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Vernacular Legalism in the Ottoman Empire: Confession, Law, and Popular Politics in the Debate over the “Religion of Abraham (millet-i Ibrāhīm)”

In: Islamic Law and Society
Author:
Nir Shafir , Assistant Professor of History, University of California, San Diego, United States, nshafir@ucsd.edu

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Abstract

In the seventeenth century, Ottoman jurists repeatedly tried to stop Muslims from stating that they “belonged to the religion of Abraham.” A century earlier, however, the expression had been a core part of the new confessional identity of the empire’s Muslims. This article explores how the phrase changed from an attestation of faith to a sign of heresy through a study of a short pamphlet by Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā Efendi. Minḳārīzāde argued that the use of the phrase is not permissible and addressed his arguments not to learned scholars, but to the semi-educated. I argue that Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet provides a glimpse into “vernacular legalism” in action in the Ottoman Empire, that is, how semi-educated audiences received and understood legal debates and subsequently turned law into a space of popular politics.

Can a Muslim say, “I belong to the religion of Abraham (millet-i Ibrāhīm’denim)”? This was one of the most fiercely debated questions in the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Circa 1650, the future şeyḫülislām (chief jurist) Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā Efendi (1609–1678) launched a major salvo when he argued, in two pamphlets, that the practice is not permissible. Minḳārīzāde’s second pamphlet was copied and read across the empire, stoking the flames of the dispute. Yet, a hundred years earlier, the declaration “I belong to the religion of Abraham” had been a key part of a new set of catechisms that fostered a Muslim identity centered on the sharia. What does the phrase mean and what accounts for this volte-face? How did a handful of words suddenly fall on the wrong side of the law?

The debate over the “religion of Abraham (millet-i Ibrāhīm)” has a two-fold significance for our understanding of Ottoman society and Islamic law. First, it reflects the development of the confessionalization process in the early modern Ottoman Empire.1 While some scholars, discussed below, regard the debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm as being about the place of non-Muslims in Ottoman society, I argue that the debate was internal to Ottoman Muslims and was about the everyday practices that signified their religious belief. The phrase, “I belong to the religion of Abraham,” first emerged in the sixteenth century as part of a new set of catechisms designed to cultivate a specifically Sunni Muslim identity. In the seventeenth century, however, as more Ottoman subjects became Muslims, the standards of religiosity shifted and the phrase came to be interpreted as a denial of belief. Minḳārīzāde, in his pamphlets, argued that the words dīn, milla, and sharīʿa—terms that partially connote the concept of “religion” today—have equivalent meanings.2 Declaring oneself part of the religion of Abraham therefore means ascribing Islam to Abraham and rejecting the sharia. A phrase that Muslims had used to build a confessional polity in one century became a mark of heresy in the next.

More important than the theological details of the debate over the “religion of Abraham” is the manner in which it was conducted and the audience to whom it was addressed. The polemics over the phrase offer a glimpse into what I argue to be a “popular” or, perhaps less pejoratively, “vernacular” legalism in the Ottoman Empire, i.e. the ways in which a semi-educated public received, produced, and propagated legal debates. Participants in the vernacular legal world not only transformed the debates by introducing simplified, schematic, and polarizing readings of Islamic law, but they also created the possibility for Islamic law to become a space of public and popular politics. Vernacular legalism thus represents a social usage of the law that lies beyond its formal functions and spaces such as judges presiding in courts, jurists issuing fatwas, professors debating in madrasas, or councils reviewing appeals in divans.3 In the case of millet-i Ibrāhīm, legal texts were written not to answer the question of a specific petitioner but to instigate and direct a public debate.4

The discourse of the vernacular legal world lacked the finesse or precision of traditional legal discussions, however. It was conducted at the level of the semi-educated, who could read, albeit sometimes with difficulty, but might, for instance, be unable to distinguish between the literal and figurative meaning of a phrase, a basic act of interpretation. This example raises an important distinction in my use of the word “vernacular” here. Vernacular legalism was vernacular not by virtue of its language choice, i.e. Turkish in place of Arabic, but by virtue of its partial and imperfect engagement with auxiliary sciences of language—grammar, logic, rheto ric, and disputation—that undergirded and directed legal discussions.5 Indeed, the sources on the millet-i Ibrāhīm debate are primarily in Turkish, but many other similar debates of the period were conducted in Arabic, even when the scholars involved were Turkish-speaking. Regardless of the language, we find in these vernacular legal debates a desire to engage with legal arguments, though without a full grasp of the linguistic disciplines that formally trained scholars received. This understanding of the “vernacular” draws from the art historian’s notion of the vernacular, as in “vernacular” architecture, i.e. common, everyday buildings built by craftsmen with little or no formal academic training. Vernacular builders might draw upon dominant ideas in architecture, but often do so with their own techniques and materials or produce examples that are not meant to be canonical and exemplary.6 In spite of these shortcomings, participants in vernacular legal culture constituted an important public for legal discussions.7 This can be seen in the second iteration of Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet, which he shortened in an effort to make it accessible to those who found reading difficult and to fuel a debate that was smoldering in Ottoman society. The reception of the millet-i Ibrāhīm debate by the vernacular legal world helped convert an act of piety into a declaration of heresy. The vernacular definition of heresy often dispensed with the precise juristic distinctions between terms like kufr, ilḥād, bidʿa, ghulāt, and zandaqa, and almost never found its way into formal legal sources, but it remained a potent accusation.

I highlight vernacular legalism in this article to demonstrate the diverse ways in which law could take root in Muslims’ daily lives. In historical studies of Islamic law, popular participation in law is often characterized as being limited to litigating affairs in a courtroom or requesting a fatwa from a mufti.8 In other words, most Muslims are regarded as consumers of law. The producers of law, by contrast, are specialists who subject themselves to years of study—not only of jurisprudence or fiqh, but also grammar, logic, rhetoric, and disputation. In this sense, vernacular legalism is an oxymoron given that fiqh is a highly specialized legal science that resists popularization. Yet, I argue that there are moments when ordinary Muslims engaged with the law, not as passive consumers but as active producers, however imperfectly. While the words of this vernacular legal world were (and still are) considered “vulgar,” they represent a form of popular politics that emerged from their engagement with legal debates. To put it another way, the vernacular legal world’s reception of law was also an act of the production of law and helped establish law as a space of public politics in Islamic societies.

Treating Islamic law as a popular phenomenon can, in turn, help us rewrite the history of religion in the late medieval and early modern periods. Islamic law (and forms of Islamic religiosity centered on following the sharia’s prescriptions) during this period, roughly 1200–1800, is regarded as a discourse imposed by state officials or intransigent scholars onto more popular, and supposedly more authentic, forms of religious practice, such as Sufism, saint-worship, and folk beliefs, especially in frontier areas such as Anatolia and Southeastern Europe, where the power of centralized states was minimal at first.9 Indeed, Muslims rulers like the Ottomans had to recruit legal scholars from outside their realms to staff positions in their new capitals, and popular resistance to the state took the form of rebellions led by Sufis and holy men, who found a ready following among both city dwellers and nomads.10 In this context, the establishment and operation of Islamic law, along with the appointment of judges and muftis, was a projection of state power.11 Yet, efforts by the state to establish Islamic law also created a parallel, popular space of law. Although many scholars, both in the past and today, often dismissed such popular participation as the byproduct of preachers agitating the populace, the time has come to investigate vernacular legalism on its own terms.

This article seeks to initiate a conversation on vernacular legalism. I investigate one small example of the legal vernacular world in the seventeenth century—the debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm—and I engage with vernacular voices only indirectly. Many writers in the vernacular legal world lacked the authority to become authors in their own right and their presence can be discerned only through the writings of more authoritative scholars who wished either to silence or amplify their voices. I begin by explaining the rise of the practice of declaring oneself to be “part of the religion of Abraham,” before turning to an examination of the pamphlets in which the debate over the practice took place. I then explain the emergence of vernacular legalism in the Ottoman context and analyze the arguments put forward by Minḳārīzāde and his attempt to cultivate a particular audience of the semi-educated. Finally, I focus on the popular reception of his arguments.

1 The Quranic and Ottoman Origins of Abraham’s Religion

The phrase “millet-i Ibrāhīm” has Quranic roots but it gained a new usage in the Ottoman Empire. It is taken from multiple Quranic verses, though the most commonly quoted is “say, no, [ours is] the religion (milla) of Abraham, the perennial believer.”12 Abraham here is the mythic ancestor of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and early Muslim exegetes understood his milla to be Islam, albeit a primordial religion from which Jews and Christians had ultimately deviated.13 The phrase “I belong to the religion of Abraham,” or, literally, “I am [part] of the religion of Abraham (millet-i Ibrāhīm’denim),” was incorporated into a new set of catechisms written in the Ottoman Empire starting in the sixteenth century. By declaring that they “belong to the religion of Abraham,” Ottoman Muslims reasserted their faith as early Muslims had done when they claimed the Abrahamic legacy for themselves.

As Tijana Krstić demonstrates, these catechisms were intended to correct the errant practices of Ottoman Muslims, many of whom were recent converts, and to educate them in the basics of the true faith.14 The catechisms, all of which are in Turkish, often begin with a taxonomical history lesson to help guide Muslims to their proper identity. The anonymously authored Essence of Islam and Lüṭfī Paşa’s (d. 1563) Questions and Answers posed to readers a series of hypothetical questions about their proper community. Readers are told to profess that they are descendants (ẕürriyet) of Adam, of the religion (millet) of Abraham, of the community (ümmet) of Muhammad, and followers of the doctrine (meẕheb) of Abu Hanifa.15 The so-called Spear Catechism (mizrāḳli ʿilm-i ḥāl), a composite of catechisms likely compiled in the seventeenth century, starts with the following statements for the believer: “I am a descendant of Adam, I am of the religion (millet) of Abraham, I am of the faith (dīn) and community (ümmet) of Muhammad, the last prophet. Thanks be to God, in belief (iʿtiḳāt) my doctrine is Sunnism (meẕhebim ehl-i sünnet ve’l-cemāʿat).”16 Each of these statements was a step toward a specific confessional ideal for Ottoman Muslims. The phrase “I belong to the religion of Abraham” was thus an attestation of faith, a declaration of being Muslim. Moreover, this set of attestations seems to have been a sixteenth-century Ottoman innovation: a Persian model of the question-and-answer catechism from the previous century does not include them nor mention the millet-i Ibrāhīm.17

Other than the pamphlets in the seventeenth century, these catechisms are nearly the only concrete demonstration of the social usage of the phrase, “I belong to the religion of Abraham.” The one other example I have come across is in a late seventeenth-century hagiography of Demīr Bābā, a sixteenth-century holy man working in the wilds of Deliorman, in what is now northeastern Bulgaria. There, hidden in the forests, a frontier Islam that had been slowly extinguished elsewhere in the empire continued to survive.18 In one of the many stories collected about him, Demīr Bābā is summoned by the king of Muscovy to fight a dragon ravaging the land. When the infidel king asks him, “What is your religion (ne milletdensün),” he answers “I belong to Abraham’s religion.”19 What exactly he means by this is unclear. While he may be stating that he is a Muslim, the phrase could have had different connotations for him altogether. Regardless, the phrase “I belong to Abraham’s religion” functions as a declaration of belief or identity. When the king asks Demīr Bābā if he is referring to the Abraham who freed Nimrod, Demīr Bābā answers in the affirmative. The answer is odd, given that Nimrod is Abraham’s primary antagonist in the Qur’an and in stories about the prophets, but it suggests that there was a large and diverse popular lore about Abraham’s central role in the origins of Islam.20 The authors of the sixteenth-century catechisms may have drawn upon this popular devotion to Abraham when they made the declaration “I belong to the religion of Abraham” one of the foundations of Ottoman Muslim identity. These examples demonstrate that the millet-i Ibrāhīm was not a discrete religious community, but rather a pious and frequently uttered declaration. As the seventeenth-century bibliophile Kātib Çelebi (1609–1657) noted, “it has become a widespread and regular habit among the people to say simply ‘I belong to the religion of Abraham.’”21 Utterance of the phrase was one of the many everyday practices that constituted lived religion in the Ottoman Empire.22

Although the phrase millet-i Ibrāhīm was introduced as part of an effort to cultivate a specific confessional identity in Ottoman Muslim subjects, it possessed some inherent ambiguities that made it a source of controversy. The first is the reference to Abraham/Ibrāhīm. By linking an Ottoman Islamic identity to the first prophet of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the catechisms opened the possibility of blurring the distinction between the different faiths. In the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods, this shared heritage created a dilemma for the Prophet Muhammad as he sought both to align his religion with and differentiate it from the ḥanīfiyya or dīn Ibrāhīm, the general monotheism in the Arabian lands centered on the figure of Abraham.23 The Ottoman-era debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm bears no connection to this early Islamic discussion regarding the hanīfiyya; the debate was not over the interpretation of the Quranic verse (“say, no, [ours is] the religion of Abraham, the perennial believer”) but over the catechismic declaration, “I belong to Abraham’s religion,” which does not include the additional description of Abraham as a hanīf. However, the Ottoman-era declaration raised questions similar to those that the Quranic verses raised for early Muslims. For Minḳārīzāde, Muslims who declare that they “belong to the religion of Abraham” implicitly call into question the relation between Muhammad and Abraham and between Islam and its Abrahamic precursors. An inherent tension has always lurked in the millennia-long debate over Abraham’s legacy: recognizing familial resemblances can quickly become the impetus for a family feud.24 Today, this discussion continues in the newly coined concept of “Abrahamic religions;” Abraham is no longer an object of competition but a figure through whom we envision a shared future.25

The other ambiguity in the phrase millet-i Ibrāhīm lies in the many significations of the word millet. Historians of the Ottoman Empire today understand millet to signify a community of people connected to a specific religion, almost invariably non-Muslim. The phrase millet-i Ibrāhīm thus suggests to the ear of the modern historian a community of Jews or an interconfessional community.26 Yet, in the past, millet signified much more than our modern notion of a religious community. As seen in the aforementioned catechisms from the early modern period, millet was often treated as a synonym of dīn (religion, faith), but it was also unclear how precisely it differed from iʿtiḳād(belief) or ümmet(community). Similarly, in modern translations of the Qur’an, milla is alternately rendered as “religion,” “community,” and “law.”27 Minḳārīzāde would use the ambiguity inherent in the word to extend the signification of millet to encompass the sharia.

