Cumhuriyet İlahiyat Dergisi 20 (2):9-70 (2016)

Abstract
Māturīdism is an Ottoman identity and this identity was not limited, as is commonly believed, to the last period of the Empire. It maintained its formal existence throughout the Ottoman history. Nevertheless, the context in which the Māturīdism was located or with which it was associated changed in the course of time. In the early period when the eclectic way of thinking was dominant, Māturīdism as a creed was apparent mainly in the jurists whose ascetic identity was prominent and partly in the mystical currents that were essentially continuations of Yasawiyya. At this point, the Bukhara-centered Ḥanafī legal literature played a distinctive role. At the time of Meḥmed II and in the following period during which the philosophical kalām dominated the scene, the Māturīdism was relatively passive and was in search of a position against the Ash‘arism. The new Rāzian paradigm of thought that began to be felt strongly in the Ottoman lands with Meḥmed II as an attempt of integration into the global circulation of knowledge prevented to a certain extent the visibility of Māturīdism. However, even in this period, Māturīdism was remarkably reflected in the muqaddimāt-i arba‘a literature which was directly sponsored by Meḥmed II. The tradition of philosophical kalām in the Ottoman scholarship, just when it was about to yield significant results, was interrupted due to the struggle against the Ṣafawids. Transformation of this political tension, at the same time, into a fight against Shiism also brought about a constriction in the religious thought of the Ottomans. Shiism and its all other variants were bitterly attacked under the main heading of Rāfiḍa. Unfortunately such a refutational approach proved a boomerang and returned in time striking the Ottoman Ṣūfīs who stood near the line of the Ardabil Shrine before its Shiitization. Ḥanafī fatwā literature was used extensively in the refutation texts against Ṣafawids. This brought to the fore at first the Ḥanafite and then the Māturīdite identity. This paper attempts to analyze this changing emphasis on Māturīdism in the Ottoman period and the political and intellectual factors that supported and nourished it. SUMMARY It can be argued that the debates around Ash‘arism and Māturīdism in the Ottoman period and the resulting meant more than attempts of the members of the two sides to understand each other and that Māturīdism, particularly from the 16th century onwards, was gradually brought fore as the identity of Ottomans. In fact, this identity was not limited, as is commonly believed, to the last period of the Empire; it maintained, in form, its existence throughout the Ottoman history. Nevertheless, the context in which the Māturīdism was located or with which it was associated changed in the course of time. In the early period when the eclectic way of thinking was dominant, Māturīdism as a creed was apparent mainly in the jurists whose ascetic identity was prominent and partly in the mystical currents that were essentially continuations of Yasawiyya. At this point, the Bukhara-centered Ḥanafī legal literature played a distinctive role. At the time of Meḥmed II and in the following period during which the philosophical kalām dominated the scene, the Māturīdism was relatively passive and was in search of a position against the Ash‘arism. In this period, Ottoman scholars still embraced the Māturīdī-Ḥanafī line in their theological views. Ḫiḍir Beg’s al-Qaṣīda al-Nūniyya, and al-Khayālī’s commentary upon it, and the commentary written by Aḥmad b. Oġuz Dānishmand al-Aḳshahrī on al-I‘timād of Abū al-Barakāt al-Nasafī were the most noticeable Māturīdite texts from that time. Besides, al-Khayālī’s supercommentary (ḥāshiya) upon the commentary of al-Taftāzānī written on al-‘Aqā’id of Najm al-Dīn ‘Umar al-Nasafī was also of central importance. However, the new Rāzian paradigm of thought that began to be felt strongly in the Ottoman lands with Meḥmed II as an attempt of integration into the global circulation of knowledge prevented to a certain extent the visibility of Māturīdism. But, this should not be taken to mean that Māturīdism lost its ground of existence. That the Ash‘arite works produced in this new paradigm were transferred to and fully integrated in the madrasa curriculum was not because they were Ash‘arite texts but because they were the most original and highest achievements of the philosophical theology. These texts that aimed at combining all fields of knowledge on a single platform, despite the Ash‘arism they included, constituted the peak of the Islamic thought of the time. In the preference of these texts, the fact that the Māturīdī tradition generally stood, in course of time, distant to the philosophy and chose to continue the kalām in the classical line also played a role. Māturīdī theologians Muḥammad b. Ashraf al-Samarqandī, partly, but Ṣadr al-Sharī‘a al-Maḥbūbī, to a greater extent, were notable