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Term adopted by dynastic rulers of the Muslim world, referring to the successor to the Prophet Muhammad as the political-military ruler of Muslim community. The first four successors to that office were chosen by consensus of the Muslim community's elders and were known as leaders of the believers. After them, the caliphate became hereditary. Two principal dynasties, the Umayyads and Abbasids, dominated the caliphate until 1258 . The Mamluk sultanate kept members of the Abbasid family as titular caliphs in Cairo until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517 . Ottoman sultans were then widely recognized as caliphs until abolition of the caliphate in 1924 . The caliph's functions classically are the enforcement of law, defense and expansion of the realm of Islam, distribution of funds (booty and alms), and general supervision of government. It is not a spiritual office, but the institution was imbued with political and religious symbolism, particularly regarding the unity of the Muslim community.
The received wisdom about the nature of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire is that Sultan Mehmed II reestablished the Patriarchate of Constantinople as both a political and a religious authority to govern the post-Byzantine Greek community. However, relations between the Churchhierarchy and Turkish masters extend further back in history, and closer scrutiny of these relations reveals that the Church hierarchy in Anatolia had long experience dealing with Turkish emirs by focusing on economic arrangements. Decried as scandalous, these arrangements became the modus vivendifor bishops in the Turkish emirates.Primarily concerned with the economic arrangements between the Ottoman state and the institution of the Greek Orthodox Church from the mid-fifteenth to the sixteenth century, Render Unto the Sultan argues that the Ottoman state considered the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy primarily as taxfarmers (multezim) for cash income derived from the church's widespread holdings. The Ottoman state granted individuals the right to take their positions as hierarchs in return for yearly payments to the state. Relying on members of the Greek economic elite (archons) to purchase the ecclesiasticaltax farm (iltizam), hierarchical positions became subject to the same forces of competition that other Ottoman administrative offices faced. This led to colorful episodes and multiple challenges to ecclesiastical authority throughout Ottoman lands.Tom Papademetriou demonstrates that minority communities and institutions in the Ottoman Empire, up to now, have been considered either from within the community, or from outside, from the Ottoman perspective. This new approach allows us to consider internal Greek Orthodox communal concerns, butfrom within the larger Ottoman social and economic context.Render Unto the Sultan challenges the long established concept of the "Millet System", the historical model in which the religious leader served both a civil as well as a religious authority. From the Ottoman state's perspective, the hierarchy was there to serve the religious and economic functionrather than the political one.
Masters explores the history of Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire and how their identities evolved over four hundred years. While early communities lived within the hierarchy of Muslim law, the nineteenth century witnessed radical change. In response to Western influences, conflict erupted between Muslims and Christians across the empire. This marked the beginning of tensions that informed the rhetoric of religious fundamentalism in the empire's successor states throughout the twentieth century. Thus Masters negotiates the present through the past, contributing to our understanding of the contemporary Muslim world.
The commonly accepted wisdom is that nationalism replaced religion in the age of modernity. In the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire, the focus of Selim Deringil's book, traditional religious structures crumbled as the empire itself began to fall apart. The state's answer to schism was regulation and control, administered in the form of a number of edicts in the early part of the century. It is against this background that different religious communities and individuals negotiated survival by converting to Islam when their political interests or their lives were at stake. As the century progressed, however, and as this engaging study illustrates with examples from real-life cases, conversion was no longer sufficient to guarantee citizenship and property rights as the state became increasingly paranoid about its apostates and what it perceived as their "denationalization." The book tells the story of the struggle for the bodies and the souls of people, waged between the Ottoman State, the Great Powers, and a multitude of evangelical organizations. Many of the stories shed light on current flash-points in the Arab world and the Balkans, offering alternative perspectives on national and religious identity and the interconnection between the two.
How the Ottomans refashioned and legitimated their rule through mystical imageries of authority The medieval theory of the caliphate, epitomized by the Abbasids (750-1258), was the construct of jurists who conceived it as a contractual leadership of the Muslim community in succession to the Prophet Muhammed's political authority. In this book, Hüseyin Yılmaz traces how a new conception of the caliphate emerged under the Ottomans, who redefined the caliph as at once a ruler, a spiritual guide, and a lawmaker corresponding to the prophet's three natures. Challenging conventional narratives that portray the Ottoman caliphate as a fading relic of medieval Islamic law, Yılmaz offers a novel interpretation of authority, sovereignty, and imperial ideology by examining how Ottoman political discourse led to the mystification of Muslim political ideals and redefined the caliphate. He illuminates how Ottoman Sufis reimagined the caliphate as a manifestation and extension of cosmic divine governance. The Ottoman Empire arose in Western Anatolia and the Balkans, where charismatic Sufi leaders were perceived to be God's deputies on earth. Yılmaz traces how Ottoman rulers, in alliance with an increasingly powerful Sufi establishment, continuously refashioned and legitimated their rule through mystical imageries of authority, and how the caliphate itself reemerged as a moral paradigm that shaped early modern Muslim empires. A masterful work of scholarship, Caliphate Redefined is the first comprehensive study of premodern Ottoman political thought to offer an extensive analysis of a wealth of previously unstudied texts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish.