The ambiguous associations of those two words, millet and Ibrāhīm, have hampered the efforts of the few historians who have touched upon the Ottoman-era debate. Cengiz Şişman, for example, argues that Minḳārīzāde wrote his millet-i Ibrāhīm treatise to preserve more tolerant classical attitudes toward non-Muslims in the face of attacks on Jews and Christians.28 He suggests that Minḳārīzāde wrote his treatise in response to a purportedly fundamentalist movement called the Ḳāḍīẓādelis, discussed below. In particular, Şişman proposes that Minḳārīzāde was responding to one of the Ḳādīzādeli preachers, Vānī Meḥmed Efendi (d. 1096/1685), who, alongside Minḳārīzāde himself and Ḳara Muṣṭafā Paşā (d. 1095/1683), oversaw the trial and conversion of the Jewish messiah claimant Sabbatai Zevi in 1666.29 Şişman assumes, one, that the Ottoman-era debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm is connected to the aforementioned discussion of ḥanīfs, the followers of the pre-Islamic Arabian monotheism, and, two, that, because it uses the word millet, it should relate to the status of non-Muslims. This is incorrect. While the early Islamic interpretations of the term millat Ibrāhīm connected it to the hanīfs, Minḳārīzāde and others’ treatises on the topic do not discuss the ḥanīfiyya in any way. Moreover, the debate is not about the status of non-Muslims nor was Minḳārīzāde trying to uphold some sort of tolerance toward non-Muslims;30 Minḳārīzāde’s treatise mentions neither Jews nor Christians, as Şişman himself acknowledges. The work is also not an argument against the Ḳāḍīzādelis.31 While the Ḳāḍīzādelī framework very poorly explains the religious dynamics of the seventeenth century, if one were to measure Minḳārīzāde by its standards, his ideas would fall close to those of Vānī Meḥmed. Moreover, the date of Minḳārīzāde’s treatise makes it highly unlikely that he was responding to Vānī Meḥmed Efendi, who arrived in Istanbul and assumed a position of power in the court only in 1662, years after Minḳārīzāde wrote his work.

Şişman’s argument aside, the Ḳāḍīzādeli movement remains the main framework through which scholars interpret the polemical debates of the seventeenth century, like the dispute over the religion of Abraham.32 According to this narrative, a few puritanical preachers tapped into the economic frustrations of Istanbul’s denizens to further their own extremist agenda. A so-called “fundamentalist” movement emerged, in which practices like coffee drinking, tobacco smoking, and Sufi rituals were attacked as “innovations.” However, the movement quickly dissipated with the dismissal of Vānī Meḥmed Efendi following the failed siege of Vienna in 1683.

Rather than seeing the polemical debates as emerging from a paroxysm of fundamentalism, it is more helpful to situate them in the process of “confessionalization” and “Sunnitization” that Tijana Krstic and Derin Terzioğlu have recently elaborated.33 Confessionalization in the Ottoman context entailed a long-term alignment of the empire’s identity with a specifically Sunni and Hanafi Islam. The confessional identity of Ottoman subjects had been of minor concern to Ottoman rulers before the fifteenth century. Even seemingly basic beliefs like the superiority of the Prophet Muhammad over the other prophets, or that the five canonical prayers were obligatory, could not be taken for granted; there are reports that in late fourteenth-century and early fifteenth-century Bursa, some Ottoman Muslims regarded Jesus as the most superior Prophet.34 In the words of Cemal Kafadar, there reigned a “metadoxy” in the early Ottoman Empire, a state of confessional ambiguity in which neither orthodoxy nor heterodoxy was fully articulated.35 There were initial attempts at confessional boundary-making within the empire in the fifteenth century, but the process did not begin in earnest until the sixteenth century when it was triggered by imperial competition with the Safavids and their Kizilbaş followers in the east and Catholic rulers in the west. The catechisms that incorporated the phrase “millet-i Ibrāhīm” were only one part of a series of changes that included organizing neighborhoods around the disciplinary watch of mosques, educating Muslims in the basic legal requirements of Islam, and the introduction of new ideas about heresy.36 The framework of confessionalization has proven to be particularly fruitful for scholars studying the Ottoman Empire because it allows them to treat religion in general, and Sunnism in particular, as an evolving entity. This point may appear self-evident but it makes a needed intervention in earlier scholarship, like that on the Ḳāḍīzādeli movement, which treats religion as a set of fixed “orthodox” Islamic beliefs that are either adopted or set aside.

The polemical debates over millet-i Ibrāhīm were one manifestation of the confessionalization process in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as more and more of the empire’s Muslim population introduced daily prescribed Islamic actions into their lives. Tijana Krstić explains this process in regard to the Süleymanic period: “authors [of catechisms] explicitly circumscribed the field of piety for Ottoman Muslims by erecting ever more numerous signposts beyond which the domain of infidelity began, while at the same time promoting fikih and its practitioners as the ultimate arbiters of the boundaries of belief.”37 Standards of piety shifted as Ottoman subjects became familiar with the requirements and proofs of the sharia. Daily actions that had once been acceptable, like declaring that one belonged to the religion of Abraham, were suddenly subject to greater scrutiny and became the object of popular debate.

2 Minḳārīzāde’s Pamphlets

Minḳārīzāde’s two pamphlets on millet-i Ibrāhīm are our chief sources on the controversy over the phrase and therefore we have to delve into the Minḳārīzāde’s motivation for writing them.38 Both of his pamphlets are written in Turkish: the first pamphlet is about fifteen to twenty folios and the second, an abridgement of the first, is about two or three folios, depending on the copyist. It is this second, shorter pamphlet that made its way across the empire and prompted a number of responses.

Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā Efendi was the son of the eponymous Minḳārī Ömer Efendi (minḳārī likely refers to an aquiline or hook nose), a provincial scholar who became a successful professor in the capital and was eventually appointed the chief judge of Mecca, where he died when Minḳārīzāde was fifteen years old.39 The son drew upon his father’s scholarly connections to study Qur’an recitation as a child with the famous Sufi shaykh Hüdāʾī Maḥmūd Efendi (d. 1628), and after quickly completing a madrasa education, studied with his eniştes (the husbands of his aunts, a special role of mentor and protector in Turkish culture)—Veli Efendi and şeyḫülislām ʿAbdurraḥīm Efendi (d. 1656).40 Minḳārīzāde went on to teach at several madrasas until he was appointed to higher imperial positions, taking up the chief judgeship of Mecca in 1649; in 1652 he was appointed as chief judge of Egypt, where he established close contacts with Arab scholars and continued to hold teaching sessions at local madrasas and the governor’s court.41 Like many officials in high positions, he held this post intermittently, being appointed and dismissed three times. In 1658, he was briefly appointed chief examiner of the ʿulemā for a few months before becoming chief judge of Istanbul. In 1662, he became Rumeli kazasker, and a few months later he reached the top of the pyramid when he became şeyḫülislām, a position he held for eleven years, achieving a level of power and influence that few şeyḫülislāms ever attained. At the height of his career, however, something afflicted his right hand, rendering him unable to write and continue working, and he was dismissed in 1673.42 His many writings, most of which were likely completed in the 1650s, included a tertiary commentary on al-Bayḍawī’s (d. 1286) interpretation of the Qur’an and a work of disputation theory (adab al-baḥth) written as a tertiary commentary on Mīr Abi’l-Fatḥ’s (d. 1568) commentary on al-Adab al-Aḍuḍiyya. His popular pamphlet on millet-i Ibrāhīm was also penned in this period, though his biographers fail to mention it, possibly due to the fact that it was aimed not at scholars but at the general public.

Minḳārīzāde’s second pamphlet was the most popular work on the millet-i Ibrāhīm controversy in the Ottoman period; today, however, students of Ottoman history who might have heard of the “religion of Abraham” are more familiar with Kātib Çelebi’s description of the controversy from The Balance of Truth. Kātib Çelebi’s genius lies in his capacity to compile and collect, not in original thought: his chapter on millet-i Ibrāhīm is almost completely comprised of anonymized quotations from Minḳārīzāde’s longer treatise. Unlike the other scholars to whom he refers by name in his book, Kātib Çelebi anonymizes his extended quotations from Minḳārīzāde, referring to him only as a “learned scholar (fāżil).”43 It is not clear why Kātib Celebi, who was so eager to highlight the sagacity of his friends and the stupidity of his enemies, does not mention Minḳārīzāde by name. Perhaps it is because he regarded Minḳārīzāde to be an opportunist like his own former teacher, Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed. The eponymous “founder” of the Ḳāḍīzādeli movement was an incendiary with a sharp mind who courted controversy for personal gain, according to Kātib Çelebi.44 The rest of Kātib Çelebi’s treatise contains a disparaging summary of a certain unknown shaykh’s (referred to as şeyḫ-i mücīb or the respondent shaykh45) defense of declaring oneself part of the religion of Abraham and Kātib Çelebi’s summation that while the masses are ultimately wrong, it is futile to try to stop them.

In The Balance of Truth, Kātib Çelebi includes the millet-i Ibrāhīm controversy as one of twenty-one debates over proper Muslim practice—such as the permissibility of worshipping at the tombs of saints or smoking tobacco—that smoldered in the empire during the seventeenth century. Of course, there were more than twenty-one debates and most were fought in what I call “pamphlets:” short and cheap treatises that brought legal debates and proofs to a vernacular and popular audience.46 Pamphlets provided readers with a ḥadīth or two, some quotes from a major legal scholar like al-Bayḍawī, and perhaps some counterarguments to deploy against anyone who disagreed. They gave access to legal argumentation to those who lacked the intellectual or financial capacity to navigate large legal manuals. Most are written in a straightforward and accessible Arabic or, on a rare occasion, in Turkish, as in the case of Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet. In other words, the vernacularity of the pamphlets resides not only in their choice of language, but also in opening legal argumentation to a popular audience, as will be discussed below.

Most of the topics discussed by Kātib Çelebi have left behind a long trail of pamphlets, evidence of the vigorous and contentious debates they inspired. The millet-i Ibrāhīm debate is anomalous in that it is dominated by single pamphlet by Minḳārīzāde; it is difficult to find treatises other than his and what exists almost always refers back to his treatise. The controversy over the phrase “I belong to the religion of Abraham” appears to have started in the early seventeenth century. Writing in 1656, Kātib Çelebi points out that over eighty treatises recently had been written on millet-i Ibrāhīm, nearly none of which has survived today.47 By contrast, what remains besides Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlets and Kātib Çelebi’s summary are a few direct responses to Minḳārīzāde’s claims, of which only two are extant. Kātib Çelebi also mentions that the government tried to ban usage of the phrase (ṭaraf-i salṭanatdan menʿ olunsa), yet traces of this attempt are difficult to find.48 He may be referring to a fatwa that supposedly was penned by şeyḫülislām Meḥmed Bahā’ī Efendi (r. 1649–1651, 1652–1654), of which I have found only a single copy, scribbled at the end of Minḳārīzāde’s treatise: “When Zeyd asks ʿAmr the Muslim, ‘Which millet do you belong to?’ how must ʿAmr respond?” The şeyḫülislām answers that “it is sufficient to say that “I follow (üzereyim) the dīn of the Prophet Muhammad.”49 In this legal opinion, the şeyḫülislām provides a valid answer but evades the larger question looming in the background, that is, whether or not it is permissible to say “I belong to the religion (millet) of Abraham.” Instead, he falls back on the formula that Muslims should state that they follow the religion (dīn) of Muhammad.

Despite the fact that Kātib Çelebi alluded to the existence of over eighty pamphlets on the topic of millet-i Ibrāhīm, the number of extant copies of Minḳārīzāde’s second, shorter pamphlet radically exceeds that of all other texts on the topic in the manuscript record. This numerical domination can be partially explained by the fact that Minḳārīzāde crafted it to circulate and be read by a large public. We can tell that he wanted to use pamphlets to instigate a more popular class of readers to action because he tried twice to get it right. He most likely completed his pamphlets between 1652 and 1655, when he was moving back and forth between Cairo and Istanbul during his appointments as chief judge of Egypt. The timing is significant because it demonstrates that he was not yet a şeyḫülislām, with the power of the state behind him, when he wrote the treatise. Instead, he was between jobs, perhaps trying to find a way of cultivating power outside of formal positions. Circa 1652, he wrote the longer pamphlet, the one from which Kātib Çelebi copied heavily.50 Unlike his other writings, which are nearly all in Arabic, he chose to write in Turkish, presumably to reach a specific audience of Turcophone Ottoman Muslims whose Arabic was shaky. Apparently, this work failed to reach its intended audience. He therefore composed a second, shorter version by removing “ancillary arguments (şiʿab)” so that “reading (muṭālaʿa) it would not tire its readers;”51 fifteen to twenty folios were reduced to two or three.52 As we shall see below, this second attempt at writing a pamphlet proved to be a success. Not only were many more copies made—I have come across only two or so copies of the longer pamphlet compared to around a hundred copies of the shorter one—but Minḳārīzāde was able to tap into a popular audience, one that had difficulty reading but still wanted to participate in these debates. Minḳārīzāde’s second pamphlet on millet-i Ibrāhīm proved to be so popular that it overshadowed all other pamphlets and set the terms of the debate.

3 Vernacular Legalism

Who were these enthusiastic, but easily exhausted, readers of Minḳārīzāde? They likely belonged to a group known as ümmis, a semi-educated population, linguistically grounded in Turkish but perhaps aspiring to read and write in Arabic.53 Ümmi is often translated as “illiterate,” but this rendering overlooks other significations of the word. In the Qur’an, ummī “appears as the counter-image of those who claim exclusivity or superiority by virtue of their possessing Scripture and scribal knowledge,” and it refers to anyone “whose scriptural knowledge is limited.”54 In the late medieval and early modern periods (1200–1800), the term continued to hold the same connotations, except that it referred not to a lack of scriptural knowledge but to a lack of knowledge derived from education.55 Ümmis possessed only a partial education or even eschewed the conceits of education out of modesty, as did the many Sufis and poets in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who added the term ümmi to their names. It also could signify a person who could read but not write, or who could read Turkish but not Arabic. These men probably saw themselves as more educated than ordinary people (ʿavāmm), albeit not at the level of the learned elite (ḫāvaṣṣ). Despite these limitations, they remained an audience that could be cultivated in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

Some ümmis likely resembled the anonymous shaykh whom Kātib Çelebi thoroughly disparaged in his essay on millet-i Ibrāhīm:

This respondent wrote a treatise in Arabic, weak in matter and composition, beginning with a few roughly-drafted lines purporting to be addressed to the Sheykh al-Islam. I have thought it desirable to omit them, as they are a mass of immoderate confutations and inventions. After that, the treatise is a jejune compilation of Koranic verses and traditions relating to religion and faith, the superficial meaning being given every time. From these he ostensibly draws conclusions and with tremendous foolhardiness shows no respect or regard for the words of commentators or theologians, not understanding what any given scholar’s argument is or on what it is based, or whether it is refutable.56

Kātib Çelebi’s invective highlights the characteristics of “bad” readers and writers. First, their inability to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings (ẓāhirī üzere maʿnālar vėrüb) reflects a lack of knowledge of rhetoric, balāgha. Likewise, something “weak in matter and composition (żaʿf-i te’līf ü terkīb),” i.e. that it is poorly written, suggests a deficiency on the part of the writer in both rhetoric and grammar, naḥw. The inability to understand an argument and “whether it is refutable (red ve menʿ ḳabūl ėder mi bilmiyüb)” reveals an ignorance of the rules of disputation, adab al-baḥth, and logic, manṭiq. Finally, the refusal or inability to refer to authorities on the topic (ehl-i tefsīr ve ʿülemā-i uṣūl sözlerine iʿtibār ve iltifāt eylemiyüb) makes it clear that these ümmis were unable to engage in scholarly debates.57 The anonymous shaykh was a proponent of Muslims’ declaring their belonging to the millet-i Ibrāhīm, but the criticism held true for both proponents and opponents of the practice.

