Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe

Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe

Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe

Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe

Synopsis

"Honored by the Glory of Islam is an important new source on the study of conversion. Much of this most informative book deals with the dual role of conversion and conquest in defining the controversial reign of Sultan Mehmed IV. Baer's innovative reading of Ottoman chronicles and his focus on the nuances of conversion within one own's religion makes this text an invaluable presentation of an exciting new area of research." --Ethel Wolper, Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire

"Marc Baer offers an innovative interpretation of religious conversion, especially conversion to Islam in the Ottoman age. Lacking enough evidence to speculate on the motives of the converts, he instead focuses on the agency of those who initiated the conversion process - in this case no less than the sultan himself. Baer focuses on the career of Sultan Mehmed IV (r. 1648-87), and on the people who came into direct contact with his court. In this way he sheds important new light on a critical period in the Ottoman Empire's long history. Baer also convincingly revises the character of Mehmed IV as an inept ruler whose incompetence led to the catastrophic siege of Vienna in 1683. This original study will be of great interest not only to Ottoman specialists, but to students of Islam and of religious conversion." --R.M.Eaton, Professor of History, University of Arizona

Winner of the Albert Hourani Book Award of the Middle East Studies Association of North America for the best book in Middle East Studies (2008) and short-listed for the Best First Book in the History of Religions by the American Academy of Religion (2009).

Excerpt

The compound of the leading Muslim religious authority (mufti) of Istanbul lies in the shadow of the magnificent sixteenth-century mosque of Suleiman in one of the most religious neighborhoods of the city. One building of the complex houses the Ottoman Islamic Law Court (Shariah) Archive. Its small reading room lined with wooden bookshelves built by nineteenth-century sultan Abdülhamid II has just enough room for a long table seating several researchers and the director of the archive. A pious Muslim from Erzurum, the director favored faded green suits and a brown, knitted skullcap, and fielded calls from the “Hello Islamic Legal Opinion” (Alo Fetva) telephone line. The head of the archive, who has committed the Qur’an to memory, insisted that I inform him of every conversion I located in the yellowed pages of the court registers. He wanted me to interrupt his phone calls or proofreading of Qur’ans or sipping of bracing tea in tiny tulip-shaped glasses. He and the assistant director, whose main function was to serve tea, and several other Turkish researchers would gather behind me and look over my shoulder as I read aloud to them the brief texts written in Ottoman Turkish and Arabic. Inevitably, the head of the archive would put his hand on my shoulder and, inexplicably addressing me by the Muslim name Ahmed, state, “Three hundred years ago that Armenian boy or that Jewish man or that Orthodox Christian woman understood the truth and was rightly guided into Islam. Why aren’t you?” This continued for the two and a half years I worked there and on subsequent visits as well.

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