The madrasa was the basic institution of the Islamic education system, a widespread and traditional educational institution that arose and developed in the territories of the Islamic world. The Ottomans adopted the madrasa, but in doing so, as with other institutions, they also introduced important changes that led to the evolution of the system. Thus arose the Ottoman madrasa, with its own physical conditions, program, and mentality. In the Ottoman period, education consisted of primary school followed by secondary school and university. During this period, the madrasa, due to its Islamic identity, was an educational institution at which only Muslims studied. The principal component in this system was the müderris (professor). Each madrasa was generally under the responsibility of a single müderris, who was charged with the education of the madrasa’s students. The müderris would acquaint himself with the students, assess their academic ability and potential, teach them what he could, and then send them to a superior scholar for further study.

Istanbul Madrasas

The first madrasas in the Ottoman principality were established in İznik immediately after Orhan Bey’s conquest of the city in 1331, with more soon following in Bursa and Edirne.1 A new era in Ottoman scholarly and educational life began with Mehmed II’s conquest of Constantinople. Immediately after the conquest, Mehmed II allocated the churches in Zeyrek to education. As a symbol of the conquest, Mehmed II transformed Hagia Sophia into a mosque, and had the priests’ rooms converted into a madrasa and a single-story madrasa constructed in the courtyard, to which a second floor was later added in the era of Bayezıd II. The Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) Madrasa would go on to become one of the top madrasas in the realm. Its first müderris was the famous Islamic legal scholar Molla Hüsrev, whom Mehmed II eulogized as the imam-ı azam (great imam) of the era. After this, Ali Kuşçu and a number of other famous scholars served as müderris at this madrasa, including the sixteenth-century sheikh al-Islams (chief jurists) Hamid Efendi, Abdülkadir Şeyhi Efendi, and Çivizade Mehmed Efendi.2

The Eyüp Madrasa was completed in 1459. In the Eyüp Sultan waqfiya (foundation deed) belonging to Mehmed II, it is described as a lofty madrasa of sixteen rooms in the courtyard of the mosque, decorated with every type of beautiful ornamentation and domes.3 This was a madrasa of fifty akçes (asper) at the dâhil rank. The chronicler Âlî states that the müderris of the Ayasofya madrasa received sixty aspers, while the müderris of the Eyüp Madrasa at dâhil level received fifty aspers.4

Mehmed II later started to construct the large külliye (mosque complex) that would commemorate his name. The külliye, which was completed in 1471, consisted of eight madrasas, and was known as Sahn-ı Seman, which means “eight courtyards” in Arabic. This structure, with the row of eight tetimme (auxiliary) madrasas behind it, marks the start of a new era, not only in Ottoman history, but also in the history of Islamic education. This madrasa was an excellent institute of higher education and a research institution with unique locational, physical, and architectural characteristics, as well as expansive financial resources and a unique curriculum. Although a number of important studies on the Sahn-ı Seman have been carried out and have brought many aspects of the madrasas to light,5 there are a number of matters that have yet to be researched in full, in particular the educational programs. It is significant that the madrasas of this institution were related to the seas—those on the side of the Sea of Marmara were referred as the Mediterranean madrasas and those on the side of the Golden Horn were called the Black Sea madrasas. Every madrasa consisted of nineteen rooms and a classroom. Fifteen of the rooms were allocated to students, known as dânişmend; the other four rooms were for the müderris, muid (assistant of the müderris), ferraş (janitor), and bevvap (doorman). There were a total of 152 rooms in the eight madrasas. Ali Kuşçu, Molla Hüsrev, and Mahmud Pasha were concerned with the curriculum of the madrasas, and the sultan himself was closely involved with the architecture and programs offered there. The Sahn-ı Seman madrasas brought a new character and content to Ottoman intellectual life, and became the bar against which all other madrasas would be ranked. As the Ottoman educational system continued to develop, the Süleymaniye madrasas would later surpass these as the highest-level madrasas in the land. In order to train students for these madrasas, eight auxiliary madrasas were formed in parallel with the Sahn madrasas. The programs and functioning of these madrasas were regulated, with the qualities required of the müderris, muid, and students set out, one by one, in the deed of the institution. In the case of the müderris, for example, the deed stated that they were to be extraordinarily qualified teachers, possess a rare competence in the method of teaching the rational (akli) sciences and transmitted (nakli) sciences, expend great energy in educating society in beneficial sciences, and carry out their educational duties unfailingly, except on holidays. In recompense for this they were to receive fifty aspers per day.

1- Madrasas of Fatih / Sahn-ı Seman / Akdeniz Madrasas

In the law code dealing with the organization and protocol of government personnel, there are several sentences mentioning madrasas. One in particular specifies their name: “The lofty madrasas which I ordered to be built should be called Sahn.” The Sahn-ı Seman had a high rank, and the müderris there could be transferred directly to the post of judge of one of the major cities, with a salary of five hundred aspers.6 These madrasas occupied an important place in intellectual life by training, without interruption, people who could serve both the Ottoman state and society, from the date they were established until 1924, when the madrasas were closed.

2- Madrasas of Fatih / Sahn-ı Seman / Karadeniz Madrasas

Behind the Sahn-ı Seman were the auxiliary madrasas, whose students were referred to as suhte. The endowment deed stipulated that “Those residing in the rooms of the Sahn madrasas [the dânişmend students] will train the students who reside in the auxiliary madrasas.”

Bedreddin Gazzî, who visited Istanbul in 1530, writes in his travelogue that the most famous scholars of the country gave lessons in the Sahn-ı Seman and that food, including mutton and meat from a variety of birds, was distributed without distinction to the poor, students, guests, passers-by, and to local men and women. He also states that there was a hospital around the large mosque in the middle of the Sahn complex where syrups and pastes were prepared and measured on scales according to medical knowledge. It offered medicine, beds, and blankets. The most skilled physicians and attendants treated patients there and, according to Badr al-Din al-Ghazzi, there was no limit to the medicine distributed by this institution.7

Gelibolulu Âlî states that each of the eight sahn madrasas was appointed a müderris with a salary of fifty aspers and a muid with a salary of four aspers and an allotment of bread and soup. He states that in every madrasa, there were fifteen dânişmends who received two aspers per day as well as bread and soup. The students who stayed in the auxiliary madrasas would receive a stipend of twelve aspers per month as well as food from the imaret (soup kitchen). All of the famous members of the Istanbul scholarly class spent either a short or a long period of their career as müderris in the Sahn madrasas. Many scholars chose to serve as a müderris after serving as the judge of Istanbul or as the chief judge of Rumelia or Anatolia.

Of Mehmed II’s grand viziers, Mahmud Pasha, Davud Pasha, Rum Mehmed Pasha, and Murad Pasha had madrasas built in the areas of the city of Istanbul that commemorated their names.8

Mehmed II’s son Bayezid had three building complexes constructed: one in Amasya (1481–1486), one in Edirne (1484–1488), and the third in the area of Istanbul bearing his name (1501–1505). The excellent madrasas in these complexes demonstrate the importance the sultan paid to education and culture. With the construction of the complex that he had built in Bayezid Square, which had been an important location since the Byzantine period, the sultan not only made important contributions to education and culture, but also gave the city a Turkish and Islamic character. From its establishment, the Istanbul Beyazit Madrasa was at the level of fifty aspers and the deed of the madrasa stipulated that the post of müderris be carried out by the sheikh al-Islam. This post was first filled by Zenbilli Ali Efendi (d. 1526). Later, the sheikh al-Islams who were müderris here were, in order, Kemalpaşazade, Sadi Efendi, Çivizade Muhyiddin Efendi, Abdülkadir Efendi, Fenarîzade Efendi, and Ebussuud Efendi.

3- The students of Ayasofya Madrasa

However, due to the serious and intense workload and responsibilities of the shkh al-Islams, it soon became impossible for them to actually teach; thus, this duty was given to a representative with the creation of the post of ders vekâleti.9

The construction of the Süleymaniye Mosque Complex (1551–1557) by Sultan Süleyman took place exactly a century after the establishment of Sahn-ı Seman. This complex consisted of four groups of madrasas: the Medrese-i Evvel and Medrese-i Sânî on the Golden Horn side, and the Medrese-i Sâlis and Medrese-i Râbi on the side of the Sea of Marmara; there was also a medical school, darüşşifa (hospital), and darülhadis located there. These madrasas represented, in terms of their architecture, resources, and educational programs, the apex of education in the Ottoman state. The deed, which is thought to have been written by the great master of ornate prose (münşi) Celalzade Mustafa Çelebi, is divided up into passages that are concerned with the functioning of the madrasa, the müderris, students, library, and books.10

4- Madrasa of Beyazıt (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The Archive of the City Council)

In short, in the matter of the construction of madrasas Istanbul occupies an exceptional position.11 From the conquest until the beginning of the twentieth century, hundreds of madrasas were built in Istanbul. Thirty-eight were constructed during the reign of Süleyman I the Magnificent alone.12 By the end of the sixteenth century, approximately 150 madrasas can be identified in Istanbul. In the middle of the seventeenth century, there were 122 madrasas just within the city walls.13 Hezarfen Hüseyin Çelebi states that there were 126 madrasas in Istanbul in 1675, separated into ranks of hâric, dâhil, and mahreç.14 According to a list written in 1869, the number of usable madrasas in Istanbul was 166.15 At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were 185 madrasas in Istanbul.16 This number does not include the hundreds of dersiye (classrooms) listed in the ruznamçes of the kazaskers. As far as can be known, the dersiye did not operate as independent madrasas, but were used for classes in such institutions as mosques, madrasas, or dergâhs (dervish lodges). It was necessary to allocate an income for this in the deed of the institution. These characteristics mean that the dersiye cannot be considered to be madrasas.17 Most of the madrasas were within the city walls, in particular on Divanyolu, in Beyazit and Fatih-Çarşamba (see Map of Madrasas within the City Walls). In keeping with this, this area became one where there was a rather high educational level.

5- Madrasa of Sultan Selim I (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The Archive of the City Council)


Dânişmend is a Persian word that means “one with knowledge,” and was generally used for students at the Sahn-ı Seman and Süleymaniye madrasas. The dânişmends had their own rooms in the madrasas, and those who had the means could bring a çömez (apprentice) with them to serve them. In the account book belonging to Mehmed II’s complex, the word talebe is used instead of dânişmend, thus demonstrating that these two words were synonymous at this time. The status of the dânişmends would generally be defined in the endowment deeds of the madrasas where they were studying. According to the endowment deed of Mehmed II’s complex, there were to be fifteen dânişmends in every Sahn-ı Seman madrasa, and they were to be given a salary of two aspers as well as bread and soup from the soup kitchen of the complex. In the same way, it is stated in the deed of the Süleymaniye complex that fifteen students in every madrasa who were successful in their lessons should become a dânişmend; it was a condition that they be given a salary of two aspers. It was stipulated that eight dânişmends who were skilled at medical studies study at the medical madrasa. The authority to give lessons to students in the secondary level of education was given to the dânişmends. Thus, while receiving education from the müderris, they were able to give lessons, thus increasing their teaching skills.

In particular, from the sixteenth century on, concerns arose about the increase in the number of dânişmends graduating from the madrasas and the priority given to the children of scholars without considering their merit. In fact, when this overall matter was presented to the sultan during the reign of Süleyman I the Magnificent, it was decided that the dânişmends should be bound by regulations. Süleyman entrusted this matter to the chief judge of Rumelia, Ebussuud Efendi, and the arrangements he introduced were implemented for a long time.

6- Süleymaniye Madrasa and Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School) (the one on the left with two domes)

Exams for Madrasa Graduates and Mudarrisun

In the early Ottoman period, madrasa graduates did not encounter any problem when becoming a müderris. However, from the sixteenth century on, as the number of graduates increased, the existing posts of madrasa müderrises started to be insufficient. When a müderris positions in one of the prestigious madrasas was opened, more than one person usually applied, thus leading to the rise of exams for appointment to müderris posts at the large madrasas in Istanbul. In these exams, the applicants were requested to write a treatise on a subject. The exams were held many times in one of the large mosques, and they would be open to the public, attended by the Rumelian and Anatolian chief judges. In 1528, when the post of müderris became vacant in one of the Sahn madrasas, the Edirne Darülhadis müderris Kılıççızade İshak Çelebi Efendi (d. 1537), the Edirne Üç Şerefeli Mosque müderris Çivizade Muhyiddin Mehmed Efendi, and the Bursa Sultaniye müderris İsrafilzade Fahreddin Efendi all applied for the exam. The Rumelian chief judge Fenarîzade Muhyiddin and the Anatolian chief judge Kadirî Efendi administered the exam in Hagia Sofia Mosque; the treatises the applicants presented for the examination were evaluated and there was a discussion of the answers provided by the candidates.18 Kılıççızade prepared a treatise on al-Mawaqif that later became known as the Risala-i Imtihaniyya (the exam treatise); there are a number of copies of this work in Istanbul libraries.19

Müderris Kara Abdurrahman Efendi applied for the post at the Istanbul Efdalzade Madrasa, which had a salary of forty aspers; coming first in the exam that was carried out, he was appointed to the madrasa in 950 (1543–1544).20 One of the last examples of this is the treatise written by Hüsrev Hoca (d. 1953) for the ruûs exam.

There is some interesting information in some Ottoman sources about the questions that were asked in certain lessons and how the graduates of madrasas entered the exams for the post of müderris in Istanbul. In a record belonging to the last quarter of the eighteenth century, we learn that Sheikh al-Islam Dürrîzade Mehmed Arif Efendi was appointed by the sultan to carry out the müderris exams in Istanbul; 199 people participated in the exams, which started on a Friday. The exam committee was divided into three sections. A subject from al-Mutawwal was designated as the topic of the exam. After the exams, which lasted a week, sixty-four people, including the sons of scholars, were selected and distributed among the dersiye.21 In the same source (pp. 123–124) there are records concerning the appointment of müderris in the form of a silsile (chain).

It was possible for distinguished dânişmends to be appointed to the bureaucracy. In fact, Celalzade Mustafa Çelebi attracted the attention of the grand vizier Pîrî Mehmed Pasha while still a dânişmend at the Sahn-ı Seman, and became the divan kâtibi (clerk of the imperial council). In Ottoman society, any member of the reaya (subjects) who underwent madrasa education and became a dânişmend could be elevated from this class and enter the military class, even elevating his family from the reaya class.22

The graduates who completed their education in the Istanbul madrasas would perform educational, judicial, or religious services in Ottoman lands, which consisted of Anatolia, Rumelia and the Arabian Peninsula; in addition, they could be found occupying bureaucratic positions like defterdar or nişancı, or, in particular, serving as ambassadors to Muslim countries.

Financial Sources of Madrasas

The endowment deed of the Süleymaniye complex was published twice.23 After the introduction, Süleyman’s tuğra (seal) was affixed to it, and under that the signed ratification of the Rumelian chief judge, Hamid Efendi (d. 985/1577). In the introductory section, there are verses and hadiths concerned with the benefits of charity, and then the dozens of property and villages (akarat-ı mevkufe) are listed one by one. In the text it is stated that a total of 217 villages, thirty-four mezra (arable fields), two islands (Gökçeada and Semadirek), three neighborhoods, seven mills, two fish ponds, two piers, the crops from six villages, two farms, a meadow, and three shares were allocated as an endowment. While a large proportion of the rent resources for Mehmed II’s complex came from shops, inns, baths, mills, etc, the income for the Süleymaniye complex was, for the most part, from agricultural land and crops. At the end of the text, there is a list of the books that were taught and read at Süleymaniye.

