Under the Ottoman EmPire, the practice of creating religious foundations(vakif,pl. evkaf) expanded to embrace every from of religious, educational,and charitable institution in Islam, and was responsible for making the Is-lamic world much the way It was. What allowed for this expansion was thelegislation of Ebussuud, who was sheuhulislam during the reign of Suleymanthe Magnificent in the sixteenth century. In effect, Ebussuud declared thepermissibility of making state lands vakif. Although a fundamental requirement for a vakif to be valid in Islamic law was that the property to be be-queathed be In the full ownership of the founder, Ebussuud waived thistechnicality, allowing for vakif to be created under conditions of a perpetuallease, similar to Byzantine emphyteusis.The largesse of the state over the course of time became subject to abuse, tothe extent that much state land as a source of revenue was lost to the impe-rial fisc. By the second decade of the nineteenth century, the situation wasdecidedly reversed under the absolutism of Mahmud It. The very conditionsthat allowed for the expansion of vakif were now used by the state to re-strict it. Since most of the vakit of the empire was made from state lands, itwas, technically, quasi-legal, and not in the full ownership of the founder.Vakif landed property hitherto privately overseen by and infinitude of ad-ministrators now came under direct government administration.Under Sultan Mahmud II, the supervision of imperial endowments was takenfrom the great diginitaries of state and transferred to the administration ofhis own pious endowments. Thus, imperial vakif holdings under the Darus-saade Agasi, the Babussaade Agasi, the Aga of the 1-lanissaries, the Sheyhulls-lam, the kadis of Istanbul, and the leading members of the ulema weretransferred to Mahmud's vakif holdings to form the nucleus of the Evkaf-lHumayun Nezareti, the administration for imperial religious founda-tlons.This administration formally became a separate government ministryin 1826. The Evkaf Ministry during the period of the Tanzimat (1839-75)came to comprise all the major endowments of the empire,with few excep-tions.Included within the sphere of the Evkaf Ministry's administration was thevakif property of the dervish orders. From the outset of the Tanzimat in1839, the takeover by the government of pious endowments did not bodewell for the religious brotherhoods.Under the new order, supernumerary donatives that the dervishes had cus-tomarily received from provincial officials were summarily cut off. Bygovernment decree, rations were only to be given to those legally entitled tothem, which was demonstrated by valid documentation. Documentation wasincrasingly used by the Ottoman government to hold the line on expenditure,as a means of balancing income with expenditure. It occasionally had the ef-fect of disenfranchising dervishes from their property and their income. Anumber of dervishes and sheyhs were without title deeds to thier ancestrallands, and could not therefore prove the property they possessed was indeedtheirs.Apart from putting an end to the free disbursement of rations in the prov-inces, and occasional seizure of undocumented property, the most damagingpolicy of the Evkaf Ministry toward vakif belonging to the dervish orderswas to turn the business of revenue collection over to tax farmers. Since agood deal of vakif landand live stocks belonging to the orders was mixed withstate land, the multezim assesS the revenue of bothcollectively, treatingvakif property as state land. Invariably, what the multeizm offered asaprice for the produce was low, In spite of the objections of the vakif ad-ministrators, and he would proceed to sell the produce on the open market ata profit, thereby recovering the initial sum he paid for the right to taxfarm- and a good deal more besides.In point of fact, the actual business of collecting vakif landed revenue per-tained to the Imperial fisc, which turned over to the Evkaf Ministry a fixedsum on amonthly basis. Over the course of time, this omount was reduced toone fourth of the original sum, and the Evkaf Ministry thereby became de-prived of a considerable source of revenue.While the maintenance of religious foundation roofed property was a priori-ty with the first Evkaf Ministry officials, they quickly found their positionuntenable. Many vakif buildings In need of repair were either attached tovakif property that had ceased to yield and income, or belonged to vakZfproperty that was indebted. The gevernment resorted to borrowing moneyfrom the financially sound great selatin vakif's, but this soon proved a drainon the Evkaf Treasury. In addition, initial estimates had the habit of beingrevised, until the final projected sum to cover the cost of repair amounted toseveral times the original figure. From a policy of over-generosity, thegovernment was compelled to go to the other extreme, authorizing initiallyonly the ablolute minimal for repairs. Any further increase in costs wassubjecte to stringent review.Thus, Imperial policy which was responsible for the spread of religiousfoundations was responsible as well for its decline.