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In: Muqarnas Online
In: Historicizing Sunni Islam in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1450-c. 1750


Can and should religio-legal norms change with the times? Can changes in religious practices ever be permissible, or should they be categorically rejected as bidʾat (blameworthy innovations)? This chapter comprises a discussion of how Muslim scholars grappled with these questions in the seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire, where adherents of the Sunni revivalist movement, known as the Kadızâdelis, waged a campaign against a wide variety of beliefs and practices they considered to be bidʾat. One of the condemned practices was the congregational performance of supererogatory prayers on the nights of Regaib, Berat and Kadir. These nocturnal services were very popular with Muslims in the core Ottoman lands, had the sanction of many of the leading Ottoman scholars of the past and had been actively sponsored by the imperial authorities. Yet, they were also clearly an ‘nvented tradition’, which went against the express pronouncements of the earliest Muslim authorities. The author, then, examines how two scholars in the early-seventeenth century, Mustafa bin Hamza bin İbrahim bin Veliyüddin, alias Nushî, and ʿAbdülkerim el-Sivasî, tried to find a way around this conundrum by evoking the juridical principle, ‘sharʾi judgments change with the change of times.’

Open Access
In: Dimensions of Transformation in the Ottoman Empire from the Late Medieval Age to Modernity
Articles collected in Historicizing Sunni Islam in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1450-c. 1750 engage with the idea that “Sunnism” itself has a history and trace how particular Islamic genres—ranging from prayer manuals, heresiographies, creeds, hadith and fatwa collections, legal and theological treatises, and historiography to mosques and Sufi convents—developed and were reinterpreted in the Ottoman Empire between c. 1450 and c. 1750. The volume epitomizes the growing scholarly interest in historicizing Islamic discourses and practices of the post-classical era, which has heretofore been styled as a period of decline, reflecting critically on the concepts of ‘tradition’, ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘orthopraxy’ as they were conceived and debated in the context of building and maintaining the longest-lasting Muslim-ruled empire.

Contributors: Helen Pfeifer; Nabil al-Tikriti; Derin Terzioğlu; Tijana Krstić; Nir Shafir; Guy Burak; Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu; Grigor Boykov; H. Evren Sünnetçioğlu; Ünver Rüstem; Ayşe Baltacıoğlu-Brammer; Vefa Erginbaş; Selim Güngörürler.
Politics, Society and Economy
On the crossroads of the continents and encompassing a time span of six centuries the Ottoman Empire directly involves the histories of the Byzantine Empire and the Balkan states, the Middle East and Islam from Iran to North Africa. Some fundamental developments in European history can be better explained when the profound political and economic impact of this Empire is duly taken into account. In the West, not only the rise of the national monarchies and of the Protestantism, but also that of capitalism and the development of certain industries cannot be fully expounded upon without the Ottomans. Giving rise to the so-called Eastern Question in its decline, the Ottoman period deeply influenced European history in modern times.
The Ottoman Empire and Its Heritage: Politics, Society and Economy is a forum for studies of the Ottoman Empire and its relations with the rest of the world. It publishes broad surveys of the Ottoman world, diachronic studies of particular areas of cities, research into individual themes or issues, heavily annotated translations of sources, and thematic collections of articles. It has a cross-disciplinary character and will interest medieval historians across the field: Social and economic historians, historians of medieval Europe, of the Near East, church historians, and historians of science, as well as numismatists, Turcologists, and Balkanists.