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(Re)thinking Ottoman Sunnitization, ca. 1450-1700

Thursday, August 24, 2017, 7:00 pm – Sunday, August 27, 2017, 9:00 pm

(Re)thinking Ottoman Sunnitization, ca. 1450-1700

In recent years, scholars focusing on religious politics and varieties of Islamic discourses in the early modern Ottoman Empire began to use the notion of 'sunnitization' (as well as 'confession building' and/or "confessionalization") to describe a growing concern with defining and enforcing a Sunni orthodoxy and orthopraxy within the Muslim communities in the "Lands of Rum," beginning sometime in the early sixteenth and continuing throughout the seventeenth century.

The (Re)thinking Ottoman Sunnitization, ca. 1450-1700 workshop brings together a group of international scholars with a track record in researching and thinking about these developments from various perspectives and based on a variety of source materials with particular attention paid to the agents, strategies, documentary sources, chronology and/or sites of Ottoman Sunnitization (or resistance to it) between the 1400s and 1700s.

The workshop is sponsored and organized by the ERC-funded research project entitled OTTOCONFESSION: The Fashioning of a Sunni Orthodox and the Entangled Histories of Confession-Building in the Ottoman Empire, 15th-17th Centuries.

For more information about the workshop, see

Workshop program

(Re)thinking Ottoman Sunnitization, ca. 1450-1700

August 25-26, 2017, Central European University, Budapest


August 25, 2017

CEU, Nador utca 11

Room # 004

August 24, 2017

Panel 1: Ottoman Reception of Pre-Ottoman Theological Trends

Commentator: Sait Özervarlı (Marmara University)

Sara Nur Yıldız (Koç University ANAMED)

Creed and Kalam: the Ottoman Reception of Intellectual Trends Emerging from the Ilkhanid and Post-Ilkhanid World

Nabil al-Tikriti (University of Mary Washington)

Every Soul Tastes Death: Şehzade Korkud's 1508 Da'wat al-nafs al-ṭāliḥa and the Politics of Piety


Panel 2: Ottoman Reception of Pre-Ottoman Legal Discourse

Commentator: Guy Burak (Bobst Library, NYU)

Derin Terzioğlu (Boğaziçi University)

Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa al-shar'iyya and the Early Modern Ottomans

Yavuz Aykan (Boğaziçi University)

A legal concept in motion: The archeology of the concept of "the spreader of corruption" from the Qarakhanid to the early modern Ottoman jurisprudence


Panel 3: Formation of an Ottoman Confessional Canon?

Commentator: Gottfried Hagen (University of Michigan)

Tijana Krstić (Central European University)

The Notions of Sunni Orthodoxy and Confession in Ottoman İlmihals from Süleyman's Era

Ahmet Kaylı (Sabancı University/ Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi)

Dissemination of the Religious Works of Birgivi Mehmed Efendi (d.981/1573) in the Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Centuries: A Study in Reception

Baki Tezcan (University of California, Davis)

The Canon of a Populist Reformation: The Treatises of Birgivi, Rumi, and Kadızade


Panel 4: Articulating and Enforcing Confessional Boundaries

Commentator: Tijana Krstić (CEU)

Ayfer Karakaya-Stump (College of William and Mary)

Rethinking Kızılbaş Persecutions through the Lens of Sunni Confessionalization

Devin J. Stewart (Emory University)

Mirza Makhdum: A High-Level Safavid Defector to the Ottomans

Ferenc Csirkés (Sabancı University)

How to Convert a Crimean Khan to Shiism? A Theological Treatise in Turkic from Safavid Iran


August 26, 2017

CEU, Nador utca 15

Room # 101 (Quantum Room)

August 26, 2017

Panel 5: Mosques and Tekkes as Sites of Sunnitization

Commentator: Gülrü Necipoğlu (Harvard University)

Grigor Boykov (Center for Regional Studies and Analyses; University of Sofia)

The Use of Cash Waqfs for Encouraging Sunnitization in the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Rumeli

Ünver Rüstem (Johns Hopkins University)

The Performance of Piety in the Post-Classical Sultanic Mosque


Panel 6: Preaching and Teaching to Worship Like You Mean It

Commentator: Derin Terzioğlu (Boğaziçi University)

Aslıhan Gürbüzel (McGill University)

The Preacher's Multiple Publics: Intermediation as a Useful Framework for Understanding the Historical Role of Preachers

Guy Burak (Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York University)

"Do Not Recite without Understanding the Meaning:" Prayers, Commentaries and Supplicants in the Ottoman Empire


Panel 7: Mahalles as Contexts of Religious and Social Disciplining

Commentator: Cemal Kafadar (Harvard University)

Evren H. Sunnetcioğlu (CEU)

Negotiating Sunni Islam in Ottoman Neighborhoods: Imams and Their Communities in Light of the 16th- and 17th-Century Ottoman Fatwas

Rossitsa Gradeva (American University of Bulgaria)

The mahalle as a battleground: Muslims versus non-Muslims in defence of 'their' territory


Panel 8: Negotiating Conceptual Space for the Confessional Other

Commentator: Devin Stewart (Emory University)

Nir Shafir (University of California, San Diego)

Reading Heresy and Heresiographies in the Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Empire

Vefa Erginbaş (Providence College)

Reading Ottoman Sunnism through Islamic history: Approaches towards Yazid b. Muawiyah in the Ottoman historical writing before 1650

Selim Güngörürler (Bogaziçi University/OTTOCONFESSION)

Safavid requests of Ottoman permission for donations to Islamic Holy Sites in Iraq and Hijaz, 1696-1706