Representations of Self and the Other in Two Iraqi Travelogues of the Ottoman Period

by Hala Fattah
Representations of Self and the Other in Two Iraqi Travelogues of the Ottoman Period
Hala Fattah
International Journal of Middle East Studies
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Hula Fattah


Over the years, a number of important studies have been written on aspects of pre- modern travel in the Islamic world. Most of the literature examining the travel cir- cuits of OttomanfArab bureaucrats, scholars, and merchants inevitably gives rise to the question of communal self-awareness and identity. How did pre-modern trav- elers envisage themselves and the "other"? What allowed some of them to create "imagined cornmunitie~"~

of like-minded sojourners, incorporating space, ideology, and shared origin into a notion of exclusive commonality? How did travel contribute to the emergence of theories of "national" exceptionalism from among the fluid tra- ditions of de-centralized imperial control? Why was it that the most favored classes in the empire's provinces were usually the first to register their unease with the status quo and to experiment with different levels of self-perception and identity? Benedict Anderson's thesis on pre-modern travel is instructive on all of these issues. His point of departure is that the frequent journeys of provincial functionaries, bu- reaucrats, and scholars, whether to perform the obligations of religious pilgrimage or to oversee the administrative needs of empire, paradoxically provided indigenous elites aspiring for representation and recognition in the mother country (or empire) with the catalyst for the development of a wider sense of identification with their home region^.^ Finding their desires for increased mobility thwarted by the central power, provincial elites in 18th-century Spanish America eventually chose the way of armed resistance to regain control of what was now perceived to be a "common" destiny. In the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, however, indigenous elites trod a different path by continuing to perpetuate the tense balance between constraints of empire and local demands that would bring about an overhaul of imperial structures only in the early 20th century.

Nonetheless, the emergence of a sharpened sense of communal identity and the notion of a distinctive particularism did gather momentum over the centuries. Al- though travel may not have been the single most important catalyst for the develop- ment of a more politicized sense of self-awareness in the Ottoman Empire, it did contribute to a marked sense of difference between travelers and "others." And on

Hala Fattah is an Independent Scholar affiliated with the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies, Amman, Jordan.

O 1998 Cambridge University Press 0020-7438/98 $9.50

the occasion when that sense of difference did manifest itself in a more critical form, it came about because of the perceived disjuncture in the traveler's mind between the universalistic ideals of Islam and empire and the far more prosaic and inglorious realities encountered along the way. If nothing else, travel gave the journeying scholar the opportunity to distance himself from the more "venal" and "corrupt" practices undertaken in neighboring Muslim societies and to compare these practices with the more "upright" and "equitable" moral code of his home region. In so doing, it may have reinforced the traveler's belief in the superiority of his regional tradition and contributed in the long run to the development of a more localized identity.

This article concerns the cultural itineraries of Iraqi scholars both in pursuit of talab al-'ilm (the traditional seeking out of knowledge that formed the essential core of an alim's early training) and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Because of the dearth of scholarship on the subject, any study of this kind must remain at best impression- istic. When viewed against the backdrop of Foucault's "genealogies of kn~wledge,"~ however, impressions are powerful stuff. They are all the more interesting when they reflect the injured sensibilities of two of the most important ulema in Ottoman Iraq- professors of law at the most prestigious religious colleges in Baghdad and men on whom the state depended for spiritual counsel and legitimacy. In fact, the generalized sense of grievance running through both Shaykh Abdullah al-Suwaidi's and Shaykh Abu Thana' al-Alusi's narratives, the subject of this article, transforms their histories into politicized tracts. Precisely because their accounts are overladen with cynicism and a deep distrust of the religious establishment of which they themselves formed a part, they defy easy categorization as religious literature. They can best be seen as highly personalized accounts of men at radical junctures in their lives, whose once- in-a-lifetime religious journeys to the two greatest centers within Islamdom, Mecca and Istanbul, provide solace and deep satisfaction, yet also bring a growing crisis of identity and an increased sense of isolation, bred by their often factious encounters with a fragmented and contentious political-religious establishment in Syria, the Hijaz, and Istanbul.


In 1744-45, a noted Iraqi alim by the name of Shaykh Abdullah al-Suwaidi made the hajj to the Holy City of Mecca. The account he wrote upon his return possesses great significance, if only because it is one of the few extant manuscripts that de- scribes the hajj from the point of view of an Iraqi alim in the middle of the 18th century. No less important is the fact that al-Suwaidi's journey occurred at precisely the same time that the reformist Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab began his largely self-appointed mission to purify Islam in the Arabian peninsula from the often debased and extraneous practices that distorted the basic principles of Islamic faith. Although al-Suwaidi makes no mention of the Wahhabi dacwa, or call (for it had not yet assumed important dimensions in the Arabian peninsula), many of the concerns articulated throughout his history reflect a growing perception of an Is- lamic world gone astray and of Muslims floundering in a sea of obsolete traditions and dead ritual, a situation that the author records with great concern (and some out- rage) in his rihl~.~

Although we should heed John Voll's warning about accepting the facile assumption that "any teacher who happened to go to Arabia in the 18th cen- tury and who returned to his home full of fundamentalist enthusiasm was somehow influenced by the Wahhabi~,"~ al-Suwaidi's penchant for attacking corruption in the religious establishments of Damascus and al-haramayn (the Holy Cities), and his warning of dangers looming on the horizon, may have been unerringly prescient. Set against the later confrontation between Iraqi Mamluks and Wahhabi revivalists in the last decade of the 18th century, the narrative, while providing few hints of the burgeoning spiritual turmoil in al-Suwaidi's home region that would later affect mem- bers of his direct family in a profound way, foreshadows the coming battle of wills by adopting a tone of rigorous morality in his critique of the Islamic world. It is true that the 18th century was noted for its large-scale reformist currents and its return to "movements of purification and adherence to a rigorous interpretation of the Islamic traditi~n,"~which originated as much with neo-Sufism as with the spread of a re- invigorated Hanbali scholasticism, but al-Suwaidi's unease with the state of Islamic learning may be interpreted as a prophetic sign. Precisely because the Wahhabi move- ment's credo reflected ideas already current among many of the scholarly elite of the Mashreq, the deep social malaise that was steadily gaining ground among the schol- arly establishment of Iraq, bildd al-sham and the Hijaz may itself have created the climate for the ambivalent reception of Wahhabi ideas among salafi communities from Baghdad to Aleppo.

One hundred five years later, al-Suwaidi's critique of the Islamic body politic was echoed by another Iraqi alim, Shaykh Abu ThanaJ al-Alusi, who made a similar "pil- grimage" to another center of Islamic tradition, Istanbul. Even though one scholar was traveling to the haramayn and the other to Istanbul, and more than one hundred years separates the two narratives, there are broad similarities between both travel accounts, not least between the religious, social, and political opinions in the two travelogues. Shaykh Abu ThanaJ al-Alusi left for Istanbul in the mid-19th century to make a direct appeal to the sultan to reverse an order by the Wali of Baghdad, Mu- hammad Najib Pasha, dismissing al-Alusi from his post as mutawalli, or superinten- dent, of the Mirjan waqf (pious endowment), which ironically almost became an Alusi family monopoly later in the ~entury.~

