Mutasarrif or mutesarrif (Ottoman Turkish: متصرّف, Turkish: mutasarrıf) was the title used in the Ottoman Empire and places like post-Ottoman Iraq for the governor of an administrative district.[1][2][3] The Ottoman rank of mutasarrif was established as part of a 1864 reform, and its holder was appointed directly by the Sultan.[4]

1895 map showing the Hüdavendigâr Eyalet, divided into Sanjaks, showing the separate Mutasarrifate of Biga and the Mutasarrifate of Izmit

The administrative district under his authority, the mutasarrifate (English for mutasarriflık), was officially called a sanjak (سنجاق) in Turkish or liwa (لواء) in Arabic.[3][5] A mutasarrif was subordinate to a wali or governor-general of a province, while being of superior rank to a kaymakam.[3][6]


Ottoman Turkish mutasarrıf is derived from the Arabic mutaṣarrif, meaning provincial governor.[7] Mutaṣarrif is the active participle of taṣarrafa, meaning "to act without restriction", "have the right of disposing (over somebody or something)".[7]


This administrative unit was sometimes independent (e.g., Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate or Cyprus) and sometimes was part of a vilayet (province), administered by a vali, and contained nahiye (communes), each administered by a kaymakam.[8] This rank was established in 1864 against the new Law of Villayets instead of rank of mutesellim which was abolished in 1842.[9]

"This small political unit was governed by a non-Lebanese Ottoman Christian subject and given the protection of European powers. The religious communities of the district were represented by a council that dealt directly with the governor. This system provided peace and prosperity until its abolition."[10]

The mutassarifates of the Ottoman Empire included:

See also


  1. Mutesarrif. Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  2. Mutasarrif. Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  3. "Mutesarrif". Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon (in German) (6th ed.). 1905–1909. Retrieved 11 February 2022 via
  4. Krikorian, Mesrob K. (2018). Armenians in the Service of the Ottoman Empire: 1860-1908. Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 978-1351031288. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  5. Meyers (1905–1909), Liwâ.
  6. Meyers (1905–1909), Kaimakam.
  7., mutasarrif. Accessed 11 Feb 2022.
  8. Üngör, Uğur Ü. (June 2005). A Reign of Terror, Master's thesis, University of Amsterdam, p. 21. Archived 2006-11-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Benedict, Peter (1974). Ula: An Anatolian Town. p. 85.
  10. A History of the modern middle east Cleveland and Buntin p.84
  11. Rogan, E.L. Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire: Transjordan, 1850-1921. Cambridge University Press. p55.
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