Drawing on Preston King's argument (1976) for the 'impossibility of pure toleration', this article discusses the rarely articulated idea of Ottoman intolerance, its 'forms, levels, degrees' and 'religious items' against the background of the frequently accepted idea of Ottoman toleration — which is commonly treated as the non-persecution of the Christian and Jewish subjects by the just Sultan of the Islamic Empire. Methodologically, the objective of the article is to abolish the hierarchy between infidel (kâfir) and heretic (zındîk) through an identification of the subjects of toleration/intolerance in the Ottoman Empire. By offering a theoretical framework in which one can more comprehensively analyse the Ottoman experience of toleration/intolerance, the argument here focuses on the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire, particularly its laws (firmans, fatwas, Ottoman criminal law) and its conception of justice. The latter is then interpreted as the most important basis of intolerance (and toleration). It is thereby demonstrated that justice requires reformative or incapacitating intolerance in that it primarily regulates society in order to sustain public order and prevent political and economic instability. The practice of intolerance, in this sense, is discussed as the policy that was incorporated into the discourse of the Ottoman Empire to the extent that it contributed to the regulatory objective of justice as the art of government, which was pragmatic and prudent.