While in Istanbul, al-Alusi makes al- most identical comments to those of al-Suwaidi a century before. He criticizes the level of Islamic learning in the Imperial capital; notes that most offices in the learned hierarchy are for sale to the highest bidder; intimates that the power of the Shaykh al-Islam, the Porte's highest official, is on the wane in the face of secular challenges; and calls for a reform of Sufi Islam. In fact, both al-Suwaidi's and al-Alusi's bitter critiques of the religious establishments in Syria, the Holy Cities, and Istanbul and of the "corruption" that lay at the heart of the Islamic institutions of higher learning and professional specialization were not unique or extraordinary in and of them- selves. They were reinforced by the long tradition of protest literature emanating from within the Ottoman bureaucracy itself. Whether this critique was born out of bitterness engendered from the loss of political influence as a result of the struggle for power within the ruling class, or emerged as a result of the very real breakdown of professional standards across the empire, it was a tradition that permeated the high- est echelons of the Ottoman career bureaucra~y.~

What renders al-Suwaidi's and al-Alusi's narratives different is that, contrary to the literature of complaint emanating from Istanbul-based scholars and bureaucrats, they were written by provincial ulema en route to seek religious as well as temporal legitimization of their status as important scholar-preachers in their own right. They sought this stamp of approval from their peers in the two most significant centers of religious learning in the Ottoman Empire, Mecca in the Hijaz and Istanbul. Ulti- mately, their immense disillusionment with the scholarly communities in both cities is expressed in strongly politicized language reminiscent of the complaints made by 16th- and 17th-century Ottoman bureaucrats. In particular, al-Suwaidi's denigration of the Damascene ulema's intellectual formation and professional specialization (and the contrast he sets up between them and the more "purist" religious elements in Iraq), his vehement attacks on the mass membership of Sufi brotherhoods, his critique of the too-easy transformation of awqaf into emoluments for the learned classes, and, finally, his contempt for those Syrian ulema who traveled to Istanbul to enroll in the imperial madrasa system is reflective of an innately competitive temperament, agi- tating somewhat transparently for equal treatment. Moreover, al-Suwaidi's critique is re-stated (and re-defined) by Abu Thana' al-Alusi's journey to Istanbul. In keeping with the literary pretensions of his age, the latter documents all the stages of his journey in geographical and topographic detail. Upon his arrival in Istanbul, he de- scribes his round of the literary salons of the religious, as well as the bureaucratic elite in the imperial city, noting the scholars, statesmen, and anxious political appoin- tees cooling their heels in the antechambers of the Porte's ministries, and the intel- lectual and doctrinal debates taking place in Istanbul's assemblies and congregations. In style, though perhaps less frequently in content, al-Alusi's journey to Istanbul possesses striking similarities to al-Suwaidi's pilgrimage to the Holy Cities, for even though one chronicle describes a spiritual quest and the other a secular one, the po- litical undercurrent running through both narratives allows them a certain comple- mentarity. Significantly, in neither al-Suwaidi's nor al-Alusi's narrative is this "politics of identity" a uni-dimensional feature. On the contrary, both travelers run through the gamut of identifications available to them in their particular time: that of the dis- illusioned provincial alim coming face to face with the "corrupt" practitioners of Is- lam in Mecca, Damascus, or Istanbul; that of the disfranchised scholar meeting the worldly representatives of court politics in the Porte; that of the Baghdadi notable assessing the regional challenge of his Damascene, Meccan, or Istanbuli counterpart.

On another level, because literary form masked a number of contradictions, the constant repetition and the all-too-familiar clichts used by these ulama-historians en route to perform the hajj or to reach Istanbul may lead us to believe that these highly stylized histories chose to interpret life as basically nothing more than a series of con- versations with ulema. The fact that rihla literature grew out of a religious-literary tradition that continually evolved to meet the challenge of the times is obscured by its very framework. In fact, travel literature emerged from a specific socio-economic and political context that directly impinged on these historians' lives and must be ap- preciated in that sense. In this respect, Shaykh Abdullah al-Suwaidi's rihla could not have come at a more ominous juncture in the life of the Islamic body politic. On the one hand, he had been chosen by Ahmad Pasha, the wali of Baghdad, to rebut the all-too-obvious reality of the fragmentation of the Islamic world by presenting a unified vision of Sunni Islam to the ShiCi ulema at Nadir Shah's court, while on the other hand, he was busily noting in his history the collective immorality of the Hanafi and ShafiCi religious establishments in bildd al-sham.9 Al-Alusi, on the other hand, was witness to the often brutal re-imposition of Ottoman law and order on what had been for more than a century a Mamluk-held city (Baghdad) and hints at the growing conflict in the 19th century between a more secular-minded bureaucracy in the cap- ital and the growing marginalization, if not disfranchisement, of its religious estab- lishment.1° In order to understand the constraints under which both journeys were undertaken, and eventually written, it is therefore imperative to appreciate the wider context of their authors' lives and times.


Born in al-Karkh, a suburb of Baghdad, Abu al-Barakat Abdullah ibn al-Husain ibn Nasir al-Din (1692-1761) took on the nisba or affiliation of al-Suwaidi in honor of the uncle who brought him up, Shaykh Ahmad al-Suwaid [al-Sufi]." Although al- Suwaidi's early life was very difficult, his dedication to his chosen profession of alim was unswerving; even though he went through penury and near-starvation, his per- severance in his scholarly studies garnered him much acclaim later on.12 Classically educated in the religious sciences of hadith (Prophetic sayings),$qh (jurisprudence) and tafsir (Qur'anic commentary), al-Suwaidi also became an avid student of Sufism, having been introduced to Islamic mysticism by none other than his uncle. Eventu- ally he earned an excellent education, having sat at the feet of a number of the great- est ulema in Baghdad, as well as those of Mosul, and received the ijdzas (certificates) of most of the important professors in both intellectual centers. He taught at three of the most famous madrasas in Baghdad: Hazrat al-Shaykh Abdul-Qadir, Hazrat al- Imam al-ACzam and al-Madrasa al-Mirjaniya. He left various works in language, adab, grammar, ethics, and poetry.I3

Significant to an understanding of al-Suwaidi's rihla is the religious-political con- text in which he embarked on his pilgrimage to the Holy Cities. Al-Suwaidi entered the teaching profession at approximately the same time that Hasan Pasha (r. 1702- 24) and his son Ahmad Pasha (r. 1724-47), free-born sipahis (feudal cavalrymen) trained in the Porte's palace school, were attempting to impose sovereign control over the provinces of Iraq in the name of the Ottoman sultan. In order to do so, both walis began a series of internal wars to regain lost authority in Iraq's tribal regions. They also waged offensive and defensive wars against Safavid Iran, then in the process of consolidating as a ShiCi state. To this end, Hasan and Ahmad Pasha recruited Mam- luk youths from Georgia to staff their administration and palace guard. Mamluk com- manders were also entrusted with the "pacification" of tribal districts in and around Baghdad and Basra and the defense of Iraq in the face of off-and-on Safavid chal- lenges. Eventually, these same Mamluks inherited the reins of government. Starting with Suleiman Pasha Abu Laila (1750-62), Ahmad Pasha's son-in-law, and continu- ing until the administration of the last Mamluk, Dawud Pasha (1817-31), Mamluk households, themselves dependent on fresh levies of Georgian slave-soldiers, became the law of the land.

