Ottoman Puritanism and Its Discontents: Ahmad al-Aqhisari and the Qadizadelis

  • Book Title:
 Ottoman Puritanism And Its Discontents
  • Book Author:
Mustapha Sheikh
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  • Transliteration Guide viii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Ottoman Puritanism 10
  • Introducing the Qāḍīzādelis 10
  • The Literature 22
  • An Ottoman Crisis? 35
  • Conclusion 39
  • The Third Man 41
  • From Cyprus to Āqḥisār 42
  • Majālis al-abrār: A Manifesto for Reform 50
  • Al-Āqḥis.ārī’s Sources 53
  • Conclusion 55
  • The Muhammadan Path 56
  • The Naqshbandī Paradigm 56
  • Good Sufi, Bad Sufi 67
  • Saints: Dead and Alive 91
  • Conclusion 97
  • Innovation (Bidʿ a) 99
  • A Complex Discussion 99
  • Taymiyyan Influences in the Majālis 116
  • Pernicious Innovations 130
  • Conclusion 139
  • Forbidding Evil 142
  • A Hard-line Agenda 142
  • Neo-Sufism Again 154
  • Conclusion 164
  • Conclusion 166
  • Bibliography 177
  • Index 189

Ottoman Puritanism

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the Qāḍīzādelis, an account that begins with a biographical sketch of its eponymous founder, Meḥmed Qāḍīzāde. This is followed by a survey of the most important dedicated scholarly contributions to the field, particularly those that have informed our understanding of the movement in its political and social context.

 Since much ink has been spilt explaining the emergence of the Qāḍīzādelis against the backdrop of Ottoman decline, the final section of this chapter addresses the debate about how accurate it is to view the seventeenth century as the fateful turning point in Ottoman history. The debate has potential implications for how we understand the emergence of the Qāḍīzādelis.


The Qāḍīzādelis, also known as the fakiler (legists),1 were named after Meḥmed Qāḍīzāde, a scholar and activist born to an Anatolian judge…

Forbidding Evil

This chapter investigates an aspect of al-Āqḥis.ārī’s thought which might rightly be perceived as an ultra-conservative approach to religion; it is also an aspect of his thought which has had the most enduring posthumous legacy and influence. Al-Āqḥis.ārī addresses issues relating to social behaviour, customary habits, politics, and religious authority.

Two aspects are brought to light in the following pages: first, that al-Āqḥis.ārī’s interests were diverse; second, that he was quite prepared to advise the common man to take action in order to remedy a societal malady—and by force if nothing else will deliver the desired outcome.

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His rigidity and militancy must have been quite unlike anything known in Ottoman Turkey and raises the question as to whether he is responsible for the shift towards greater violence taken by the Qāḍīzādelis as they entered into the second phase of their revivalist agenda.


The theme of ‘enjoining good and forbidding evil’ is a constant

thread throughout al-Āqḥis.ārī’s Majālis and establishes him firmly as a Qāḍīzādeli revivalist. The sections below provide case-studies as

to how this principle is invoked within al-Āqḥis.ārī’swriting,with important features coming to the fore such as his hard-line tone and rigorist polemic against various Muslim collectives which he thinks have veered away from the path of truth.

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