Religious Practice and Social Services in an Ottoman Sufi waqf Foundation

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
F. Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar Department of History, Institute for Sufi Studies, Üsküdar University Istanbul Turkey

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This article investigates the endowment (waqf) foundation established by an Ottoman Sufi master of the Jilwatiyya order, ʿAzīz Maḥmūd Hudāʾī (1541–1628), and the impact of his philanthropic works on religious, social, and cultural life in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Istanbul. While providing his disciples with space for spiritual training in his Sufi lodge, Hudāʾī’s waqf also funded public services at his mosque. In contrast to the perception of the Ottoman Empire as an “Oriental despotism,” this article sheds light on the development of Hudāʾī’s waqf foundation as part of a public sphere and foci of the vibrant civil society that emerged in Ottoman lands. Such investigation also aims to demonstrate how the philanthropic work of a single individual living in Ottoman Istanbul could provide a space for solidarity building and collective activities among local communities and spur their engagement in civic services and additional charitable donations.

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