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This volume presents one of the first in-depth studies of Ottoman religious and intellectual history during the “dark ages” of the late 16th to 18th centuries. It endeavours to give a glimpse into the rich and multi-faceted religious and scientific interests flourishing during an era that has so far often been depicted as a period of cultural “decline”. Starting from the severe criticism the Sufi preacher Fażlīzāde ʿAlī levelled against Istanbul’s Muslims in his book “The Mirror of Hearts” which he wrote in 1740, different aspects and interpretations of Ottoman Islam are analysed: beginning with a description of Fażlīzāde’s apocalyptic vision regarding Ottoman society, this study then focuses on discussions concerning questions of Sunni Islam such as the principles of faith, ritual duties, and ethics, on developments within Sufism and on mystic ideas that fascinated the early modern Ottoman audience. Further on, different Ottoman approaches to the use of reason and the exploration of heaven and earth are presented; and finally, the famous Ottoman poet Yūsuf Nābī and his attitudes towards religion and the world at large, serve as an example for how an educated Ottoman of the late 17th century gave meaning to his life.
1. Apocalypse Now: The Anguishes of Fażlīzāde ʿAlī
1.1 The Infidels’ Triumph
1.2 Petticoat Government
1.3 The Muslims’ Decline
2. Meḥmed Birgevī and the Sunni Tradition: Piety and Ethics
2.1 Creeds: Angels and the Realities of the Hereafter
2.2 ʿIlm-i ḥāl: The Indispensable “Knowledge of the State”
2.3 The Battlefield of the Heart
3. The Sufis’ Choice: Catering to the Needs of the Many
3.1 The Emergence of “Bourgeois” Sufism
3.2 The Sufi Sheikh: Perfect Guide or Deceitful Impostor?
3.3 Passionate Love and Predestination
4. Ottoman Sciences: Attaining Happiness through Knowledge
4.1 The Jurists’ View: “May God protect us from Useless Knowledge”
4.2 Meditative Wisdom: The Sciences of Civilized Peoples
4.3 Utilitarian Wisdom: Technologies for Daily Use
5. Yūsuf Nābī: I created the World for Thy Sake