Al-Suwaidi's life and times must be viewed against the backdrop of the protracted wars between the early Mamluk administration in Baghdad and Basra and the Safa- vid Empire in Iran. In the aftermath of "the long fall of the Safavid dynasty,"14 an ad- venturer of Afghan origin by the name of Nadir usurped the Persian throne in 1736 and quickly made himself master of the whole of Iran. Nadir Shah immediately set about building "a large conquest empire that controlled all of Iran, brought a stop to the Ottoman advances and successfully invaded northern India."15 By 1743, Nadir Shah's armies were poised at the gates of Baghdad, and the shah was re-stating a whole litany of religious demands that he had made when he first ascended the Persian throne. The most important demand relayed to Ottoman legists and reli- gious scholars in Istanbul and Baghdad by Nadir Shah's messengers centered on granting the ShiCi madhhab (school of law) equal status with the four Sunni schools of thought-a proposal that, although not completely accepted by the Persian ulema hierarchy itself,16 was correctly viewed as a vital breathing space by the besieged Ottoman-Mamluk bureaucracy in Iraq. Deliberations were immediately set into mo- tion to appoint an ambassador knowledgeable enough to negotiate Nadir Shah's proposal at Najaf, where the shah was holding temporary court. Because Abdullah al-Suwaidi's reputation had already garnered him much fame outside of his native Baghdad, the Iraqi alim was hand-picked by the wali of Baghdad, Ahmad Pasha (with Nadir Shah's consent), to act as sole arbitrator between the Sunni and ShiCi ulema in Najaf. While it is not our intention to describe in detail the exchange be- tween the alim from Baghdad and the many Persian and Afghan religious scholars he met at the Najaf conference, a quick summary is imperative to place al-Suwaidi's rihla in proper context.

As the late Hamid Enayat has shown, ShiCism contains two broadly defined spheres of thought. On one level, it is galvanized by a strong "spirit," an ethos based on a historicized conceptualization of the meaning of the imamate, as well as an esoteric philosophy of truth, and a millennarian exception of the return of the Hidden Imam or the Mahdi. On the other, ShiCi ideology is characterized by a more "concrete" framework focusing on Islamic history, theology, and law.I7 It is the second feature that Nadir Shah highlighted with his proposal that the Sunnis should accept ShiCism as "a mere school of law, shorn of its esoteric Irnamol~gy."'~ Having outlawed the ShiCi practices of sabb (the ritual cursing of the first three Orthodox caliphs) and rafd (the repudiation of the legitimacy of the Sunni caliphate) throughout Iran, Na- dir Shah may have expected the Ottoman sultan to concur with his proposal to rec- ognize the JaCfari madhhab as equal to the four Sunni schools of law, grant a maqdm (sacred site) for the ShiCis in the Kacba, and appoint a Persian Amir al-hajj to escort Iranian pilgrims to the haramayn. But it was not to be. Nadir Shah's quixotic attempt to conciliate the two greatest legal-philosophical strains within Islam, while not stem- ming completely from purely altruistic motives,18 was to meet with wholesale Otto- man indifference and ultimate rejection.

Al-Suwaidi began his travels immediately after the end of that major intellectual confrontation with several Persian and Afghan ulema in the service of Nadir Shah of Iran. A close reading of the text would lead us to understand that the end of the Najaf conference signified al-Suwaidi's intellectual triumph as well as his liberation.

Representations of Self in Two lraqi Travelogues 57

Indeed, his version of the conference has him winning all of the theological argu- ments posed to him by the ShiCi religious scholars, making the whole episode a feather in his cap. Reading between the lines, it can also be inferred from the text that the conference signified al-Suwaidi's ultimate release from onerous government obligation. For with the end of the Najaf conference, he was free to travel, if not to escape the confining clutches of politicians from all sides of the ideological spectrum. Having developed a keen understanding of the major rifts affecting the 18th-century Islamic body politic as a result of the rigorous experience at Najaf, al-Suwaidi found himself in a superb position to affect the on-going movement of renewal within Sunni tradition20 just as he was embarking on the greatest of moral and spiritual quests, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Al-Suwaidi's unique experience at Najaf allowed him to gain valuable insight into ShiCi theology and jurisprudence while coming away with a firmer understanding of the fault lines within Sunni Islam itself. That is why his critique of Sunni laxity and corruption in Damascus and the Hijaz was so urgent: he had been in the enemy's camp and knew only too well that the Sunni Islamic tradition that he defended so forcefully at Najaf was in grave jeopardy and must be rescued from within. Thus, im- mediately upon his arrival in Damascus to join the pilgrimage caravan, he launches into a scathing critique of the Damascene learned establishment. In stark contrast to the sacred mission he is about to embark on, al-Suwaidi is shocked to note an ap- parently head-long rush to popularize (and, according to him, to debase) the funda- mental precepts of Islam, spearheaded by a teeming population of Sufi mashdyikh, each insisting that he is the sole key to divine revelation. In contrast to Aleppo, where he feels more at home and on whose townspeople he bestows a great deal of praise,?' Damascus offers the radical contrast of a worldly city with no memory of its great Islamic past. Although his across-the-board critique of Sunni Islam in Da- mascus targets all aspects and all levels of religious worship, it is particularly jarring with regard to the Sufi brotherhoods, whom al-Suwaidi accuses of being the chief culprits in the diminution of the moral-ethical spirit and the authentic letter of the Qur'an. Thus:

As for the people of Damascus, they are of three classes . . .the highest class, composed of grandees (akdbir), ulema and the mashiiyikh of Sufi brotherhoods, are Pharaohs (fariicina) and liars, neither immersed in knowledge nor in good works. As for the Sufis, they have a way of milking religion (halab al-din), claiming that whosoever kisses their hand, becomes one of their adepts in the tariqa (fraternity). They have no scruples, presenting themselves to the common people as divinely guided . . . [The mashiiyikh] even believe that they are bet- ter than 'Abdul-Qadir al-Jili and Muhyi al-Din ibn al-Arabi combined, and were the latter to show up today, [the mashdyikh] would hold out their hands to be kissed. When some of them go out to pray, they carry their prayer-mats slung over their shoulders for fear of having to pray on the straw mats of the masjid. And were some of the revenues of the Customs House to fall in their hands, they would swallow them. Many of them made their money through religion, God protects us from them. . . . [Sufi shaykhs] who live in Damascus also indulge in injustices and buy and sell rutab [scholarly grade or rank] and have expensive houses reaching up to the sky on which they have spent incalculable money, in the manner of Pha- raohs. . . . [Tlhey are liars and deceivers, and they eat off their religion as if they were vora- cious beasts.'*

While the leaders of the popular Sufi brotherhoods bore most of the brunt of al- Suwaidi's ire, he also reserved a number of scathing comments for the general state of religious knowledge in Damascus. Thus:

As for their shuyukh and ulema, they are not proficient in their religious instruction [nor do they] have a real mastery of their religion. . . . I had heard a lot of praise about the ulema of Damascus. I now think it is grossly exaggerated. . . . Most of the revenue that accrues to the ulema comes from awqiif (pious endowments). I have heard it said that about 1,000 madrasas in Damascus, some in ruins while others were taken over as private dwellings, were for- merly registered as awqaf but have been swallowed up by these ignoramuses. The latter have fallen into the habit of going to the Porte, buying a rutba as a mudarris according to the qdniin (regulations) of the Turkish ulema . . . [even though the so-called Cdlim]is more ig- norant than a donkey.23

Al-Suwaidi's dissatisfaction with the ulema and mashiiyikh of Damascus must be viewed in the context of the rapid socio-political change in the city as a whole, not least in its religious establishment. In this respect, the near-autonomy of the reli- gious fraternities, the dissolution of "proper" form, the anarchic temperament un- derlying the pursuit of material gain, and the breakdown of law and order may have had their origins in the changing nature of provincial politics, highlighted in part by the religious establishment's economic alliance with other local groups in the city. It has been noted that from the 18th century onward, the religious establishment in Damascus began to exhibit a growing confidence and self-assertion vis-8-vis the other local forces in Damascene society, in no small measure the result of reaping material benefits from its alliance with the yerliyya (the local janissary contingents in Damascu~).~~

Along with this new self-affirmation came an increased visibility in society and further links with the ruling class of governors, merchants, artisans, and local notables, so much so that inter-marriages became the norm, even as partner- ships in commercial ventures proceeded apace.25 Al-Suwaidi's narrative reinforces this development clearly, even as he uses intemperate language to describe the Dama- scene ulema's new-found wealth and status.

