Source: Boğaziçi University, Atatürk Institute of Modern Turkish History ( http://www.ata.boun.edu.tr ) (The translator is unknown)
http://www.ata.boun.edu.tr/Department%20Webpages/ATA_517/Rescript%20of%20Reform,%2018%20February%201856.doc (removed in 2005)
Rescript of Reform Islahat Fermanı
(18 February 1856)
The guarantees promised on our part by the Hatt-ı Hümayun of Gülhane, and in conformity with the Tanzimat, to all the subjects of my Empire, without distinction of classes or of religion, for the security of their persons and property and the preservation of their honour, are today confirmed and consolidated, and efficacious measures shall be taken in order that they may have their full and entire effect.
All the privileges and spiritual immunities granted by my ancestors ab antiquo, and at subsequent dates, to all Christian communities or other non-Muslim persuasions established in my empire under my protection, shall be confirmed and maintained.
Every Christian or other non-Muslim community shall be bound, within a fixed period, and with the concurrence of a Commission composed ad hod of members of its own body, to proceed, with my high approbation and under the inspection of my Sublime Porte, to examine into its actual immunities and privileges, and to discuss and submit to my Sublime Porte the reforms required by the progress of civilization and of the age. The powers conceded to the Christian Patriarchs and Bishops by the Sultan Mehmed II and his successors shall be made to harmonize with the new position which my generous and beneficent intentions ensure to these communities.
The principle of nominating the Patriarchs for life, after the revision of the rules of election now in force, shall be exactly carried out, conformable to the tenor of their Firmans of Investiture.
The Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Archbishops, Bishops, and Rabbis shall take an oath on their entrance into office according to a form agreed upon in common by my Sublime Porte and the Spritual heads of the different religious communities. The ecclesiastical dues, of whatever sort or nature they be, shall be abolished and replaced by fixed revenues of the Patriarchs and heads of communities, and by the allocation of allowances and salaries equitably proportioned to the importance, the rank, and the dignity of the different members of the clergy.
The property, real or personal, of the different Christian ecclesiastics shall remain intact; the temporal administration of the Christian or other non-Muslim communities shall, however, be placed under the safeguard of an Assembly to be chosen from among the members, both ecclesiastics and laymen, of the said communities.
In the towns, small boroughs and villages, where the whole population is of the same religion, no obstacle shall be offered to the repair, according to their original plan, of buildings set apart for religious worship, for schools, for hospitals, and for cemeteries.
The plans of these different buildings, in case of their new erection, must, after having been approved by the Patriarchs or heads of communities, be submitted to my Sublime Porte, which will approve of them by my Imperial order, or make known its observations upon them within a certain time.
Each sect, in localities where there are no other religious denominations, shall be free from every species of restraint as regards the public exercise of its religion.
In the towns, small boroughs, and villages where different sects are mingled together, each community, inhabiting a distinct quarter, shall, by conforming to the above-mentioned ordinances, have equal power to repair and improve its churches, its hospitals, its schools, and its cemeteries. When there is a question of the erection of new buildings, the necessary authority must be asked for through the Sublime Porte, which will pronounce a Sovereign decision according to that authority, except in the case of adminitrative obstacles. The intervention of the adminitrative authority in all measures of this nature will be entirely gratuitous. My Sublime Porte will take energetic measures to ensure to each sect, whatever be the number of its adherents, entire freedom in the exercise of its religion.
Every distinction or designation tending to make any class whatever of the subjects of my Empire inferior to another class, on account of their religion, language, or race, shall be for ever effaced from the Administrative Protocol. The laws shall be put in force against the use of any injurious or offensive term, either among private individuals or on the part of the authorities.
As all forms of religion are and shall be freely professed in my dominions, no subject of my Empire shall be hindered in the exercise of the religion that he professes, nor shall be in any way annoyed on this account. No one shall be compelled to change their religion.
The nomination and choice of all functinaries and other employees of my Empire being wholly dependent upon my Sovereign will, all the subjects of my Empire, without distinction of nationality, shall be admissible to public employments, and qualified to fill them according to their capacity and merit, and conformably with rules to be generally applied.
All the subjects of my Empire, without distinction, shall be received into the Civil and Military Schools of the Government if they otherwise satisfy the conditions as to age and examination which are specified in the organic regulations of the said schools. Moreover, every community is authorized to establish Public Schools of Science, Art, and Industry. Only the method of instruction and the choice of professors in schools of this class shall be under the control of a Mixed Council of Public Insturiction, the members of which shall be named by my Sovereign command.
All commercial, correctional, and criminal suits between Muslims and Christian or other non-Muslim subjects, or between Christians or other non-Muslims of different sects, shall be referred to mixed tribunals.