7- Madrasa of Sultanahmet

Of the total income for Süleymaniye complex for 1585–1586, a total of 9,039,602 aspers, the amount paid to the madrasa staff was 259,200 aspers.24 In the small and modest madrasas, this amount was much less.25

In later periods, the state used all means at its disposal to establish new madrasas. In fact, the Galatasaray and İbrahim Paşa Saray, which had been completely emptied for the circumcision celebrations of 1675, were transformed into madrasas and allocated to appropriate müderrises.26

İcazetnames (Diplomas)

The tradition of madrasa education was established over hundreds of years, and had certain distinctive characteristics. In this system, the basic component was the müderris. A couplet states this as follows:

First, find the master of each science, from the Lands of Rum to Damascus
Then, have the students study, and study hard, from dawn to dusk

This situation can be clearly seen in the icazetnames. In these, the madrasa a müderris studied at is not important; rather, they emphasize one’s teachers and the tradition to which they belonged, given as a silsile (chain of authorities). This was formed as a silsile which could be traced back to famous experts in the Islamic world like al-Ghazali, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Sa‘d al-Din al- Taftazani, and Ali ibn Muhammad al-Jurjani, or even as far back as the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs and Prophet Muhammad.27

Some differences in the icazetnames can be observed throughout history, and they are formed of different parts. After the basmala (mentioning the name of God), thanks and expression of gratitude (hamd ü sena) to Allah and greetings to Prophet Muhammad are given; then the icazetname would emphasize the importance of knowledge and education, and give the name of the student and teacher, the teacher’s silsile, and then mention the books that had been read. After discussion of matters like the authority of the student to whom the icazetname belonged, there would be the signature of the teacher and a seal. The basic quality of the icazetname was that it was neither official nor institutional, but was completely personal.28 Completing education in certain branches over a certain period of time was referred to as tekmil-i nüsah (ikmal-i nüsah). In certain circumstances, this education could be completed outside of the madrasas. However, the influence of the Razi School on Molla Fenari, Molla Yegan, and Hızır Bey, as well as on later intellectuals in the Ottoman world and on madrasa education, was great.29 This education was not limited to Istanbul or even Ottoman territory; it was a tradition that a madrasa education could be freely pursued throughout the Islamic world.30 The sacred characteristic of traveling for knowledge is emphasized in the hadiths, and in practice this was reflected in the tradition of those who sought knowledge, pursuing it ceaselessly, traveling from city to city and from madrasa to madrasa. However, the reality is that what was being sought in these journeys was not the madrasa, but the teacher.

8- A mudarris teaching a class (Taeschner)

Lessons and Subjects

The madrasas in Istanbul had extensive financial resources and rich educational programs. Their curriculums included the rational and transmitted sciences, religious and non-religious sciences, and higher sciences and auxiliary lessons. The teaching of all these sciences took place within an Islamic sensibility and mentality. Thus, the madrasas ensured educational opportunities only for the Muslim community. The sciences taught in the madrasa were broken down into three main branches. The basic sciences (cüziyyat) included hesap (accounting), hendese (geometry), hey’et (astronomy), and hikmet (wisdom). The auxiliary sciences (ulûm-i âliye) consisted of belagat (elocution—maânî, bediî, beyan), logic, theology (kalam), Arabic grammar and syntax, and language and literature lessons. The higher sciences (ulûm-ı ‘âliye) consisted of Qur’anic exegesis, hadith, and jurisprudence. Certain books would be followed in the lessons in the madrasas. Almost all of the books were in Arabic. However, the language of education was Turkish, and the educational method in general was takrir (lecture) and müzakere (debate). The madrasa and Ottoman scholarly life as a whole had their own rich terminology. This was a terminology that was formed in the rich educational environment of the Ottoman state: appointments and dismissals, the administration and inspection of madrasas, the levels of education, the lessons taught, and the books that were read. At the same time, this terminology offers a rich heritage for Turkish educational history. Among these lessons, alongside those that are widely known, there were those that remained at a rather technical level.

9- Madrasa of Abu’l Fazl in Fatih Saraçhane district (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The Archive of the City Council)

The course books that were followed most often in the Istanbul madrasas and in the primary lessons given in Balkan cities create a rich list. On the topic of Qur’anic exegesis, the books most frequently used were Qadi Beyzavi’s Anwar al-Tanzil wa-Asrar al-Ta’wil (also known as Beyzavi Tafsir) and Mahmud Zamakhshari’s (d. 538/1144) al-Kashshaf ‘an Haqa’iq al-Tanzil. In the study of hadith, the most popular works were Sahih al-Mukhari, Sahih al-Muslim, and al-Shifa’. In the study of jurisprudence, the most common texts were al-Hidaya, al-Wiqaya, and Multaqa al-Abhur. In the study of theology, Hashiya al-Tajrid and Sharh al-Mawaqif were frequently used. In logic, the favored texts were Sharh Isaghuji, based on Porphyrios’ Eisagoge (Îsâgûcî), and Najm al-Din ‘Umar al-Katibi’s Sharh al-Shamsiyya, based on Ali b. ‘Umar al-Qazwini’s (d. 675/1277) al-Shamsiyya.

10- Madrasa of Abu’l Fazl in Fatih Saraçhane district (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The Archive of the City Council)

Thus, the müderrises provided instruction in Arabic books written by the great masters of the Islamic world, books that had become classic texts; these included works by al-Ghazali, al-Nasafi, al-Iji, Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani, Ali ibn Muhammad al-Jurjani, Qadi Baydawi, Zamakhshari, and al-Razi. Class discussion, known as mübâhase, was carried out in Turkish.

Most of the scholars who gave lessons in the first Ottoman madrasas had completed their education in the Arab world and, thus, only followed Arab works in the madrasas; these scholars are thus thought to have been very skilled at speaking and writing in Arabic. Scholars like Molla Hüsrev, Hızır Bey, Ali Kuşçu, and Hocazade, who served in the madrasas after the conquest of Constantinople, were scholars who wrote works and lectured in Arabic. Later, traveling to pursue education in the large centers of Arab lands became much rarer. Thus, lessons began to be given in Turkish. The madrasa textbooks were famous in the Islamic world, and many commentaries (sharh) and supercommentaries (hashiya) were written on these works. Although, in general, these were works written in the pre-Ottoman era, there were also works written by Ottoman scholars, like Molla Fenari’s Fusul al-Badayi‘, Molla Hüsrev’s Durar and Ghurar, Mirqat al-Wusul, and Mir’at al-Usul (his own commentary on Mirqat al-Wusul), Molla Gürani’s Ghaya al-Amani, Ebussuud’s Irshad ‘Aql al-Salim (on Qur’anic exesis), Birgivi’s ‘Awamil and Izhar (on grammar), and İbrahim Halebi’s Multaqa al-Abhur. In addition to these, there were the sharhs and hashiyas written by Ottoman scholars on earlier works, as well as textbooks that were followed in the madrasas.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, curriculum programs, written in prose and poetry, were drawn up concerning the subjects and lessons taught at the madrasas. İshak Tokadi’s (d. 1688) Manzûme-i Tertib-i Ulûm, Saçaklızade Muhammed Mar’aşi’s (d. 1732) wide-ranging and systematic Arabic Tertibü’l-ulûm, the Kevâkib-i Seb‘a prepared by a committee in response to a question posed by the French about the madrasas, Ali Uşşaki’s (d. 1786) Kasîde fi’l-kütübi’l-meşhûre fi’l-ulûm, and, finally, Erzurumlu İbrahim Hakkı’s (b. 1703, d. 1780) Tertîb-i Ulûm are enlightening on this matter.31

11- Ottoman madrasa students in the country (Topkapı Palace Museum Library, <em>Sultan Ahmed I’s Album</em>)

Marquis de Villeneuve, who was the French ambassador to Istanbul from 1728 to 1741, officially requested information on madrasa education and its nature from the Sublime Porte. In response, a committee headed by the reisülküttab (chief scribe) Mustafa Efendi prepared the Kevâkib-i Seb‘a, which detailed the curriculum and educational methods of the madrasas, and presented it to the ambassador.32 In Kevâkib-i Seb‘a, it is stated that in the Ottoman madrasas, students did not pass grades, but rather passed lessons. Every lesson had a beginning (iktisâr), middle (iktisâd), and advanced (istiksâ) level and, thus, every lesson pursued at least three books. The Kevâkib-i Seb‘a also provides important information about how students prepared for lessons, the way lessons were taught, and the relationship between the student and teacher.33

There is important information about the curriculum a number of important Ottoman scholars followed at madrasa, including Taşköprülüzade at the beginning of the sixteenth century, Kâtib Çelebi (d. 1658) in the seventeenth century, the sheikh al-Islam Feyzullah Efendi (d. 1703), Bursalı İsmail Hakkı Efendi (d. 1725), Abdullah el-Ahıskavî (d. 1803), and Cevdet Pasha (d. 1895) in the nineteenth century.34 In fact, in his autobiography, Taşköprülüzade states that he used the kalam works Hâşiye-i Tecrîd and Şerh-i Mevâkıf, while for fiqh he turned to Şerh-i Ferâiz, Sadru’ş-şerîa, and Hidâye. For usul-i fiqh, he used Tavzîh and Telvîh. He used Mesâbih, Meşârık, and Buhârî for hadith, Beyzâvî Tefsiri for Qur’anic exegesis, and Mutavvel and Şerh-i Miftâh for belagat.35

Technical subjects concerned with philosophy, mathematics, engineering, and medicine were part of the Ottoman madrasa program in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but these lessons were gradually withdrawn from the curriculum. Why this was the case is a matter of continuing debate. Taşköprülüzade complains that the level of education fell after the merits of kalam and mathematics began to be questioned and lost their importance among scholars in the.36 However, Kâtib Çelebi states in his work Mîzânü’l-hak that the subjects of kalam and philosophy were still being taught in his time, and that an unfounded and unfortunate debate on the matter between Kadızadeli and Sivasi in Istanbul did occur. It is likely that influenced by this, Kâtib Çelebi wanted to make clear the unnecessary opposition and obstinacy of the time rather than discuss the benefits of elevated debate about kalam and philosophy. Kâtip Çelebi states that mathematics lessons were no longer being taught as they used to be in the madrasas. As an example, he states that when a judge who had not studied mathematics was asked to compare the width, height, and depth of a two-yard well with a four-yard well he got the answer wrong, stating that the difference was a factor of two. When a judge who had studied mathematics was asked the same question, he gave the correct answer, which was that the difference was a factor of eight. Here Kâtip Çelebi wanted to emphasize that in the madrasas the essential mathematics and arithmetic lessons should be studied along with fiqh.37

As part of the madrasa curriculum, in addition to studying and teaching history, geography, Turkish literature, and Persian literature, it can be seen that many scholars who were trained in the Istanbul madrasas and later worked as professors wrote excellent history books and Turkish divan works with skilled poetry. It was necessary to know history and be able to explain for the madrasa subjects of Qur’anic exegesis, hadith, and kalam. In addition, history was one of the most enjoyable of discussion and debate in the scholarly circles to which professors belonged.

12- The ordinance dated July 6, 1568 to the qadi of Istanbul to ban the students of madrasa to go out to collect food and money in other than their vacation times  and not to permit some men to recite parts from the Qur’an in the mosques and prayer houses by pretending as madrasa students (BOA, MD, no. 7/607/1706)

In his memoirs, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha provides information about the form and implementation of madrasa education in the second half of the nineteenth century. According to him, many students did not reside in the madrasa rooms, but left after the lessons (neharî); in addition, they often held scholarly meetings at night on the weekend breaks. Cevdet Pasha relates that some teachers continued lessons throughout the year, except on religious holidays, and how the students had a limited income but lived a contented and abstentious life.38

13- Madrasa of Caferağa (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The Archive of the City Council)

Ranks of Madrasas

Three methods that appear distinct but were in fact closely connected were used to indicate the rank of the madrasas in Istanbul. The first one is based on the name of the book studied: the Hâşiye-i Tecrîd, Miftâh, and Telvîh madrasas. The second is based on the daily salary of the professors: twenty-, thirty-, forty-, fifty-, and sixty-asper madrasas. Finally, there were the ranks of hâric, dâhil, Sahn, altmışlı, Süleymaniye, and Darülhadis, which took the Fatih and Süleymaniye madrasas as their base. From the end of the seventeenth century onward, the following system took shape: there were two ranks of hâric madrasas (İbtida-i Hâric and Hareket-i Hâric), two dâhil (İbtida-i Dâhil and Hareket-i Dâhil), two Sahn (Mûsıla-i Sahn and Sahn-ı Seman), two altmışlı (İbtidâ-i Altmışlı and Hareket-i Altmışlı), two Süleymaniye (Mûsıla-i Süleymaniye and Hâmise-i Süleymaniye), and one Darülhadis (Darülhadis-i Süleymaniye).39 This system continued until the end of the empire. A variety of movements can be observed within the Ottoman madrasa system, particularly from the middle of the sixteenth century. First, there was an established practice of transfer from professorships to judgeships and sometimes from judgeships to professorships, thus ensuring harmony between the ranks of madrasas and judgeships.40 Second, although not frequently, there were changes in the relative ranking of Istanbul madrasas. For example, in 1548, the fifty-asper position at the Şehzade Madrasa was raised to sixty-asper one; in 1623, the Mehmet Pasha Madrasa was raised from the hâric rank to the dâhil rank and the Soğukkuyu Madrasa was reduced from the dâhil rank to the hâric rank. In 1619, the Zal Paşa Sultanı Madrasa in Eyüp was elevated in rank to altmışlı, and in 1622, the Sinan Paşa Darülhadis Madrasa in Istanbul was as well. These changes in the madrasa ranks were generally related to the seniority of the professor and, as a result, some time later the madrasa would return to its former rank.41

Administration and Control of the Madrasas

Madrasas in Istanbul and in Ottoman territory in general functioned as endowed institutions (waqf), and their financial resources and the use and control of these resources were carried out according to waqf rules. In this system, the endowment deed (waqfiya) determined the status of and conditions in the institutions in question. However, as madrasas operations also concerned public education, tight control of the state madrasas was implemented from the capital, Istanbul. While all the madrasas had earlier been affiliated with the chief judges (kazasker), after the sixteenth century the control of the higher ranks of madrasas was given to the chief jurist (sheikh al-Islam), while the others remained under the control of the kazasker. From the nineteenth century onward, the entire organization was transferred to the office of sheikh al-Islam in Istanbul. The administration of every madrasa was generally the responsibility of the professor. The registration of the lessons that the students took was his responsibility. In madrasas with a low income and small capacity, he would also serve as the sole trustee. The professor would oversee students’ studies, discipline, and daily life. The inspection (nezaret) of the waqf and the madrasa was the responsibility of different authorities. For example, the inspection of the Fatih complex was the responsibility of the grand vizier, Beyazıt was the responsibility of the sheikh al-Islam, and many other complexes were under the control of the Darüssaâde aghas. In addition, the judge would sometimes carry out unofficial inspections to judge whether the lessons were being taught according to the conditions stipulated in the endowment deed, or upon complaints of corruption or other matters. Sometimes the sultans would participate in the inspections. In the era of Selim III, the supervisors (nezaretçi) would carry out inspections of shops, commercial enterprises, madrasas, and bachelors’ rooms, and ensure that people who came from the provinces and were wandering aimlessly around the city without employment were returned to their hometowns.42