In his history, al-Suwaidi lays stress on the Damascene ulema's exaggerated Sufi proclivities and their desire for "illegitimate" material gain or enhanced intellectual standing. His disapproval of Sufi excess accentuated the radical differences between his sober neo-Sufi tendencies, long cultivated by early association with his uncle, and the populist, syncretic Sufism that held such mass appeal in Damascus. In this re- spect, a pronounced feature of the 18th century was the easy co-existence between a more purist Sunni formalism and a conservative Sufi temperament, perhaps best exemplified by the Naqshbandi tariqa.26 Al-Suwaidi's adherence to a salafi interpretation of Islam was complemented by his equally staunch belief in the Sufi path. Both traditions formed part of his integral vision of the world. Thus, his pilgrimage is interspersed with visits to the tombs and burial places of the Sahdba (Companions of the Prophet), early Sufi mystics, and "the Prophets of God" where he asked for the Prophet's intercession for himself and his loved ones. Moreover, in another prac- tice frowned upon by the more literalist ulema, he routinely asked other shaykhs and authorities in the religious sciences for ijazas (certificates of completion of study of certain books with select shaykhs) not only for himself but for his entire family, including his wife and daughter^.^' On the other hand, as we have seen, he was horrified by the pre-disposition of most of Damascus's population to follow any shaykh who claimed a venerable Sufi silsila (spiritual lineage) and divine grace.

Al-Suwaidi's complaints echo those of similarly inclined conservative ulema throughout the Ottoman Empire, particularly in Istanbul. It has been argued that from the 17th century onward, a discernible anti-latitudinarian pattern emerged among Istanbul's ulema, which moved away from ecstatic Sufism to a more rigorous puri- tanical Islam.28 While it is true that Islam has always housed a heterogeneity of re- ligious responses, from mystic contemplation to literalist piety, the 17th century saw a shift, at least for a while, in favor of the purist, "orthodox" interpretation. This shift was accelerated by two converging trends. One had to do with the varying levels of psychological trauma and mental distress caused by Ottoman military defeats after the loss of Vienna in 1683. The second came about with the systematic cultivation by the sultan and his chief advisers of an 'ilmiya-trained religious elite, whose func- tion was to tie the Porte more closely to "the Law, and its representative^"^^ and to provide the imperial center with a veneer of sober piety in an age of military defeat. By the beginning of the 18th century, the greater systematization of madrasa educa- tion in Istanbul had enlarged the cadre of imperially trained ulema in the service of the state and broadened the 'ilmiya institution by the recruitment of imperially ed- ucated men of provincial backgrounds. Judging by the greater diversity and the wider ethnic and national composition of the imperial schools throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, al-Suwaidi's disparaging critique may have been but a minority opinion.

Al-Suwaidi's over-reaction to the Damascene ulema's opportunities for advance- ment may have also originated with the very lack of such educational and career op- portunities for the Iraqi scholarly elite. To my knowledge, no serious study has been attempted on the career paths available to Iraqi ulema in the 18th century. Nonethe- less, in view of al-Suwaidi's renown not only in Iraq but also in Iran, it does seem improbable that he would not have been allowed to travel to Istanbul if the chance had been forthcoming. The fact is, however famous al-Suwaidi had become, in many ways he was still a poor alim dependent on the good graces of the early Mamluk ad- ministration of Baghdad. Al-Suwaidi's son Abdul-Rahman confirms this in his his- tory by noting that the family was so poor that had Ahmad Pasha, Wali of Baghdad, not offered al-Suwaidi the post of mufti for both Karbala and Najaf in the wake of Nadir Shah's damaging siege of Baghdad, the family might well have starved.30 By accepting the post of mufti, al-Suwaidi thereby became eligible for an allotment of government grain, as a result of which he was able to feed his family and distribute the rest to relatives3]

It may be that as a result of being assailed by all these conflicting emotions, al- Suwaidi retreated into a particularist identity. Thus, al-Suwaidi's history is also im- portant as a gauge of one man's recognition of, and growing identification with, a region and a people that was specifically Iraqi. While the use of his term "Iraq" is often geographically hazy and is frequently used at the same time as other, equally valid expressions (such as al-Sawdd), it is nonetheless used repeatedly throughout the work in ways that often differentiate it from, and grant it more weight than, other regions. Al-Suwaidi's journey to Syria and the Hijaz brought him face to face with the social and economic differences that characterized the inhabitants of neighboring districts, forcing him to compare, contrast, and evaluate his home town and region with other Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. While it is incorrect to view his changing self-perception as an augury of nationalism, proto or otherwise, it is impor- tant to indicate that as a result of rubbing shoulders (and sometimes sharing tents)32 with many different ethnic and sectarian communities from all over the Islamic world, the author was able to sharpen his identification with a particular class of Iraqis which he molded in his own image. Although they were usually from the scholarly establishment, this sector of Iraqi society was granted loftier status than most Alep- pines, Damascenes, or Hijazis. In fact, as his often savage denunciation of the Syrian ulema shows, al-Suwaidi was not above romanticizing his past associations with Iraq and reviling his immediate surroundings in bildd al-shdm, especially when distance and alienation impaired his objectivity.

For instance, in between his diatribe on the irreligiosity and incompetence of Dam- ascene notables, there is lavish praise for Iraqi scholars, in particular for their sober lifestyles, their probity, and their wealth of learning. Thus:

I feel sorry for our ulema; by God, even the most ignorant and dissolute in our country are better than their mashciyikh. Even with their exactitude and precision, [Iraqi] ulema cannot save one dirham, whereas [the mashciyikh of Damascus] have amassed fortunes. . .. I feel pity for our own ulema for there are none poorer, even though they are more righteous than [the ulema of Damascus]. By God, the ulema of Damascus own more than the Wali of Baghdad, even though he is [the province's] amir!33

When all is said and done, however, the recurrent theme in al-Suwaidi's account remains the political-religious spill-over effect from the Najaf conference. With the exception of two references in the account of the hajj itself, the issues raised, and the conclusions arrived at in Najaf are not directly alluded to throughout the journey. Nevertheless, the wider issues emanating from a possible Sunni-Shici rapproche- ment, and the political context in which this rapprochement is to take place, looms large in the narrative. Throughout the rihla, al-Suwaidi is continuously being pep- pered with questions from secular authorities and religious dignitaries as to what really went on in Najaf, and while his replies are confined to short, monosyllabic an- swers, giving nothing away, the Najaf conference quite rapidly becomes an albatross around his neck. This is apparent after echoes of the conference soon re-surface in Mecca, where, after having performed the pilgrimage without incident, al-Suwaidi is accosted one last time by the authorities of the town, who are perplexed as to how to deal with the on-going repercussions of Nadir Shah's political-religious demands. Just as he is preparing to leave, al-Suwaidi is button-holed by the Sharif of Mecca's messenger, who asks him for advice on how to counter Persian demands for the for- mal inclusion of the ShiCi madhhab within the Kacba's sacred precincts. Al-Suwaidi's reluctance at being caught up in the political machinations of imperial policy is re- vealing; his account can be read as an indication of his extreme discomfort at having his pilgrimage interrupted by political considerations and runs in this manner:

[After the caravan had made camp], I received the demand that I meet with al-Sharif Mascud, the son of al-Sharif Sacd, the Wali of Mecca. I was not convinced that I must meet with him, so I told his messenger that the hajj convoy had left, but he said the Sharif must meet with you tonight after dinner. Again I told the messenger that I could not because the hajj had al- ready departed, but the latter said the Sharif will send an escort with you to rejoin the hajj caravan (after the meeting). I was about to apologize again that I could not meet with the Sharif when Sayyid Yunus al-ACzami [a Syrian dignitary] who was present, told me that if I obeyed the Sharif's request, he would stay with me, even if it took ten days. I realized that he was a reasonable man, with no selfish motives. In addition, he was a Hanafi by madhhab, with biases against the Shica.34

Al-Suwaidi continues his narrative against the backdrop of potential conflict, for Nadir Shah had threatened all-out war should his demands not be met:

[Sayyid Yunus] ordered his servant to leave us alone and we stayed by ourselves, he and I, and he said, "You must know about the malicious al-Sayyid Nasrallah al-Karbala'i" and I said no. He continued: "This man arrived with letters from Nadir Shah, one for me, one for the Qadi of Mecca, one for the Mufti of Mecca, others for the city's ulema, and another sent to the shaikh of a/-haram a/-sharif (the Holy Sanctuary). The contents of the letter stipulated that al-Sayyid Nasrallah would be the prayer-leader for the ShiCa in the shrine of Sayyidund Ibrahim. . . . I would never obey him [or his master] in this matter. . . . I would not make a bayCa[oath of allegiance] to him, and I would fight him to the ends of the earth, be that in Yemen, India or Abyssinia. . . . Either I fight till I am killed or, if there is no victor, I would make hijra (emigrate) to the other regions (of the Islamic world). . ..Our obedience is to A1 'Uthman because they are ghuzdt and mujdhidiin [warriors for the faith] . . . and their madhhub is our madhhab. How can I obey the 'Ajam when none of my forefathers obeyed them?35

Al-Suwaidi does not mention (perhaps he did not know) that Sayyid Nasrallah al- Karbala'i had indicated to the Sharif of Mecca (wrongly, as it turned out) that the Ottoman Empire had finally agreed to Nadir Shah's demands, leaving the sharif in a quandary.36 Feeling himself under threat (for Nadir Shah's war-making ability was recognized and respected all over the Islamic world), the sharif had a particularly difficult decision to make. At last, he sent an urgent message to the Porte asking for instructions on what to do (he was told to stand firm); meanwhile, and for good mea- sure, he also ordered the public revilement of ShiCism in Mecca. Finally, with the ar- rival of the Damascus pilgrimage to Mecca, Sharif MasCud handed over the Persian messenger to the Amir al-hajj, AsCad Pasha al-A~m,~~

who later imprisoned Nadir Shah's messenger in the Damascus citadel.

Much more significant are a number of revealing aspects in al-Suwaidi's preced- ing account of the steps leading up to his meeting with the Sharif of Mecca. First, al-Suwaidi's aversion to having anything further to do with the Nadir Shah question is amply displayed in the manner in which he turns down the sharif's messenger, not once but three times. Second, al-Suwaidi's denial of any knowledge of Sayyid Nas- rallah al-Karbala'i, Nadir Shah's messenger, is just as significant. This is because in al-Suwaidi's own version of the deliberations at Najaf, al-Karbala'i had assumed a very prominent part in the Iraqi alim's initial reception at the shah's court.38 In fact, al-Karbala'i is portrayed as a quick-witted and clever alim who deliberately inter- rupts another Persian notable's long-winded argument to warn him that he is giving too much away; in effect, letting the side down. That al-Suwaidi denies knowing al- Karbala'i may be interpreted as a sign that the Iraqi alim has finally reached a surfeit with regard to the events at Najaf, and that all he really wants to do is to follow a path of religious introspection and contemplation, which is why he embarked on the pilgrimage in the first place. Any reading of the preceding passage from al-Suwaidi's rihla must take into account his extreme distaste at being thrust into the political limelight, the more so because he did not seek it. Despite his desire to be left alone to commune with God and to fulfill the religious obligations associated with the pil- grimage, however, he is forced to come to grips, once again, with the pivotal effects of the conference at Najaf.

The Nadir Shah episode is therefore fundamental to a reading of al-Suwaidi's rihla, for the political issues raised by the conference at Najaf continue to dog him through- out his journey. Moreover, the issues brought up by the Najaf conference continued to exert a hold not only on al-Suwaidi's personal journey to Mecca, but also on the political imaginations of the statesmen and administrators of the Ottoman Empire. In this respect, Nadir Shah's attempt to bypass the religious establishment in Istan- bul (particularly the Shaykh al-Islam) and to appeal to the Sharif of Mecca, a de- scendant of the Prophet's House, is particularly telling. His attempt to delude the Sharif of Mecca into believing that the question of the inclusion of the JaCfari madh- hub among the four Sunni schools of law had already been accepted in Istanbul may have been nothing more than a simple case of political expediency. However, Nadir Shah's not-too-subtle ploy to appeal to an equally prestigious center of religious le- gitimacy in the Ottoman world was also reflective of the special conditions tying the Hijaz, and in particular the city of Mecca, to the Ottoman center. It has been ar- gued that Mecca retained great religious significance throughout the Ottoman Empire (partly, but not wholly, because of the hajj), but that in its political relations with Istanbul, it was a mere backwater.39 It is nonetheless interesting that, as the Nadir Shah episode shows, the city continued to project a certain aura of sacred legitimacy that could yet galvanize religious-political action even from outside of the empire.

As for our second traveler, more facts are available to reconstruct his life. Abu Thana' Mahmud Shihab al-Din al-Alusi (1802-54) was born in Baghdad to a well- known family of ulema who had originally migrated from Alus, a town in northwest Iraq. Unlike al-Suwaidi's poverty-stricken and anonymous childhood, al-Alusi's birth was considered to be an auspicious event and commemorated with two lines of poetry by the local poet al-Atra~$i.~O Al-Alusi noted of his early education that "as soon as the egg-shell was broken, I found myself in the cell (qafa~) of Mulla Hasan al-Juburi," al-Alusi's first teacher outside of the family circle. By the age of seven, he had learned the Qur'an and elements of Hanafi and ShafiCi jurisprudence, princi- pally at the hands of his father. Among his many professors, two stood out by virtue of their unsurpassed mastery of the sources and the sheer force of their personali- ties. One was shaykh 'Ali al-Suwaidi, whose illustrious antecedent had made the hajj one hundred years earlier; the other was Shaykh Diya' al-Din al-Shaikh Khalid al-Naqshbandi, the famous Sufi master and pir from Kurdistan, the founder of the Khalidiyya sub-order of the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya t~riqa.~~

For all his eru- dition, al-Suwaidi has chiefly gone down in history as one of the indeterminate number of Iraqis in the early part of the 19th century who subscribed to the Wahhabi interpretation of salafi Islam; he is also remembered as a great influence on the Mamluk Suleiman Pasha the Little (1807-10). According to al-Alusi, who is the chief reference for al-Suwaidi's career, "the Wali would not pronounce an edict with- out taking the shaykh's advice and opinion."42 In fact, al-Alusi believes that "had it not been for al-Suwaidi's dulling of Suleiman Pasha's heart with the ignorant Wah- habi 'aqida . . . [where he might have] directed him toward the salafi credo,"43 the Pasha might have survived his ignominious end. With regard to the Naqshbandi shaykh, however, al-Alusi remembers him only as a pious and conservative profes- sor who "was careful to keep [to the straight and narrow path] of the people of the Sunna and thejamdca," a surprisingly low-key assessment, in view of the fact that Shaykh Khalid was the eponymous founder of a highly dynamic and activist tariqa, and considered to be "the most significant figure in the Naqshbandi silsila after Sirhindi."44