The proceedings of these tribunals shall be public. The parties shall be confronted, and shall produce their witnesses, whose testimony shall be received, without distinction, upon an oath taken according to the religious law of each sect.
Suits relating to civil affairs shall continue to be publicly tried, according to the laws and regulations, before the Mixed Provincial Councils, in the presence of the Governor and Judge of the place. Special civil proceedings, such as those relating to successions of others of that kind, between subjects of the same Christian or other non-Muslim faith, may, at the request of the parties, be sent before the Councils of the Patriarchs or of the communities.
Penal, correctional, and commercial laws, and rules of procedure for the mixed tribunals shall be drawn up as soon as possible, and formed into a Code. Translation of them shall be published in all the languages current in the Empire.
Proceedings shall be taken, with as little delay as possible, for the reform of the penitentiary system as applied to houses of detention, punishment, or correction, and other esteblishments of like nature, so as to reconcile the rights of humanity with those of justice. Corporal punishment shall not be administered, even in the prisons, except in conformity with the disciplinary regulations established by my Sublime Porte, and everything that resembles torture shall be entirely abolished.
Infractions of the law in this particular shall be severely repressed, and shall, besides, entail, as of right, the punishment, in conformity with the Civil Code, of the authorities who may order and of the agents who may commit them.
The organization of the police in the capital, in the provincial towns and in the rural districts shall be revised in such a manner as to give to all the peaceable subjects of my empire the strongest guarantees for the safety both of their person and property.
The equality of taxes entailing equality of burdens, as equality of duties entails that of rights, Christian subjects and those of other non-Muslim sects, as it has been already decided, shall, as well as Muslims, be subject to the obligations of the Law of Recruitment. The principle of obtaining substitutes, or of purchaing exemption, shall be admitted. A complete law shall be published, with as little delay as possible, respecting the admission into and service in the army of Christian and other non-Muslim subjects.
Proceedings shall be taken for a reform in the constitution of the Provincial and Communal Councils, in order to ensure fairness in the choice of the deputies of the Muslim, Christian, and other communities, and freedom of voting in the councils. My Sublime Porte will take into consideration the adoption of the most effectual means for ascertaining exactly and for controlling the result of the deliberations and of the decisions arrived at.
As the laws regulation the purchase sale, and disposal of real property are common to all the subjects of may empire, it shall be lawful for foreigners to possess landed property in my dominions, conforming themselves to the laws and police regulations, and bearing the same charges as the native inhabitants, and after arrangements have been come to with foreign powers.
The taxes are to be levied under the same denomination from all the subjects of my empire, without distinction of class or of religion. The most prompt and energetic means for remedying the abuses in collecting the taxes, and especially the tithes, shall be cosidered. The system of direct collection shall gradually, and as soon as possible, be substituted for the plan of farming, in all the branches of the revenues of the State. As long as the present system remains in force, all agents of the Government and all members of the Meclis shall be forbidden, under the severest penalties, to become lessees of any farming contracts which are announced for public competition, or to have any beneficial interest in carrying them out. The local taxes shall, as far as possible, be so imposed as not to affect the sources of production or to hinder the progress of internal commerce.
Works of public utility shall receive a suitable endowment, part of which shall be raised from private and special taxes levied in the Provinces, which shall have the benefit of the advantages arising from the establishment of ways of communication by land and sea.
A special law having been already passed, which declares that the budget of the revenue and expenditure of the State shall be drawn up and made known every year, the said law shall be most scrupulously observed. Proceedings shall be taken for revising the emoluments attached to each office.
The heads of each community and a delegate designed by my Sublime Porte shall be summoned to take part in the deliberations of the Supreme Council of Justice on all occasions which might interest the generality of the subjects of my Empire. They shall be summoned specially for this purpose by my Grand Vezir. The delegates shall hold office for one year; they shall be sworn on entering upon their duties. All the members of the Council, at the ordinary and extraordinary meetings, shall freely give their opinions and their votes, and no one shall ever annoy them on this account.
Steps shall also be taken for the formation of roads and canals to increase the facilities of communication and increase the sources of the wealth of the country. Everything that can impede commerce or agriculture shall be abolished. To accomplish these objects means shall be sought to profit by the science, the art, and the funds of Europe, and thus gradually to execute them.
Such being my wishes and my commands, you, who are my Grand Vezir, will, according to custom, cause this Imperial Firman to be published in my capital and in all parts of my Empire; and you will watch attentively, and take all the necessary measures that all the orders which it contains be henceforth carried out with the most rigorous punctuality.