Vernacular legalism encouraged, or at least tolerated, the forms of reading described above. Due to their lack of mastery of the auxiliary sciences of language, ümmis preferred literal over non-literal interpretations and often failed to respond to arguments with valid proofs. Again, what made these readers “vernacular” was not their choice of language necessarily, but the methods with which they approached texts. The choice of language did not translate directly to a broader or more restricted audience. Many historians presume that a text written in Arabic would have had a smaller audience in the Ottoman Empire, but many vernacular writers and readers, like the anonymous shaykh above, seemed to have preferred Arabic, even if their command of the language was weak. Choosing to write in Turkish, as Minḳārīzāde did, might broaden the potential audience of a text, but it also potentially changed its interpretation. Few, if any, works on rhetoric, disputation, logic, and even grammar existed in Turkish and so Turcophone readers without training in these linguistic sciences lacked the interpretive precision associated with legal scholarship and debate.58 Vernacular readers worked with legal texts not as scholars evaluating the formal validity of the arguments, but as debaters eager to take arguments and counterarguments to the street, mosque, and coffeehouse. It was precisely this middling audience that Minḳārīzāde attempted to tap.

While vernacular legalism may have emerged in other Islamic societies, developments in the Ottoman Empire made it especially salient there. First, the confession-building policies of the sixteenth century encouraged Ottoman Muslims to practice Islam according to the standards of sharia and to measure their religiosity accordingly, thereby promoting a popular desire for legal knowledge.59 Moreover, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Ottoman government had attempted to monopolize the legal field, taking what had been a largely decentralized community of jurists and instituting a state-appointed hierarchy.60 In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman state took a more prominent role in defining and regulating the rulings of jurists and judges.61 These processes were always partial and contested, but the expanded role of the Ottoman state in law was palpable. Scholars and jurists without official sanction were left on the margins, both supplementing and competing with the official state legal positions. Over the course of the seventeenth century, a vibrant and varied world of popular muftis emerged, operating with only partial regard to their imperial betters, and, on occasion, the state was forced to address them. At one end of the spectrum were learned legal scholars in Arab cities like Khayr al-Dīn al-Ramlī (d. 1671) and ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (d. 1731), who issued fatwas for followers across the empire without the official sanction of the government. At the other end, was a variety of semi-educated and largely anonymous authors who issued their legal opinions across Anatolia and the Balkans. On certain occasions, this popular legal world could seize control of a debate. For example, at the same time that Minḳārīzāde was writing his pamphlets on millet-i Ibrāhīm, Abu’l-Wafā al-ʿUrḍī (d. 1660), the Shāfiʿī mufti of Aleppo, complained about these popular elements in the debate over the permissibility of smoking tobacco:

When the Sultan permitted smoking in 1060 [1650]… no one with imperial authority in jurisprudence (idhna malakiyya fi’l-furūʿ wa’l-uṣūl) would say that smoking, which is widespread in our times, is forbidden, but neither would they deem it permissible. [This situation] energized a group to declare it forbidden, out of ignorance and stubbornness, and their talk has produced nothing except acrimony and quarreling.62

According to ʿUrḍī, the government’s legal system had created a thorny dilemma for itself. State jurists, i.e. those “with imperial authority in jurisprudence,” were expected to rule on the permissibility of tobacco, but the sultan’s decree prevented them from doing so, and in the ensuing vacuum, a populist or vernacular legal world stepped in to issue its own legal opinions.

The debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm followed a trajectory similar to that of tobacco. As mentioned, the government had attempted to ban Muslims from declaring themselves “part of the religion of Abraham,” but it is telling that so far we have little evidence of this earlier attempt. The lack of evidence might be a sign that the government failed to enact its legal position or to truly engage with the ümmis. Minḳārīzāde, who was not yet a şeyḫülislām, may have seen the lack of action by the government as an opportunity to direct the conversation through the vernacular legal sphere—first in a pamphlet of fifteen folios and, when that failed, in a shorter, more digestible version. In the end, he was successful. His abridged work, whether in Kātib Çelebi’s collection or in its own pamphlet form, was immensely popular, reproduced in pamphlets, miscellanies, margins, and notebooks hundreds of times over until it reached readers from the streets to the palace.63

Most formally trained scholars, however, did not regard Minḳārīzāde’s efforts in a positive light and, like al-ʿUrdī, took a disparaging view of the vernacular legal world. Kātib Çelebi advocated that people should be allowed to say, “I belong to the religion of Abraham,” given that if one tried to the change their opinion, “No one would pay any attention anyway; it would irritate the people and provoke them to contention, to no purpose.”64 As demonstrated throughout The Balance of Truth, Kātib Çelebi felt that these debates would not have occurred if the common people—whom he sometimes called “ʿāmme” and occasionally “cumhūr,” that is, the “masses” or the “public”—had not stuck their noses into the fray in the first place.65 So while Kātib Çelebi’s laissez-faire recommendation to give the common people the freedom to say what they wish might seem gracious and tolerant to the modern reader, it also smacks of elitist condescension, a rejection of their presence at the table. Not surprisingly, the writings of these “popular” proponents and opponents of millet-i Ibrāhīm have not survived, and, if they have, are often anonymously or pseudonymously written. They lacked the authority, and therefore the authorship, to ensure that their writings would spread across the empire and be preserved for posterity. Instead, we access them through the comments of their detractors, like Kātib Çelebi, and through works specifically crafted for them, like Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet.

4 Minḳārīzāde’s Argument

Minḳārīzāde’s main aim was to convince Muslims who had become accustomed to asserting their identity by declaring they “belonged to the religion of Abraham” to abandon the practice. It was a fight over an everyday practice, but to make his case he turned toward theology. The problem, however, was that the Qur’an repeatedly tells Muslims to follow “millat Ibrāhīm,” and never once uses the phrase millat Muḥammad or millat al-Islām. Minḳārīzāde knew that the educated (ḫavāṣṣ) understood these Quranic quotations as signifying that while Islam has Abrahamic antecedents, its law (şerīʿat) and religion (millet) are wholly its own, i.e that millet-i Ibrāhīm is Islam. However, he believed that ordinary people tend to be literalists (ẓāhirbīn) who interpret everything superficially and subvert the very purpose of the catechisms. For this reason, he set out to ban usage of the phrase “I belong to the religion of Abraham” in its literal, superficial meaning, that is, to stop people from stating that they were part of a separate religion of Abraham. To make his argument stick he had to, one, expand the meaning of the word millet, and, two, make sure that his argument would be adopted by more than a few legal scholars.

Minḳārīzāde opens his pamphlet with the contention that “to practice (ʿamel) [the religion] in accordance with the law (şerīʿat) and religion (millet) of a preceding prophet means to follow our Prophet’s law and religion. It does not mean to follow the law and religion of that preceding prophet.”66 To clarify his words, he makes an analogy to inheritance: once a piece of property is bequeathed to an heir, it loses all connection with the original owner. Islam bears a similar relation to the Prophet Abraham. Once Muhammad emerges as a prophet of God, he inherits the religion, that is, the millet, from Abraham.67 This initial argument leads him to his main contention that the phrase is not permissible “because the literal meaning of saying ‘I belong to the religion of Abraham’ indicates that the religion is still that of the Prophet Abraham and that the practice [of the religion] should occur according to that of the Prophet Abraham.”68 If this were true, “then the Prophet Muhammad would not be God’s messenger, he would be an earlier prophet’s messenger and [the Prophet Muhammad] would have to be an intermediary between Abraham and his community.”69 In other words, the Prophet Muhammad would be a messenger of Abraham, not of God.

Minḳārīzāde then responds to potential objections, the main one being that it is permissible to say “I belong to the religion of Abraham” because millet pertains only to the principles of religion (uṣūl-i dīn) and on these all the prophets of God are in agreement.70 Uṣūl-i dīn here means those things that must be believed, in other words, dogma or creed: the unity of God, prophethood, the day of judgment, and so on.71 Since all of God’s prophets concurred on these basic beliefs, declaring that one belongs to Abraham’s religion could have no negative connotations. Minḳārīzāde, though, argues that millet applies not only to the foundational principles of religion but also to furūʿ, the “branches” of practice and jurisprudence, such as prayer, fasting, alms-giving, pilgrimage, and jihad.72 In other words, to say that one belongs to Abraham’s religion is to reject the sharia and Islam. This is why Minḳārīzāde repeatedly suggests that saying one belongs to a previous prophet’s millet means following that prophet’s sharia as well.73 Only by interpreting millet as encompassing law and jurisprudence can Minḳārīzāde provide an argument for banning the declaration, “I belong to the religion of Abraham.”

To make this argument, Minḳārīzāde must support a larger claim about the relationship between belief and practice in religion by equating the concepts of millet, dīn, and şerīʿat. As Jacob Olidort notes in his study of early Muslim exegetes’ understanding of milla, the word reveals a “tension… [as to] how to define the relationship between beliefs and the practices that signify allegiance to them.”74 His observation applies also to the Ottoman-era debate on the subject. Earlier commentators cited by Minḳārīzāde, such as Birgīvī Meḥmed (d. 1573) and al-Bayḍawī, generally agree that dīn and millet are synonyms and connected to matters of belief (iʿtiḳād).75 Minḳārīzāde, however, argues that millet goes beyond belief and incorporates the sharia, that is, the daily practices that constitute Islam. Claiming a different millet, like that of Abraham, means advocating for a different sharia, which implies a disregard for the Islamic ritual obligations and an alternative way of being Muslim.76 Professing to be a part of the millet-i Ibrāhīm, a central element of faith a century earlier, had suddenly become unacceptable. By reinterpreting the meaning of millet, Minḳārīzade proposes a different vision of religion, and his critics highlight this particular claim as indefensible and incorrect.

Minḳārīzāde’s other writings suggest that his reinterpretation of millet was part of a larger project of redefining the standards of Muslim belief. When he became şeyḫülislām in 1662, he advocated for a more expansive definition of heresy. In a written debate with Khayr al-Dīn al-Ramlī, an influential but independent scholar in Palestine, he put forward his case. His argument mirrors the overall point of his treatise on millet-i Ibrāhīm—everyday actions and words can mark one as an apostate or infidel, contrary to the established tradition that one must make an explicit and intentional declaration of apostasy.77 Al-Ramlī responds that it is “prohibited to anathematize (takfīr) a Muslim for a rarely said word or even a single word.”78Millet-i Ibrāhīm” was one such word that that now arose suspicions of heresy.

What did the proponents of millet-i Ibrāhīm make of Minḳārīzāde’s arguments? The few responses that survive all reject his attempt to tighten the circle of Islam. Most of these responses took the form of short and simple rejoinders by unknown or anonymized figures, e.g. a certain Ḥasan Efendi, or Izmīrī Ḥāfiẓ Efendi or ʿIsmā’īl Efendi, one of the ulema of Bursa. Their responses seem to have been written after Minḳārīzāde had become şeyḫülislām in 1662 and was in a stronger position to impose his views and punish dissenters. These responses first and foremost oppose expanding the notion of millet beyond the fundamental beliefs of religion. Quoting the Central Asian scholar Ḥusāmeddīn Aḫsiketī (d. 1247), these anonymized writers insist that millet means dīn, and not şeriʿat.79 A certain Ḥasan Efendi states that “the term millet is mostly used in principles of faith. It is not used in practical law (furūʿda) and it does not have the meaning of sharia.”80 The critics of Minḳārīzāde state that anyone who declares that he belongs to the religion of Abraham is actually saying that he belongs to the religion of Muhammad. All the prophets belong to the same millet and by saying they are part of Abraham’s millet, they are only demonstrating their appreciation of Abraham.81 One commentator says that the Quranic command to “say [I belong to] the religion of Abraham” was a way for the nascent Muslim community to appeal to Jews and Christians by respecting their forefathers, whereas others say it was a rebuke of these groups.82 In the longest and most critical response, an anonymous shaykh dismisses as ludicrous Minḳārīzāde’s claim that those who declare they belong to Abraham’s religion actually believe that Islam is literally Abraham’s religion or that Abraham is somehow superior to the Prophet Muhammad.83 A respondent with less civility, identified only as Niʿmatullah, cuts to the chase: who is Minḳārīzāde to declare those who say they are part of Abraham’s religion to be heretics?84 The tone may be harsh, but the debate went to the core of what it meant to be a Muslim.

5 Minḳārīzāde Cultivates a Public

Lay people (‘avāmm) in the Ottoman period were expected to recite the basic precepts of the faith and follow its core practices. When the influential şeyḫülislām Ebü’s-suʿūd Efendi (1490–1574) reportedly was asked what the dīn and millet of Islam are, he responded that it is sufficient for ordinary people to believe in the unity of God, the prophethood of Muhammad, and the validity of the sharia. However, “it is not necessary for them to have a close grasp of the concepts or details of legal rulings.”85 Yet, as a consequence of the confession-building policies of the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century, ordinary Muslims were increasingly taking part in larger legal and theological discussions.86 Kātib Çelebi saw this intrusion of commoners into public discussions as the very cause of the polemics of the period and his solution was to chide them for participating and to dismiss their words. He goes so far as to distort Minḳārīzāde’s treatise by inserting his own comments against commoners into his summary of it.87 This is all to be expected and reflects the traditional hierarchy of revelation, in which only the more educated elite (ḫavāṣṣ) are free to explore multiple notions of being Muslim.88 For Minḳārīzāde, however, addressing an audience of ordinary Muslims—those readers who tired easily—and involving them in (some of) the details of his argument was the key to successfully propagating his particular understanding of millet.