In later centuries, all the scholarly appointments were made by the sheikh al-Islam. He would present to the grand vizier a list of all those who would be appointed to the various madrasas, from the professors at the level of hâric to those of the Süleymaniye Darülhadis Madrasa. The grand vizier would present the list to the sultan and then would receive the hatt-ı hümayun (imperial rescript); he would send this to the sheikh al-Islam so that he could carry out the appointments. While the grand vizier was originally responsible for appointments at the dâhil and hâric madrasas, which were in a silsile (chain) form, after the seventeenth century the authority to appoint people in the silsile form was transferred to the sheikh al-Islam. Earlier it had been claimed that while Ebussuud Efendi occupied himself sufficiently with promulgating fatwas, he had avoided this other task. When the grand vizier Nasuh Pasha presented the list in the silsile form to Ahmed I, the sultan wrote a note asking, “Why are you interfering in matters which are the concern of the sheikh al-Islam?” When the sultan received the reply that this was a duty that had always been the responsibility of the grand vizier, the sultan accepted this.43 There were, however, occasions when the grand vizier ignored the sheikh al-Islam’s appointment list. In fact, when there were problems between the grand vizier Yemişçi Hasan Pasha and sheikh al-Islam Sunullah Efendi, Hasan Pasha ignored the sheikh al-Islam’s list.44

Although the throne should have been transferred from father to son, when Mustafa I, the uncle of Osman II, was declared sultan, Osman was upset with the sheikh al-Islam; when Osman II became sultan, he took the duty of appointing scholarly personages from the sheikh al-Islam and gave it to his tutor Ömer Efendi; this was completely an arbitrary measure. However, shortly afterward, he changed his mind about this act.45 In the same way, the grand vizier Çorlulu Ali Pasha, influenced by the people around him, did not trust the professor appointments of the sheikh al-Islam Mehmed Sadık Efendi; he demanded that the sheikh al-Islam prepare the list with the kazasker. However, the imperial rescript sent by Ahmed III stated that the sheikh al-Islam had total authority in the appointment according to the silsile.

The Madrasa Libraries

The libraries were a core component of the institution of the madrasa, and were important for the continuation of educational and scholarly activities. This was particularly true of the Istanbul madrasas, which housed a large number of libraries from the time of the conquest on, though the number and condition of these libraries varied over time. There was a library in four of the Sahn madrasas, and the books there were transferred to the mosque library during the reign of Mehmed II or that of Bayezid II.46 Mahmud Pasha (d. 1474) established a library in his madrasas in Istanbul and Hasköy. In the middle of the sixteenth century, there were 195 madrasa libraries in Istanbul, and there were eighty-four books in the madrasa library in Hasköy. The person who donated the books could place conditions upon them, such as that they not be taken elsewhere, that the same person not be allowed to borrow the same book twice, that books not be loaned out for long periods, and that they not be altered.47 For example, when Hacı Beşir Agha’s Eyüp Madrasa was established (1735), the books in the library could not even be circulated within the madrasa, but the library was to be open every day. It is known that one of the librarians (hafız-ı kütüb) appointed here was to be a student.48 The books on the bookshelves in the madrasa libraries and classrooms were generally textbooks, and commentaries and supercommentaries of the same. A great variety of books was donated to the large madrasas. For example, one of the Sahn madrasas had a copy of Târîh-i Cengiz Han.49

14- Madrasa of Gazenferağa and its instructors (Nadiri, <em>Divan</em>)

15- Madrasa of Ahmet Ağa (in Üsküdar) (Gurlitt)

Repairs to Madrasas

As a fundamental principle in the madrasa waqfiyas, there were articles concerned with the maintenance of the endowments, as well as allocations for the same. However, it was sometimes impossible to repair waqfs damaged in major disasters like earthquakes or large fires, and this situation led to the disappearance of many mosques and madrasas. In response to these disasters, the state, following the legal way with methods like icareteyn (double renting) and istibdal (replacement), and later with the müstağnen anh (no longer needed), decided to repair some endowed properties and sell others. In 1826, the ministry of the Evkaf-ı Hümayun (Imperial Endowments) was established and, as all the waqfs were gradually taken over by the state, waqf income and maintenance were both transferred to the ministry of the Evkaf-ı Hümayun.50

Annexes and Daily Life

The Istanbul madrasas were generally constructed around a courtyard with a variety of units. The Istanbul madrasas tended to be in the city center, but with high surrounding walls that protected them from the surrounding noise and bustle of the city. When one entered the madrasa door, one would first encounter the student rooms, with a green courtyard at their center. The water from the well and fountain in the courtyard were the source of life. In the madrasa courtyard there would generally be a fountain, and madrasas that had independent water sources would have a fountain in the middle or at one edge. In the madrasas that were covered with a lead roof there would be a cistern on the roof that would collect rainwater. The best example in this matter was the Süleymaniye madrasas. The water from the lead domes and roof would be collected in a healthy way in the cisterns. The toilets that the students used jointly, known as ayakyolu or hela, would be in a suitable location. In addition to this, there were sections set aside for laundry, bath, and ablution rooms. In addition to these spaces, there would be classrooms, professor rooms, and student cells in every madrasa. In the Istanbul madrasas, there would be no separate prayer room, but there would be classrooms with a mihrab, a niche indicating the direction of Mecca, where students would pray. In the Şeyh Vefa Mosque, the main room was used as a prayer room, classroom, and semahane (location for Sufi rituals).

Classrooms as wide as a large room or hallway were generally covered with a dome, and would have a floor covered with rush matting or a carpet. The students would sit on cushions, while the professor would sit on a higher cushion and instruct from a desk (rahle). In both the Süleymaniye and Fatih madrasas, the classroom occupied a central position. There would generally be one classroom in every madrasa. The students would eat and bathe outside of lessons, and those who were economically well off would be served by younger students known as çömez (apprentice).51 Those who had good family situations would receive provisions, dried goods, etc., from their families. This situation is applicable to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the madrasas had lost their incomes and their real estate had been destroyed by earthquakes and fire; in earlier periods, the soup kitchens (imaret) of the complex would meet all these needs. Those students who were not financially well off would wait until the three months of the Islamic calendar, in particular Ramadan, when the madrasa would be on holiday; they would then go to towns and villages to work as imams or preachers. They would use the money they earned to make it through the rest of the year. This practice, known as cerre çıkma,52 allowed the madrasa students to become acquainted with the people, bringing the two parts of society together. When the students had completed their advanced education and received their diplomas, they would be familiar with the sensitivities and needs of the people, and would be intellectuals who could easily establish dialogue with them. In Istanbul, at times inappropriate people who had no interest in education would reside in the madrasa rooms; unemployed people would come and there would be people involved in corruption. For this reason, from time to time the state would inspect the rooms, carrying out searches, finding these people and removing them. In 1792, there was a general inspection of the madrasas in Istanbul to this end, and a census was carried out. Other than such situations, those who came to Istanbul were vouched for, and those who were not vouched for would be sent back to where they came from.53

The Koca Sinan Paşa Madrasa on Divanyolu in Istanbul is an excellent example that can still be seen today; it consists of sixteen cells, a classroom, a fountain in the middle, a well, toilet, a cemetery, and the tomb of Koca Sinan Pasha. In the Süleymaniye complex today the fourth madrasa, which is used as the reading room and administrative building for the Süleymaniye Library and is one of the best examples of a madrasa in a building complex, has a high outer wall, an excellent garden, rooms for the students around the garden, and a classroom. Today in Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula there are the madrasas of Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha, Merzifoni Mustafa Pasha, Ankaravi, Kuyucu Murat Pasha, Kızlarağası, Cafer Ağa, and Gazanfer Ağa; these structures, used for education, health, culture, and art services, are some of the best examples of independent madrasas. In all of these madrasas, the architecture was prepared to provide a peaceful education where the students were far removed from noise and where they could give their utmost attention.

16- Madrasa of Hamidiye (Sultan Abdülhamid I) (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, The Archive of the City Council)

There were characteristics that were unique to the madrasa and educational life. Customarily in the madrasas there were lessons five days a week, with holidays on Tuesdays and Fridays. In order for the students to copy the course books, Molla Fenari increased the days off to three, adding Mondays. Hoca Sadeddin Efendi states that this method continued in the era in which he lived.54 In general, lessons were not held on Tuesdays and the libraries were closed. The lessons in the madrasas were held twice a day, in the morning and after the afternoon prayer; those lessons that were associated with the icazet (diploma) were held in the morning. There is no detailed information on the matter of what the daily life of the students was like in the madrasas. It is not likely that the students who studied at the madrasas were as numerous as those in schools today. In the sources, it is stated that life in the madrasa was very humble and the students had to make do with a very limited income, dedicating themselves to their studies. As it was a tradition that it was a blessing to help and support those who wanted to study, the wealthy and middle-class houses and mansions around the madrasas would send sweet and meat dishes to the students, as well as the meat from sheep that had been sacrificed; wealthy families would sometimes invite the students to their houses. In addition, when they were invited, the students would read the Qur’an and the hosts would benefit from the students’ knowledge and conversation. There was a very good shared understanding between the students and society that became traditionalized over hundreds of years. However, there were those among the madrasa students who were unable to control themselves and who got caught up in nightlife, bullying, and things that were beyond moral limits. Later, from the sixteenth century on, complaints about the excesses of the students (dânişmend and suhte) were made in the mühimme (important matters) and şikâyet (complaint) registers; these were frequently inspected by professors, judges, and police (subaşı) and punishments were demanded. One ruling by the judge of Istanbul, dated 1574, concerned an event where the doors to the tetimme madrasas, under the control of the Sahn professors, were left open and the students abandoned their studies, went out, and caused unrest. It was ordered that the doors to the tetimme madrasas not be left open and that no students who were not vouched for were to be registered at the madrasa.55 Upon these complaints, inspections were carried out at the madrasas and impromptu inspections were also made at certain periods; anyone who had no one to vouch for them, or who acted against the morals or customs in the city, would be punished.56

17- Madrasa of Cedit Mehmet Efendi

In 1792 there were a total of 447 people in the Sahn and tetimme parts of the Fatih complex (of these, 10 were professors, 45 mülazims, 3 muids, 198 mollas, 181 refiks, 8 çömezes, and 21 taşras).57 At the same date, the Süleymaniye madrasas had a total of 223 people living in 131 cells; 11 were professors, 116 were students who had cells, and 69 were refik or çömez.58 In the same year, the madrasa rooms in Istanbul held 2,947 students, of whom 1,193 lived on their own, 1,097 shared rooms with another person, 403 lived in three-person rooms, and 69 lived in rooms of four or five people. The madrasa cells were actually for one student, but the censuses tell us that when necessary, probably for only a temporary period, three to four students could share a room. For the sake of comparison, at the end of the eighteenth century, 224 students were studying at the seventeen madrasas in Edirne, while in the nineteenth century, 593 students were living in the twenty-two madrasas in Kayseri.59

18- The scholars of Istanbul (İntizami)

Reform Efforts

It can be understood from the edicts of the sultans that continuous regulations were carried out to control the education offered at Ottoman madrasas. These regulations would have been implemented first in the Istanbul madrasas, and then in madrasas in other regions. Some basic characteristics of the regulations are as follows: (1) The basis of the Ottoman education system was not the madrasa, but the professor, the lessons studied, and the books. As a result, in official and private texts concerned with the reforms, there was an emphasis on the professor, the lessons studied, and the students, but the madrasa would not always be mentioned; (2) In a real sense, madrasa reform came onto the agenda at the end of the nineteenth century and particularly at the beginning of the twentieth century; (3) The edicts that the sultans promulgated from time to time touched on some of the problems with the education system, including the complete elimination of privileges for the children of scholars, but offer little information about such matters as the names or the curriculums of the courses taught in the madrasas; 4) Although the mülazemet (novitiate) system and the appointment of judges and professors were regularly recorded in the registers, the lessons students took and how far they progressed, although required to be recorded, were neglected.

The privileges were a constant source of unease. In a document dated 1221 (1806), it was stated that although four to five people had done well enough on an exam to deserve to be awarded the post of professor, another ten who were of the elite should be given the post out of pity.60

Ataullah Efendi, who was the sheikh al-Islam in 1806, was appointed to the post of professor when he was twelve; Mekkîzade, who was sheikh al-Islam in 1832, was appointed when he was thirteen years old. Both were children of scholars.61

The Ottoman state was shaken by rapid developments both domestically and, more particularly, abroad; many of these developments were to the detriment of the state. This meant that the Ottoman state started to look for different and alternative solutions; however, this did not lead to a renewal of the madrasa system. In the second half of the eighteenth century, with the establishment of the naval and military engineering schools, the technical education that had largely been given in the madrasas to that date was now removed from them. In the first half of the nineteenth century, with the establishment of the Tıphane (Medical School), medicine was also removed. With the establishment of European schools and later the Mülkiye (Civil Service School), which was equipped with state support, the madrasas were no longer involved in the area of administration or the intellectual arena to any great extent. In 1826, the Evkaf-ı Hümayun Ministry was established and all the waqf income, the financial basis for the madrasas and scholars, was taken into the state treasury; with the formation of the nizamiye (secular) courts and later the appearance of the law schools, the madrasas were largely removed from the jurisprudential sphere and reduced to performing religious services.

19- The aerial view of Enderun (Palace School) in Topkapı Palace

In the nineteenth century, during the reigns of Mahmud II and Abdülhamid II, there were reforms and innovations, particularly in the matter of education; however, the madrasas, which were most in need of reform, were ignored. This attitude was probably a result of the idea that reforming the madrasas and the mentality they represented would be very difficult, if not impossible. After the reign of Abdülhamid II, in the era of the Committee of Union and Progress, during the time that Musa Kâzım Efendi and Mustafa Hayri Efendi served as sheikh al-Islam, a serious reform of the madrasas was demanded. An Islah-ı Medaris (Reform of Madrasas) Commission was established and a number of regulations were prepared; a program that was completely different from the traditional madrasa structure and more akin to the mektep (modern school) style started to be implemented in the madrasas. At this juncture, the Medresetü’l-Kuzât (School of Judges) and Medresetü’l-Eimme ve’l-Hutabâ (School of Prayer Leaders) were established in 1913, with Medresetü’l-Vaizîn (School of Preachers) following in 1913, Medresetü’l-Mütehassisîn (School of Experts) and Medresetü’l-Hattâtîn (School of Calligraphers) in 1914, and Medresetü’l-Irşad (formed by combining the Medresetü’l-Eimme ve’l-Hutaba and Medresetü’l-Vaizîn) in 1919. However, due to the elimination of all that was imperial during World War I and afterward, these schools did not continue for long. From the beginning of the twentieth century, the conservative journals of the era—including Beyânü’l-hak, Sırât-ı Müstakim, and Sebilü’r-reşâd—published many articles on how to reform the madrasa system.

