Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Mohtasib Definition:

Muslim law: the investigating and, in some cases, prosecuting office of criminal justice.

Traditionally, the office of mohtasib acted as police and prosecutor.

Historically, and not dissimilar to similar officers found in the history of the common law of England, he was the state torturer and purveyor of confessions.

The report of the mohtasib as to alleged criminal conduct in a Muslim law jurisdiction goes to a judge before whom the accused is brought and if no citizen wishes to stand as prosecutor, the mohtasib fulfils that role before the court.

In some contemporary Muslim law jurisdictions, the term mohtasib is now used to refer to an ombudsman.


  • Al-Saleh, Osman Abd-el-Malek, “The Right of the Individual to Personal Security in Islam”, published in The Islamic Criminal Justice System (Rome: Oceana Publications Inc., 1982), page 71.

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