At first sight, it seems that Minḳārīzāde, due to an internal contradiction in his argument, is interested in upholding the distinction between ordinary people and the educated elite in his treatise. As mentioned, Minḳārīzāde argues that the literal or ẓāhirī meaning of the phrase “I belong to Abraham’s religion” is that Islam is not the religion of the Prophet Muhammad but of Abraham, and therefore it is not permissible to utter it. However, the Qur’an specifically tells Muslims to declare that they are part of millat Ibrāhīm (but never mentions millat Muḥammad or millat al-Islām), and, thanks to the catechisms of the sixteenth century, many Ottoman Muslims did so. Moreover, in one ḥadīth, the prophet Muhammad awakens one morning and says, “We arise into the state of Islam (aṣbaḥnā ʿalā fiṭrat Islām)… and into the dīn of our Prophet Muhammad and the milla of our forefather Abraham…”89 To resolve this contradiction, Minḳārīzāde divides his response into one set of instructions for the educated elite and another for ordinary people. The educated elite understand that the phrase was not meant to be taken literally and can therefore say it. Ordinary people, however, were literalists (ẓāhirbīn), who, if they overheard the educated elite saying the phrase, would misinterpret it and utter it without the proper belief. He therefore argues that the educated elite should only say the phrase privately, in the company of other educated people, and not where it may be overheard and misinterpreted.90 Moreover, when saying it, the educated elite were to add the proviso (ḳarīne) that the religion, i.e. Islam, was originally the prophet Abraham’s and became the Prophet Muhammad’s upon his revelation. In other words, millet-i Ibrāhīm is the religion of Muhammad.91 Not adding this proviso indicates that the speaker believes in the phrase’s literal and superficial (ẓāhirī) meaning, i.e. that he or she does not believe in Islam.

No one, perhaps not even Minḳārīzāde himself, was convinced by his proposed solution. An anonymous critic of Minḳārīzāde lambasts him for his seeming hypocrisy: Minḳārīzāde first states that it is not permissible to say “I belong to the religion of Abraham” and then reverses course. Which one is it, the critic wonders?92 Kātib Çelebi thought it was cruel to tell ordinary people, who slavishly obey custom, that they are not allowed to say the phrase while telling the educated elite that it is permitted. “It would mean imposition of hardship to declare ‘No, these words are wrong. The educated elite, who know their origin, may use them, but the common people must not.’ No one would pay any attention anyway; [banning the phrase] would mean irritating the people and provoking them to contention, to no purpose.”93 Even Minḳārīzāde finds his required proviso, which is intended to explain and elucidate the phrase’s non-literal meaning, pointless because not everyone is able to tell if the speaker uttering it did so with or without belief in its literal meaning. The ambivalence toward his own solution derives from his determination that “in sum, every word is understood according to its literal meaning (ḥāsil-i kelām her söz ẓāhirine māḥmūldir).”94 In other words, everything will eventually be reduced to its literal, base meaning, especially in a world in which it is nearly impossible to separate the educated elite from ordinary people. Given that “it is not permissible for us to say any word whose literal meaning we are not allowed to believe,” it is best to stop uttering the statement entirely, he argued.95 In some ways, Minḳārīzāde is implicitly calling for the elimination of different expectations for ordinary people and educated elites and judging everyone by the same standard of behavior.

Despite the fact that Minḳārīzāde suggests that the educated elite could say the phrase while the ordinary people were to abstain, it seems that his intention was to stop usage of the phrase entirely. Indeed, Minḳārīzāde was not trying to lecture the educated elite: he specifically wrote the pamphlet for a reader who had difficulty reading. Educated scholars like Kātib Çelebi already knew the phrase’s non-literal interpretation and did not need Minḳārīzāde to elucidate it for them. For this reason, Minḳārīzāde sought to incite to action a different group of readers, those who possessed some capacity to read his pamphlet but did not consider themselves part of the educated elite and who would conclude that uttering “I belong to the religion of Abraham” was unacceptable.

Why does Minḳārīzāde address the vernacular legal world to make this argument? To answer this question, it would be necessary to undertake a comprehensive study of his work before and after he became şeyḫülislām. To date, no such study exists. However, another one of Minḳārīzāde’s writings sheds light on his interest in addressing the public. As he was writing his pamphlets on millet-i Ibrāhīm, he also issued a fatwa calling for the execution of a scholar known as Kürd Molla on charges of heresy.96 Kürd Molla had written a commentary critical of the aforementioned Birgivī Meḥmed’s al-Ṭarīqa al-Muḥammadiyya, and while many others had criticized Birgivī without being punished, two points sealed Kürd Molla’s fate, in Minḳārīzāde’s view. Among the various heresies propagated by Kürd Molla, the most serious was that he openly claimed that exotericists (ahl al-ẓāhir) look at the externality of actions—that is, whether an act conforms to the law—whereas esotericists (ahl al-bāṭin) look at the internality of actions—that is, the intention behind the act—and each approach to Islam is acceptable and can coexist.97 Echoing the aforementioned view that practice and belief are intimately related, Minḳārīzāde finds Kürd Molla’s views unacceptable. Minḳārīzāde’s recommendation that Kürd Molla be put to death, without the possibility of repentance, however, stems not from Kürd Molla’s theological views, but from the fact that he had spent years “liberally lecturing and composing books… with the sole purpose of arousing within the weak and feeble the delusion of these misguided errors.”98 Minḳārīzāde’s call for Kürd Molla’s execution demonstrates the importance he attached to addressing ordinary people. Kürd Molla was a rival not only in terms of approaches to Islam but also in his ability to reach the public, and therefore he needed to be silenced.

6 Vernacular Receptions

To this point, I have dealt with the vernacular legal world only indirectly. As few statements by vernacular legal writers are extant, I have been forced to reconstruct their views from the words of elite scholars who cultivated or criticized them. Yet, the vernacular legal world did not just passively receive ideas but rather transformed them, turning Minḳārīzāde’s arguments into an active call to declare as heretics any partisans of Abraham’s religion.

In the eyes of his critics, Minḳārīzāde’s attempt to reach the vernacular legal world had been too successful. One man, the aforementioned Niʿmatullah, wrote in mediocre Arabic (he was most likely a semi-educated ümmi; much of Kātib Çelebi’s earlier critique of the anonymous shaykh could apply to Niʿmatullah’s writings) that there had appeared a “great plague (āfa)” in “this Sunni community (sunna) of ours,” a sanctimonious group of people who were unhappy at the respect ordinary people showed to the holy forefathers (salaf). A thinly veiled description of Minḳārīzāde follows:

They told the converts (muhtadīn) and confused the common people to reject the millat Ibrāhīm in opposition to the Qur’an and the Sunna. They went astray and led others astray. Among them was a man who composed two pamphlets [i.e. Minḳārīzāde], one small and one big, though his small one was big in terms of inciting the common people against the educated elite and the holy forefathers from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until today. They declared as a heretic anyone who said, “we belong to the religion of Abraham,” regardless of who he was.99

Niʿmatullah’s words convey the intense emotions that the debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm elicited among Muslims at the time. Niʿmatullah sees the rejection of the phrase “millet-i Ibrāhīm” as an attack on the very tradition (sunna) of Islam itself and upon its holy forefathers, the salaf.100 He recounts how these new partisans of the faith repeated many of Minḳārīzāde’s arguments, such as the comparison between prophecy and inheritance or that the phrase “I belong to the religion of Abraham” implies that Muhammad is the prophet of Abraham and not of God. Most importantly, his comments show that these partisans expanded Minḳārīzāde’s argument against using millet-i Ibrāhīm to make the phrase a clear marker of heresy. Minḳārīzāde never explicitly stated that saying, “I belong to the religion of Abraham” was a sign of heresy, but the reception of Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet in the legal vernacular world made it so. What Niʿmatullah describes is not the learned debates of jurists over subtle distinctions between types of heresy, but a popular form of public politics.

Niʿmatullah’s comments also demonstrate how successful Minḳārīzāde was in reaching a new group of readers with his second pamphlet. Niʿmatullah mentions that recent converts (muhtadīn) and ordinary people (ʿawāmm) have been carried away by Minḳārīzāde’s words to attack the educated elite (khawāṣṣ). Niʿmatullah complains that the ordinary people “consult their pamphlet at their convenience to embellish their speech with lies and fill it with irrelevant proofs… and the outcome of their pamphlet is a tripling of the words of one of them, [words] that say that to enter Abraham’s religion is to exit Muhammad’s religion and become an infidel.”101 Kātib Çelebi would have been horrified, his fears of public disorder due to popular participation had been realized. Minḳārīzāde, on the other hand, likely would have been happy that he could rally people to his cause.

Niʿmatullah’s words also demonstrate the speed with which the topic of millet-i Ibrāhīm had entered the realm of polemics. As proof of this, one reader of Niʿmatullah’s short response found his views idiotic and jotted down in the margins a number of long rejoinders in which he accuses Niʿmatullah of slander, being childish, and arguing incomprehensibly.102 The longest of this reader’s comments, however, is in response to Niʿmatullah’s allusions to Minḳārīzāde. Among a variety of insults, he writes, “How many faults and excesses are in his [Niʿmatullah’s] writings. Only beasts and animals make sounds like these, and you would waste your time trying to correct them.” As the commentator continues to cast aspersions, he remarks that,

it is no wonder that he [Niʿmatullah] is one of the Sufis of our time who has ruined the beliefs of the faithful, especially in Constantinople, so that they stubbornly resist these matters of religion and yet, nonetheless, they claim to be saints, as if they’ve lost all reason and thought! I wish I knew what was the point of all this depravity?103

This reader’s reference to Sufis is intriguing. The issue of millet-i Ibrāhīm, of course, had little to do with Sufism, at least not directly. However, Minḳārīẓāde’s comments represented a step in a new direction regarding the relationship between sharia and Islam, a direction that was less favorable to forms of Islam, such as Sufism, that drew legitimacy and inspiration from sources beyond the sharia. Not surprisingly, whether Minḳārīzāde intended to or not, his pamphlet had transformed the question of millet-i Ibrāhīm from a minor theological issue into a litmus test of one’s positions in broader societal conflicts.

7 Conclusion

In the 1720s, a fatwa on the question of millet-i Ibrāhīm was made the very first entry in şeyḫülislām Yenişehirli ʿAbdullah Efendi’s (d. 1743) compilation of legal rulings. The fatwa decreed that when Muslims are asked, “what is your religion (millet)?” they are to answer “I belong to the religion of Muhammad,” not “I belong to the religion of Abraham.”104 It had been over seven decades since Minḳārīzāde had written his two pamphlets and his view that Muslims should not say that they belong to Abraham’s religion had become part of an imperial collection of legal rulings. Now, Muhammad too, not just Abraham, had a millet and this was the proper millet for Muslims. The fatwa also indicates that many Ottoman Muslims continued to declare that they belonged to Abraham’s religion. The debate was still current and judging by the copy dates of Minḳārīzāde’s treatise, it would remain relevant for another century.

The fight over millet-i Ibrāhīm demonstrates how a declaration of faith could become a sign of heresy in little over a century. As is hopefully clear by now, the debate was never about the status of the other Abrahamic religions, that is, Judaism and Christianity, in the Middle East. It was instead a fight over the practices that defined Islamic belief in the Ottoman Empire. At first, encouraging Ottoman Muslims—many of whom were recent converts or subscribed to forms of Islam that sought authority from beyond the sharia—to declare they belonged to Abraham’s religion served as a means to reinforce a notion of Islam based on the sharia. In the seventeenth century, however, when the confessional identity of the empire as a Sunni Muslim polity was more secure, the phrase became a victim of its own success and was targeted by a movement to constrict the definition of Islamic religiosity even further. Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā, a future şeyḫülislām, argued that saying “I belong to Abraham’s religion” entails a rejection of Muhammad’s prophethood and, more importantly, the sharia. To make this argument, Minḳārīzāde expanded the definition of the word millet to include both the foundations of basic belief and daily religious practice according to the law.

More significantly, the debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm sheds light on the workings of vernacular legalism in the Ottoman Empire. I have adumbrated the existence of a space of legal debate and discussion that resided below the formal world of jurists, judges, and professors. The semi-educated readers and writers who participated in vernacular legalism approached law in a simple fashion, focusing less on formal arguments and interpretations and more on using law as a space of public and polemical debate. Scholars today have generally overlooked legal vernacularism because its texts tend to be vulgar and its participants marginal. Often, we can only access the vernacular legal world through the words of its critics or those elite scholars that wished to make use of it. Minḳārīzāde was one of the latter. He tried and succeeded in addressing this vernacular legal world. In his second pamphlet on millet-i Ibrāhīm, he shortened his initial, little known pamphlet to two or three folios, and it was quickly copied and read across the empire. As his arguments circulated in the vernacular legal world, they were actively transformed. Minḳārīzāde simply stated that it is not permissible for a Muslim to declare that he belongs to the religion of Abraham, yet readers of his pamphlet went further and declared that anyone who stated, “I belong to the religion of Abraham,” was a heretic. In other words, the reception of his arguments in the vernacular legal world turned the issue into a stark marker of whether or not one was part of the Muslim community. The continued vigor of the debate over the course of the eighteenth century suggests that the vernacular legal world continued to thrive in the Ottoman Empire as a space for popular politics for decades to come.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers, Tijana Krstić, Aslihan Gürbüzel, Robert Dankoff and the participants of the “Entangled Confessionalizations?” Conference in Budapest in 2018 for their comments on various versions of this article. I would also like to thank the editor of Islamic Law and Society, David S. Powers, for helping to refine the article’s wording, style, and concepts. Research for this article has been funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 648498-OTTOCONFESSION).

1

On “confessionalization” in an Ottoman context, see Tijana Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011).

2

In recent years, scholars have reexamined the category of “religion” and its genealogy, often pointing out that the concept fits poorly with commonly used Arabic analogues. See, for example, Shahab Ahmed, What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016), 176–245; Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A Histroy of a Modern Concept (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 39–45; Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993); For another point of view on the topic, see Rushain Abbasi, “Islam and the Genesis of ‘Religion’: A Study of Muslim Discourses on Dīn,” Studia Islamica 115:1 (forthcoming 2020). The debate over millet-i Ibrāhīm can also be seen as one instance in which premodern Muslims argued over the social significance and conceptual boundaries of terms like millet and dīn.

3

Paul Dresch has argued for a study of legalism (as opposed to law) which he defines as an “appeal to rules that are distinct from practice, the explicit use of generalizing concepts, and a disposition to address in such terms the conduct of human life.” He seeks to move the study of law and society away from an emphasis on power and toward classificatory regimes. While I do not subscribe here to Dresch’s overarching concept, I share an interest in using legalism to denote uses of the law outside its formal boundaries. Paul Dresch, “Introduction: Legalism, Anthropology, and History: A View from Part of Anthropology,” in Legalism: Anthropology and History, ed. Paul Dresch and Hannah Skoda (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 1, 15.

4

My understanding of a “public” draws on Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2002). Vernacular legalism occupies a space between the local specificity of the “archive” and the abstracted universalism of the “library,” to use Brinkley Messick’s useful categorization of Islamic legal texts. Brinkley M. Messick, Sharīʿa Scripts: A Historical Anthropology (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2018).

5

For an overview of the heightened importance of these sciences in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, see Khaled el-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), esp. pp. 115–20.