20- The Eunuch of the Ottoman Palace (Enderun Ağası) (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

According to Law 430 on the Unification of Education (Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu), dated 3 March 1924, madrasas were transferred to the supervision of the Maarif Vekâleti (National Ministry of Education). The buildings of many Ottoman madrasas in Istanbul and other cities are still used today as libraries, hospitals and health institutions, cultural institutions, schools, museums, etc.

21- Sergeant of the pages in Enderun (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)


The Enderun School was one of the most important educational institutions to train Ottoman administrative and military staff; this school was established within Topkapı Palace.62 From the middle of the fifteenth century, this was the most important official educational institution outside of the madrasas in the Ottoman state. While the madrasas worked with a waqf system that was independent from the state, Enderun was supported completely by state finances that were under state control. This school, which trained civil and military administrators, was established to provide trained personnel for the Ottoman central and provincial bureaucracy. Enderun thus served as an important educational institution that taught and developed official Ottoman ideology or mentality, and also occupied an important place in the fulfillment of administrative and political targets and in the functioning of the state’s main institutions. Although there are two different opinions about when Enderun was opened, either in the era of Murad II or that of Mehmed II, it is possible to state that the Enderun was formed in the palace in the era of Murad II, but its true organization occurred in the era of Mehmed II. The real target of forming such an organization was to train skilled commanders for the Ottoman state, which was based on military power, and to secure competent administrative staff to administer the masses who belonged to different religions, languages, and cultures in the growing state. As the state had a heterogeneous social structure, the basic principle of culture and discipline was adopted in place of race or blood ties, and the staff were trained within this concept.

22- The schema of the bath house in Enderun (Topkapı Palace Museum Archive, no. E. 12307/2)

Education in the Enderun School

In general, the children who were taken into Enderun were those who had no connection with their families and who had been taken in via the devşirme (recruitment of children of non-Muslim subjects to the state service by the Ottoman government). Before they were accepted into Enderun, these boys would undergo a period of education. Children taken from Christian families would first be placed with a Muslim Turkish family to learn Turkish and the principles and manners of Islam; later they would be sent to the palaces in Edirne, Galatasaray, or İbrahim Paşa (or, as it was known for some time, İskender Çelebi) to take lessons and be instructed in order to develop their physical and spiritual abilities. These boys were known as acemi oğlans (apprentice boys). After completing their education and training, the acemi oğlans would leave the palace in a ceremony known as the çıkma (graduation) and be distributed among a variety of military units; those who had superior abilities would be move on to a higher level of education at Enderun.63

23- Enderun

The education in Enderun was established on seven levels: the Büyük (Great) and Küçük (Small) Chambers, the Doğancı (Falconer) Ward, the Seferli (Campaigner) Ward, the Kiler (Kitchen) Chamber, the Hazine (Treasury), and Has (Privy) Chamber. The boys who could not complete the education there left during the middle classes in the same way, also known as çıkma, joining a variety of military units.

Of the first two stages of Enderun, the Small Chamber was on the left as one entered the palace from the Bâbüssaâde, while the Great Chamber was on the right. Young men who had graduated with distinction from the schools would be accepted into these chambers as acemi oğlans. Here they would take lessons in Islamic religion and culture, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian, as well as participating in sports like wrestling, athletics, and archery. Those who studied in these rooms wore a type of robe known as a dolama and thus were known as dolamalı. The young people were around fifteen years in age. There were lalas (tutors) there who ensured discipline and helped the youths in a variety of subjects. These rooms are said to have been eliminated in 1675. The third stage of the Enderun was the Doğancı Wards; there, forty young men were instructed and at any given point in time. Mehmed IV resided in this ward.

The Seferli Ward was formed by Murad IV in 1635. At first, the laundry of the people staying in Enderun was washed and sorted there; later, the ward was devoted to art and the young people there were trained as musicians, singers, violinists, wrestlers, barbers, etc. In fact, many musicians and poets emerged from this ward. In the Seferli Ward, up to one hundred young men were educated at any one time and the apprentice boys who graduated from this ward went into the cavalry.

The Kilerci Ward was established during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II. The chief here was the serkilârî-i hâssa (footman in charge of serving the sultan food). It was the duty of this ward to serve the sultan’s food. The boys living here would prepare every type of food and drink, including bread, meat, dried fruit, sweets, and sherbets, for the ruler and the imperial harem. Candles for the palace rooms and prayer places were procured by this ward. There were up to thirty people in this ward. The boys of the Kilerci Ward would join the cavalry corps of the court when they graduated.

The Treasury Ward was organized by Sultan Mehmed II. The chief here was the hazinedarbaşı (chief treasurer) and the hazine kethüdası (treasury steward). The post of hazinedarbaşı was one of the most influential positions in the palace. Not only was he the head of the palace craftsmen, who were called ehl-i hiref and numbered around two thousand, he was also responsible for the protection of the jewels and valuable goods that belonged to the Enderun treasury and palace. In times of peace and war, the hazinedarbaşı would stay with the sultan. There could be as many as one hundred and fifty members of this ward at times. When graduating from this ward, youths would join the cavalry corps of the court, or be appointed as müteferrika (members of special corps) or çaşnigîr (taster).

The Privy Chamber was the last stage of Enderun; this was also established by Sultan Mehmed II. The four famous officers of the Privy Chamber were the odabaşı, silahdar, çuhadar, and rikâbdar. Of these, only the odabaşı had the authority to enter the presence of the sultan; this is stated in the Law Code of Mehmed II. The total number of members of the Privy Chamber was around forty. Included in the duties of the members of the Privy Chamber were cleaning the Hırka-i Saadet (the Prophet Muhammad’s Cloak) Apartments, looking after the goods there, burning incense on holy nights, sprinkling the room with rosewater, and protecting the Sacred Trusts. The hünkâr müezzin (imperial caller to prayer), sır kâtibi (privy clerk), sankçıbaşı (protector of banners), kahvecibaşı (head coffee maker), başçavuş (head sergeant) were selected from among the members of the Privy Chamber. The members of the Privy Chamber resided in the room known as the Mabeyn, which was adjacent to the harem. When they graduated, they would be appointed to important posts according to their seniority.

Levels in the Enderun Education System

The Enderun system was based on an educational process in which there were a number of stages that had an organic connection. Success at Enderun, to a large extent, was the result of integrity within the system. The candidates were examined and selected for physical and spiritual characteristics by a traveling team that acted according to certain rules and had been specially organized for this end. Certain qualities were looked for in the families of those who were selected. In the preparatory classes in the palace, they would take lessons in Turkish and Islamic culture, as well as sports lessons that developed their physical abilities. One of the principles that were observed with care in this educational system from the beginning to the end was the çıkma (graduation). This implementation, which was present from the very beginning, was developed during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent; with this method, those who showed no success or progress from the preparatory class to the end of the Enderun education would be taken out and sent to the army, appointed to a variety of ranks. Thus, only those who demonstrated extraordinary success would be able to complete the education process. In addition, according to the standard quota in the chambers and wards, at certain intervals the numbers of members would be reduced by graduation, thus opening new places for talented youth.

Another principle that was important in the Enderun system was the effective transmission of culture. Young men who came from a number of different races and religious backgrounds would be raised within an atmosphere of Islamic-Turkish culture. When foreign observers described the youth who had been selected for the preparatory classes and the Enderun education, they stated that the Turks took great pleasure in educating the talented youth and that they underwent a great number of sacrifices to this end; moreover, those who were handsome and had no physical defects were preferred, associating this with the belief among the Turks that “a beautiful face cannot hide a bad soul.” In letters written by Busbecq, who came to the Ottoman territory in the middle of the sixteenth century as the ambassador from the Habsburgs, it is stated that while Westerners enjoyed well-trained horses and dogs, Turks derived great joy from well-educated people.

24- Şeyhulislam Yenişehirli Abdullah Efendi (in white clothes sitting in front of the sultan on the right) and the scholars of the time discoursing a topic in presence of Sultan  Ahmed III

The environment in which the Enderun youths found themselves assisted in increasing their knowledge and manners. Topkapı Palace was a center that for centuries had acted as a stage for intense administrative, political, and diplomatic activities. Governors-general, governors, judges, diplomatic delegations from Muslim and non-Muslim countries, ambassadors, grand viziers, viziers, and kazaskers, all members of the Divan-ı Hümayun (Imperial Council), were intensely involved in a number of activities in this palace. This characteristic provided the Enderun youths with a wide perspective and range of experience. The viziers, governors-general, governors, and other administrative officials who served at a variety of levels, both in the center and in the provinces, were people who had been trained in this institution. The works of Tayyarzade Ata Bey and Hızır İlyas contain detailed information about the palace, life at Enderun, and the cultural milieu that was formed there. Ata Bey’s work, in particular, details the names and sometimes the biographies of the scholars, poets, statesmen, soldiers, and administrators who were trained at Enderun and served in different areas.

25- A religious chat in the presence of Sultan Abdülhamid I. Those standing on the right are Şehzade Selim III, Mustafa IV and Mahmud II (d’Ohsson)

Famous historians like Mehmed Halife64 and Fındıklılı Mehmed Agha65 were trained at Enderun, and three of the Ottoman sheikh al-Islams were educated there. Their biographies can be found in Târih-i Atâ. In the era of Sultan Mehmed II, Arnavud İskender Bey and the Kantermiroğlu prince, who recorded Ottoman history in the seventeenth century and had in-depth knowledge of Turkish music, were both educated at Enderun during the time they were in Istanbul; both later betrayed the Ottoman state. Ali Ufkî Bey (Albert Bobowski, d. 1675?), who would later become a master of Turkish music, was also in Enderun.

Enderun Chambers and Regulations Concerning Their Functioning

From time to time, new regulations would be made concerning the Enderun chambers and their functions. Among these, the implementation of Çorlulu Ali Pasha is important.66 The pasha introduced a new regulation about the appointment of ranks and degrees to all the palace officials, making his own post the highest-ranking office of Enderun. This post now connected the Bâbüssaâde aghas, who had been under the control of the tavaşi ak hadıms, to the zülüflü gılmanları silahtar of the Enderun wards. And while communications between the sultan and the grand vizier in the palace had been carried out via the Darüssaâde agha, this office was now transferred to the silahtar agha, a member of Enderun.

26- Sultan Selim I Mosque and Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School)

If one keeps in mind the working system, program, and functions of Enderun, it is possible to say that Enderun was not just a school, but rather a course and internship in which a variety of skills, arts, and administrative and political information was taught through implementation and where talent could be identified. There were certain rules that were always applied when filling places in the seven rooms and wards that made up Enderun vacated by çıkma or promotion. However, although it did not happen frequently, the sultan could act outside the promotion and çıkma method. An interesting example of such an occasion is that the head of the Privy Chamber at the time of Süleyman the Magnificent, İbrahim Pasha, was appointed to the post of grand vizier.

In conclusion, when the Enderun is compared with the madrasas, which had completely different methods and aims, it can be seen that Enderun was more fortunate and successful in attaining its goal. While the madrasa education was weakened by the privileges and patronage given to children from families of the scholarly classes, Enderun was run with strict discipline; the principle was that the only way to rise within the system was through success and skill, with no one being given any type of privilege, thus making it the most successful educational institution of the empire during the classical period. In fact, a number of Western observers and ambassadors who remained in Istanbul for a long period of time were more interested in Enderun than in the madrasas, and even those who were opposed to the Ottoman state praised the institution. However, in the seventeenth century, the rise of patronage and cronyism undermined the existing methods and people who did not meet the conditions of Enderun started to be accepted. As a result, the education system did not keep up with the new needs that were developing. Moreover, the salaried troops of the court had great influence and power to determine the ruling force of the country, particularly in these periods. This undermined the discipline and quality of education at Enderun. In general, this institution, like other institutions in the empire, started to suffer significantly. Despite this, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, Enderun continued to wield its former power; it was only later that those who were trained in schools opened in the Western style were appointed to administrative and political posts.

27- Ayasofya Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School)


When examining traditional educational life in Istanbul, there is one institution that should not be overlooked: the huzur lessons. These consisted of high-level discussions of religious knowledge that continued for 160 years without interruption at Topkapı Palace. From the earliest period on, a number of examples of such lessons can be found. It is known that the first systematic huzur lessons were held during the reign of Ahmed III and were begun by Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha in 1724. İbrahim Pasha would gather some of the famous scholars in his own palace during Ramadan and would have them carry out a debate on the interpretation of some verses of the Qur’an. In April 1728, Ahmed III joined one of these lessons, listening to it from beginning to end. Mustafa III joined in these lessons as a young man with his father Ahmed III. It is highly likely that it was under the influence of this that he established the huzur lessons. Later sultans continued this tradition. In fact, it is known that in June 1755, Osman III invited his mentor Hamidi Efendi to the library in the Şerefabad Pavilion on the Üsküdar shore and had the latter carry out a lesson of Qur’anic exegesis; at the end of the lesson, the sultan presented some gifts to Hamidi Efendi.

28- Zevki Kadın (Sultan Selim III’s wife) Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School)

There is important information in the Rûznâme of Mustafa III about the first huzur lessons, which are important as a starting point and formed the basis for latter lessons; here we learn about the time of day and location of the lessons, as well as about the participants and the gifts they received. In the first lesson, the fetva emini (fatwa clerk) Ebubekir Efendi was the mukarrir (the person giving the lesson) and Nebih Mehmed, Konevî İsmail, Müzellef Efendi, and İdris Efendi were the muhatap (attendees). The subject proposed was the meaning of the verse as taken from Qadi Baydawi’s Anwar al-Tanzil: “O believers! Even if against yourself, your mother, father, or those close to you, observe justice as witnesses of Allah.” This lesson passed in heated discussion and at the end, every scholar was given one hundred gold coins by Sultan Mustafa III. These lessons, which were held in the presence of the sultan every day between 15 and 26 May 1759, except for Fridays, were held in different parts of Topkapı Palace, for example Sepetçiler Pavilion, Sarık Chambers, Ağa Gardens, the Sofa, and the Divanhane. There were five or six scholars who debated one another during the lessons. The lessons were held between the noon prayer and afternoon prayer; after the afternoon prayer, the sultan retired to the harem.

The scholar who led the huzur lesson was called the mukarrir, while those scholars who participated were first called talib, and later muhatab. The number of participants in these lessons began with one mukarrir and five muhatabs; over the years this number increased or decreased, and the number of lessons and the days, hours, and length of lessons could all change as well. In fact, in February 1767, the number of scholars allocated for the huzur lessons was 126, and these were divided among nineteen different sessions, with one day allocated for each.

29- Cevri Kalfa Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School)

The highest-ranking and most able of those attending became mukarrir. In the era of Abdülhamid I, in November 1775, the opinion of the sheikh al-Islam was asked and seventy scholars were determined as mukarrir and muhatab, thus reducing the number. It can be understood from this implementation that the instructors were selected by the sheikh al-Islam. In the selection of both the makarrir and the muhatab, it was stated in the orders and in the tezkires (official memoranda) that merit and level of knowledge should be taken into account. From 1786 on, only eight lessons were given during Ramadan, and it can be seen that, with a few exceptions, the ninth was a traditional gathering of the mukarrirs and the meclis.

