By Tijana Krstić
This publication explores how Ottoman Muslims and Christians understood the phenomenon of conversion to Islam from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, whilst the Ottoman Empire was once on the top of its energy and conversions to Islam peaked. as the Ottomans governed over a wide non-Muslim inhabitants and prolonged higher possibilities to converts than to native-born Muslims, conversion to Islam used to be a contentious topic for all groups, particularly Muslims themselves. via generating narratives approximately conversion, Ottoman Muslim and Christian authors sought to outline the limits and club in their groups whereas selling their very own spiritual and political agendas. Krstic argues that the construction and stream of narratives approximately conversion to Islam was once vital to the articulation of Ottoman imperial id and Sunni Muslim "orthodoxy" within the lengthy sixteenth century.Placing the evolution of Ottoman attitudes towards conversion and converts within the broader context of Mediterranean-wide non secular tendencies and the Ottoman competition with the Habsburgs and Safavids, Contested Conversions to Islam additionally introduces new resources, resembling first-person conversion narratives and Orthodox Christian neomartyologies, to bare the interaction of person, (inter)communal, neighborhood, and imperial tasks that encouraged the method of conversion.
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Additional resources for Contested Conversions to Islam. Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire
In this way, they have perpetuated the notion that "the state" was the key agent of conversion rather than just one of many participants in the process, which involved a variety of social actors and initiatives. Sources of other provenance have either been ignored or used to illustrate the state's role in the process, while the attempts to gain a more "immediate" access to the converts' perspective have been declared futile because of supposed lack of self-narratives of conversion to Islam. For the same reason recent research on conversion to Islam remains largely Ottoman-centric, without references to the wider early modern context.
35 It appears likely that in many cases the Enviirii'l-A~ikin and the Muhammediye actually represented the totality of what a person knew about Islam, with the Qur'an being inaccessible because of the ostensible language barrier. 36 The famous seventeenth-century Ottoman traveler Evliya <::elebi reports that throughout Anatolia people had committed to memory the Qur'an and the Muhammediye, drawing attention to the phenomenon of the Muhammediye reciter (Muhammediye-han). Interestingly, in his description of Gallipoli he emphasizes that in this area the poor and the rich, especially women, learned by heart the Muhammediye rather than the Qur'anY A recent study suggests that over time the Muhammediye became the favorite religious literature of women and that even today 34 Muslims through Narratives Muslim women gather in households for reading of this timeless 'ilm-i hal.
These women's 'social status is sometimes explicit-for example, one of the copies is said to be endowed by a slave woman (Fatma cariye)j54 in other cases women would be referred to as Emine kadm, which may denote a manumitted slave since the usual formula would include the name of the father. ss Often the text would be commissioned by women from Muslim families, some even related to the local imam. S6 Another category of literature essential in teaching Islam to novices in the early Ottoman polity was hagiography.