6

On the usage of the concept of vernacular architecture in art history, see N. W. Alcock and et al., “Vernacular Architecture,” in Grove Art Online, 2003, https://doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T088875; this notion of the vernacular is slightly at odds with the one proposed by Sheldon Pollock, according to whom the vernacular is the realm of the local or translocal in comparison to the universal and cosmopolitan. Sheldon I. Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009); For a discussion of the applicability of Pollock’s ideas to the question of Arabic and legal discourse, see Messick, Shari’a Scripts, 27–28; for a discussion of legal material in Turkish, see Sara Nur Yildiz, “A Hanafi Law Manual in the Vernacular: Devletoğlu Yūsuf Baliḳesrī’s Turkish Verse Adaptation of the Hidāya-Wiqāya Textual Tradition for the Ottoman Sultan Murad ii (824/1424),” Bulletin of SOAS 80:2 (2017): 283–304.

7

Steven Wilf has highlighted a “vernacular legal culture” that was specific to the American colonies in the second half of the eighteenth century (and he chooses the word “vernacular” as a more palatable alternative to “popular”). In his interpretation, vernacular legal culture is constituted by popular stories and texts about crimes and criminals that led residents of the colonies to narrativize the centrality of law to early American society. While the emphasis on the legal imagination of ordinary people is appreciated, Wilf’s notion of vernacular legal culture seems to be not much more than a way of highlighting the connection between the larger cultural milieu and the significance of law, and thus I find his version of vernacular legal culture too broad to be analytically productive. Moreover, the realm of vernacular legal culture is predictably limited to criminal law. Steven Robert Wilf, Law’s Imagined Republic: Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 58–66.

8

Even studies of the popular reception of law in the Ottoman Empire focus mainly on the ability of ordinary people to access legal forums like courtrooms, rather than their role in actively shaping the law. See Timothy Fitzgerald, “Reaching the Flocks: Literacy and the Mass Reception of Ottoman Law in the Sixteenth-Century Arab World,” in Law and Legality in the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey, ed. Kent F. Schull, M. Safa Saraçoğlu, and Zens, Robert (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016), 9–25.

9

See, for example, James Grehan, Twilight of the Saints: Everyday Religion in Ottoman Syria and Palestine (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

10

Ethel Wolper, Cities and Saints: Sufism and the Transformation of Urban Space in Medieval Anatolia (University Park, Penn.: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003).

11

Leslie P. Peirce, Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003); Guy Burak, The Second Formation of Islamic Law: The Ḥanafī School in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Abdurrahman Atçil, Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Tijana Krstić, “State and Religion, ‘Sunnitization’ and ‘Confessionalism’ in Süleyman’s Time,” in Szigetvar 1566—Proceedings of the Commemorative Conference on the Siege of Szigetvar and Suleyman the Magnificent’s and Miklos Zrinyi’s Death, ed. Pál Fodor (Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2019), 65–91.

12

The translation of Qur’an 2:135 is based on that of M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, trans., The Qur’an (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 16; The full verse is: “Say, no, [ours is] the religion of Abraham the perennial believer… who did not worship any God but God.” The other verses in which the phrase appears are Q2:130, 3:95, 4:125, 6:161.

13

On the meaning of milla in the classical tafāsīr literature, see Jacob Olidort, “Portraying Early Islam as the milla of Abraham: a Look at the tafsīr Evidence,” in The Late Antique World of Early Islam: Muslims among Christians and Jews in the East Mediterranean, ed. Robert G. Hoyland (Princeton, N.J.: The Darwin Press, 2015), 313–37.

14

Tijana Krstić, “From shahāda to ʿaqīda: Conversion to Islam, Catechisation, and Sunnitisation in Sixteenth-century Ottoman Rumeli,” in Islamisation: comparative perspectives from history, ed. A. C. S. Peacock (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), 296–313.

15

See Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna, MS 3324 (f. 119b) and Österreichische Nationalbibliothek MS A.F. 437 for the Eğer sorsalar text; and see Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Kiliç Paşa MS 378 for the Lüṭfī Paşa version.

16

İsmail Kara, ed., Mizrakli İlmihal (Istanbul: Dergâh Yayinlari, 1989), 5, 11, 84; Krstić, “From shahāda to ʿaqīda.” Given the lack of copies from before the eighteenth century, it is possible that the “Spear Catechism” was not written in the sixteenth century as is generally assumed. In later editions of the Spear Catechism, which became the standard catechism of the empire in the nineteenth century, the phrase, “I belong to the religion of Abraham,” has been omitted. This suggests that the controversy had an impact on the content of the catechisms. Ismail Kara’s edition of the Spear Catechism is based on the late nineteenth-century printed versions, in which the phrase is missing, but he says he consulted earlier manuscript versions, which purportedly include the phrase. .

17

Risāle-i īmān, Konya Bölge Kütüphanesi MS 165, ff. 119a-139b. The approximate copy date, Ashura (10) Muharram 898 A.H./ 1 Nov 1492, is taken from the colophon of the preceding treatise by the same scribe on f. 116b.

18

On the dating of the text, see Nikolay Antov, The Ottoman “Wild West:” The Balkan Frontier in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 207–8.

19

Filiz Kiliç and Tuncay Bülbül, eds., Demir Baba Velâyetnâmesi (Ankara: Grafiker Yayinlari, 2011), 91; Antov, The Ottoman “Wild West,” 233. I thank Nikolay Antov for bringing this story to my attention.

20

A popular Persian couplet that mentions Abraham as the builder of the Ka’ba is found on manuscripts and ceramics throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For a Ka’ba tile example, see the David Collection, Inv. No. 51/1979. For examples of the couplet’s usage, see Sabiha Göloğlu, “Depicting the Holy: Representations of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem in the Late Ottoman Empire” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Istanbul, Koç University, 2018), 55–56. The couplet was the subject of a fatwa by Ebü’s-suʿūd regarding whether it is permissible to call Abraham Ḫalīl-i Āẕar. See Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, MS Or. 12425 f. 2a.

21

Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, trans. G. L. Lewis (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1957), 121.

22

On the recent turn to conceiving religion as constituted by “everyday” practices, see Nancy T. Ammerman, “Finding Religion in Everyday Life,” Sociology of Religion 75:2 (2014): 189–207.

23

Uri Rubin, “Ḥanīfiyya and Kaʿba: an inquiry into the Arabian, pre-Islamic background of dīn Ibrāhīm,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 13 (1990): 85–112; see also Olidort, “Portraying Early Islam as the milla of Abraham.”

24

Guy G. Stroumsa, “From Abraham’s Religion to the Abrahamic Religions,” Historia Religionum 3 (2011): 11–22.

25

Stroumsa, 20. In recent years, scholars have criticized the use of “Abrahamic religions” as an analytical concept. See Aaron W. Hughes, Abrahamic Religions: On the Uses and Abuses of History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Jon D. Levenson, Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, & Islam (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012); Guy G. Stroumsa, The Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

26

Part of the modern confusion over the term millet-i Ibrāhīm derives from our modern notion of millet as proto-nation, as in the so-called “millet system.” That meaning emerged in the eighteenth century as the Ottoman government introduced an official relationship between the government and the religious leaders it appointed to represent non-Muslim communities. Benjamin Braude, “Foundation Myths of the Millet System,” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society, Vol.1: The Central Lands, ed. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (London: Holmes & Meier, 1982), 69–90; Daniel Goffman, “Ottoman Millets in the Early Seventeenth Century,” New Perspectives on Turkey 11 (1994): 135–58; Paraskevas Konortas, “From Taife to Millet: Ottoman Terms for the Ottoman Greek Orthodox Community,” in Ottoman Greeks in the Age of Nationalism, ed. Dimitri Gondicas and Charles Issawi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 169–79; Maurits H. van den Boogert, “Millets: Past and Present,” in Religious Minorities in the Middle East: Domination, Self-Empowerment, Accomodation, ed. Anh Nga Longva and Annie Sofie Roald (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 27–45; Antonis Hadjikyriacou, “Beyond the Millet Debate: Communal Representation in Pre-Tanzimat Cyprus,” in Halcyon Days in Crete ix: Political Thought and Practice in the Ottoman Empire, ed. Marinos Sariyannis (Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2019), 71–96; One of the few Ottomanists who recognized millet as religion is M. O. H. Ursinus. See EI2, s.v. Millet (Ursinus).

27

Olidort, “Portraying Early Islam as the milla of Abraham,” 315.

28

Cengiz Şişman, “Minkarizâde Yahya: Şeyhülislam Minkarizâde Yahya Efendi,” in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographic History: Volume 10: Ottoman and Safavid Empires (1600–1700), ed. David Thomas and John Chesworth (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 404–10; Harun Küçük interprets the fatwa of Yenişehirli ‘Abdullah Efendi, mentioned below, in a similar manner. He suggests that Sultan Aḥmed iii instructed the şeyḫülislām to forbid Muslims from saying that they “belong to the millet-i Ibrāhīm,” and instead to say that they “belong to the millet-i Muḥammad.” The goal of the change was to create a more equal and inclusive status for non-Muslim subjects, that is, the millet-i Ibrāhīm. This suggestion does not make much sense. Why should Muslims, in a more equal system, not be allowed to state that they belonged to the millet-i Ibrāhīm, especially as we have no examples of non-Muslims referring to themselves in this manner. Bekir Harun Küçük, “Early Enlightenment in Istanbul” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, La Jolla, Calif., University of California, San Diego, 2012), 22.

29

Minḳārīzāde’s role in the trial of Sabbatai Zevi is elaborated in Cengiz Şişman, The Burden of Silence: Sabbatai Sevi and the Evolution of the Ottoman-Turkish Dönmes (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2015), 30–34.

30

Şişman’s contention that Minḳārīzāde held more tolerant views of non-Muslims follows from a compounded overinterpretation of an anecdote recounted by Paul Rycaut (d. 1700), an English diplomat living in Istanbul in the 1660s, regarding a disagreement between Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā and Vānī Meḥmed. The topic at hand was whether communal prayers in support of the Ottoman armies’ campaigns against the Habsburgs in 1664 should be held in a city-wide assembly or in mosques. Minḳārīzāde and another shaykh, basing themselves on legal precedent and tradition, argued for the former, while Vānī argued for the latter. According to Rycaut’s account of the event, the controversy was about whether or not a city-wide assembly increased the efficacy of the prayer. Vānī argued that since all participants were true Muslims (“Believers”), a citywide assembly was a superfluous addition. In her article on the Ḳāḍīzādeli movement, Madeline Zilfi interprets this episode as part of Vānī’s attack on religious syncretism (presumably, non-Muslims could participate in a citywide mass prayer) and Sufism (she assumes that Minḳārīzāde’s supportive shaykh was a Sufi). Şişman interprets Zilfi’s comments as proof that Minḳārīzāde completely opposed Vānī and the Ḳāḍīzādelis and therefore Minḳārīzāde had a “disdain of the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiments on the rise during this period” and wrote the treatise on millet-i Ibrāhīm to counter such beliefs. Both Zilfi and Şişman may have overinterpreted a single report by an English diplomat; While Vānī may have had a larger intention in arguing that city-wide communal prayers were not efficacious, Minḳārīzāde’s opposition to Vānī’s position does not necessarily mean that he held more tolerant views of non-Muslims, only that, in this instance, he adhered to legal precedent and fought for the superiority of his views at court. Paul Rycaut, The History of the Turkish Empire from the Year 1623 to the Year 1677, 2 vols. (London, 1680), 2:154. Madeline Zilfi, “The Kadizadelis: Discordant Revivalism in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 45:4 (1986), 251–69, comment on Minḳārīzāde at 264–5; Şişman, “Minkarizâde Yahya,” 407.

31

Şişman bases his claim that the debate over the “religion of Abraham” is tied to the Ḳāḍīzādelis on a reference to Madeline Zilfi’s article on the movement. Zilfi, in turn, bases her connection of the two events on the fact that Kātib Çelebi includes the controversy in his book about the debates of the period, The Balance of Truth (Mīzānu’l-ḥaḳḳ). However, not every debate in The Balance of Truth should be read as part of the Ḳāḍīzādeli agenda. Kātib Çelebi lists public and popular debates that he felt were ignited by the participation of the uneducated. Zilfi, “The Kadizadelis,” 255; Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 108–23.

32

Zilfi, “The Kadizadelis;” Madeline Zilfi, The Politics of Piety: The Ottoman Ulema in the Postclassical Age (1600–1800) (Minneapolis, MN: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1988).

33

Krstić, Contested Conversions to Islam; Derin Terzioğlu, “How to Conceptualize Ottoman Sunnitization: A Historiographical Discussion,” Turcica 44 (2012–2013): 301–38.

34

Baki Tezcan, “Ottoman Mevali as ‘Lords of the Law,’” Journal of Islamic Studies 2:3 (September 2009): 384–85.

35

On metadoxy, see Cemal Kafadar, Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 76.

36

See the essays in Tijana Krstić and Derin Terzioğlu, eds., Historicizing Sunni Islam in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1450-c. 1750 (Leiden: Brill, 2020).

37

Krstić, “State and Religion,” 84.

38

For this article I examined some forty copies of this treatise in manuscript libraries around the world (though many more exist and are not cataloged properly). I also acquired reproductions of early copies from the following libraries: İstanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserler Kütüphanesi MS T5917; Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS Arab 292 ff. 99a-101a; ucla Young Research Library Special Collections, Collection 896, Box 109, MS 740; İstanbul Araştirma Enstitüsü, Şevket Rado MS 232 ff. 132b-136b; Gazi Husrev-Begova Biblioteka, MS R702 ff. 198b-204b; Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin Efendi MS 1064 ff. 166–168; Princeton University Library, Garrett MS. 400L. The long version of the pamphlet can be found in Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesi, MS 4952 ff. 25b-54a and in Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Yazma Bağişlar MS 1438 ff. 103–116.

39

Nev’izâde Atâyî, Hadâ’iku’l-hakâ’ik fî tekmileti’ş-şakâ’ik: Nevi’îzâde Atâyî’nin Şakâ’ik zeyli, ed. Suat Donuk and Derya Örs, vol. 2 (İstanbul: Türkiye Yazma Eserler Kurumu Başkanliği, 2017), 1709–10.

40

Şeyhî Mehmed Efendi, Vekâyi’u’l-fuzalâ: Şeyhî’nin Şakâ’ik zeyli, ed. Ramazan Ekinci and Derya Örs, vol. 2 (İstanbul: Türkiye Yazma Eserler Kurumu Başkanliği, 2018), 1128–29.

41

Şeyhî Mehmed Efendi, 2:1129; Muḥammad Amīn b. Faḍl Allāh al-Muḥibbī, Khulāṣat al-athar fī aʿyān al-qarn al-ḥādī ʿashar, vol. 4 (Cairo, 1284), 477–78.

42

Modern scholars have interpreted this illness as a stroke, though the sources are ambiguous on the matter.