In the lessons, which were carried out with total intellectual freedom, a verse from the Qur’an would be read and the mukarrir would make a commentary on it. The mukarrir would then answer the muhatabs’ questions and objections, and, thus, an intellectual discussion would ensue. In general, the lessons would be held from Qadı Baydawi’s Anwar al-Tanzil. However, the interpretation of the verses proceeded very slowly and only a few verses would be covered in a few years; it can be understood that this was the result of matters of grammar, etymology, and unrelated interpretations being concentrated on in the study of the verses. In fact, reading the Surah Isra began in November 1775, and continued until October 1778, while reading Surah Fath lasted from 1779 to 1784. In July 1787, reading and interpreting Surah Baqara began; the first thirty verses were completed by May 1791, a period of just under four years.

Some of the muhatabs, in an effort to show the depth of their knowledge, occasionally transgressed the expected manners and decorum. For example, in March–April 1763, Tatar Ali Efendi, who was known as Tatar Hoca and who was one of the muhatabs, overstepped the bounds of scholarly debate with the mukarrir Abdülmümin Efendi, speaking to the mukarrir rudely; as a result, Tatar Hoca was exiled to Bozcaada. Again, in January–February 1801, during a debate between the mukarrir and muhatabs in a huzur lesson, the muhatabs, in an effort to prove themselves, made unnecessary objections to the mukarrir and the conversation turned from an intellectual discussion to a scene in which the mukarrir was addressed beyond the bounds of politeness; affected by this situation, Selim III ended the lesson half way. This debate started with the objection of Kastamonulu Ömer Efendi to the interpretation of a verse by Kudsi Efendi, and then grew with the objections of Dağıstanlı Abdurrahman and Ahıskalı Ali Efendi. The mukarrir Kudsi Efendi gave an answer to subdue the objections and, even though he tried to convince the muhatabs, he did not succeed. Sultan Selim III, who was listening to the debate, understood that the three muhatabs who were creating the argument were in the wrong and informed the sheikh al-Islam that all three were to be removed from acting as muhatab.

30- The case of the Holy Qur’an made for Şehzade Mahmud Celaleddin (Topkapı Palace Museum, no. 2/269)

The number of muhatabs in the reign of Selim III was seven or eight. At the end of the lesson held in January–February 1801, the gift that the sultan gave was one hundred kuruş; the same amount was given by Valide Mihrişah Sultan. In the short reign of Mustafa IV, the vakanüvis (chronicler) Mütercim Asım Efendi also participated. In the reign of Mahmud II, in an edict sent by the Başkâtiplik (Office of the Head Clerk) to the sheikh al-Islam in 1834/35 (1250) it was requested that rather than having intense, abstract lessons that would tax the mind of the sultan, the lessons should be directed towards encouraging jihad and war, and be plain enough for the sultan to listen to; even if this style was thought to be “common,” it was the style that the sultan appreciated.

31- Recai Mehmed Efendi Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School)

In the huzur lessons that were held throughout the nineteenth century, some new principles were adopted and a tradition was formed. In this era, the sultan, acting on the recommendation of the sheikh al-Islam, decided to select and appoint the mukarrir and muhatabs from among the scholars who had risen in Istanbul and resided in the city but who had no official position. When there was a vacancy in the post of mukarrir, the next mukarrir in the hierarchy would occupy that post; it thus became a custom for the head muhatab of the first session to be selected as the last mukarrir. The location of the session was determined by the sultan. In the huzur lessons, the mukarrir would sit on the right of the sultan, and the muhatabs would form a half circle, sitting on cushions, next to the mukarrir, with lecterns in front of them. If men and women outside this group wanted to listen to the lesson, their names had to be approved by the sultan. Kethüdazade Arif Efendi participated in the huzur lessons that continued for a week after the beginning of the month of Ramadan during the era of Mahmud II, and provides information about the lessons in his Menâkıbnâme. Arif Efendi states that when the relevant verses were read and the discussion began on the verse in question, the discussion should have been on matters like military order, patience and perseverance, or love of Allah; however, scholars became involved in unnecessary discussions such as was the vav in the verse an atıfe (attribution) or a hâliye (state). As a result, Sultan Mahmud II became exasperated by this and the lesson ended unpleasantly.

The huzur lessons were held in the Muayede Hall of Dolmabahçe Palace in the era of Sultan Abdülaziz, and in the Çıt Pavilion in Yıldız Palace during the reign of Abdülhamid II. The sultan would sit on a high cushion, and across from him the mukarrir and muhatabs would sit with a lectern in front of them. The high-ranking people from the Mabeyn apartments would be invited to these lessons, which continued throughout the month of Ramadan and were held for two hours, twice a week; some ministers and statesmen would also be present. The mukarrir and muhatabs at each lesson were different. At the end of the lesson, they would be given gifts, a robe, and shawl, per tradition.

The huzur lessons in the era of Sultan Mehmed Reşad V were held on the first ten days of Ramadan in the Zülvecheyn Hall in Dolmabahçe Palace. These were held as eight different meetings. Princes and statesmen were invited to the lessons.

32- The first page of <em>Ta’limul-Edeb</em> which used to be taught in the third and fourth years of Sıbyan Mektebi (Elementary School)

The sultan would sit on a cushion that had been placed on a couch on the side of the building that looked toward the sea; on his right were members of the dynasty, while on his left were the statesmen, officials, and servants of the Mabeyn. The women of the harem would follow the lesson from behind a screen. The başkâtip (head clerk) of the Mabeyn, Halid Ziya (Uşaklıgıl), would participate in these lessons, in which the mukarrir would wear a black robe and the muhatabs blue robes. In the era of the same sultan, Lütfi Simavi, one of the başkâtips of the Mabeyn, states in his memoirs that the mukarrir would monopolize the situation; as many of these were from the provinces and could not even speak Turkish properly, despite the sultan’s warnings to the sheikh al-Islam on this matter, a positive lesson did not occur.67 Vildan Faik Efendi, who joined in these lessons as mukarrir, created a book called el-Mevâizü’l-hisân with the takrir (proposal) and müzakere (discussion) of four lessons.68


In the Ottoman state, the educational institutions in which children underwent their first education were called darüttalim, sıbyan mektebi, muallimhane, mahalle mektebi, mektep, or taş mektep. The mektebs, which had spread to every city, town, and village, were educational institutions that were so widespread that one was found in every neighborhood, or even on many streets. The language of education was Turkish. In general, these mektebs, which were named after their founders, operated as waqfs and functioned by means of mutual contributions.

Here, for the most part, boys and girls studied together; however, there were also separate sıbyan mektebs for boys and girls. The hadith, “education in the sciences is compulsory for every man and woman,” was the basic principle that ensured that girls continued to be educated at these mektebs. The teacher, known as hoca or muallim, tended to be male, but women of a certain age and maturity who possessed knowledge and skills could also teach at these schools. In fact, there were times when women teachers taught girls in their houses.69 In the schools that were adjacent to the neighborhood prayer places (masjid), it was generally the imam of the masjid who would teach. The sıbyan mektebs in Istanbul were primary educational institutions that were administered as waqfs established by sultans, members of the dynasty, statesmen, and members of the public, either with the state or independent of the state.

The reason that the mektebs were so widespread was a natural result of the importance given to education in Islam. The age at which a child could join the sıbyan mektebs for education was pre-determined: girls and boys between the ages of four and seven would start education at the school. In the era of Mahmud II, decrees were passed making the starting age seven years.

These mektebs were generally built in the form of detached buildings, but there were also ones that were built adjacent to the neighborhood mosque, or at times the scholarly activities would be held inside the mosque in the rooms of the imam and muezzin. The most developed and best examples of these mektebs were those in the capital Istanbul. Among these, the most famous and the best, from the aspect of architecture, were those belonging to the sultans and members of the Ottoman dynasty.

After the conquest of Constantinople, in the Turkish endowment deed of Mehmed II’s mosque complex, the sıbyan mekteb is referred to as a darüttalim,70 while in the Arabic endowment deed, it is referred to as a mekteb.

The most excellent sıbyan mekteb in Istanbul was on the western side of this complex. This stone mekteb, which is very important in the history of Turkish education, was damaged in the Fatih fire of 1916 and the building was sold. The deed stated that the teacher appointed there was to be pious and have a beautiful voice; this teacher would teach, as a priority, orphaned children. If a sufficient number could not be found, then poor Muslim children would be taught. The teacher would be paid six aspers per day. In addition, an assistant would be appointed to help the teacher; this appointee was to treat the children well, help them to repeat the lessons, and explain those subjects the students did not understand; for this, the assistant would be paid two aspers per day. In addition, to ensure the security and cleanliness of the mekteb, a janitor (kayyım) would be appointed with a salary of one asper per day.

The double-domed mekteb built by Sultan Bayezid II (1481–1512), on the south side of his complex is one of the best mektebs in Istanbul. The endowment deed of the complex provides important information about this institution. It emphasized that orphaned and poor children were to be taught the Qur’an by the teacher and his assistant.71 Moreover, it stated that a suitable person who was honest and cognizant of the conditions of prayers and the compulsory parts of the religion, would teach thirty boys—orphans and poor children—the Qur’an every day but Friday; the boys would listen to the lessons and become knowledgeable about matters concerned with prayer, thus learning proper manners.72

In the most magnificent building complex in Istanbul, Süleymaniye, there was a sıbyan mekteb adjacent to the third madrasa, in the area looking out on the university gardens; this was an example of the best of its kind. The mekteb was surrounded by high walls and was in the form of a room, accessible by a short staircase and covered with a dome.

33- Ali Kuşçu and Sultan Mehmed II (<em>Şekaik</em>)

In the endowment deed, it is mentioned that the mekteb should resemble the earlier Fatih and Beyazit sıbyan mektebs. Historical works like the Tabakâtü’l-memâlîk and Süleymannâme that address the Süleymaniye complex also mention the sıbyan mekteb.

The records and conditions in the endowment deeds of this early period emphasize that children should be taught the Qur’an and learn to read the Qur’an properly. In deeds from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, while the teaching and learning of other subjects outside the Qur’an is not touched upon much, in the later deeds, it can be seen that other teachers are included in addition to the teacher and assistant.

The endowment deed of the sıbyan mekteb that was built by the mother of Sultan Mahmud I, Saliha Sultan, next to the beautiful fountain in Azapkapı, which was torn down during the road-widening project in 1957, stipulates that a person with a good hand who is able to teach calligraphy should be the teacher at the school. The favorite wife of the sultan, Rami Kadın, had a mekteb built in Beşiktaş; once again, there is an emphasis on teaching calligraphy in the deed. Thus, it can be seen that, at least in the eighteenth century, the provision of lessons in calligraphy was an important subject.73 The waqfiya also shows that the curriculum of the sıbyan mekteb gradually expanded. The waqfiya for the sıbyan mekteb constructed on the orders of Sultan Abdülhamid I in 1782 (1196) stipulates that a teacher motivated by knowledge and who was skilled in Arabic should teach. The fact that Arabic and Persian were to be taught demonstrates an important development from the aspect of the curriculum.74 Osman Ergin states that the reason this program was so developed could have been that the aim of the mekteb was to train people from an early age for the Sublime Porte, to which the school was adjacent, and that this formed a starting point for the rüşdiye mektebs (secondary schools), which were being considered at that time.75

In the sıbyan mektebs that were supported financially by waqfs, children were educated for free, and they were also given clothing and stipends; as the sultans’ mektebs were close to imarets (soup kitchens), they were also given free food and the students were taken on excursions at certain times. In Sultan Bayezid II’s endowment deed, it is written: “Twice a day (morning and evening) the students will be given food that has been prepared for the poor, orphans, and children of the poor, with meat and bread.”76

The endowment deed of another sıbyan mekteb stipulated that ten aspers be used to buy clothing for each orphan in the school twice a year, and that the orphaned and poor children in the mekteb be provided two meals a day from the food cooked for the poor.77

34- Şeyhulislam Ebussuud Efendi (on the right) (<em>Tezkiretü’ş-şuara</em>)

On the matter of the clothing given to the students in the sıbyan mektebs, the deed of Sheikh al-Islam Esad Efendi stated that every student was to be given one boğası kapama (cotton-lined cloak), one fez, one mintan (collarless shirt), one zıbın (jacket), one kuşak (belt), and one pair of mest pabuç (waterproof slippers). The same deed also stated that 1,200 aspers be provided for the teacher and his assistant to take the children on a seyir (picnic), and to cook food and feed the children. In the deed of Saliha Sultan, there is the condition that each student was to be given a kapama (cloak), kavuk (tomb), tiftik kuşak (mohair belt), one pair of mest pabuç, and a stipend of ten aspers (known as na’lçe-bahâ). Going on a picnic in the spring was a tradition, and almost all of the sıbyan mekteb students were taken; this tradition made the students and parents very happy.

The sources and statistics give different figures for the number of sıbyan mektebs in Istanbul. According to a census that was carried out in 1585, before Bayramzade Zekeriyya Efendi became sheikh al-Islam, the number of sıbyan mektebs in Istanbul was 1,653. Describing a ceremonial parade in 1630, Evliya Çelebi states that there were 1,299 sıbyan mektebs in Istanbul and that the number of mektebs (muallimhâne-i sıbyân-ı ebcedhân) in the long list that he provides for Istanbul is 1,993. In the second half of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century this number was around 300–350; however, some of these were in ruins or just empty lots. In a list that was published by A. Turgut Kut,78 which we can understand was published in the mid-1920s, there are the names of 314 sıbyan mektebs, as well as their patrons and situation at the time. According to this list, 83 mektebs were merely empty plots of land, 19 were in ruins, 14 were empty, 5 had been torn down, 10 were now police or gendarme stations, 23 were being used by mosque personnel, 4 were being used by the neighborhood guards or the muhtar, 40 were still schools, 19 had been sold by the waqf, 2 had been sold by the local administration, 1 had been sold by the city council, 18 had been rented out by the waqf, 9 had been rented out by the local administration, 10 had been rented out by the city council, 5 had been given to sports clubs, institutions, or associations, 9 were being used as buildings for political parties, 6 had been torn down to make way for roads, 8 had been confiscated by the local administration, 3 had been confiscated by the city council, 6 were being used as dwellings, 3 were being used as residences for or rented out by the trustees, 6 were being used as official offices or depots, and there were another 11 whose situation was unknown, making a total of 314.79

35- Şeyhülislam (Gouffier)

Until the nineteenth century, primary-school education was given in the sıbyan mektebs and the state did not interfere in this. The first serious interference and regulation happened during the reign of Mahmud II. In an edict that was promulgated in 1240 (1824) Mahmud II brought important innovations to the sıbyan mektebs.80 According to an order dated 1848, the lessons in the sıbyan mektebs were to consist of the study of the Arabic alphabet, the Qur’an, tajwid (recitation of the Qur’an), ilmihal (Islamic creed), harekeli Turkish (diacritically marked Turkish), muhtasar ahlak (morals), and calligraphy.81 Later, in 1875, when Saffet Pasha was the minister of education, a new order concerned with the administration of these schools was given.82

It is known that blackboards started to be used in the sıbyan mektebs after the 1870s. There is an order dated 1847 about the use of slates for writing in the sıbyan mektebs. According to an order dated 1279 (1862/63), the state was to give every student in thirty-six sıbyan mektebs in Istanbul one slate, one slate pen, and a stylus with which they could write letters and wipe them off. From the 1870s on, maps began to be used in these schools.83

From the second half of the nineteenth century, a number of memoirs concerning the sıbyan mektebs were written, as well as articles on the âmin alayı or bed-i besmele (start of education) ceremonies. Such pieces were often published serially in journals and later made into books.84

In addition to the sultans’ sıbyan mektebs, a number of other mektebs still found in Istanbul offer a glimpse in Istanbul today of the mektebs that once decorated the city’s avenues and streets. What follows is a partial list: the Şah-ı Hûbân Sıbyan Mekteb, a work of Koca Sinan on Vatan Avenue; the Zenbilli Ali Efendi Sıbyan Mekteb in Zeyrek; the İskender Pasha Sıbyan Mektep next to Küçük Ayasofya; the Rüstem Pasha Sıbyan Mekteb in Doğancılar, Üsküdar; the Zeynep Sultan Sıbyan Mekteb on Alemdar Avenue in Eminönü; the Süleyman Halife Sıbyan Mekteb on Horhor Avenue in Eminönü; the Zevkî Sıbyan Mekteb in Fındıklı, Beyoğlu; The Mahmut II Sıbyan Mekteb in Beylerbeyi; the Cevri Kalfa Sıbyan Mekteb, the inscription of which was partially destroyed during the alphabet reform; the Ebubekir Ağa Sıbyan Mekteb in Aksaray on Namık Kemal Avenue; and the Recai Mehmet Efendi Sıbyan Mekteb in Vefa. These mektebs are all still standing, and constitute beautiful examples of the sıbyan mektebs that reflect the architectural and artistic characteristics of their era. These mektebs are used today for a variety of cultural and artistic activities.


