The Composite Sufi Front vis-à-vis the Puritanical Kadızadeli Movement in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire

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Yolcu B.

Zemin: Edebiyat dil ve kültür araştırmaları, vol.0, no.5, pp.160-178, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier


The seventeenth-century Ottoman society experienced a major split due to the reformist and anti-traditionalist Kadızadeli movement. Their puritanical vision germane to Islam was in direct contradiction to the more inclusive and latitudinarian religious reception of the Sufi orders. The radicalism of the Kadızadeli adherents managed to resonate in the imperial court and provoked the enforcement of several anti-Sufi measures such as the prohibition of the whirling (semāʻ) ritual peculiar to the Mevlevîs. The particularities of this wide-ranging movement have already been meticulously studied through the prism of historically specific socio-economic relations; however, little attention has been given to the agency and inventiveness of the Sufis in reaction to the Kadızadeli incursions. The present article aims to rectify this omission in the literature. Primarily, the lines of cleavage separating the two opposite groups were not clearly demarcated but blurred. Further, the Sufis were not thoroughly glued to one another through the presence of a well-organized, coherent, and uniform coterie. Rather, the Sufi populace was expressive of a remarkably fragmented structure due to the intra-Sufi discords. Whilst excommunicating each other, they could go so far as to develop reflexes as extremist as a Kadızadeli sympathizer. Nevertheless, the only device through which they advocated institutionalized mystical practices was their pen.