Thus much like al-Suwaidi a century earlier, al-Alusi came under the influence both of an activist Sufi pir and the teachings of a conservative Sharica-minded preacher. Nonetheless, he seems to have established his own style very early on. By the age of twenty-one, he had attained great renown among the scholarly community in Bagh- dad, to the point where he attracted some envy and quite a lot of spite from within religious-scholarly circles. This resulted in a number of controversies, fueled by his adversaries in the ulema establishment, which brought him to the attention, first, of the last Mamluk governor, Dawud Pasha (1817-31),45 and then the new Ottoman administration after 183 1. These controversies may have been nothing more than the equivalent of a tempest in a teacup, for regardless of al-Alusi's singleminded desire to note them all in his autobiography, they seemed to have been mere footnotes in a brilliant career. There was one exception, however: the Jamil Zada revolt, associ- ated with the Mufti of Baghdad, Shaykh Abdul-Ghani Jamil, which erupted in 1831 in the wake of the Ottoman re-occupation of Baghdad. Despite al-Alusi's strenuous denials, he may have been in fact an accomplice of Jamil Zada;46 in any case, the new Ottoman Wali of Baghdad, Ali Pasha al-Laz, who had invested considerable energy in re-capturing the capital, wasted no time in having him arrested. While his pun- ishment was meted out over a relatively short span of time (al-Alusi was confined to hdrat al-shaikh, the quarter of the shaykh, famous for being the site of the Sufi saint Abdul-Qadir al-Gaylani's shrine; he was deprived of his teaching position at the same time),47 the more important point concerns the broad coalition of disaffected Bagh- dadi elements that fueled the Jamil Zada revolt in the first place. While no serious study has been conducted on the social composition and motives of this first ulema- led, anti-Ottoman insurrection, it is surmised by at least one Iraqi historian that the revolt represented the views of the defeated Mamluk-patronized elite that was now fac- ing removal and possible extinction at the hands of the new Ottoman admini~tration.~~

After the Jamil Zada revolt subsided, al-Alusi was rescued from house arrest by his Naqshbandi connections, for a number of shaykhs of the tariqa spoke up for him with the government and secured his eventual release. After a suitable time, he was given back his teaching position and even awarded yet another plum job, that of mutawalli, or superintendent, of the Mirjan wad. It is important to note that al-Alusi was entrusted with the latter post by sultanic command and awarded the rutba of mudarris al-astana (Professor in the Istanbul Subhierarchy) all at the same time.49 Although an initial period of detente ushered in the governorship of Muhammad Najib Pasha, things soon took a turn for the worse. For reasons still unknown to us, the new Wali stripped al-Alusi of his post as Mufti of Baghdad and ended his super- visory position at the Mirjaniya. Because of this sudden action, al-Alusi comments with his customary hyperbole that he was reduced to "eating al-hasir [the straw mat on the floor] and . . . to drinking the ink of his tafsir [his Qur'anic c~mmentary]."~~ However, this was far from being the end of the matter, for al-Alusi quickly appealed to the Shaykh al-Islam in Istanbul to countermand the Wali's order; when he received no reply, he made up his mind to take his case physically to the highest authority in Istanbul. When the Wali Najib Pasha heard of al-Alusi's plans, he tried to block them at once, making al-Alusi understand that he would rue the day and regret his decision should he continue. He even counseled him to write the Shaykh al-Islam a letter of apology for not going to Istanbul, using as excuse that it was too long and arduous a trip for a poor alim and that he was still completing his magnum opus, the long- awaited Qur'anic commentary, Riih al-MaCani. Undeterred, al-Alusi saw the Wali's in- tervention as the catalyst for embarking on his journey to Istanbul to plead his case.s1

Among the many functions of the Ottoman bureaucracy in Istanbul was the col- lection of large registers of important letters and documents concerning everything deemed relevant to the government's day-to-day decisions. Of immediate relevance to our study is the existence of the Shikaya (Complaints) register^,^^ which con- sisted, for the most part, of many thousands of petitions addressed to the sultan by ordinary subjects of the Ottoman Empire, demanding immediate rectification of past wrongs. By proceeding to Istanbul to lodge his complaint against Najib Pasha, al- Alusi was undertaking a journey that many others had before him, under "the premise that anyone, man or woman, might turn to the ruler to ask for a redress of

grievance^."^^ Further investigation in the Shikaya Registers may unearth his partic- ular petition one day.

Just as the Holy City of Mecca was immensely significant in the Ottoman world- view,54 so too was Istanbul's role as the guardian and repository of Islamic tradition. In particular, the imperial city functioned as an alternate node of religious attraction and a center of spiritual influence or scholarship that attracted hundreds of travelers to its shores every year. Unlike al-Suwaidi's pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina one hundred years earlier, al-Alusi traveled part of the way to Istanbul by land transport and completed the rest of his journey by steamboat (which he labeled safinat du- khan). Much as al-Suwaidi had been sent into ecstatic joy by his arrival at Mecca,55 al-Alusi described setting foot in the imperial city with wonder and astonishment: "My mouth drank in the wine of happiness when I first viewed its high mansions."56 Immediately upon arriving in Istanbul, he set about meeting the Shaykh al-Islam, the chief jurisconsult in the Ottoman Empire, Ahmad Arif Hikmat Beg Effendi. In their first meeting, al-Alusi presented the Shaykh al-Islam with his Qur'anic commentary. According to al-Alusi, the latter "became my intercessor and ambassad~r,"~~

at once informing him that, according to court protocol, the work should have been presented first to the Grand Vizier or Chief Minister (al-Sadr al-ACzam), Rashid Pasha. Accord- ingly, al-Alusi's petition and commentary was next delivered to the Grand Vizier's office. After a short waiting period, al-Alusi was invited to make his case personally to the Sadr. The latter was very gracious and praised the work profusely but informed him that he should write another petition and present it to the Mabaynji (Chief of the Palace Secretariat), who would present it to the sultan. He then personally escorted al-Alusi to the Protocol office (Tashrifat) and introduced him to the chief secretary. Given a choice between spending the remainder of his stay in Istanbul at the house of friends and receiving a government stipend (as well as having a servant appointed to take care of his needs), or taking up immediate residence at the Dar al-Diydfa (the imperial guest-house), al-Alusi chose the latter, principally because he was unsure of the duration of his stray. As he left for the Ddr al-l?iyiifa, he was assured by the chief secretary to the Protocol office that his expenses would be paid and that he could stay there for as long as his case was being heard.s8

At the hostel, the inn-keeper brought out a horse and groom earmarked for al- Alusi, and he discovered that the Porte had allotted him 3,000 quriish per month for upkeep. Al-Alusi immediately complained that the inn-keeper, to whom the money had been entrusted, spent less than one-third of the salary on his guest "and swal- lowed the rest."59 This was to be the first of the many complaints that al-Alusi lodged, not always justly, against the imperial government's handling of his case. Once al-Alusi had presented his petition to the Grand Vizier's office, the wheels of bureaucracy began turning. Al-Alusi was informed that his original petition had been sent by the Sadr's office to the Supreme Council of Judicial Ordinances (Majlis al- Ahkam al-'Adliyya), the government's chief legislative and juridical organ, and that a further petition should be addressed to the Shaykh al-Islam and be presented to him in the company of his tafsir (which had been re-transferred to the Shaykh al-Islam's office after it had been ceremoniously inspected in al-Alusi's presence by the Sadr himself ). In the meantime, al-Alusi was advised to bide his time and to wait. This he did, spending most of his time in learned conversation with the Shaykh al-Islam and the other "high" ulema that frequented the shaykh's salon. Eventually, word came down from the council that al-Alusi would be entitled to a salary based on half the revenues of the Mirjan ~aqf.~~

Al-Alusi railed bitterly about the decision, seeing it as a blow dealt him by "the hypocrites" in Baghdad, and he accepted it only reluctantly, believing that "Muhammad Najib Pasha [the Wali in Baghdad who dis- missed him from his position] has the capacity of swallowing both the Tigris and Eu- phrates without wetting his lips . . . and would swallow. . .my milk (property) and wad as if it were water."61 After the council's decision was approved, it was sent to the Mabaynji's office which ordered it pronounced as afirmdn (imperial decree).