The historical capitals of Samarqand, Bukhara, Merv, Isfahan, Fez, Tunis, and Konya had their own particular scholarly traditions. Over a period of 1,400 years, in chronological order, Medina, Damascus, Baghdad, Cordoba, Cairo, and Istanbul were centers for the caliphate; in these cities, this scholarly tradition was very influential and permanent. This influence was particularly remarkable in political institutions, as well as in religious and social life. Many books were written detailing the history of these cities and the biographies of the wise men living in them.

36- The scholars of Istanbul, 16<sup>th</sup> century (İntizami)

The word “ulama,” which is widely used in the Islamic world, is the plural form of the word âlim (scholar); as a term it has a special meaning, but is also a common term used to refer to the class of intellectuals in a society who could be considered to be aristocrats. In almost every era of the Ottomans, scholars were seen to be one of the fundamental components of the society, and evaluations about this class, about which much was expected, were carried out.85 In the Ottoman state, the knowledgeable people who dedicated themselves to serving society after having completed a madrasa education and receiving a degree—and who often worked in the fields of law and education, sometimes in the bureaucracy, and especially in religious services—were called ulama. This word was used only for these people. The Istanbul ulama were present in the capital and the center of the caliphate, and represented a legal and religious organization that protected traditions and patronage. They therefore constituted a privileged class that had influence in every sector of society.

37- The scholars of Istanbul, 17<sup>th</sup> century (Vehbi)

After the conquest of the city, another aspect of the cultural policies implemented by Sultan Mehmed II was formed by the idea that the city he had made the capital would become a center for scholars.

Sultan Mehmed II greatly valued the ulama. He heeded their council on all matters, and appointed them to important positions. His reign marked a turning point, not because of any change in the organization of ulama, but because of the sultan’s understanding of and approach to them. Sultan Mehmed II’s reign witnessed the first major organizational and legal protocol rulings concerning the ulama. In addition, a clear delineation was made between the ilmiye (science), seyfiye (protocol), and kalemiye (secretariat), and standards gradually took shape concerning the lineage, education, and expertise of the young people who were to enter these careers.

Of the Ottoman princes and sultans, the one with the greatest number of tutors (hoca) was Sultan Mehmed II. In general, the sultans’ hocas were the most famous scholars.

Halepli Siraceddin Mehmed, İbn Temcid, Mevlana Ayas, and Molla Güranî were Sultan Mehmed II’s hocas when he was a prince; Sinan Pasha, Bursalı Hocazade Muslihiddin Mehmed, Ispartalı Abdülkadir, Samsunlu Hasan, Veliyyüddinzade Ahmed Pasha, and Hayreddin Efendi were Sultan Mehmed II’s hocas while he was sultan.86 Sultan Mehmed II’s respect for his hocas, his lively discussions with them, and his bowing down before his hoca Molla Güranî all exemplify the respect that the student had for the hoca. Sultan Mehmed II had great interest in religious-philosophical matters, and ensured that these matters were discussed among learned men. Debates on al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd’s books, both of which were called Tehafut, were organized and two groups of scholars discussed the matter for days. The writing of a third Tehafut, which proposed that Ghazali’s opinions were more consistent, is a good example of this.87 It is known that there was development in the same direction at that period in the madrasas and that philosophy lessons were included in the curriculum, but later these lessons began gradually to disappear from the curriculum.

38- Şeyhülislam (Vehbi)

While Bayezid II was still a prince in Amasya, a cultural milieu formed in the palace; this was created by scholars and poets. Later this distinguished class came with Bayezid to Istanbul. After the short reign of Selim I, which was spent making conquests, scholars reached the peak of their influence in the era of Süleyman I, particularly with respect to their organizational and physical opportunities.88

In the Ottoman state, scholars, particularly those in Istanbul, were rewarded with a variety of distinctions and privileges. It is possible to divide these privileges into two groups: their exemption from paying taxes and being punished, and the privileges that their children were able to take advantage of. While all military personnel were exempt from some taxes, the limits for the ulama’s exemptions were much more generous. Furthermore, while the ehl-i örf—that is, the military—were subject to all types of punishments, including execution, the most severe punishment for the ulama, who were identified as the ehl-i şer’, was being dismissed from their post or exiled.89 There were exceptions where the ulama were given the death penalty. In the seventeenth century, Sheikh al-Islam Ahîzade Hüseyin Efendi (d. 1634) and Hocazade Mesud Efendi (d. 1656) were executed; however, people from the ulama were only executed according to arbitrary decisions, and they marked the exception rather than the rule.

Seyid Feyzullah Efendi, sheikh al-Islam and hoca to the sultan, was killed by rebels (d. 1703). However, when this is evaluated from all aspects, this can be seen to be a singular example.

A practice known as Mevalîzâde Law introduced privileges for the sons of Molla Fenari (d. 1431), which were granted by Murad II. According to this, the sons and grandsons of Molla Fenari started their teaching career at a madrasa paying forty aspers (instead of the usual twenty aspers).90 Later, these privileges were widened greatly when the other scholarly families and the children of the other ulama were given the same privileges; as a result, respect for the scholarly class and the ulama was damaged. Despite these controversial privileges, respect for this class in society generally ran high. However, there are quite a few examples of how these wide-ranging privileges given only to the scholarly class were incorrectly taken advantage of by scholars.

In Ottoman Istanbul, important scholarly families started to appear over time. These families enjoyed particular privileges, intermarried with one another, and formed what could be called a “scholarly network.” If a general evaluation is to be made, there were positive and negative aspects of the transmission of posts from father to son and the formation of important families. In these periods, people of younger generations entered into scholarly life and grew up in a scholarly atmosphere. They learned a number of matters from their fathers and friends and were able to procure books and use the libraries, all of which presented them with a spiritual power; without a doubt, this is one of the positive aspects. However, there is no defense for a child being given privileges merely because they were the child of a member of the ulama. In different periods, about twenty families, the most powerful of the era, were able to easily attain certain scholarly posts and marriage between ulama families increased their power and influence even more. Young people who were outside this network and wanted to embark upon a career and rise in their posts had to be very determined, work hard, and not lose hope.

39- Sultan Selim III, grand vizier and scholars are in front of Babu’s-selam (the gate to the second yard) in Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Palace Museum, no. 17/163)

In the second half of the fifteenth century, except for the Çandarlıs and Fenaris, the powerful scholarly families had yet to form. In fact, in the era of Sultan Mehmed II, there were a number of well-known scholars, but it would be necessary to wait a little longer for the formation of respected families. From the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Müeyyedzade, Kınalızade, Çivizade, Taşköprülüzade, Ebussuudzade, Bostanzade, Hoca Sadeddinzade, and Zekeriyazade families started to form. Throughout the seventeenth century, some new families formed. In the eighteenth century, families that had existed before started to become stronger, gaining an aristocratic characteristic, while some families lost their power and influence; some families, like the Dürrîzades, Arapzades, Feyzullahzades, Ebu İsahkzades, and İvazpaşazades, continued until the end of the Ottoman era, and formed distinguished families at the beginning of the republican era. Many sheikh al-Islams, nakibüleşrafs (heads of the organization of the descendants of the Prophet), kazaskers, judges, and professors emerged from these families, and in some eras they monopolized high-ranking scholarly posts.

The Istanbul ulama occupied important posts in society, and were quite well off. They lived lives on par with the numerous kapı halkı (high-ranking statesmen), including the viziers. Particularly from the eighteenth century on, they lived in waterside residences on the Bosphorus, and were buried in famous cemeteries in Istanbul or in private graveyards or sarcophaguses. In fact, Sheikh al-Islam İmam-ı Şehriyarı Mahmud Efendi resided in a waterside residence in Kanlıca, Yasincizade in one in Beykoz; Bahaî Efendi in Kanlıca, and Sheikh al-Islam Mehmed Salih Efendi had a waterside residence. Ebubekirzade Ahmed Efendi’s grave is in Kanlıca, in the Bahai Cemetery, while Yenişehirli Abdullah Efendi has a family grave in Kanlıca Cemetery.

The Relationship between the Ulama and Politics

The Istanbul ulama protected their power constantly until the seventeenth century, at which point they their power began to diminish due to a number of outside developments. In general, due to reasons that were beyond their control, they found themselves in a politically destructive environment. Starting with Ahmed I, consecutive sultans came to the throne at a young age with no experience of the state or administration. The reins of power were transferred to the military aghas and the palace, headed by Valide Kösem Sultan; naturally, these people took over the ulama. Every class, in order to reinforce its own influence, wanted to bring the Istanbul ulama onto their side. Political fatwas were issued to divide the ulama up so that they would take different sides; this hampered their scholarly activities, and they became worn out by the political struggle. The most important political events and the ones that caused the greatest shock to society were when the ulama promulgated fatwas in support of the dethronement of or rebellions against the sultan. In Istanbul, high-ranking ulama like the sheikh al-Islam, the kazasker, and the nakibüleşraf, the mentor of the sultan, and the judge of Istanbul were powerful figures with the authority to “loosen and bind” (ahl al-hall wa-l-‘aqd) the reins of power (i.e., to dismiss or select the ruler). Thus, the ulama had a natural authority and decision-making role in functions that had great impact, like biat (affiliation/swearing of allegiance), cülüs (ascension to the throne), girding of the sword ceremony, rebellions, and hal (dethronement).

40- Two scholars of Istanbul (İntizami)

The most severe and shocking of these social and political events were the rebellions. Janissaries and the cavalry occasionally rebelled for a variety of reasons. These were often caused by changes in the sultanate, and deeply affected a wide mass of the people. Such rebellions took place in 1703, 1730, and 1808, during which the Istanbul ulama, willingly or not, found themselves in the middle of events.

In the 1703 rebellion, the ulama were directly involved and actively intervened in events. Some of the ulama were very active and willing, while others were reluctant, and there were fatwas promulgated in keeping with the mukteza-i hâl (the requirements of present conditions). The fatwa that was concerned with the fate of Mustafa II focused on four matters: Mustafa II’s wasting of the state treasury; the legitimacy of a ruler who opposed the people by contravening the principle of justice; the imprisoning a ruler who had contravened the principle of justice; and the permissibility of ceding territory by treaty.91

In the 1730 riot, the attitudes of Yenişehirli Abdullah Efendi, the judge of Istanbul Zülali Hasan Efendi, Kazasker Paşmakçızade Abdullah Efendi, and other members of the ulama is an indication of the important role these men sometimes played in social and political events.

The dethronement of Selim III in 1807 and the discussions between Sheikh al-Islam Ataullah Efendi, Grand Vizier Musa Pasha, and leading members of the military during the events of Mustafa IV’s ascension are another case in point. At this juncture, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, who came to Istanbul from Rusçuk with the army, dismissed Ataullah Efendi on 21 July 1807, putting Arapzade Mehmed Arif Efendi in the post of sheikh al-Islam in his place and sending those ulama who had played a role in removing Selim III from the throne into exile. After Ataullah Efendi lived for some time at his waterside residence in Bebek, he was exiled to the town of Kızanlık in Bulgaria on 31 July 1808.

The dethronement of a reigning sultan—that is, issuing a fatwa that removed the sultan from the throne—was a matter that deeply shocked the Istanbul ulama and often generated heated debate.

It is very significant that of the thirty-six Ottoman sultans, more than ten were removed from the throne by legal force. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the ulama, willingly or otherwise, found themselves in the middle of the sad events of removing Mustafa I, Osman II, and Sultan İbrahim from the throne; they played an active role in the process. In fact, a delegation went to announce that Sultan İbrahim had been dethroned; when they were insulted by Sultan İbrahim, Kara Çelebizade Abdülaziz Efendi, the judge of Istanbul—a member of this delegation—said: “You destroyed the world by disregarding religious affairs. You wasted the treasury by spending your time on entertainment and negligence, allowed bribery, and left the world to the oppressors.” These harsh words demonstrate the courage of the ulama, and reveal the extent of their involvement in politics.92

At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, four sultans, although not Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, were dethroned. The drafts and the fatwa orders from this period—prepared in keeping with the political will and with the sheikh al-Islam’s approval and signature—are indications of the importance of the close connection between politics and the Istanbul ulama, and demonstrate that the sheikh al-Islam occupied a position of authority.

In the era of Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, the entry of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which had actual power, into the First World War, led them to desire a fait accompli of a religious and sacred nature; Sheikh al-Islam Mustafa Hayri Efendi, a CUP member, was given the authority to issue a fatwa to join the Great War. This is another example of the use of the ulama as a tool in politics. (For the fatwa, see the marginal notes)

The Istanbul ulama had a powerful political and administrative influence through the consultative councils. These councils started to gain great importance and power after the end of the seventeenth century, when the imperial council gradually lost its importance and stopped meeting regularly. High-ranking ulama, whether they actively occupied a post or were between positions, actively took part in these councils, on which statesmen also sat. They played an effective role in decision making through these councils, which met in the palace, at the Sublime Porte, at the office of chief of the general staff (ağa kapısı), and in the mansion of the sheikh al-Islam. Unfortunately, with one or two exceptions, no officers were present during the discussions that were held about who should participate in the council. Those scholars who drew the attention of the sultan with their views, comments, actions, and attitudes in these consultative councils could quickly rise to the rank of kazasker and or sheikh al-Islam. Kadızade Mehmed Tahir Efendi, for example, attracted the attention of Mahmud II with comments he made in a consultative council he participated in as the Anatolian kazasker; in 1825, Mekkizade became sheikh al-Islam. At council meetings, the Istanbul ulama offered ideas administrative, military, and political reforms, precautions, and policies, and presented a great number of reform treatises. Selim III for example, asked for reports concerning a reform edict he promulgated in 1792, and the majority of those who reported were from a scholarly background. The Rumelian kazasker of this era, Tatarcık Abdullah Efendi, also presented a report. This report had a conservative attitude and a literary style. Abdullah Efendi’s ideas were, to a large extent, accepted; it can be understood that these were examined with care both at the time and in later periods.