exceptions to this general Māturīdī tendency. These figures were theologically Māturīdite, but their framework of producing discourse was the combination of philosophy and kalām as with their Ash‘arī counterparts. Therefore, Ṣadr al-Sharī‘a’s criticism of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, and through him, of against the Ash‘arism in the context of muqaddimāt arba‘a was wholeheartedly supported by the Ottoman ulama. Even it was Meḥmed II who sponsored the debates regarding muqaddimāt arba‘a. The works written by such scholars as Muṣliḥ al-Dīn al-Kastallī, al-Ṣamṣūnī, ‘Alā’ al-Dīn al-‘Arabī, Mollā ‘Arab al-Anṭākī, Khaṭībzāde, Sa‘dī Chalabī during his and his son Bāyazid II’s reigns were the supercommentaries written upon the related chapter of al-Talwīḥ, al-Taftāzānī’s commentary on Ṣadr al-Sharī‘a’s al-Tawḍīḥ where the former responded to the criticism of the latter from an Ash‘arī point of view. The Ottoman ulama, in their workswere forced to choose between the two scholars and they mostly supported Ṣadr al-Sharī‘a and Māturīdism. The tradition of philosophical kalām in the Ottoman scholarship, just when it was about to yield significant results, was interrupted due to the struggle against the Ṣafawids. Transformation of this political tension, at the same time, into a fight against Shiism also brought about a constriction in the religious thought of the Ottomans. The reflex of of identifying oneself through ‘the other’ made, to a certain extent, the theological and philosophical debates regarding faith meaningless, and gradually gave the Ottoman Sunnism a doctrinal and political tone. In such a context, the Ottomans’ paradigm of producing thought in line with the philosophical kalām began to lose its function, and, the focus of scholarhsip shifted; Shiism with its all variants were began to be bitterly attacked under the main heading of Rāfiḍa. When the refutation texts composed from the reign of Bāyazid II onward to criticize the Ṣafawids are chronologically analyzed, it is seen that the contents of the texts evolved from criticism of Rāfiḍa to criticism of Sūfism. Ḥanafī fatwā literature was used extensively in these refutations. So the fatwās issued against Rāfiḍa and Ṣūfīs in malāmatī line in earlier centuries in different contexts for different reasons were employed to criticize the new opponents. This caused two important results: First, such an approach proved a boomerang and returned in time striking the Ottoman Ṣūfīs who stood near the line of the Ardabil Shrine before its Shiitization. Ḫalwatīs, Bayrāmīs, Gulshanīs, Baktāshīs and Mawlawīs were the sufi groups influenced by this situation in varying degrees. Second, Sunnism was exposed to the narrowization and centered around the fiqh, particularly Ḥanafī fiqh, in the context of Ḳāḍīzādelīs who were the main adversaries of above mentioned groups. The culture of catechism (‘ilm-i ḥāl) that came to the fore through the efforts of Ḳāḍīzādelīs was a crystallization and was mainly fuelled from this tension. Such a crystallization led the Ṣūfīs, the opponents of Ḳāḍīzādelīs, to a higher level of discourse deemphasizing the Ḥanafī aspect: They underscored the discourse of Ahl al-Sunna and four madhhabs, and mostly turned towards the Shāfiʿī and Ash‘arī traditions to look for support fortheir views. This process during which the emphasis of sharī‘a and tradition began to come to the fore once again paved the way for the zuhd and fiqh-centered religious thought that was maintained from the time of the Seljukids in Anatolia and was influential until Meḥmed II’ reign. Therefore in the Ottomans, particularly starting with the reign of Suleymān I, an intensive emphasis on Abū Ḥanīfa was witnessed. Abū Ḥanīfa was at the very center of the debates revolving around zuhd and fiqh which came about in the same period and in which the sharī‘a sensitivity was a determining factor. Al-Māturīdī, whose name was overshadowed for a long time by the name of Abū Ḥanīfa, but who became prominent in the tradition with Abū al-Mu‘īn al-Nasafī, had to transfer his gains for a period of time to Abū Ḥanīfa. Emphasis on Abū Ḥanīfa looks like a rope that when pulled, all the tradition comes with it. When the topics began to be discussed in a manner that would also include the theological context, the contribution of the works ascribed to Abū Ḥanīfa, namely al-Fiqh al-Akbar, al-Waṣiyya and al-‘Ālim wa al-Muta‘allim to the discussions would be limited. For this reason, the need to refer to al-Māturīdī or to the theological formation bearing his name was inevitable. So, the literature on the points of disagreements between the Ash‘arism and the Māturīdism developed both vertically and horizontally in the 18th century and, corollary to that, the debates of free will as a corolloary to that, once again brought Māturīdism to the fore.
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DOI 10.18505/cuid.261679
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