43

One reason why Kātib Çelebi’s copying activities were not readily recognized was that the translator, Lewis, decided to render “fāżil,” or “scholar,” as a proper name and not as a descriptor. He also found Kātib Çelebi’s treatment of the topic tedious. Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 12, 110.

44

Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ (Ḳosṭanṭīniye: Maṭba’a-i Ebu’l-Żiyā, 1306), 132; Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 137.

45

The translator of Kātib Çelebi’s work, Lewis, read mücīb as the name of the shaykh (as he did with the descriptor fāżil above), but Mücib as a name is rare and nearly always found in compounds with a name of God, not by itself. It likely refers to a respondent in this case. I thank the anonymous reviewer for pointing this out.

46

What I call “pamphlets” are referred to as risāla / rasā’il (pl.) in Arabic and risāle / resā’il or risāleler (pl.) in Turkish, literally, a treatise. However, a risāla can refer to a text that ranges from hundreds of folios to a few folios. I use the word “pamphlet” to differentiate the short, ephemeral treatises that were the main medium for these seventeenth-century polemical debates from a generic risāla. See my forthcoming monograph, Pamphleteering Islam, for more information.

47

Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 121. There are two copies of an anonymous treatise in Arabic that do not respond to Minḳārīzāde’s piece and that may therefore predate his treatise. See Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, ff. 204a-205b; Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Mihrişah Sultan MS 220, ff. 368a-369b.

48

Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 114.

49

İstanbul Araştirma Enstitüsü, Şevket Rado MS 232 f. 136b

50

The earliest dated copy of the longer pamphlet that I have found is from ca. 1 Feb 1665 (middle of Rajab 1075). It was copied from the author’s “second copy” and from another copy that was collated against the author’s original, Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesi MS 4952 ff. 25b-54a. The earliest version of the shorter pamphlet is from July 4, 1656 (12 Ramazan 1066) in İstanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserleri Kütüphanesi, MS T5917. In his Balance of Truth, written in 1656, Kātib Çelebi uses the longer pamphlet but does not mention the shorter one. This suggests that Minḳārīzāde’s longer pamphlet had been circulating since ca. 1652 and that the shorter one was written in 1656, or a year or two earlier.

51

Minḳārīzāde refers to the act of reading with the term “muṭālaʿa,” which, alongside naẓar, is one of the common words used to refer to reading at the time. Significantly, the use of muṭālaʿa conveys the fact that pamphlet was intended to be read alone and visually, rather than recited to a group.

52

Minḳārīzāde, Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064 f. 166b.

53

On ümmi readers, see Derin Terzioğlu, “Where Ilm-i Hal Meets Catechism: Islamic Manuals of Religious Instruction in the Ottoman Empire in the Age of Confessionalization,” Past & Present 220 (2013): 79–115, at 90–91; and S. Aslihan Gürbüzel, “Teachers of the Public, Advisors to the Sultan: Preachers and the Rise of a Political Public Sphere in Early Modern Istanbul (1600-1675),” Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University, 2016, 180–89.

54

Islam Dayeh, “Prophecy and Writing in the Qur’an, or Why Muhammad Was Not a Scribe,” in The Qur’an’s Reformation of Judaism and Christianity: Return to the Origins, ed. Holger M. Zellentin (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2019), 55.

55

Emine Gürsoy-Naskali, “Yunus Emre ve edebiyat tarihçileri,” in Yunus Emre sempozyumu: Bildiriler (İstanbul: Marmara Üniversitesi Yayinlari, 1992); John Curry, The Transformation of Muslim Mystical Thought in the Ottoman Empire: The Rise of the Halveti Order, 1350–1650 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 127–28; Dana Sajdi, The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2013), 43.

56

Translation taken from Lewis, The Balance of Truth, 117; Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 108–9.

57

Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 108–9.

58

On one of the few rhetoric manuals in Turkish, see Gürbüzel, "Teachers of the Public," 202–209.

59

Tijana Krstić, “‘You Must Know Your Faith in Detail:’ On the Redefinition of the Role of Knowledge and Boundaries of Belief in Ottoman Catechisms (ʿilm-i ḥāls),” in Historicizing Sunni Islam in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1450 - 1750 (Leiden: Brill, 2020).

60

Burak, The Second Formation of Islamic Law; On this literature, see Krstić, “State and Religion,” 77–78; Of course, the increased role of government did not mean that the jurists simply mirrored the government’s positions, as Atçil reminds us. Abdurrahman Atçil, “The Safavid Threat and Juristic Authority in the Ottoman Empire during the 16th Century,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 49, no. 2 (May 2017): 295–314.

61

Samy Ayoub, “‘The Sulṭān Says:’ State Authority in the Late Ḥanafī Tradition,” Islamic Law and Society 23:3 (2016): 239–78.

62

Abu’l-Wafā b. ʿUmar al-ʿUrḍī, Risāla fī ḥukm istiʿmāl al-dukhān, Library of Congress, MS Mansuri 4.790, f. 1a

63

For the palace copy, see ucla Young Research Library Special Collections, Collection 896, Box 109, MS 740. The manuscript was copied in the ḫāne-i seferli, a building originally built in the early seventeenth century to prepare for military campaigns. By the end of the century, however, it had become a book production center. Unlike other examples, this pamphlet is written in perfect Ottoman naskh calligraphy and is heavily illuminated, though it is not the most accurate copy in relation to the original.

64

Translation adapted from Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 121; Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 114–15.

65

While translating cumhūr as “public” might seem like an anachronism, by the seventeenth century, the meaning of the word had started to shift from “the masses,” to “republic” or some representation of popular will. See Marinos Sariyannis, “Ottoman Ideas on Monarchy before the Tanzimat Reforms: Toward a Conceptual History of Ottoman Political Notions,” Turcica 47 (2016): 33–72; Wael Abu-ʿUksa, “The Construction of the Concepts ‘Democracy’ and ‘Republic’ in Arabic in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean, 1798–1878,” Journal of the History of Ideas 80:2 (2019): 249–70; For Kātib Çelebi’s use of cumhūr see Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 47, 59, 106.

66

Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā Efendi, Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, f. 166b. All references below to the text refer to this manuscript.

67

Minḳārīzāde bases this initial argument on some key works of Hanafi uṣūl al-dīn, mostly by earlier commentators of classical Hanafi works, like Faḫr al-Islām al-Pazdawī (d. 1100) and Akmal al-Dīn al-Bābartī (d. 1384/5)

68

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 167a.

69

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 167a.

70

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 167b.

71

As Gimaret notes, uṣūl al-dīn is essentially a synonym of ʿilm al-kalām. See EI2, s.v. Uṣūl al-Dīn (Gimaret).

72

It is unclear exactly what Minḳārīzāde is referring to when he says “furūʿ.” Is it furūʿi-i dīn or furūʿ-i fiḳh? In either case, the intended meaning is the practice of Islam according to its legal prescriptions.

73

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 167a.

74

Olidort, “Portraying Early Islam as the milla of Abraham,” 318.

75

“…In the Fiqh akbar ‘religion (din) is a noun that relates to (wāqiʿ ʿalā) faith (īmān) and Islam and all the commandments of the law (şerayīʿ).’” Translation taken from Nuruosmaniye Library, MS 4952, f. 47b. See also, Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 115–16. The same statement is made in Kara, Mizrakli İlmihal, 73. Anonymous, ʿIlm-i ḥāl, Bibliotheque Nationale de Tunis, MS 2520, p. 2; Classical lexicographers had differing opinions on the meaning of the word milla. One late thirteenth-century Maghrebi lexicographer, Ibn Manẓūr (d. 1311), defines milla as sharia and dīn. Olidort, “Portraying Early Islam as the milla of Abraham,” 317.

76

While there is no evidence that anyone attempted to formulate a separate sharia for the millet-i Ibrāhīm, some scholars did address the question of whether there could be alternative sharias. A scholar named Muḥammad b. Abi Bakr al-Ḥiṣārī wrote a treatise in response to a patron who read the famous prayer manual Dalā’il al-khayrat and wondered whether the Qur’an attests to the existence of other sharias, specifically those of millat Ibrāhīm. Dalā’il al-khayrat does not seem to make any mention of millat Ibrāhīm, however, and al-Ḥiṣārī’s pamphlet appears to have been written without reference or relation to Minḳārīzāde’s work. Milli Kütüphane, MS A938, ff. 84a-85b.

77

On this expanded notion of heresy, see Krstić, “State and Religion,” 83; Ramlī’s response echoes his words in his other works. See Guy Burak, “Faith, Law and Empire in the Ottoman ‘age of Confessionalization’ (Fifteenth - Seventeenth Centuries): The Case of ‘Renewal of Faith,’” Mediterranean Historical Review 28:1 (2013): 7–8, 11–13.

78

Ramlī, Untitled Treatise on Heresy, Hekimoğlu MS 322, f. 303a; Reşid Efendi MS 1215, f. 192ab.

المراد... يمنع التكفير في كلمة تقع من المسلم نادرا او كلمة واحدة او ما في حكمها لا ما وقع لبعض الملاحدة المارقين من الدين مروق السهم من الرمية من تصنيف كتاب او كتب مقتضية هدم عن الدين ومخالفة سائر المسلمين ودعواه في ذلك الحق اليقين فانه لا يجوز تأويله ولا حمله على ما ذكرنا بل يجب الكفار قايله في الرد عليه تنفيرا من بدعته وضلالته فان التأويل في مثل ذلك لا يكون الا في كلام المعصوم.

79

Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, ff. 169a, 170a; Manisa Yazma Eserler Kütüphanesi MS 4478 ff. 180a, 182b. On Aḫsiketī see Mehmet Boynukalin, “Hanefî Usûl Muhtasarlarinin Gelişimi: (ii) Hüsameddin El-Ahsîketî’nin El-Müntehab’i ve Hanefî Usûlündeki Yeri,” Kocaeli Ilahiyat Dergisi 1, no. 2 (Aralik 2017): 21–42.

80

Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, ff. 168b; Manisa Yazma Eserler Kütüphanesi MS 4478 ff. 180a. The eighteenth-century Indian scholar al-Ṭahānawī (fl. 1745) seems to echo some of the critiques of these seventeenth-century scholars, insisting that milla refers only to the fundamentals (uṣūl) of a legal system, not the positive laws (furūʿ). Olidort, “Portraying Early Islam as the milla of Abraham,” 317–18.

81

Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, ff. 168b; Manisa Yazma Eserler Kütüphanesi MS 4478 ff. 180a.

82

Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, ff. 169ab, 170b; Manisa Yazma Eserler Kütüphanesi MS 4478 ff. 180ab, 181b, 183ab.

83

Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, ff. 170b; Manisa Yazma Eserler Kütüphanesi MS 4478 ff. 184a.

84

Text: “kayfa yukfir muʿtaqidahu,” Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Aşir Efendi MS 427 f. 49b.

85

Mehmet Ertuğrul Düzdağ, ed., Şeyhülislâm Ebussuud Efendi Fetvalari Işiğinda 16. Asir Türk Hayati (Istanbul: Enderun Kitapevi, 1972), 176; this fatwa is not included in the critical edition of Ebü’s-suʿūd’s fatwas and was probably a later addition. Ebussuûd, Ma’rûzât, ed. Pehlul Düzenli (Istanbul: Klasik, 2013); however, the same expression appears in Kara, Mizrakli İlmihal, 73.

86

The participation of ordinary Muslims in these discussions is most clearly demonstrated in Terzioğlu, “Ilm-i Hal;” Krstić, “From shahāda to ʿaqīda;” on the push for ordinary believers to be well-versed in the details of Islam in the Ottoman period, see Krstić, “You Must Know Your Faith in Detail.”

87

For example, although Kātib Çelebi usually faithfully copied Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet, he inserted the phrase “Nevertheless this is not the way ordinary people (cumhūr) see it” following Minḳārīzāde’s description of Birgivī’s position on the difference between millet, dīn, and sharīʿā. Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 116; Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 106. For Minḳārīzāde’s statement, see the extended treatise in Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesi MS 4952 f. 46b.

88

Ḫavāṣṣ is a flexible social category referring to the elite. Traditionally a political distinction, the ḫavāṣṣ consisted of the ruler and those around him, the ruling elite, whereas the ʿavāmm comprised the rest, that is, those who paid taxes. At the same time, ḫavāṣṣ and ʿavāmm also functioned as categories of moral and intellectual distinction, broadly overlapping with their respective political counterparts. One of the normative values separating the ḫavāṣṣ from the ʿavāmm was education. What non-elites or the ʿavāmm lacked was not education per se, but the very capacity to be educated. For this reason, I refer to ḫavāṣṣ as “the educated elite” in this article. On the topic, see Ahmed, What Is Islam?, 368–77. See also my forthcoming monograph, Pamphleteering Islam.

89

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 168a.

90

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 168a.

91

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 168a.

92

Anonymous response to Minḳārīzāde’s pamphlet, Beyazit Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064, f. 171a; Manisa Yazma Eserler Kütüphanesi MS 4478 f. 184b.

93

Adapted from the translation of Kâtib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 121; Kātib Çelebi, Mīzānü’l-ḥaḳḳ fi iḫtiyāri’l-aḥaḳḳ, 114–15.

94

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 168b.

95

Risāle-i millet-i Ibrāhīm, f. 168b.

96

The story of Kürd Molla and Tatar Imām is one of the more famous examples of Ḳāḍīzādeli fanatacism that Zilfi highlights from the chronicle of Naima. Zilfi, The Politics of Piety, 145–46; Naima Mustafa Efendi, Târih-i Naʿîmâ (Ravzatü’l-Hüseyn fî Hulâsati Ahbâri’l-Hâfikayn), ed. Mehmet İpşirli, 4 vols. (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayinlari, 2007), 1434–36.

97

“A copy …. decrying … Muḥammad al-Kurdī,” Köprülü Library, Ahmedpasa MS 152, ff. 78a.

98

“A copy …. decrying … Muḥammad al-Kurdī,” Köprülü Library, Ahmedpasa MS 152, ff. 77a-79a.

99

Niʿmatullah’s response, Süleymaniye Library, Esad Efendi MS 3560, ff. 88b-89a; Asir Efendi MS 427 ff. 49ab.

100

Niʿmatullah’s response, Süleymaniye Library, Esad Efendi MS 3560, ff. 88b-89a; Asir Efendi MS 427 ff. 49a.

101

Niʿmatullah’s response, Süleymaniye Library, Esad Efendi MS 3560, ff. 89a; Asir Efendi MS 427 ff. 49b: “ونتيجته رسالتهم ثلثة\ثلثته اقاويل احدها”

102

Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Esad Efendi MS 3560, f. 88b-89a (margins).

103

Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Esad Efendi MS 3560, f. 89a (margins).

