[P6290] Culture of Disputation: Debating, Delineating, and Refuting Legal and Mystical Thought within fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Ottoman Lands and Beyond

Created by Ahmet Baris Ekiz
Friday, 12/03/21 2:00 pm


This panel aims to bring forth scholarly debates into the discussion of legal, philosophical and mystical thought within a particular focus on the Ottoman lands of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By problematizing reductionist approaches to the Ottoman religiosity as mere appropriation of the canonical texts, authorities and methods of the legal schools and discourses, our panel takes up Ottoman religiosity in its multiple aspects as the configurations of a culture disputation and confrontation.

We argue that even the authority and veracity of legal arguments in canonical sources were open to constant negotiation and came to be debated within the forms and genres of this textual culture of disputation. Legal theorists applied varied methodologies in formulating their hermeneutical methods, and became more and more engaged with rhetoric and logic in order to hone their skills of debate and dialectic. Laying out the textual problematics of the past authorities based on the methods of deep reading turned out to be the essential concern of Ottoman `ulamā.

On the other hand, scholars and sufis came to be more polemical against the rival groups, schools and epistemologies. While preoccupied with different modes of meaning making, more mystical and philosophical applications seem to be in competition in order to create new and articulated epistemologies. In doing so, writers created new attributions around certain nomenclature (such as the science of letters or the unity of being and knowledge of Truth) which could be understood as pejorative terminology or totally preferable philosophical positions depending on their standing.

We seek to problematize the dynamics of the Ottoman intellectual spheres in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries via discussions from monism to legal theories or from Sunnism to lettrism. Such, in our view, reflects a dual dynamic: On the one side, a relative ease in bringing in and dealing with the competing epistemologies under the culture of commentary and philology; yet on the opposite side, an increasing concern about delineating the correct path to Truth vis-a-vis ‘corrupt’ religious thoughts and practices. In the end, this panel offers an alternative to the recent attempts to conceptualize Ottoman Sunnism as simply institutional and/or imperial initiative. We rather would like to reframe it as an open-ended process of Ottoman textual culture of disputation.


Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist



Walid A. Saleh

(University of Toronto)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Gottfried Hagen

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Ahmet Baris Ekiz

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Samet Budak

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Cankat Kaplan

(Central European Univerity)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Cevat Sucu

(Sabanci University and Samsun University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;