The eighteenth century began with the introduction of reforms, which the Istanbul ulama supported; in fact, they were sometimes the pioneers of such reforms, taking on heavy responsibilities in the renovation of the state.93 Moreover, in this century, grand viziers like Damad Ali Pasha, Nevşehirli İbrahim Pasha, and Hekimoğlu Ali Pasha protected the ulama, taking great efforts to improve the situation.94 However, from the nineteenth century on, the ulama’s monopoly on education was largely curtailed. In this period, with the support of the state, new mektebs that were opened in the Western style outside the control of the ulama. In the same era, the most important part of the judiciary system—the nizamiye courts—was removed from the control of the ulama; but the sharia courts, where the cases of ahval-i şahsiyye (personal matters) were heard, remained in the hands of the ulama. Thus, both education and an important part of the judiciary system were removed from the control of the ulama and given to other groups. This led to an increasingly narrow employment field for the ulama. With the establishment of the Evkaf-ı Hümayun Ministry, the control and incomes of waqfs was taken away from the ulama as well. As a result of the transfer of control of the state administration and budget elsewhere,95 the ulama experienced a great loss, spiritually and financially, in influence and power.

The Ulama and Science

In contrast to what is generally known and believed about the Ottoman state, a number of reform movements were pioneered, supported, or at least approved of by the ulama. Essentially, this is based on an ancient tradition in the Ottoman state. Starting from the foundation period of the state until its abolition, the ulama pioneered and supported a number of military, scholarly, and political reforms in every period. Among the works that were written concerning the organization of the state, there were a large number of scholarly dignitaries at every level who produced reform reports between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Particularly noteworthy examples include the fatwa by Yenişehirli Abdullah Efendi about the introduction of the printing press, a far-reaching report by Tatarcık Abdullah Molla and other members of the scholarly class in response to Selim III’s request for a reform report, and the intense work by Sheikh al-Islam Kadızade Mehmed Tahir Efendi, Yasincizade Abdülvehhab Efendi, and the Rumelian Kazasker Sahaflarşeyhizade Esad Efendi in response to Mahmud II’s desire to show that reform was legitimate and mandatory and to shape public opinion to this end.96

41- The scholars of Istanbul (d’Ohsson)

At the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century, general evaluations of the ulama were made in some historical works on the state, with short and long passages being devoted to the ulama. Most of these were devoted to negative subjects, such as the fact that the organization of the ulama did not function properly, that they were involved in all kinds of corruption, and that they had lost their unity. However, these texts should not be interpreted to mean that the Istanbul ulama were all in the same category. The rhetorical structure of the texts was directed towards advice and putting forward what should be, rather than what was. An account by the famous seventeenth-century scholar Kâtib Çelebi, for example, speaks of the Istanbul ulama in a variety of contexts; he talks of the madrasa education and the depression that scholarly life had fallen into, and the reason and solution for these. The healthiest approach in this matter can be seen in his evaluations. In Kâtib Çelebi’s Mîzânü’l-hakk fî ihtiyâri’l-ehakk, he argues against the idea that science in the Islamic world was in a constant clash with philosophy. These sciences had never been rejected in the Islamic world, and scholars had tried to work with them. However, in the first period of Islam, such ideas had been forbidden out of fear that foreign sciences and thoughts would disturb Islamic belief. When Islamic thought had taken root, all these sciences were allowed in. Greek sciences and philosophy were translated and commented upon in their entirety. Scholars like al-Ghazali, Fakr al-Din al-Razi, Adud al-Din al-Iji, Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani, and Sayyid Sharif Jurjani emerged. Shortsighted people did not understand the significance of the ban introduced by the first caliphs, and denied philosophy and science; however, from the first eras of the Ottomans to the era of Sultan Süleyman, ulama who combined ancient sciences and sharia were trained. Sultan Mehmed II made it a condition that lessons like Hâşiye-i Tecrîd and Şerh-i Mevâkıf be taught in the madrasas. Those who came later, referring to these subjects as philosophy, had these lessons removed, and thus prevented the development of thought. Some scholars who had studied according to the old school, having come from the Eastern states, finding they had the field to themselves, started to act in a superior manner. Some other scholars realized this and made efforts to have these lessons reintroduced; in fact, some of them encouraged students who were skilled in these subjects.97 While Kâtib Çelebi worked on the matter of ilmü’l-hikme, he lamented that hikmet and philosophy lessons, which dealt with this matter, had been eliminated from the madrasas.98

In almost every period of time, the Istanbul ulama wrote and produced numerous works on history. In historiography, they not only produced books on general history, the history of the dynasty and sultanate, and the history of the city and military campaigns, but also produced respected works in almost every other field. The people appointed to the post of vakanüvis (court chronicler), a position that was established in the eighteenth century and continued until the end of the Ottoman state, mostly came from the scholarly classes.99 Kemalpaşazade, Neşrî Mehmed Efendi, the brothers Celalzade Mustafa and Salih, Hoca Sadeddin Efendi, Solakzade, Mehmed Reşad Çelebizade Asım, and Cevdet Pasha are the first names that come to mind. Poetry was a very important literary activity for the Istanbul ulama, and it is known that in this field Istanbul presented a rich and colorful milieu. The biographical dictionaries of poets (tezkire) by Sehî, Latifî, Âşık Çelebi, Hasan Çelebi, Salim, and others, include the biographies of hundreds of poets who were members of Istanbul’s scholarly classes. Among these, many advanced in the scholarly class due to the power of their poetry rather than the depth of their knowledge. A typical example of this is the poet Bakî, who rose to the position of Rumelian kazasker.

In works concerned with the history of the organization, the ulama are generally shown as a motive force and leader in society with wide-ranging powers. Due to the mülazemet (novitiate) system, the ulama in the state service served in a number of places in the country and thus had the possibility of becoming acquainted with the conditions of the people and the country. For this reason, they were able to write realistic treatises and reports to the sultan and others concerning the people, needs, problems, and possible solutions concerning the regions they were in. These types of reports form firsthand sources for historians today. There were scholars in the Istanbul ulama who formed schools based on famous scholars from the past Islamic world. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani, Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani, and Jalal al-Din al-Dawwani were followed by the most important Ottoman examples of Molla Fenari, Hızır Bey, and Sinan Pasha. These masters trained a large number of students and, by teaching with the works they wrote, became pioneers; many of their students went to the Ottoman capitals, in particular to Istanbul, and set up schools in which lessons from the masters were taught.

The Weakening of the Ulama

In later centuries, attempts to reform the scholarly organization continued with a slightly different approach. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, during the reigns of Ahmed III and Mahmud I, a number of edicts were promulgated concerning the reform of the scholarly classes. These addressed the same matters as earlier reforms in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Selim III gave importance and priority to the scholarly classes in the reforms he undertook reforms in almost every field. In edicts addressed to Kazasker Hamidizade and later Sheikh al-Islam Dürrîzade Mehmed Arif Efendi, the necessary precautions to be taken to prevent problems in the institution of the judge were touched upon.100 In general, these efforts continued to follow the model of earlier reform efforts.

From the reign of Mahmud II, views on the ulama class and its role began to change. This was a period in which the ulama was pushed to the side and the wide-ranging privileges they had enjoyed and the expansive influence they wielded started to be taken from them, bit by bit. The greatest blow to them was the establishment of the ministry of the Evkaf-ı Hümayun; the waqf incomes, from which the ulama had benefitted to a large extent, were completely absorbed into the state budget with the establishment of the ministry. The madrasas and religious services that had been administered with waqf income were greatly damaged by this.101 No efforts to reform or develop the madrasas were undertaken in this period. The madrasas had their resources taken from them and—with the switch to alternative, Western educational institutions—they were left to their own devices. This attitude and approach continued after the era of Mahmud II, as well as during the reigns of the sultans Abülmecid, Abdülaziz, and Abdülhamid II, with some small changes. In particular, during the reign of Abdülhamid II, although great moves were made to establish education in the Ottoman lands, no serious efforts were made about the madrasas or ulama.

Despite this neglect, during the reforms introduced by Selim III and Mahmud II, as well as those by Abdülhamid II, the sultans benefitted greatly from the high-ranking scholars and, in particular, from the distinguished ulama in getting society to accept the reforms and in forming public opinion in their favor. Until the end of the eighteenth century, it had been considered unacceptable for the Ottoman state to make defensive or offensive treaties with Christian states, as this was in contravention of the sharia. Selim III saw such an agreement as being mandatory, asked the opinion of Sheikh al-Islam Hamidizade and requested a fatwa. Hamidizade produced a fatwa saying that such a treaty could be made as long as it was to the benefit of Islam.

In conclusion, the Ottoman ulama were a basic component of the state and society. In the era of progress, they opened new horizons and promoted dynamism in society, despite all their deficiencies. The leading group of the Istanbul ulama included the sheikh al-Islam, kazasker, nakibüleşraf, and the judges of Istanbul and Bilad-ı Selase (Eyüp, Galata, and Üsküdar), all of whom formed an important element of the central state organization. Western diplomats, travelers, and observers noted their importance and positively compared their status to that of scholars in their own societies. Studies on the subject of the ulama have been carried out on a number of different levels in Turkey, but generally focus on the central ulama who took on the responsibility for a variety of regions of the state after having been trained in the Istanbul madrasas. Although the Istanbul ulama formed the backbone of the scholarly class, there were those who came from different traditions; in particular, there were those who were familiar with the Arab states and who had studied in the ancient madrasas but remained outside the system: the ulama from the Ottoman domains of Egypt-Azhar,102 Damascus,103 Tunisia,104 and Algeria, and those from places lying beyond the Ottoman domains but with which the Ottomans had close relations, like the Safavid and Qajar ulama105 and the Moroccan,106 Uzbek, and Mughal ulama. These scholars would come to the Ottoman lands, particularly as diplomats, and would sometimes take part in scholarly discussions there. The schools of ulama that were members of different traditions that were found in the Ottoman world also need to be evaluated.


1 For further information, see: Mustafa L. Bilge, İlk Osmanlı Medreseleri, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, 1984.

2 Cahid Baltacı, XV - XVI. Yüzyıllarda Osmanlı Medreseleri, Istanbul: Marmara Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Vakfı (İFAV), 2005, pp. 752-759.

3 Fatih Mehmet II Vakfiyeleri, Ankara: Vakıflar Umum Müdürlüğü, 1938, pp. 10-11.

4 Âlî Mustafa Efendi, Künhü’l-ahbâr, prepared by M. Hüdai Şentürk, Ankara: Atatürk Kültür Dil ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2003, p. 70.

5 A. Süheyl Ünver, Fatih, Külliyesi ve Zamanı İlim Hayatı, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi, 1946; Fahri Unan, Kuruluşundan Günümüze Fatih Külliyesi, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2003.

6 Fatih Sultan Mehmed, Kānûnnâme-i Âl-i Osman, prepared by Abdülkadir Özcan, Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2003, p. 11.

7 İ. Hakkı Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı Devletinin İlmiye Teşkilatı, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1965, p. 6.

8 Baltacı, Medreseler, p. 404, 545, 601, 575.

9 For further information, see; M. İpşirli, “Ders Vekâleti”, DİA, vol. 9, pp. 183-184.

10 Kemal Edîb Kürkçüoğlu (prepared by), Süleymaniye Vakfiyesi, Ankara: Vakıflar Umum Müdürlüğü, 1962; Yasin Yılmaz (prepared by), Kanuni Vakfiyesi, Süleymaniye Külliyesi, Ankara: Vakıflar Genel Müdürlüğü, 2008.

11 The names of some madrasas are different in the sources; this has led some researchers to think that these are different madrasas. For example, Sahn-ı Seman was referred to as Medaris-i Semaniye or Fatih Medreseleri, while Bursa Hüdavendigâr Madrasa is referred to as Kaplıca or Çegirge Medresesi. There are dozens of examples like this.

12 M. İpşirli, “Scholarship and Intellectual Life in the Reign of Süleyman the Magnificent”, The Ottoman Empire in the Reign of Süleyman the Magnificent, ed. Tülay Duran, Istanbul: Tarihi Araştırmalar ve Dokümantasyon Merkezleri Kurma ve Geliştirme Vakfı: The Foundation for Establishing and Promoting Centers for Historical Research and Documentation, 1988, vol. 2, pp. 57-58.

13 M. K. Özergin, “Eski Bir Ruzname’ye Göre İstanbul ve Rumeli Medreseleri”, TED, 1974, no. 4-5, p. 268.

14 Hezârfen Hüseyin Efendi, Telhîsü’l- beyan fî Kavânîn-i Âl-i Osmân, prepared by Sevim İlgürel, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1998, p. 52.

15 M. S. Kütükoğlu, “1869’da Faal İstanbul Medreseleri”, TED, 1977, no. 7-8, pp. 277-393.

16 M. S. Kütükoğlu, XX. Asra Erişen İstanbul Medreseleri, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2000, pp. IX-XIV, 4.

17 M. C. Baysun, “Osmanlı Devri Medreseleri”, İA, vol. 8, p. 74.

18 Nev‘îzâde Atâî, Hadâiku’l-hakāik fî tekmileti’ş-Şekāik: Zeyl-i Şekāik, prepared by A. Özcan, Istanbul: Çağrı Yayınları, 1989, p. 134.

19 Hamdi Savaş, “İshak Çelebi, Kılıççızâde”, DİA, vol. 22, p. 528.

20 Baltacı, Medreseler, p. 757.

21 F. Emecen (prepared by), Taylesanizâde Hâfız Abdullah Efendi Tarihi: İstanbul’un Uzun Dört Yılı: 1785-1789, Istanbul: TATAV Yayınları, 2003, pp. 112-114.

22 Kanunnâme, Süleymaniye Library, Âşir Efendi, no. 1004, f. 79; Süleymaniye Vakfiyesi, Ankara 1962, pp. 74-85, 87; Lutfî Paşa, Âsafnâme, prepared by M. Kütükoğlu in Prof. Dr. Bekir Kütükoğlu’na Armağan, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih Araştırma Merkezi, 1991, p. 41; Cevdet Pasha, Târih, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Osmaniye, 1309, vol. 1, p. 109 etc..; Ahmed Refik [Altınay ], Onuncu Asrı Hicrîde İs­tanbul Hayatı (prepared by Abdullah Uysal), Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı, 1987, pp. 51-52; Uzunçarşılı, İlmi­ye Teşkilâtı, different places; M. İpşirli, “Danişmend”, DİA, vol. 8, pp. 464-465.

23 K. Edip Kürkçüoğlu and later Yasin Yılmaz.

24 Ö. L. Barkan, “Süleymaniye Camii ve İmareti Tesislerine Ait Yıllık Bir Muhasebe Bilançosu”, VD, 1971, no. 9, pp. 109-161, in particular, pp. 125, 133.

25 See: Ö. L. Barkan, E. H. Ayverdi (prepared by), İstanbul Vakıfları Tahrir Defteri 953 (1546) Tarihli, Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti İstanbul Enstitüsü, 1970, a variety of places.

