By Tijana Krstić
This publication explores how Ottoman Muslims and Christians understood the phenomenon of conversion to Islam from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, whilst the Ottoman Empire was once on the top of its strength and conversions to Islam peaked. as the Ottomans governed over a wide non-Muslim inhabitants and prolonged larger possibilities to converts than to native-born Muslims, conversion to Islam used to be a contentious topic for all groups, specially Muslims themselves. through generating narratives approximately conversion, Ottoman Muslim and Christian authors sought to outline the limits and club in their groups whereas selling their very own spiritual and political agendas. Krstic argues that the construction and flow of narratives approximately conversion to Islam was once valuable to the articulation of Ottoman imperial id and Sunni Muslim "orthodoxy" within the lengthy sixteenth century.Placing the evolution of Ottoman attitudes towards conversion and converts within the broader context of Mediterranean-wide spiritual developments and the Ottoman competition with the Habsburgs and Safavids, Contested Conversions to Islam additionally introduces new resources, similar to first-person conversion narratives and Orthodox Christian neomartyologies, to bare the interaction of person, (inter)communal, neighborhood, and imperial tasks that inspired the method of conversion.
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Additional info for Contested Conversions to Islam. Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire
82 In many respects, this remains the historiographical orthodoxy in Turkey to this day. Traditionally, conversion to Islam during the Ottoman centuries has been the favorite topic of the Balkan historians. They have produced numerous important studies based on Ottoman census records (tahrfr defterleri) that suggested significant regional differences in the dynamic of the process of conversion, demographic profile of the converts, and their reasons for becoming Muslim. 83 According to information from the Ottoman census records subjected to quantitative analysis, conversion to Islam in Rumeli was minimal in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, increased slightly in the late 1400s, and rose steadily throughout the sixteenth century.
Sources of other provenance have either been ignored or used to illustrate the state's role in the process, while the attempts to gain a more "immediate" access to the converts' perspective have been declared futile because of supposed lack of self-narratives of conversion to Islam. For the same reason recent research on conversion to Islam remains largely Ottoman-centric, without references to the wider early modern context. If comparisons are made, they invoke almost exclusively earlier Muslim polities and practices of conversion, thus enhancing (if inadvertently) the notion that conversion to Islam was a sui generis phenomenon.
59 Trying to tackle the same issue of the dangers of comparative history, Peter Burke, one of the most important historians of the early modern era, suggested that taking other regions of the world rather than Europe as the departure point (or the norm) of the study could also help remedy the problem. " Heeding these constructive ideas, as well as the call by other critics of "early modernity" to reject the blanket 1500-1800 periodization in favor of a more study-specific time definition, this book suggests the "age of confessionalization and empire building" in a broadly defined Mediterranean region as a framework for study of the connected histories of the Ottoman Empire and its European and Safavid neighbors and rivals.
Contested Conversions to Islam. Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire by Tijana Krstić