Literature on the Wahhabis in the Ottomans Empire

Abstract The Ottoman Empire fought against the Wahhabi sect, which emerged in the middle of the eighteenth century, for almost two hundred years. The Wahhabis, who set up a self-governing system twice in this period, finally established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Due to their presence within the Ottoman territories, they constituted an issue for the Ottoman sources of the period. Since most studies on this subject have concentrated on the narratives produced by Western travellers and the Wahhabi authors themselves, this article aims to determine and categorize the Ottoman sources on the Wahhabi sect instead. To shed light on the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and the Wahhabis, we first provide brief information about the Wahhabi sect and Muhammad bin Abd al-Vahhâb. Secondly we introduce the Ottoman sources in three groups; archival sources, historical sources and other sources. We also indicate how the Wahhabi sect was mentioned in different types of sources. Thirdly, we state general features of the Ottoman literature of the period. Accordingly, the main source of the literature on Wahhabis in the Ottoman period is the archival sources; others such as history books, articles, pamphlets and books also follow. The early sources on the emergence of the Wahhabis do not contain much information. As the threat became more defined for the central state, Wahhabism became more extensively treated in literature. However, even then, it was the historical background that concerned the historians rather than its religious claims. Their beliefs and related practices were not addressed in detail. This is an important reason why scholars should turn to the actual sources of the movement to understand its views. The coverage of the archival sources in this study, on the other hand, is not complete and more independent research needs to be conducted for a fuller treatment.


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