The Shiites of Lebanon under Ottoman Rule, 1516-1788
THE SHIITES OF LEBANON UNDER OTTOMAN RULE – Book Sample
Contents – THE SHIITES OF LEBANON UNDER OTTOMAN RULE
- Lists of illustrations and maps page ix
- Acknowledgements x
- Note on transliterations xi
- List of abbreviations xii
- Introduction 1
- Sources 2
- Argument 4
- Shiism in the Ottoman Empire: between confessional ambiguity
- and administrative pragmatism 7
- Shiism in Turkish history 8
- The Ottoman emirate, the Janissaries and Bektaşi suﬁsm 10
- The Kızılbaş challenge 12
- Ebu’s-Suud: the formation of a persecuting society? 15
- Shiism in Ottoman thought 17
- The Shiites of Jabal ‘Amil and the clerical migration to Iran 20
- The Shiite holy places in Iraq 26
- Urban Shiism and the ashraf 28
- Conclusion: what ideology? 29
- The invention of Lebanon: Ottoman governance in the coastal
- highlands, 1568–1636 31
- The ‘classical system’ of rule 33
- Ottoman sovereignty in Syria 36
- Emir titles and iltizam tax farming 40
- Shiism in the Bekaa Valley 43
- The Harfush emirs of Baalbek 45
- The nexus between imperial and local interests 49
- The contest with Fakhr al-Din ibn Ma‘n 53
- Conclusion: what emirate? 56
- Mount Lebanon under Shiite rule: the Hamada ‘emirate’, 1641–1685 58
- Shiite tribalism in Mt Lebanon 59
- Ottoman tax regimes in Tripoli 64
- The rise of the Hamadas 68
- The narrative of Shiite tyranny 71
- The Köprülü era 74
- The Hamadas’ iltizam commissions 77
- The Hamadas in court 82
- Conclusion: the fragile consensus 85
- The reshaping of authority: the Shiites and the state in crisis,
- 1685–1699 88
- The Shiite rebellion 89
- The Khazins and the Maronite ‘recolonization’ of the Kisrawan 92
- The expansion of the Druze emirate 96
- The imperial punitive campaign 100
- Changing paradigms of provincial administration 104
- Shiism and Ottoman tribal control 109
- Conclusion: a new era? 114
- Jabal ‘Amil in the Ottoman period: the origins of ‘south Lebanon’, 1666–1781 117
- Sidon and Safad under Ottoman rule 119
- Shiism in Jabal ‘Amil 121
- Retreat in the northern mukataas 123
- The ‘Ali al-Saghirs of the Bilad Bishara 126
- The struggle against Shihabi hegemony 128
- Nasif Nassar and Zahir al-‘Umar 131
- The forging of Lebanese history 137
- Cezzar and the Shiites 139
- Conclusion: a golden age? 143
- From dependence to redundancy: the decline of Shiite rule
- in Tripoli and the Bekaa, 1699–1788 146
- The Voyvodalık of the Bekaa 147
- The ‘Kızılbaş Mukataa’ of Mt Lebanon 151
- The Hamadas and the Maronite Church 156
- The Lebanese Order 159
- The inversion of power 161
- The Shihabi emirate’s Shiite subsidiary in Baalbek 164
- The ‘national uprising’ 168
- The Shiites under Shihabi rule 171
- Conclusion: the logic of Lebanon 174
- Conclusion 176
- The triumph of Lebanism 179
- Bibliography 181
- Index 195
Shiism in the Ottoman Empire: between confessional ambiguity and administrative pragmatism
The history of Lebanon’s Twelver Shiites under Ottoman imperial rule remains for the most part unknown, subject to narrow sectarian perspectives or subsumed under the general mythology of Lebanese particularism.
Whereas the Shiite tradition of south- ern Lebanon (Jabal ‘Amil) has preserved the memory of the persecution or exile of a handful of Shiite scholars in the sixteenth century as emblematic of the community’s fate under the Ottomans as a whole, modern nationalist historiography, where it remembers the Shiites at all, sees them only as seconding the Druze’ and Maronites’ creation of a quasi-independent ‘Lebanese’ emirate.
Both share a vision of the Ottoman Empire as something inextricably hostile and alien, over the four centuries of its dominion, to local heterodox society, and neither has made much effort to accept the Ottomans’ authority and institutions, their language and chronicles and archives, as valid parameters for the writing of Lebanese Shiite history.
To come to a new understanding of Lebanon’s Shiite confessional community in the early modern period, both in terms of its internal dynamics and as an organic constituent of what would later become the Lebanese republic, it is ﬁrst necessary to consider it not as a unique local phenomenon but within the religious and administrative evolution of the Ottoman Empire as a whole.
What was the Ottoman state’s position vis-à-vis the non-Sunni Muslim minorities on its territory? Were they subject to discrimination or to toleration, to benign or hostile indifference, on the part of the authorities? Did the imperial bureaucracy defend a particular religious ideology, and did it change over time? And are our conceptions of state and ideology, tolerance and persecution even applicable in a setting such as that of the Ottoman Empire, or are they to some extent modern anachronisms?
Students of Ottoman history have long noted the seeming paradoxes in the deﬁnition of its ofﬁcial ideology: on the one hand, the state laid claim to holy war (gaza), Haneﬁ Islamic law and universal Sunni caliphate as its governing principles; on the other, high court ofﬁcials and even sultans could dabble in astrology or millenarianism and patronized a wide spectrum of antinomian suﬁ mystics.
In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire pursued a ﬁerce sectarian war against the Shiite shahs of Iran and their presumed supporters in Anatolia. Yet the expression of ‘Alid loyalties remained an integral part of Ottoman religious culture, shared in by Istanbul’s intellectual elite, the urban-based seyyid class (descendants of the Prophet), and countless rural communities from the Balkans to the Yemen.
