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Contested Conversions to IslamNarratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire$
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Tijana Krstić

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804773171

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804773171.001.0001

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Toward an Ottoman Rumi Identity

Toward an Ottoman Rumi Identity

The Polemical Arena of Syncretism and the Debate on the Place of Converts in Fifteenth-Century Ottoman Polity

Chapter:
(p.51) Chapter Two Toward an Ottoman Rumi Identity
Source:
Contested Conversions to Islam
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804773171.003.0003

This chapter examines the concept of syncretism—the conscious politics of religious synthesis promoted by specific social groups—in the Ottoman Empire and how it is related to the phenomenon of conversion to Islam. It reconstructs the Ottoman arena of syncretism as both the site of “politicized difference” and of “contact and reconciliation” and explores the fifteenth-century polemical encounter between Islam and Christianity. Drawing on scenes of conversion described in hagiographies, accounts of heroic exploits, and other texts, the chapter looks at three types of converts that are often cited in fifteenth-century Ottoman narratives: the Christian maiden, the Christian warrior, and the Christian priest. It argues that “syncretism” in the Ottoman Empire was not confined to the state, Sufis, or any other particular social and religious group or institution. Finally, it considers how the Rumis, urban elites who came from throughout the Lands of Rum and often were converts or descendants of converts to Islam, developed their own identity.

Keywords:   Rumis, syncretism, Islam, Ottoman Empire, identity, conversion, politics, converts, Lands of Rum, Christianity

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