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Judiciary and political positions of non-sunni muslims in the Ottoman Empire
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CitationYaslıçimen, Faruk (2017). Judiciary and political positions of non-sunni muslims in the Ottoman Empire. Civilizations Forum - Religion and Civilization: Protection of Civilization as a Purpose of Religion, Ekim 2017, İstanbul, Türkiye.
What was the significance of being Shiite in the Ottoman Empire? There is no single answer to this question. Socio-political meanings of being Shiite, or in a broader framework, being a non-Sunni Muslim in the Ottoman Empire were diverse. First of all, it must be pointed out that Ottoman governments did not embrace a standard policy towards their non-Sunni Muslim communities. The treatment of these communities were neither unchanging nor uniform. Political decisions in the Ottoman Empire were subject to various intersections of peculiar local conditions and aspirations of the central government. Yet beyond these historical specificities, which acquired singular meanings in unique conditions, there were some relatively objective and lasting factors that influenced the decision-making processes within the central administration. The governmental practices were not peculiar to the state officials but rather driven by overlapping social, religious, cultural and political convictions. In this presentation, firstly, controversial and fluctuating limits of non-Sunni Muslims’ subjecthood in the Ottoman Empire will be described and then, focusing on the late nineteenth century, the boundaries of their ambiguous socio-political positions will be discussed. Secondly, the context-based approach of the Ottoman authorities will be introduced, and lastly, certain implications of the unspoken hierarchy assumed by the Ottomans between various non-Sunni Muslim communities will be evaluated.