104

The fatwa in question is listed under a special rubric regarding belief. The collection and arrangement of fatwas in imperial collections was done by the clerks of the office of the şeyḫülislām, so it is difficult to ascribe the choice solely to the şeyḫülislām himself. “Question: When Zeyd the Muslim is asked, ‘What religion [millet] are you?’ which of the following must he say: ‘I belong to the religion of Muhammad…’ or ‘I belong to the religion of Abraham…?’ Answer: He must say, ‘I belong to the religion of Muhammad.’” Yenişehirli ʿAbdullah Efendi, Behcetü’l-Fetâvâ, ed. Süleyman Kaya et al. (Istanbul: Klasik, 2011), 25.

Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā Efendi’s treatise on Millet-i Ibrāhīm – Transcription and Translation1

Critical Edition

Source Texts:

  1. A:Beyazit Devlet Kutuphanesi, Veliyüddin MS 1064
  2. B:UCLA Special Collections, Collection 896, Box 109 MS 749
  3. C:Istanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserleri Kütüphanesi MS T5917
  4. D:Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS Arab 292

A 166b / B 1b / C 1a / D 99a

Bismillāhi’r-raḥmāni’r-raḥīm. El-ḥamdu lillāhi ʿalā milleti’l-islām, milleti Muḥammedin ʿaleyhi’ṣ-ṣalātü ve’s-selām. Emmā baʿd:2 Bu ʿabd-i3 faḳīr Minḳarīzāde aṣlaḥa’llāhu subḥānahu ve teʿālā4 meʿādehu ḥālā beyne’l-enām millat İbrāhīm ʿaleyhi’s-selām ḫuṣūṣinda dāʾir olan suʾāl5 cevābinda ʿazīzü’l-menāl nīçe vecih taḳrīr ve bir6 risāle-i bedīʿa taḥrīr ėdüb, lākin kes̱īretü’ş-şiʿab olmaġile muṭālaʿasinda teʿab çekilmesin dėyü iḫtiṣār olinub ḳadr-i ḥācet{e} iḳtiṣār7 olindi.

Aṣḥāb-i bāṣā’ire ḫafī ve erbāb-i żamāʿire muḫtefī8 olmaya ki kütüb-i uṣūlda ḳarār vėrilen üzre meẕheb ve ḳavl-i muḫtār budur ki: Muḳaddem gelen nebīniñ şerīʿati ve milleti ile ʿamel bizim nebīmüziñ şerīʿati ve milleti olmaḳ9 üzerinedir. Yoḫsa muḳaddem [C 1b] gelen nebīniñ şerīʿati ve millet olmaḳ üzerine10 degildir. Aña bināʾen ki11 muḳaddem gelen nebīniñ şerīʿati ve milleti bizim nebīmize ʿalā ṭarīḳi’l-ʿirs̱ intiḳāl eylemişdir.12 Nitekim ثم اورثنا الكتاب الذين اصطفينا من عبادنا āyet-i kerīmesi delālet ėder.

ʿAlā ṭarīḳi’l-ʿirs̱ olunca maʿna-yi ʿirs̱i taḥḳīḳ içün mīrās̱ mūris̱den [B 2b] vāris̱e intiḳāl ėtdikde vāris̱e mużāf olub ve anuñ milki olub mūris̱e mużāf olmayub ve anuñ milki olmayub13 ve bi’l-cümle baʿde’l-intiḳāl vāris̱e maḫṣūṣ olub mūris̱iñ ʿalāḳasi ḳalmaduġi gibi muḳaddemden bizim nebīmize şerīʿat ve millet daḫi intiḳāl ėtdikde böyledir.

Bu kelāmimiz14 Keşf-i Pezdevī’den ve Taḳrīr’den ve Tavḍīḥ’den meʾḫūẕdir. Keẕālika Keşf ve Taḳrīr’de ẕikr olunmişdir ki Allāh teʿāla’niñ واذ اخذ الله ميثاق النبيين لما اتيكم من كتابٍ وحكمةٍ ثم جاء كم رسول مصدِّق لما معكم لتؤمننّ به [C 2a] ḳavl-i şerīfinde [B 3a] nebiyyīn15 üzerine taṣdīḳe mis̱āḳ16 aḫẕ eylemesi enbiyā ʿaleyhimü’s-selāmiñ Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām’a ittibāʿlari vācib [A 167a] olmada Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selāmiñ ümmeti menzilesinde olmalarina delīldir.17

[D 99b] Böyle olunca muḳaddem gelen enbiyāniñ şerāyiʿ18 ve mileli ile ʿamel anlariñ şerāyiʿ19 ve mileli20 olmaḳ üzerine olsa anlar Ḥażret-i21 Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām’a tābiʿler ve ümmeti22 menzilesinde iken Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām anlara23 tābiʿ ve anlariñ ümmeti menzilesinde24 olmaḳ lāzim gelür. Ve Menār şerḥinde İmām Nesefī yazdiġina göre ʿamel muḳaddem gelen nebīniñ şerīʿati [B 3b] ve milleti olmaḳ üzerine olsa Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām Allāh teʿālā’niñ resūli olmayub muḳaddem gelen nebīniñ resūli olub anuñ ile anuñ25 ümmeti beyninde vāsiṭa26 olmak lāzim gelür.27

[C-2b] Īmdi hālā28 dāʾir29 olan suʾāl ki30 ümmet-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām’dan bir kimesne millet-i İbrāhīm’denim dėmek cāʾiz midir dėrler. Bu taḳrīrden anuñ cevābi31 maʿlūm oldi ki cāʾiz degildir. Zīrā millet-i İbrāhīm’denim dėmeniñ ẓāhiri buña delālet ėder ki millet ḥālā Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm’in olub millet ile ʿamel Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm’in32 olmaḳ üzerine ola.33 Bunda34 ise vāḳiʿa muḫālif olduġindan [B 4a] māʿadā niçe maḥẕūr35 vardir,36 nitekim bir miḳdāri37 taḳrīr olundi. Ve ṣāḥib-i Keşf ve ṣāhib-i38 Taḳrīr bu şerīʿat hālā Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm milleti olmaḳ mümteniʿ oldi dėyu taṣrīḥ daḫi eylemişlerdir.39 Nitekim dėmişlerdir ki egerçe kim ملة ابيكم ابراهيم āyeti ve وفاتبعوا ملة ابراهيم āyeti ile bu şerīʿat millet-i İbrāhīm olduġi s̱ābit oldi,40 [C-3a] lakin لكل جعلنا منكم شرعة ومنهاجا āyetine bināʾen ve şerāyiʿ-i māżiyede aṣil [aṣl-i?] ḫuṣūṣ olmaġa bināʾen bu şerīʿat ḥālā Ḥażret-i41 İbrāhīm milleti42 olmaḳ mumteniʿ oldi.

Öyle olicaḳ [B 4b] İbrāhīm43 milleti44 olmaḳ ne maʿnāyedir? Ol maʿnāyedir45 ki [C 3b] ibtidāʾ Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm’iñ idi,46 ḥaḳḳ oldiġi ḥālde bāḳī ḳālub47 bizim nebīmiziñ48 oldi, Ḥażret-i49 İbrāhīm’e iżāfetden ḳaldi, māl-i mevrūs̱ gibi ki50 ḥālā vāris̱e mużāf olub [A 167b] [D 100a] mūris̱e51 mużāf olmaz dėmişler.52

Bu taḳrīrātdan maʿlūm oldiki Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm milletindenim dėnilmez.53 Eger millet ʿaḳāʾide müteʿalliḳ54 olan eşyāya maḫṣūṣadir,55 öyle olicaḳ millet-i İbrāhīm’denim dėmek cāʾizdir, enbiyā ʿaleyhimü’s-selām ʿaḳāʾide müteʿalliḳ56 olan eşyāda muḫtalif olmadiḳlarina bināʾen [B 5a] dėnilürse, dėnilür ki taḥḳīḳ budur ki maḫṣūṣa57 degildir belki furūʿa şāmiledir, vechi58 ʿala’t-tafṣīl59 [C 4a] risālemizde beyān olunmişdir. Ve Birgili Meḥmed60 Efendi merḥūmuñ61 dīn ve62 millet Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām’iñ Haḳḳ teʿālā’dan iʿtiḳāda müteʿalliḳ getürdügi şeylerdir dėdigüniñ aṣli daḫi beyān63 olunmişdir. [C 4b] Faraẓan maḫṣūṣa olsa bile yine64 millet ḥālā Ḥażret-i65 Muḥammed66 ʿaleyhi’s-selāmiñdir, yoḫsa Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm ʿaleyhi’s-selām’iñ67 degildir. Ve ol millete ittibāʿ ve anuñla ʿamel Ḥażret-i Muḥammed’iñ68 milleti olmaḳ üzredir, yoḫsa Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm’iñ milleti olmaḳ üzre degildir. [B 5b] Zīrā yuḳarudaki delīller ve maḥẕūrlar uṣūl-i dīn ve furūʿa69 ʿumūm ṣüretine maḫṣūṣ degildir,70 uṣūl-i dīne ḫuṣūṣ ṣüretinde cārīlerdir. Böyle olicaḳ millet-i İbrāhīm’denim dėmek nice cāʾiz olur ki ẓāhiri71 millet ḥālā Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm’iñ olub millete ittibāʿ ve anuñla ʿamel Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm milleti olmaḳ üzerine olmaġa delālet ėder.

Eger çünki72 Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām ان اتّبع ملة ابراهيم āyeti muḳtaẓāsinca Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm ʿaleyhi’s-selām milletine ittibāʿ ile emr olundi ve فاتّبعوا ملة ابراهيم āyeti [C 5a] muḳtaẓāsinca muḫāṭabūn Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm73 milletine ittibāʿ ile emr olundilar, “Millet-i İbrāhīm’denüz” dėmek cāʾiz olmaḳ görinür dėnilürse cevāb budur ki yuḳarida ẕikr olunan delīllere ve maḥẕūrlara bināʾen dėmek cāʾiz degildir. [D 100b] Āyeteynde74 ise millet-i İbrāhīm’e ittibāʿ ile emrden murād aṣlinda [A 168a] millet-i İbrāhīm olan millet-i75 İslām’a ittibāʿ ile emrdir. Nitekim ṣāḥib-i Keşf ve ṣāḥib-i Taḳrīr kelāmindan76 böylece müstefāddir ve77 فاتّبعوا ملة ابراهيم āyetinde Ḳāḍi Beyżāvī ve Ebü’s-suʿūd Efendi böylece tefsīr eylemişlerdir. Ve Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām ṣabāḥa dāḫil olduḳda

اصبحنا على فطرة الاسلام وكلمة (6ب) الإخلاص وعلى دين نبينا محمد صلى الله عليه وسلّم وملة ابينا اراهيم صلى لله عليه وسلم حنيفاً مسلماً وما انا من المشركين78

dėyu ẕikr ėdüb ümmetine taʿlīm ḳaṣd eylemeleri daḫi şimdi millet-i Muḥammed [C 5b] olub millet-i İbrāhīm olmayub ancaḳ aṣlinda millet-i İbrāhīm olub79 millete ittibāʿ ve anuñ ile ʿamel Ḥażret-i Muḥammed milleti olmaḳ üzerine olub80 Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm milleti olmamaḳ üzerine olmaḳ81 mülāḥaẓasiyladir. Ve risālemizde daḫi niçe ṭuruḳ beyān olunmuşdur. Eger bu mülāḥaẓa iʿtibāriyle millet-i İbrāhīm’deniz dėmek cāʾizdir82 dėnilürse dėnilür ki ʿavām83 ẓāhirbīndir84 bu mülāḥaẓayi bilmezler, ẓāhirine göre ise [B 7a] cāʾiz olmaduġi muḳarrer oldi.

İmdi ʿavām buni dėmek cāʾiz degildir, ammā ḫavāṣ85 ẓāhirbīn degillerdir,86 bu mülāḥaẓayi bilürler, anlara bu mülāḥaẓa ile dėmek87 cāʾizdir, lākin88 dėyen kimesne ẓāhirinden müstefād olani iʿtiḳād ṭarīḳiyle dėmiyüb bu mülāhaẓayi iʿtiḳād89 ṭarīḳiyle dėdigine90 ḳarīne gerekdir ki91 istimāʿ ėdenler ol ṭarīḳ ile dėmiyüb bu ṭarīḳ ile dėdigini bileler, zirā ẓāhiri üzerine cāʾiz degildir. [C 6a] Ve92 buni bu üslūb üzerine ḫavāṣ yine ḫavāṣ yaninda söyleyüb ʿavām yaninda söylememek gerekdir, zīrā eşitmek ile93 ẓāhirinden [B 7b] müstefād olani iʿtiḳād ṭarīḳi ile dėye giderler,94 ḳarīne ise herkese göre95 fāʾide vėrmez ki andan [D 101a] ne iʿtiḳad ile dėnilür ve96 ne iʿtiḳād ile97 dėnilmemegi98 bileler. [A 168b] Ḥāṣil-i kelām her söz ẓāhirine maḥmūldir.

İmdi şol söz ki anuñ ẓāhirinden99 müstefād olani iʿtiḳād bize cāʾiz olmaya, ol100 sözi söylemek bize101 cāʾiz degildir, iʿtiḳād cāʾiz102 olur bir hāle ḳomāduḳca. Bu ḳaldi ki Ḥażret-i Muhammad103 ʿaleyhi’s-selāmiñ104 eyledügi ṣabāḥ ẕikrini105 ne keyfiyyet ile eylemek gerekdir, ya106 icmālen Ḥażret107 ʿaleyhi’s-selām ne vech ile ḳaṣd ėtdi ise ben daḫi ol [B 8a] vechle ḳaṣd ėderim dėmek gerekdir, ẓāhirinden müstefād olani108 ḳaṣd etmemek109 gerekdir, yaḫūd ḥālā millet-i Muḥammed olub aṣlinda millet-i İbrāhīm olan millet üzerine ṣabāḥa dāḫil oldum [C 6b] dėyu ḳaṣd110 gerekdir. Va’llāhu111 teʿālā aʿlem, bu miḳdār muġnīdir,112 tafṣīl-i müşbiʿ113 murād ėden risāle-i muṭavvelimize mürācaʿat eylesün.114

Translation

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to God [and] to the Religion of Islam, the Religion of Muhammad. To proceed: In order to respond to the questions current among the people concerning the Religion of Abraham (millat Ibrāhīm), this humble servant, Minḳārīzāde, wrote about several items that are rarely discussed (ʿazīzü’l-menāl nīçe vech) and composed an eloquent treatise on the subject. However, since [the treatise] has many ancillary arguments (şiʿab), it was summarized and shortened as necessary so that reading it would not be too tiring.

It should be clear to those with insight and understanding that the chosen doctrine established by books of creed (uṣūl) is that to practice (ʿamel) an earlier prophet’s law and religion means to practice according to our Prophet’s law and religion; it does not mean to practice according to that earlier prophet’s law and religion. Therefore, the earlier prophet’s law and religion have been transferred to our Prophet through inheritance (irs̱), as demonstrated in the noble verse, “We gave the Scripture as inheritance to Our chosen servants” (Q35:32).