This book explores how Ottoman Muslims and Christians understood the phenomenon of conversion to Islam from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The Ottomans ruled over a large non-Muslim population and conversion to Islam was a contentious subject for all communities, especially Muslims themselves. Ottoman Muslim and Christian authors sought to define the boundaries and membership of their communities while promoting their own religious and political agendas. Tijana Krstić argues that the production and circulation of narratives about conversion to Islam was central to the articulation of Ottoman imperial identity and Sunni Muslim "orthodoxy" in the long 16th century. Placing the evolution of Ottoman attitudes toward conversion and converts in the broader context of Mediterranean-wide religious trends and the Ottoman rivalry with the Habsburgs and Safavids, Contested Conversions to Islam draws on a variety of sources, including first-person conversion narratives and Orthodox Christian neomartyologies, to reveal the interplay of individual, (inter)communal, local, and imperial initiatives that influenced the process of conversion.
Orthodox Christians, as well as other non-Muslims of the Ottoman Empire, have long been treated as insular and homogenous entities, distinctly different and separate from the rest of the Ottoman world. Despite this view prevailing in mainstream historiography, some scholars have suggested recently that non-Muslim life was not as monolithic and rigid as is often supposed. In an endeavour to understand the ties among Christians within the administrative, social and economic structures of the imperial and Orthodox Christian worlds, Ayşe Ozil engages in a rarely undertaken comparative analysis of Ottoman, Greek and European archival sources. Using the hitherto under-explored region of Hüdavendigar in the heartland of the empire as a case study, she questions commonplace assumptions about the meaning of ethno-religious community within a Middle Eastern imperial framework. Offering a more nuanced investigation of Ottoman Christians by connecting Ottoman and Greek history, which are often treated in isolation from one another, this work sheds new light on communal existence.
This book tells the story of the Dönme, the descendents of Jews who resided in the Ottoman Empire and converted to Islam along with their messiah, Rabbi Shabbatai Tzevi, in the seventeenth century. For two centuries following their conversion, the Dönme were accepted as Muslims, and by the end of the nineteenth century rose to the top of Salonikan society. The Dönme helped transform Salonika into a cosmopolitan city, promoting the newest innovation in trade and finance, urban reform, and modern education. They eventually became the driving force behind the 1908 revolution that led to the overthrow of the Ottoman sultan and the establishment of a secular republic. To their proponents, the Dönme are enlightened secularists and Turkish nationalists who fought against the dark forces of superstition and religious obscurantism. To their opponents, they were simply crypto-Jews engaged in a plot to dissolve the Islamic empire. Both points of view assume the Dönme were anti-religious, whether couched as critique or praise. But it is time that we take these religious people seriously on their own terms. In the Ottoman Empire, the Dönme promoted morality, ethics, spirituality, and a syncretistic religion that reflected their origins at the intersection of Jewish Kabbalah and Islamic Sufism. This is the first book to tell their story, from their origins to their near total dissolution as they became secular Turks in the mid-twentieth century.
The Burden of Silence is the first monograph on Sabbateanism, an early modern Ottoman-Jewish messianic movement, tracing it from its beginnings during the seventeenth century up to the present day. Initiated by the Jewish rabbi Sabbatai Sevi, the movement combined Jewish, Islamic, and Christian religious and social elements and became a transnational phenomenon, spreading througout Afro-Euroasia. When Ottoman authorities forced Sevi to convert to Islam in 1666, his followers formed messianic crypto-Judeo-Islamic sects, D#65533;nmes, which played an important role in the modernization and secularization of Ottoman and Turkish society and, by extension, Middle Eastern society as a whole. Using Ottoman, Jewish, and European sources, Sisman examines the dissemination and evolution of Sabbeateanism in engagement with broader topics such as global histories, messianism, mysticism, conversion, crypto-identities, modernity, nationalism, and memory. By using flexible and multiple identities to stymie external interference, the crypto-Jewish D#65533;nmes were able to survive despite persecution from Ottoman authorities, internalizing the Kabbalistic principle of a "burden of silence" according to which believers keep their secret on pain of spiritual and material punishment, in order to sustain their overtly Muslim and covertly Jewish identities. Although D#65533;nmes have been increasingly abandoning their religious identities and embracing (and enhancing) secularism, individualism, and other modern ideas in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey since the nineteenth century, Sisman asserts that, throughout this entire period, religious and cultural D#65533;nmes continued to adopt the "burden of silence" in order to cope with the challenges of messianism, modernity, and memory.