But al-Alusi's problems were not over. His autobiography intimates that Najib Pasha was at the core of the confiscation of the Mirjan waqf, while his biographer 'Abbas al-Azzawi states that it was the Porte that issued the order, without giving any proof for such a charge.62 It may be that al-Alusi's travails were due in part to the gradual "eclipse" of the role of the religious establishment in the Tanzimat era and the emergence of a new, reformist leadership in Istanbul that may have been instrumental in decimating the ulema's material base through the confiscation and diversion of pious foundation^.^^ Obviously, only further research in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul will elucidate the matter. For the moment, there are other ques- tions in the text that can be more immediately deciphered. One of them is al-Alusi's fear that, even after the irada had been issued ordering that half of the revenues of the Mirjan waqf would go to provide for the upkeep of the mosque-madrasa and the salary of its mutawalli, Najib Pasha would still "swallow" all of the revenues in question. As a result of this perpetual anxiety on al-Alusi's part, the Iraqi alim asked one of the members of the council, Suleiman Pasha (Wali of Aleppo), to mediate between the Sadr's office and himself so that a more equitable arrangement could be worked out, involving the imperial government becoming the trustee and direct over- seer of the wa@s revenues. This would ensure that al-Alusi would get his salary promptly, without the intervention of Najib Pasha.64 The next day, al-Alusi showed up at a general gathering and saw Suleiman Pasha whispering in the Grand Vizier's ear; he was convinced that it concerned him. The Grand Vizier looked in al-Alusi's direction, sending tremors of apprehension in the latter. He then sent him a cryptic message with Suleiman Pasha: "All that you want is in God Almighty's will, and then in mine" (Jamicu ma turiduhu 'aid Alldhi taCdla thumma Calayya).65 Three months later, al-Alusi was notified that the revenues of the wad had been trans- ferred to the Imperial Treasury. Henceforth, al-Alusi would receive his salary di- rectly from I~tanbul.~~

While al-Alusi was publicly grateful for this piece of news, privately he was very bitter. For all intents and purposes, his mission was over: he had received Istanbul's answer as to his fate, and he needed but to return to Baghdad to have his new situation finalized with the local government. And yet, the waves of resentment and anger that engulfed him take up several more pages of the text.

One of the currents underlying al-Alusi's case was the tension among the Grand Vizier, the Shaykh al-Islam, and the minister of finance (Nazir al-Miiliyya). While these tensions clearly emanated from the socio-political and economic transforma- tions that had buffeted the imperial government for more than a century,67 they were also part and parcel of the personalized politics that were such a permanent feature of the Istanbul-based bureaucracy. Al-Alusi saw this very clearly, if with a jaundiced eye. In particular, his portrait of 'Arif Hikmat Beg, the incumbent Shaykh al-Islam, flawed though it is, adds a human dimension to the man which is too rarely encoun- tered in the secondary literature; his warts-and-all description of the power struggle among the Shaykh al-Islam and the two other contenders in the field, the Grand Vizier and the minister of finance, adds a certain corrective to the over-idealized portrait of the Ottoman burea~cracy.~~

Al-Alusi goes so far as to portray the Shaykh al-Islam as by far the weakest element of all three, too timorous even to speak up on al-Alusi's behalf. He attributes this timidity to the perception that the "Shaykh was afraid of the storms that would blow against him (and bring him down)"69 and to his overly cautious relations with the most powerful member of the imperial bureau- cracy, Nafidh Pasha, the minister of finance. The latter is described in this manner:

He was a man who never smiled . . . he was very cruel and shamed people who wanted favors from him . . . he used to tell the poorer ulema: "There are no livelihoods (rizq)for you in bayt al-mdl (Treasury); your livelihoods are to be found in Paradi~e."~'

Al-Alusi complains bitterly about his fate in his narrative. It is as if "they" had been told that the Mufti of Baghdad (al-Alusi himself) would be satisfied with the mere recovery of his post and only a small pittance, intimating that had he not been a descendant of the Prophet's family his salary might have been even less.71 As proof of his confused state of mind, he then immediately contradicts himself, turning de- fensive. "And why should [I] not be satisfied?" he writes, "when [I am] superior to the bazzazin?'(cloth merchants, a term he uses in a pejorative sense to indicate his enemies in Baghdad).72 Then, in a plaintive tone, he continues: "But I would have so wanted the Mufti of Baghdad to be loftier than the other Muftis in the rest of the empire."73 Finally, in utter despair, he calls for the Shaykh al-Islam to issue a fatwd (legal opinion) on his behalf, but the request, if it is ever truly transmitted to 'Arif Beg, falls on deaf ears.74

Partly because he was unsure whether to return to Baghdad now that his situation had been amply clarified by the Istanbul authorities, al-Alusi continues to haunt, as it were, the Shaykh al-Islam's diwdn (council). The latter graciously offers him an- other post in the legal establishment, that of Qadi (judge) in any town of his choos- ing. Al-Alusi is embarrassed into accepting, especially after the Shaykh al-Islam assures him that he would have a na'ib to deputize for him and an ample salary.75 Al- though al-Alusi may have felt that the offer was a demotion, he puts up a stiff fight to retain his former scholarly ranking, that of mudarris al-astdna (professor in the Istanbul subhierarchy), awarded him at the same time as his teaching position at the Mirjan waqf. The Shaykh al-Islam counters by telling him that only if he stays and joins the ranks of the 'Ilmiya hierarchy in Istanbul could he hope to receive the grade of khdrij (attached to those professors appointed to the "outer" madrasa track.)76 When al-Alusi points out that the grade of kharij had been granted to a Damascene alim, who became Qadi in Baghdad without ever having set foot in Istanbul, the Shaykh al-Islam is discomfited and apologizes profusely.77 More disgruntled than ever after his inconclusive interview with 'Arif Hikmat Beg, al-Alusi descends to the streets of Istanbul, determined to survey the Ottoman religious-intellectual scene from below.

