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A History of Ottoman Libraries (Ottoman and Turkish Studies) Hardcover – July 26, 2022


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“Surely a study that historians of Ottoman culture will refer to for many decades, this work impresses the reader by the broad documentation on libraries containing manuscripts germane to Islamic studies, which the author has investigated during a long and distinguished career. Prof. Erünsal has used a large number of pious/charitable foundation deeds made out by members of the Ottoman governing elite as well as by rich and public-spirited persons desiring to promote Islamic scholarship. His work thus clarifies how book collections until the later 1600s always were part of Islamic colleges, acquiring the manuscripts needed by their teachers and students. Even when eighteenth-century donors established independent libraries, these institutions often allowed for teaching, perhaps to a group of amateurs broader than the students and teachers benefiting from college libraries. After all, the latter were part of institutions, whose aim was to prepare students for careers as judges and teachers. Moreover, the author explains in a cogent fashion how in the nineteenth century, the dependence of Ottoman libraries on the conditions established by long-deceased founders made adaptation to the needs of a modernizing empire very difficult.

In addition, Prof. Erünsal has cleared up misunderstandings that have bedeviled historians for a long time. In particular, twentieth-century scholars had often assumed that the order of the chief mufti serving Ahmed III (r. 1703-30), to the effect that texts concerning non-religious disciplines could not be part of foundation libraries and thus were liable to confiscation, was an expression of hostility against non-religious learning on the part of the Ottoman religious elite. By contrast, Prof. Erünsal has convincingly argued in favor of an ad hoc fatwa that the sultan demanded from a compliant chief mufti: a reminder that throughout history, powerful people might conjure up supposedly religious or cultural arguments so that they could satisfy their acquisitive instincts.”

– Suraiya Faroqhi, Professor (Retired), Ludwig Maximilians Universität; Professor of History, Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul


About the Author

Professor Erünsal obtained his PhD from Edinburgh University in 1977. He taught at Istanbul University’s Department of Library Sciences, and later chaired the Department of Archival Studies of Marmara University from 1990 to 2006. Professor Erünsal has extensively published on the history of libraries, booksellers, and book culture in the Islamic world.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Academic Studies Press (July 26, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 280 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1644698625
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1644698624
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.14 x 0.69 x 9.21 inches

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