26 Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa, Zübde-i Vekayiât, prepared by A. Özcan, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1995, p. 68.

27 For examples, see; Cemil Akpınar, “İcazet”, DİA, vol. 21, pp. 393-400.

28 Akpınar, “İcazet”, p. 398.

29 Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilatı, pp. 76-77.

30 For the concept of ülke, see: Ahmet Özel, İslam Hukukunda Ülke Kavramı, Dârülislâm-Dârülharb, Istanbul: İklim Yayınları, 1991.

31 Ö. Özyılmaz, Osmanlı Medreselerinin Eğitim Programları, Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 2002, pp. 21-46.

32 Özyılmaz, Osmanlı Medreselerinin Eğitim Programları, pp. 21-46.

33 C. İzgi, Osmanlı Medreselerinde İlim, Istanbul: İz Yayıncılık, 1997, vol. 1, pp. 69-77; Özyılmaz, Osmanlı Medreselerinin Eğitim Programları, p. 39.

34 İzgi, Osmanlı Medreselerinde İlim, vol. 1, pp. 97-106.

35 Mecdî, Şekāik Tercümesi, prepared by A. Özcan, Istanbul: Çağrı Yayınları, 1989, pp. 525-526; Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilatı, p. 41; M. Hızlı, Mahkeme Sicillerine Göre Osmanlı Klasik Dönemi Bursa Medreselerinde Eğitim-Öğretim, Bursa: Esra Fakülte Kitabevi, 1997, pp. 146-147.

36 Halil İnalcık, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu: Klâsik Çağ: 1300-1600, tr. Ruşen Sezer, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2003, p. 187.

37 Kâtib Çelebi, Mîzanü’l-hak fî ihtiyâri’l-ehak, prepared by O. Şaik Gökyay, Istanbul: Tercüman Gazetesi, 1980.

38 Cevdet Pasha, Tezâkir, prepared by C. Baysun, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1967, vol. 4, pp. 2-8.

39 Cevdet, Târih, vol. 1, pp. 108-117.

40 İnalcık, Klâsik Çağ, p. 174.

41 Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, pp. 62-63.

42 M. T. Akad, “Nizâm-ı Cedîd”, İst.A, vol. 6, p. 91.

43 Hezârfen, Telhîsü’l-beyân, p. 200.

44 Kâtib Çelebi, Fezleke, vol. 1, p. 200; Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, p. 181.

45 Peçuylu İbrahim, Târih, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1283, vol. 2, p. 370; Naîmâ, Târih, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1280, vol. 2, p. 172; Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, p. 181, note 4.

46 İ. E. Erünsal, “Fatih Devri Kütüphâneleri ve Molla Lütfi Hakkında Birkaç Not”, TD, 1982, no. 33, pp. 67-68.

47 Erünsal, “Fatih Devri Kütüphâneleri”, p. 59.

48 İ. E. Erünsal, Türk Kütüphaneleri Tarihi II: Kuruluştan Tanzimat’a Kadar Osmanlı Vakıf Kütüphaneleri, Ankara: Atatürk Kültür, Dil ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, 1988 p. 238.

49 Erünsal, “Fatih Devri Kütüphâneleri”, p. 68.

50 There are many documents on this subject in the BOA, in the section concerned with edicts.

51 M. İpşirli, “Çömez”, DİA, vol. 8, p. 380.

52 For information, see: M. İpşirli, “Cer”, DİA, vol. 7, p. 388-389.

53 Kütükoğlu, XX Asra Erişen İstanbul Medreseleri, p. 26; BOA, HH, no. 10805, grand vizier’s summary of being vouched for.

54 Hoca Sâdeddin, Tâcü’t-tevârîh, Istanbul: Tabhâne-i Âmire, 1280, vol. 2, p. 414.

55 Ahmed Refik, Onuncu Asr-ı Hicrîde İstanbul Hayatı, p. 51.

56 A. Cihan, “Osmanlı Medreselerinde Sosyal Hayat”, Osmanlı, ed. Güler Eren, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 1999, vol. 5, p. 184, quoted from note 19, BOA, A.DVN, no. 829, 852; BOA, HH, no. 52166 and A, 55088; BOA, C.ZB, no. 3453; BOA, KK, no. 6534.

57 Kütükoğlu, XX Asra Erişen İstanbul Medreseleri, p. 178.

58 Kütükoğlu, XX Asra Erişen İstanbul Medreseleri, p. 125.

59 Cihan, “Osmanlı Medreselerinde Sosyal Hayat”, pp. 177-178.

60 BOA, HH, no. 22665.

61 Lutfî, Târih, İstanbul: Sabah Matbaası, 1328, vol. 8, p. 124.

62 Hızır İlyas, Târîh-i Enderun, Istanbul: Dârü’t-tıbâati’l-âmire, 1276; Tayyarzâde Atâ Bey, Târih, vol. II, Istanbul 1292-93; İ. H. Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı Devletinin Saray Teşkilâtı, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1945, pp. 297-357; Fethi İsfendiyaroğlu, Galatasaray Tarihi, Istanbul: Doğan Kardeş Yayınları, 1952; İsmail H. Baykal, Enderun Mektebi Tarihi, Istanbul: İstanbul Fethi Derneği, 1953; P. Rycaut, The Present State of the Ottoman Empire, London: Printed for John Starkey and Henry Brome, 1668, pp. 25-33; B. Miller, The Palace School of Muhammed the Conqueror, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1941; M. D’Ohsson, Tableau général de l’Empire Ottoman, Paris: De lris de l’Empire Ottoman, 1824, vol. 7, pp. 34-56; Ülker Akkutay, Enderun Mektebi, Ankara: Gazi Üniversitesi Gazi Eğitim Fakültesi, 1984; A. H. Lybyer, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Devrinde Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nun Yöneti­mi, tr. Seçkin Cılızoğlu, Istanbul: Süreç Yayıncılık ve Tanıtım Ticaret Ltd. Şti., 1987, pp. 73-80; V. J. Parry, “Enderun”, EI2 ( English), II, 697-698.

63 İdrîs-i Bitlisî, in Heşt Bihişt, describes the Enderun youths as follows: “Beautiful of feature and impeccable of virtue, human in form but angelic in manner... the novitiate of Enderun at the Palace of the Sultan is always... assiduous in the classes of devotion.” (Tercüme-i Heşt Bihişt, translated by Abdülbâki Sâdî Efendi, TSMK, B. no. 196, quoted from p. 31 Baykal, Enderun, p. 32).

64 Mehmed Halife was actually Bosnian and spent a long time in the palace, serving in the Seferli Chamber during the reign of Sultan İbrahim, and in the ibrikdar şakirtliği as the kul üzerinde şarkirt in the reign of Mehmed IV. In 1659 he wrote his Târîh-i Gılmânî, the last section of which contains important information about the distinguished personages trained at Enderun who were contemporaries of the author (see: B. Kütükoğlu, “Mehmed Halîfe”, DİA, XXVIII, 489-490).

65 Fındıklılı Mehmed Agha was born in Fındıklı. He entered service in the palace at a young age, and was trained under the patronage of Şahin Agha, the başmuhasibi (head accountant) for Mehmed IV; with the support of Şahin Agha he joined the zülüflü baltacılan class and later went to the Seferli Ward. In 1688, with the patronage of the janissary agha Hasan Agha, Fındıklı Mehmed Agha was accepted into the Has Chamber and advanced to the post of silahtar agha there. He compiled two valuable works, Silâhdar Târihi and Nusretnâme (see: A. Özcan, “Silâhdar Mehmed Ağa”, DİA, vol. 37, pp. 194-195).

66 Çorlulu Ali Pasha (d. 1123/1711) was born around 1670. He was the child of a farmer from Çorlu. Under the patronage of Ahmed II’s kapıcıbaşı Kara Türkmen Agha, he first entered Galatasarayı and then later the Seferli Ward of the Enderun-ı Hümâyun, where he was taken into the Has Chamber. During the reign of Mustafa II, Çorlulu Ali Pasha asked Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha to make him a silahtar in 1700 and he became one; later, he became grand vizier (see: Reşad Ekrem Koçu, “Ali Paşa”, İA, I, 326-327).

67 Istanbul 1330.

68 F. R. Unat, Türkiye Eğitim Sisteminin Gelişmesine Tarihî Bir Bakış, Ankara: Millî Eğitim Bakanlığı, 1964, p. 6.

69 Fatih Mehmet II Vakfiyeleri, p. 204, 257.

70 Fatih Mehmet II Vakfiyeleri, p. 204, 257.

71 “And he endowed the school . . . for the education of orphans and the children of the poor, that those who are instructors there might teach them the Word of God and the Holy Qur’an.”

72 Osman Ergin, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, Istanbul: Eser Neşriyat, 1977, vol. 1, p. 83.

73 Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, vol. 1, p. 86.

74 “... and a scholar who is well versed in the discipline of Arabic and capable in matters of investigation and understanding [should] be master of clerks at the school ...and the youths at the illustrious school who are possessed of honesty and rectitude and who have displayed a relative aptitude and who have exerted themselves in the various sciences [should] receive instruction in the discipline of Arabic and be taught the eloquent language of Persian.”

75 Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, vol. 1, p. 87.

76 Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, vol. 1, p. 87.

77 Mekteb-i şerif-i mezburda taallüm-i Kur’an-ı azim eden eytam-ı zuafanın melbusatı hususu için yevmî onar akçe verilip, yılda iki defa eytam-ı mezbureye kifayet miktarı libas alıvereler. Ve her gün iki nevbet fukara için pişen aştan ve ekmekten mektepte hazır olan eytama ve evlad-ı fukaraya vereler. Ve âdet üzre her gün ikisine birer çanak aş, bir pare et ve iki ekmek vereler (The orphans learning the Qur’an in the school will be given a salary of ten aspers, and twice a year a sum for clothing. And every day the orphans and poor students will be given two meals and bread prepared at the school. And in keeping with tradition, they will be given two bowls of food, one piece of meat, and two loaves of bread) (Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, vol. 1, p. 87).

78 A. Turgut Kut, “İstanbul Sıbyan Mektepleriyle İlgili Bir Vesika”, JTS, 1978, vol. 2 (1978), pp. 55-84.

79 Kut, “İstanbul Sıbyan Mektepleri”, p. 57.

80 For the full text, see Cevdet, Târih, vol. 12, pp. 238-240.

81 Mahmud Cevad, Maarif-i Umumiye Nezareti Tarihçe-i Teşkilât ve İcraatı, prepared by M. Ergun et. al, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 2002.

82 Mahmud Cevad, Maarif-i Umumiye Nezareti.

83 Yahya Akyüz, Türk Eğitim Tarihi, Ankara: Pegem Akademi Yayınları, 2012, pp. 217-218.

84 For examples of excerpts from these memoirs, see İsmail Kara and Ali Birinci, Bir Eğitim Tasavvuru Olarak Mahalle / Sıbyan Mektepleri, Hatıralar, Yorumlar, Tetkikler, Istanbul: Dergâh Yayınları, 2005.

85 M. İpşirli, “Osmanlı İlmiye Mesleği Hakkında Gözlemler: XVI-XVII. Asırlar”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, 1988, no. 7, pp. 273-285.

86 Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, p. 145.

87 Mübahat Türker, Üç Tehâfüt Bakımından Felsefe ve Din Münasebeti, Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih Coğrafya Fakültesi, 1956.

88 For detail see: İpşirli, “Scholarship and Intellectual Life”, vol. 2, pp. 15-58.

89 For more information, see: Ahmet Mumcu, Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Siyaseten Katl, Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi, 1963, pp. 67-70, 125-131.

90 Atâî, Zeyl-i Şekāik, p. 32; in addition, for quotes from here, see: Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, pp. 71-72.

91 Rifaat Ali Abou-el-Haj, The 1703 Rebellion and the Structure of Ottoman Politics, Leiden: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te Istanbul, 1984, quoted from p. 71 by Virginia Aksan, Kuşatılmış Bir İmparatorluk: Osmanlı Harpleri, 1700-1870, trans. by Gül Çağalı Güven, Istanbul: Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 2010, p. 44.

92 İ. H. Danişmend, İzahlı Osmanlı Tarihi Kronoloji, Istanbul: Türkiye Yayınevi, 1972, vol. 3, p. 409.

93 H. A. R. Gibb and H. Bowen, Islamic Society and the West, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957, vol. 2/1, pp. 81-113.

94 Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, p. 296; M. T. Gökbilgin, “Ulama”, İA, vol. 8, p. 26.

95 For an explanation, see: M. İpşirli, “II. Mahmud Döneminde Vakıfların İdaresi”, Sultan II. Mahmud ve Reformları Semineri: Bildiriler, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 1990, pp. 49-57.

96 For more information, see: Uriel Heyd, “The Ottoman Ulama and Westernization in the Time of Selim III and Mahmud II”, Asian and African Studies, 1972, vol. 7, pp. 64-69; Avigdor Levy, “Osmanlı Uleması ve Sultan II. Mahmud’un Askerî Islahatı”, Modern Çağda Ulema, ed. Ebubekir Bagader, translated by Osman Bayraktar, Istanbul: İz Yayıncılık, 1991, pp. 29-61.

97 Kâtib Çelebi, Mîzânü’l-hak fî ihtiyâri’l-ehak, Istanbul: Ebüzziya Matbaası, 1306.

98 Keşfü’z-zunûn an esâmi’l-kütüb ve’l-fünûn, prepared by Kilisli Muallim Rifat and Şerefeddin Yaltkaya, Istanbul: Millî Eğitim Bakanlığı, 1941, vol. 1, p. 680 etc.

99 For an identification of historians from the scholarly class and the names and types of their works, see: Fr. Babinger, Osmanlı Tarih Yazarları ve Eserleri, translated by Coşkun Üçok, Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı, 1982.

100 For the contents of these edicts, see: Uzunçarşılı, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, pp. 254-260.

101 For more information, see: B. Lewis, Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu, tr. M. Kıratlı, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1970, pp. 93-95; İpşirli, “II. Mahmud Döneminde Vakıfların İdaresi”, pp. 49-57.

102 D. N. Crecelius, “The Ulema and the State in Modern Egypt” (PhD thesis), Princeton University, 1967; A. Chris Eccel, Egypt, Islam and Social Change: al-Azhar, Berlin: K. Schwarz, 1984.

103 J. E. Gilbert, “The Ulema of Medieval Damascus and the International World of Islamic Scholarship” (PhD thesis), University of California, Berkeley, 1977; Moshe Maoz, “The Ulema and the Process of Modernization in Syria during the Mid-Nineteenth Century, The Ulema in Modern History”, Asian and African Studies, vol. 7 (1971), pp. 77-88.

104 A. H. Green, The Tunisian Ulema 1873-1915: Social Structure and Response to Ideological Currents, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1978; L. C. Brown, “The Religious Establisment in Husainid Tunisia”, Scholars, Saints, and Sufis, Muslim Religious Institutions since 1500, ed. N. R. Keddie, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972, pp. 47-92.

105 H. Algar, Religion and State in Iran, 1785-1906: The Role of the Ulema in the Qajar Period, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

106 P. Shinar, “The Historical Approach of the Reformist ‘Ulema’ in the Contemporary Maghrib”, Asian and African Studies, vol. 7 (1971), pp. 181-210.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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