Let us analyze the meaning of “inheritance” since this is [a case] of transfer by inheritance. When a legacy is transferred from the legator to the legatee it belongs to the legatee and becomes his property; it no longer belongs to the legator and is not his property. In sum, just as a legacy after transmission belongs solely to the legatee and no longer has a connection to the legator, so law and religion (şerīʿat ve millet) were transferred from the earlier prophets to our Prophet.

These words of ours are taken from the Keşf of Pezdevī,115 from the Taḳrīr,116 and from the Tavḍīḥ.117 The Keşf and the Taḳrīr mention that God almighty said, “God took a pledge from the prophets, saying, “If, after I have bestowed Scripture and wisdom upon you, a messenger comes confirming what you have been given, you must believe in him and support him” (Q3:81).118 According to this noble verse, the pledge he took from the prophets is proof that they would follow the Prophet Muhammad and have a place in the Prophet Muhammad’s community.

Given the [arguments] above, if practicing (ʿamel) the earlier prophets’ laws and religions meant following their laws and religions, then, just as these [earlier prophets] are followers of the Prophet Muhammad and part of his community, the Prophet Muhammad would be [these prophets’] follower and part of their community. According to Imam Nesefī in his commentary on the Menār, if to practice [religion] meant following an earlier prophet’s law and religion, then the Prophet Muhammad wouldn’t be God’s messenger, but an earlier prophet’s messenger, and [the Prophet Muhammad] would have to be an intermediary between him and his community.119

Now, as for the current question, they ask whether or not it is permissible for someone from Muhammad’s community to say, “I belong to the religion of Abraham.” As demonstrated [above], it is clear that the answer is that it is not permissible. Because the literal meaning of the statement “I belong to the religion of Abraham” indicates that the religion (millet) [i.e. Islam] still belongs to the Prophet Abraham and that the practice of the religion should occur according to that of the Prophet Abraham. If this were true, besides being contrary to the fact of the matter, there would be many other objections, a number of which have already been demonstrated. The author of the Keşf and the author of the Taḳrīr have also explained that it is impossible for our law (bu şeriat) to still be the Prophet Abraham’s religion. Indeed, they say that although the verses “the religion of your father, Abraham” (Q22:78) and “Follow the religion of Abraham” (Q3:95) establish that our law is the religion of Abraham,120 nevertheless, based on the verse “We have assigned a law and a path to each of you” (Q5:48) and based on the fact that [these verses] apply only for laws of the past, it is impossible that our law is still the Prophet Abraham’s religion.

If this is the case, then what does it mean to belong to Abraham’s religion? It means that initially it [the millet/religion] was that of Prophet Abraham and it remained so as long as it stayed true. Then [the religion] became that of our Prophet and it no longer belonged to the Prophet Abraham. It is like they say of a bequest, that it now belongs to the legatee and no longer belongs to the legator.

From what has been demonstrated above, it is clear that one cannot say, “I belong to the religion of Abraham.” If it is claimed that religion (millet) is limited to matters of creed, given that the prophets do not disagree on matters of creed, and it is therefore permissible to say “I belong to the religion of Abraham,” then the response is that the reality is that it [i.e. millet] is not limited [to matters of creed] but also applies to law (furūʿ). This point is explained in detail in our treatise, which also expounds on the late Birgili Mehmed Efendi’s statement that dīn and millet are things that the Prophet Muhammad brought from God Almighty concerning creed. Even if it [i.e. millet] were limited [to matters of creed], the religion now is that of the Prophet Muhammad, it is not that of the Prophet Abraham; and following and practicing that religion means belonging to the Prophet Muhammad’s religion, it does not mean belonging to the Prophet Abraham’s religion. The reason is that the above proofs and objections are not limited to the principles of religion (uṣūl-i dīn) and to law (furūʿ) generally (ʿumūm ṣüretine); rather they cover the principles of religion specifically (ḫuṣūṣ ṣüretine).121 This being so, how can it be permissible to say “I belong to the religion of Abraham?” Taken literally, [this statement] attests that the religion (millet) [i.e. Islam] is still the Prophet Abraham’s and that it should be followed and practiced according to [the precepts] of the Prophet Abraham’s religion.

If it is claimed that it seems permissible to say “We belong to the religion of Abraham,” because both the Prophet Muhammad in the verse “Follow the religion of Abraham” (Q16:123) and those addressed in the verse “So follow the religion of Abraham” (Q3:95) were commanded to follow the religion of the Prophet Abraham, we respond that based on the aforementioned proofs and objections it is not permissible. As for these two verses, what is actually meant by the command to follow the religion of Abraham is to follow the religion of Islam, which is the religion of Abraham, The authors of the Keşf and the Taḳrīr understood it like this and Ḳāḍi Beyżavī and Ebü’s-suʿūd Efendi also interpreted the verse “So follow the religion of Abraham” in this way.

When the Prophet Muhammed would awake in the morning he would say, “We awake into the state of Islam, the word of pure faith, and into the religion of our Prophet Muhammad and the religion of our forefather Abraham, who was of true faith and a Muslim and was not one of the polytheists.”122 He said this [supplication] with the intention of teaching the community that now it [i.e. the religion/Islam] is Muhammad’s religion and not Abraham’s religion. Although we must consider that it originally was the religion of Abraham, practicing and following it [now] means belonging to the Prophet Muhammad’s religion, not the Prophet Abraham’s religion. Various aspects of this are discussed in our [longer] treatise. If it is claimed that it is permissible to say “We belong to the religion of Abraham,” based on the above consideration (mülāḥaẓa), the response is that ordinary people (ʿavām) are literalists, that they do not understand this consideration, and that [the statement] has been ruled impermissible according to its literal meaning.

Now, it is not permissible for ordinary people to say this [statement, “we belong to the religion of Abraham”]. The educated elite (ḫavāṣ), however, are not literalists; they understand the above consideration and, keeping it in mind, they are allowed to say it. But when they do so they must never say it with any belief in its literal meaning. Rather they must add the proviso (ḳarīne) that they say it with belief in this consideration, so that those who hear it know that it is not said in that way [i.e., in its literal meaning] but in this way [i.e., with the proviso], as it is not permissible [to say it] according to its literal meaning. Still, the educated elite should say [the statement] only in the presence of other educated elites and not in the presence of ordinary people, because, when they hear it, they will think that it is spoken with belief in its literal meaning. That said, the proviso can’t help everyone know whether or not the statement was said with belief. In sum, every statement is understood according to its literal meaning.

Now, it is not permissible for us to say any word whose literal meaning we are not allowed to believe, unless it is phrased in such a way that it is permissible to believe. It remains to be determined the situation regarding the Prophet Muhammad’s morning supplication. Either one must say in general that one intends the statement in whatever way or manner the Prophet Muhammad intended it, but one must not intend its literal meaning; or one must intend by it: “I awake into the religion that was the religion of Abraham and is now the religion of Muhammad.” God knows best and this must suffice. Those who wish additional evidence and details may consult my extended treatise.

1

I would like to sincerely thank Robert Dankoff for helping me resolve a number of ambiguities in the text and refine the critical edition. All mistakes are my own.

2

Emmā baʿd: missing in B.

3

Missing in A.

4

subḥānahu ve teʿālā: Missing in A.

5

A: suʾāliñ

6

B: bu; missing in D.

7

A: iḫtiṣār.

8

D: maḫfī.

9

Missing in B.

10

B: üzredir.

11

Missing in AD.

12

B: ėtmişdir.

13

A: olmaz.

14

B: kelāmimizi.

15

D: tebyīn.

16

A: mis̱āka; B: mis̱āki.

17

D: delīl budur.

18

A: şerāyiʿi.

19

A: şerāyiʿi.

20

ile ʿamel anlariñ şerāyiʿ ve mileli: missing in D.

21

Missing in A.

22

B: ümmet.

23

C: anlar.

24

iken Ḥażret-i Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’s-selām anlara tābiʿ ve anlariñ ümmeti menzilesinde: missing in B.

25

A: ve anuñ. Bir de.

26

C: vasita-yi.

27

Authorial comment in C, D: Heb (C: murād) tabiʿīyet māddesine göre (D: dėmekdir) lāzim gelür ġaflet olunmaya.

28

Missing in A.

29

D: dāʾire.

30

Missing in D.

31

C: cevāb.

32

olub millet ile ʿamel Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm’iñ: missing in A.

33

A: oluna.

34

D: Bundan.

35

B: maḥẕūrlar; D: maḥẕūra.

36

A: vardir ki.

37

AD: miḳdār.

38

ve ṣāhib-i: missing in D.

39

A: taṣrīḥ etmişlerdir.

40

Authorial comment in C: [ise] bizim şerīʿatimiz Ḥażret-i [C 3b] İbrāhīm milleti olmaḳ eks̱er furūʿda muvāfaḳata bināʾendir. Nitekim انّ اولى الناس بابراهيم للذين اتبعوه وهذا النبي والذين امنوا معه āyeti tefsīrinde Ḳāḍī Beyẓavī’niñ Ḥażret-i Muḥammad ʿaleyhi’s-selāmiñ ve muʾminīniñ Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm ʿaleyhi’s-selāma ḳarīni ʿalā ṭarīḳi’l-aṣāla Ḥażret-i Nebī ʿaleyhi’s-selām ve muʾminīn içün meşrūʿa olan aḥkāmiñ eks̱erinde Ḥażret-i İbrāhīm ʿaleyhi’s-selāma muvāfakat ṭarīḳiyle ḳurba ḥaml eylemesi delālat ėder. Uṣūl-i dīniñ cümlesinde muvāfaḳat ise beyāna muḥtāc degildir, zīrā cemīʿi enbiyāniñ mileli usūl-i dīne göre muḫālife degildir, nitekim işāret olunur.

41

Missing in A.

42

Missing in B.

43

Missing in BD; A has here: ʿaleyhi’s-selām.

44

C has here an undecipherable word: نسنحه

45

Ol maʿnāyedir: missing in A.

46

A: idügi.

47

D: olub.

48

A: peygamberimiziñ.

49

Missing in D.

50

Missing in C.

51

B: mevrūs̠a.

52

BD: dėmişlerdir.

53

AB: dėnilemez.

54

B: müteʿalliḳa.

55

A: maḫṣūṣ olursa; C: maḫṣūṣa derse; D: maḫṣūṣdur; F 4478: maḫṣūṣa ise.

56

B: müteʿalliḳa.

57

A: maḫṣūṣ.

58

D: ve cemīʿ.

59

Authorial comment in C.

60

Missing in AB.

61

A: raḥime’llāhu ʿaleyh.

62

Missing in D.

63

B: ẕikr.

64

D: gine.

65

Missing in AB.

66

D: İbrāhīm (crossed out).

67

A: Yoḫsa İbrāhīm’iñ.

68

C: Muḥammed ʿaleyhi’ṣ-ṣalāt ve’l-selām’iñ.

69

B: usūl ve dīn-i furūʿa.

70

A: degildir ve; B: degillerdir; C: degillerdir degillerdir.

71

D: ẓāhir.

72

A: Egerçe kim.

73

C adds: ʿaleyhi’s-selām.

74

BD: Āyetinde.

75

Missing in D.

76

C: kelāminda.

77

B: ki ve.

78

A has عليه الصلوة والسلام instead of صلى الله عليه وسلم. B omits.وملة ابينا ابراهيم صلى الله عليه وسلم

79

Missing in C.

80

B: üzerinedir.

81

A: olmamaḳ üzerine olmaḳ; B: olmaḳ üzerine olmamaḳ; C: üzerine olmamaḳ.

82

A: dėmekdir.

83

C: ʿavāmd.

84

B: ẓāhirīndir.

85

oldi. İmdi ʿavām bunu dėmek cāʾiz degildir, amma ḫavāṣ: missing in D.

86

AD: ẓāhirbīndir; B: ẓāhirīn degillerdir.

87

B: another word, crossed out.

88

A: velākin.

89

B: iʿtibār

90

D: -dir lākin.

91

Missing in AB.

92

Missing in B.

93

B: işid[m]ekle; D: eşidmekle.

94

dėye giderler: B dėye; D dėdigidir dėrler.

95

Missing in B.

96

dėnilür ve: BC dėnilüb, D dėnilür.

97

Missing in D.

98

A: dėnilmez.

99

maḥmūldir. İmdi şol söz ki anuñ ẓāhirinden: missing in C.

100

söz ẓāhirine maḥmūldir. İmdi şol söz ki anuñ ẓāhirinden müstefād olani iʿtiḳād bize cāʾiz olmaya ol: missing in D.

101

A: bize söylemek.

102

Missing in A.

103

Missing in BD.

104

A: ʿaleyhi’s-selām.

105

D: ẕikrin.

106

A: ki.

107

A: Ḥażret-i Muḥammed.

108

D: olaniñ.

109

B: eylememek.

110

B: ḳaṣd ėtmek.

111

A: Allāhu.

112

BC: muḳniʿdir.

113

Missing in A; C: müşīʿ.

114

Instead of the last sentence D has: Va’llāhu aʿlem.

115

This is Kashfu’l-asrār by ʿAbdulazīz al-Bukhārī (d. 1330), a commentary on the Hanafi uṣūl al-fiqh book by Fakhru’l-Islām al-Pazdawī.

116

Akmal al-Dīn al-Bābartī’s (d. 1384) commentary on al-Pazdawī, called al-Taqrīr fi sharḥ al-uṣūl al-Pazdawī.

117

This text is likely the al-Tawḍīḥ fi ḥall ghawāmiḍ al-tanḳīḥ by Ṣadr al-Sharīʿa ʿUbayd Allah b. Masʿūd (d. 1346).

118

Translation of Q3:81 taken from M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, trans., The Qur’an (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 40.

119

Authorial comment in C, D: Don’t overlook the fact that this would be necessary according to the meaning of the term “following” [an earlier prophet’s law and religion].

120

Authorial comment in C: The fact that our law (şeriat) is that of the Prophet Abraham’s religion (millet) is based upon the agreement of most [of the sources] on religious practice. Thus, in his commentary on the verse, “And the people who are closest to Abraham are those who truly follow his ways, this Prophet, and [true] believers” (Q3:68), Ḳāḍi Beyżavī affirms that the Prophet Muhammad and his believers are closely connected by lineage to the Prophet Abraham and his believers and attributes this close connection to the agreement of most of the Prophet Muhammad’s legal rulings with those of the Prophet Abraham. As for the agreement regarding the principles of religion, it is not necessary to explain this because none of the prophets’ religions contradict one another according to the principles of religion.

121

In this sentence, “general” and “specific” appear to be terms taken from logic.

122

I have translated the hadith according its main renditions, which have the last clause as “ما كان من المشركين” instead of the alternative rendition, “ما أنا من المشركين,” found in Minḳārīzāde’s text.

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