The historical experience of the Shiite feudalists of Lebanon, alternately harassed as ‘Kızılbaş’ heretics and then reinstated as emirs or mukataacı taxlords by the state, epitomizes the ambiguities and contradictions in the Ottomans’ position vis-à-vis religious heterodoxy and the heterodox communities of the Empire.
The aim of this chapter is to situate the history of western Syria’s or Lebanon’s Shiites in the context of the Ottoman Empire’s more general experience with Islamic heterodoxy and Shiite sectarianism. It will brieﬂy develop three arguments which, though to some extent already established in modern Ottomanist research, will bear directly on our discussion of the Ottomans’ attitude towards the Harfush, Hamada and other Shiite feudal families in the later chapters.
First, that the state’s very equivocal stance towards Shiites and Shiite heterodoxy is deeply ingrained in Ottoman history, in some ways a necessary by-product of the Empire’s development.
Second, that religious persecution, or persecution in the name of any formal ideology, was part and parcel of the centralization, consolidation and institutionalization of Ottoman authority, particularly in the sixteenth century.
And third, that despite this intensiﬁcation of state control, there continued to be a considerable amount of ambivalence and leeway about Shiism and Shiites in Ottoman culture, Ottoman learned discussion and Ottoman administrative practice. If the Empire, having formally espoused Sunni Islam, could not explicitly tolerate religious dissidence, the pragmatism sometimes shown in accommodating and indeed integrating deviant groups and individuals is no less a deﬁning feature of its history.
Was the Ottoman Empire fundamentally anti-Shiite? In the ﬁrst half of the sixteenth century, around the time of their conquest of Syria, Egypt, the Hijaz and Iraq and largely in the context of their ideological and political struggle against Safavid Iran, the Ottomans began to assert their right to rule more pronouncedly in terms of religious conservatism, as caliphs and custodians of the Holy Cities, as champions of Sunni legal orthodoxy and as patrons of Islamicate arts and learning.
Yet they also remained heirs to a long tradition of confessional liberalism, if not outright heterodox deviance and ‘Alid loyalties, that had inspired the Turkmen adventurers and mystics from Central Asia when they ﬁrst began to penetrate into and colonize Anatolia more than four centuries beforehand.
The heritage of this confessional liberalism remained evident in the Ottoman Turks’ reverence for the Imams of the Shiite tradition, in their embrace of Bektaşism, in their respect for the holy cities in Iraq and countless other ‘Alid shrines across the Balkans and in Anatolia, or in their observance (of course with many local variations) of the mourning ritual of Ashura, and necessarily tempered the state’s attitude towards the Lebanese and other Shiites well into modern times.
‘Shiism’ or partisanship for ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661) and the succession of Twelve Imams is as old as Islam itself. From the very beginning and throughout Islamic history, an important minority of Muslims has maintained that ‘Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, father of his only grandsons Hasan and Husayn, was also his spiritual successor and should have been his only political heir.
The forms this partisanship took, however, could vary widely, from outright rebellion against those seeking to organize and rule the Islamic community according to the Prophet’s example and traditions (Sunnism), to quiet acquiescence while awaiting the return of a messiah-like Imam to deliver the world from iniquity.
With time, Shiism became both the ideology of the disenfranchised, an intra- Islamic opposition ever ready to channel social protest against the powerful, and a religious sect or church in its own right, with a scholastic and legal tradition every bit as institutionalized as that of the rival Sunni majority.
In rural and tribal-dominated areas such as Khorasan (north-eastern Iran), where the Turkmen of Central Asia ﬁrst came into contact with Islamic civilization, these differences remained largely academic.
Here, ‘Shiism’ above all entailed a popular devotion to ‘Ali and Husayn as the warrior champions and tragic heroes of early Islam. Along with Abu Muslim, who in 749 CE led the revolution from Khorasan that would install the Abbasids in Baghdad, only to be betrayed and murdered by them, and al-Hallaj, the Turko-Iranian suﬁ philosopher who was executed by the same dynasty for his alleged pantheism in 927, the Shiite martyrs exempliﬁed the valour, moral rectitude and free-spiritedness so highly regarded by the Turkmen tribes.
Their conversion to Islam in this period was achieved largely through the efforts not of textual scholars (ulema) expounding the ﬁner points of Koranic exegesis and shari‘a law, but by charismatic suﬁ dervishes whose cult of Muslim saint worship, mystical divination and millenarianism spoke more directly to the steppe mindset.1
In this context, Shiite inclinations (tashayyu‘) and ‘Alid loyalties were not an express negation of Sunni orthodoxy but rather the natural mode of a non-literate, non-sectarian folk Islam. The Turkmen whose westward migration in the medieval period would so change the course of world history could very well be formally Sunni and affectively Shiite at the same time.
This dualism or ‘confessional ambiguity’, to use John Woods’ term, was nowhere more in evidence than among the great nomad confederations that dominated Iran and western Asia after the great Timurid conquests of the fourteenth century.
Timur himself alternately presented himself as a defender of Sunnism and of Shiism; the leaders of the Karakoyunlu Turkmen who controlled the region from Lake Van to Baghdad were decried by contemporaries as ghulat (extreme) Shiites but never actually adopted formal Shiite doctrines; the powerful Akkoyunlu confederation, from whose ranks many of the Kızılbaş would later be drawn, patronized both Sunni and militantly Shiite suﬁ orders, including the Safavids of Ardabil.2 Confessional ambiguity was also the norm throughout Anatolia after the Turkmen invasions.
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