The Literature on the Tradition of Peace Courses in the Ottomans

Huzur lessons correspond to the tafsir lessons (Qur'anic commentaries) conducted in the presence of the Sultan in a debate format during the month of Ramadan. First encountered in the court of Damad İbrahim Paşa and formalized during the reign of Mustafa III, these lessons continued almost without any break until the abolition of the Caliphate with their unique set of rituals and rules. Held on certain days of the month of Ramadan, they started after an official -biniş (mounting) ceremony- performed by the Sultan and his entourage. In these lessons, only one muqarrir (primary lecturer) interpreted the predetermined verses (ayât) from Baydawi's commentary and a number of mukhatab (secondary lecturers) participated to ask questions and negotiated the text. The key idea therein was the freedom of thought and opinion. The scholar participants were often subject to rewards and punishment. Even though the reports and the texts debated in the lessons were not systematically recorded, some of the participants, in the time of Mahmud II, kept copies of some of these texts in their own records. Often extant in the form of manuscripts, their analysis would illuminate a special genre of literature in addition to revealing the scholarly tradition of the period in the context of tafsir.


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