Lecture Series: Religious Scholars and Ottoman Administration (1300-1600)

Posted in : History

Recent “Turkish Program Lecture Series” at Columbia University hosted Dr. Abdurrahman Atcil, Assistant Professor of Arabic/Islamic Studies at Queens College, CUNY, who delivered a lecture about “Religious Scholars and Ottoman Administration (1300-1600)”

NETA co-sponsors “Turkish Program Lecture Series” at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University. Below is brief summary of Dr. Atcil’s lecture:

In conjunction with the rise of Ottoman imperialism after the capture of Constantinople (later, Istanbul) in 1453, the dynasty began to co-opt a group of religious scholars and appoint them to a civil bureaucracy that would represent, together with military officers, the central administration in the provinces. The lack of a prior institutional framework and an established pattern for the relationship between the ruling authority and religious scholars in the newly captured and formerly Christian-ruled lands provided a convenient environment for the Ottoman administration to disregard and/or reform the time-honored social and political privileges of religious scholars and establish an entirely new relationship with them. It arranged for the organization of scholars in a hierarchical professional structure and their attachment and dedication to the continuation of the Ottoman enterprise. Consequently, the ever-independent Islamic scholars of the medieval period, who had derived authority from their expertise on scriptures and religious sciences and economically supported themselves through foundations, became government officials in the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period. The term ‘scholar-bureaucrats’ is used to designate two sides of their identity. They were scholars dedicated to the realization of Islamic ideals, and at the same time, they were bureaucrats committed to the preservation and advancement of the Ottoman polity.

Dr. Abdurrahman Atcil is professor of Arabic, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies. Before joining Queens College faculty, he was post-doctoral scholar at Harvard Law School. He received Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, M.A. from Bilkent University and B.A. from Marmara University. His research focuses on the formation of the bureaucratic class of religious scholars and the development of various branches of Islamic religious studies, especially Islamic jurisprudence, under the Ottomans. He is also interested in Ottoman law, religious culture and history writing.

Date: October 26, 2012 Friday

Time: 6:00 PM

Place: Columbia University

509 Knox Hall

606 W 122th Street

New York, NY 10027


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