russian Empire the möxtäsip was a Muslim functionary expected to keep vigilant watch on the execution of the Sharia. In 1920s, after the October Revolution and ban on religion, their service was abolished. Today, in Russia and a number of former Soviet republics, a muhtasib is a regional representative of a spiritual board (muftiate). [5] The office of a muhtasib is called a muhtasibat. There are about 44 muhtasibats in Tatarstan now.[6]

Family Name[edit]

With variant spellings as Muhtasib, Muhtaseb, and Mohtaseb. The Muhtaseb family is an Arabian Muslim family resided in Palestine in the city of Hebron.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anne F. Broadbridge, "Academic Rivalry and the Patronage System in Fifteenth-Century Egypt", Mamluk Studies Review, vol. 3 (1999.)
  2. ^ Hill, Donald. A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times, Routledge Press, NY, 1984.
  3. ^ Caroline Stone, "The Muhtasib", Saudi Aramco World, September/October 1977
  4. ^ Ibn al-Ukhuwwa. Ma'alim al-Qurba fi Akham al-Hisba, Gibb Memorial Series, London, 1938; Arabic text, edited and translated (in abridgement) by Reuben Levy.
  5. ^ Islam in Post-Soviet Russia: Public and Private Faces http://metro-natshar-31-71.brain.net.pk/articles/0415297346.pdf
  6. ^ (Tatar) "Мөхтәсиб". Tatar Encyclopaedia. Kazan: The Republic of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences. Institution of the Tatar Encyclopaedia. 2002.