In Honored by the Glory of Islam Marc David Baer proposes a novel approach to the historical record of Islamic conversions during the Ottoman age and gathers fresh insights concerning the nature of religious conversion itself. Rather than explaining Ottoman Islamization in terms of the converts' motives, Baer instead concentrates on the proselytizers -- in this case, none other than the sultan himself. Mehmed IV (1648-87) is remembered as an aloof ruler whose ineffectual governing led to the disastrous siege of Vienna. Through an integrated reading of previously unexamined Ottoman archival and literary texts, Baer reexamines Mehmed IV's failings as a ruler by underscoring the sultan's zeal for bringing converts to Islam. As an expression of his dedication to Islam, Mehmed actively sought to establish his reputation as a convert-maker, convincing or compelling Christian and Jewish subjects to be "honored by the glory of Islam" and Muslims subjects to turn to Islamic piety. Revising the conventional portrayal of a ruler so distracted by his passion for hunting that he neglected affairs of state, Baer shows that Mehmed IV saw conversion as central to his role as sultan. He traces an ever-widening range of enforced piety, conversion, and conquest expanding outward from the heart of Mehmed IV's empire. This account is the first to correlate the conversion of people and space in the mature Ottoman Empire, to investigate conversion from the perspective of changing Ottoman ideology, and to depict the sultan as an interventionist convert-maker. The resulting insights promise to rework our understandings of the reign of a forgotten ruler, a largely neglected period in Ottoman history, the changing nature of Islam and its history in Europe, relations between Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Europe, the practice of jihad, and religious architecture in urban history.
In its last decade, the Ottoman Empire underwent a period of dynamic reform, and the 1908 revolution transformed the empire's 20 million subjects into citizens overnight. Questions quickly emerged about what it meant to be Ottoman, what bound the empire together, what role religion and ethnicity would play in politics, and what liberty, reform, and enfranchisement would look like. Ottoman Brothers explores the development of Ottoman collective identity, tracing how Muslims, Christians, and Jews became imperial citizens together. In Palestine, even against the backdrop of the emergence of the Zionist movement and Arab nationalism, Jews and Arabs cooperated in local development and local institutions as they embraced imperial citizenship. As Michelle Campos reveals, the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine was not immanent, but rather it erupted in tension with the promises and shortcomings of "civic Ottomanism."
Following the so called "Arab Spring" the world's attention has been drawn to the presence of significant minority religious groups within the predominantly Islamic Middle East. Of these minorities Christians are by far the largest, comprising over 10% of the population in Syria and as much as 40% in Lebanon.The largest single group of Christians are the Arabic-speaking Orthodox. The author draws on archaeological evidence and previously unpublished primary sources uncovered in Russian archives and Middle Eastern monastic libraries to present a vivid and compelling account of this vital but little-known spiritual and political culture, situating it within a complex network of relations reaching throughout the Mediterranean, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
This work explores the misconceptions about the Ottoman Süryânî community of the pre-World War I era, using a critique of the present day historiography as the context for the discussion. The works of three early twentieth century journalists, provide the material for the study. The author contends that this group cannot be considered as Assyrian nationalists, the traditional argument, that they saw the future of the Süryânî people as best secured by the continuation of the Ottoman Empire, in which they sought a greater presence for their community.
Here Molly Greene moves beyond the hostile "Christian" versus "Muslim" divide that has colored many historical interpretations of the early modern Mediterranean, and reveals a society with a far richer set of cultural and social dynamics. She focuses on Crete, which the Ottoman Empire wrested from Venetian control in 1669. Historians of Europe have traditionally viewed the victory as a watershed, the final step in the Muslim conquest of the eastern Mediterranean and the obliteration of Crete's thriving Latin-based culture. But to what extent did the conquest actually change life on Crete? Greene brings a new perspective to bear on this episode, and on the eastern Mediterranean in general. She argues that no sharp divide separated the Venetian and Ottoman eras because the Cretans were already part of a world where Latin Christians, Muslims, and Eastern Orthodox Christians had been intermingling for several centuries, particularly in the area of commerce. Greene also notes that the Ottoman conquest of Crete represented not only the extension of Muslim rule to an island that once belonged to a Christian power, but also the strengthening of Eastern Orthodoxy at the expense of Latin Christianity, and ultimately the Orthodox reconquest of the eastern Mediterranean. Greene concludes that despite their religious differences, both the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire represented the ancien régime in the Mediterranean, which accounts for numerous similarities between Venetian and Ottoman Crete. The true push for change in the region would come later from Northern Europe.