It is here that al-Alusi's account most faithfully mirrors al-Suwaidi's narrative one century before. For al-Alusi's attention is immediately drawn to the profusion of Sufi zawdyd and lodges throughout Istanbul, and to the variety of Sufi ritual and practice in the city. For him, the most fruitful comparison was between the Naqshbandiyya, which was considered to be the more "orthodox" and sober order, long familiar to al-Alusi from his early days in Baghdad, and the Mawlawiyya, the tariqa most often identified with Sufi excess. Even though both orders were patronized by the Istanbul elite, perhaps to the exclusion of other turuq (especially after the decline of the Bek- tashi order),78 al-Alusi found a marked difference between the behavior of their re- spective adherents. For instance, al-Alusi describes meeting one of the Naqshbandi khalifas in Istanbul. As with most shaykhs of the Khalidiyya-Mujadaddiyya suborder, he was of Kurdish origin,79 having been initiated in the tariqa by a Kurdish pir from al-'Imadiya (Iraqi Kurdi~tan).~"

According to al-Alusi, he was "a patient and rational man, not oblivious of his self-interest, who liked [Istanbul], which is why he resides there year after year."81 The Naqshbandi tekke (Sufi lodge) that al- Alusi favored was that of Safwati Pasha. According to the Iraqi alim, "most of the people who assembled at the tekke were Kurds who were awaiting the death of the arbnb al-wazd'if (people in professional posts) as they do in Baghdad, so that they could plunder their positions with hands full of ambition."82 Nevertheless, his re- marks on the Sufi fraternities are similar to al-Suwaidi's. He states that:

even though their shaykhs may be drunkards or donkeys, to each mutashayyikh there is respect. . . in general, there is no commodity (siICa) more profitable than the mashyakha in Islambul and its attainment is considered a great victory (fathan Caziman).83

Even though al-Alusi disparaged the more extremist practices of certain Sufi fra- ternal orders, he understood, whereas al-Suwaidi had not, that for a very long time Sufism had permeated all aspects of Ottoman society and that the elite of Istanbul, no less than the popular classes, were attuned to a way of life in which the Sufi tekke functioned simultaneously as an indispensable source of spiritual knowledge, day- to-day guidance, and refuge from the material world. While there is evidence that the Sufi lodge was fast being displaced as the locus of alternate influence by the increased encroachment of Tanzimat-era "m~dernism,"~~

Sufi turuq still continued to wield considerable power over their followers, as evidenced by their rapid re-emergence to official favor under the sponsorship of Sultan Abdul Hamid I1 (r. 1876-1908).

In contrast to the more-or-less understanding approach reserved for the Sufi or- ders, al-Alusi reserved some of his more negative comments for the general level of madrasa education in Istanbul. By his own estimation, there were close to 12,000fulldb in Istanbul, and their numbers were increasing every day. Many of them fell far short of excellence. If, al-Alusi claimed, one were to circumambulate the teaching halls at random, one would find a large number of students asleep during the lec- t~re.~~

The mudarrisiin (professors), no less than the wuCdz(preachers), were "arro- gant" and "selfish," while the attendees were rude and uncultivated boors. Al-Alusi intimated that were it not for the fact that their teaching positions might be taken away from them, many of the professors would opt for more worldly pleasure^.^^ Moreover, the teaching positions were not obtained because of merit, but because of corruption. What was important was the post itself, not the work that it entailed. This "fact" allows him to conclude witheringly: innahum majdnin manusib (they are mad for position^).^'

Nonetheless, al-Alusi's commitment to the empire was genuine and deeply felt. Throughout his period of residence in Istanbul, he was aware that European nations were jockeying for influence at the Porte and making what seemed to be exorbitant demands on the Ottoman state. Two years before the outbreak of the Crimean War, he was distressed by the level of European interference in the matters of the em- pire. While his defense of the Ottoman state was couched in the language of Islamic modernism, in terms of personal identity, al-Alusi was a staunch Iraqophile who was nonetheless cognizant of his home region's significance within the larger Ottoman context. In this respect, he differed from al-Suwaidi: whereas the latter reserved his sympathetic consideration for his fellow Baghdadi ulema, al-Alusi's identification with the land of his birth was wider and much more politicized. It was in line with his conception that the defense of Iraq necessitated the defense of the Ottoman em- pire as a whole. Thus, he was particularly proud of those Ottoman officials who went abroad on extended study or ambassadorial missions and who returned seemingly un- influenced or unimpressed with the West. For instance, his comments on the mushir al-Topkhdna (commander of the cannon foundry) Ahmad Fathi Pasha, the "first" son-in-law of Sultan Mahmud 11, are revealing:

And I did not see in him a weakening of conviction even though [on his journey abroad] he undoubtedly passed through many crises [that might have tested him]. The Sultan liked him better than the rest of his in-laws and always invited him to repast, and spent hours talking to him, while everybody else fell asleep. Not everyone who went to Europe came back more kafir [an unbeliever] than a hurnar [donkey].88

Another interesting example is that of the chief scribe of the Majlis al-Ahkdrn, TalCat Effendi, among whose many virtues was that he went to Europe for many months "but his religious convictions remained unshaken [by Western influence^]."^^ But perhaps the chief illustration of al-Alusi's growing anti-Western sympathies con- cerns Fuad Pasha, the foreign minister in 1851. Al-Alusi relates the perhaps apoc- ryphal story that after Fuad Pasha had been in office for around eight months, an ambassador from the Russian imperial court arrived in Istanbul and went straight- away to the Grand Vizier's office, without having paid the obligatory courtesy call on the Foreign Ministry. Piqued by this discourtesy, Fuad Pasha initiated steps that would present the ambassador from seeing the sultan. Al-Alusi notes approvingly that, as a result of the minister's actions, "the Muscovite dog showed his irritation and be- gan to bark because he was hit with a stone." Because of this supposed provocation, the Russian ambassador left in a huff, and people began whispering of a possible war.90

While al-Alusi uses the example of Fuad Pasha to illustrate the pervasive nature of foreign influence at the Porte, and one minister's small, but in its context rather courageous, gesture to rein in that influence, his following comments underline the fragile status of his home region-Iraq-within the larger Ottoman Empire. As a result of the Russian ambassador's furious exit from Istanbul, many observers grew alarmed because it was obvious to all that, were the Russian imperial court to use the episode as a pretext for war, the Ottoman Empire would lose even more territory and perhaps face dismemberment. Faced with that prospect, al-Alusi bemoaned the potential destruction of the empire; especially did he "fear the deceit of enemies with regard to Iraq, for it is the weakest limb of the em~ire."~'

While al-Alusi's primordial attachments to Iraq can best be seen as emanating from a larger Ottoman identity, his injured pride often obstructed a clear vision of his land of birth. On the one hand, al-Alusi's commitment to his home region took on heavy symbolic overtones influenced in part by loneliness and distance, so that Iraq the region became an abstract and idealized category appealed to in times of stress. On the other, his feelings for fellow Iraqis frequently degenerated into conflicted ste- reotypes of good and evil, usually arising from the outright fabrications and political compromises entered into by his countrymen in the imperial city. Thus, al-Alusi's ambivalence often spilled into vituperation for a particular class of Iraqis whom he felt had colluded with the Baghdad government to defraud him of a legitimate live- lih~od,~~

but his cynicism was often mitigated with pride at the accomplishments of other Iraqis whom he met in Istanbul. This was the case even when ordinary Iraqis failed to conform to what al-Alusi expected of them. For instance, upon meeting Shaykh Abdullah al-Qaraghuli al-Baghdadi, the son of a functionary in the Mamluk Dawud Pasha's administration in Baghdad, al-Alusi has mixed feelings. Because al- Qaraghuli had been born in Baghdad, he merited sympathy and understanding, even though there was talk that he bought and sold appointments and had falsified his intisdb (affiliation) by claiming direct lineage from Shaykh 'Abdul-Qadir al-Gaylani, the founder of the Qadiri tariqa. Others whom al-Alusi met were not so lucky, mer- iting a tongue-lashing for even the most minor infractions.

By the end of his stay, al-Alusi was pining for his city of birth. In correspondence with his dearest friend in Iraq, the poet Abdul-Ghaffar al-'Umari, he confided that he had been so well received among the shaykhs and notables in Istanbul that "had

it not been for the strong love that [tied me to Baghdad], I would have forgotten the And he wrote candidly of leaving Istanbul, where he had experienced so many conflicting emotions:

Let it be said that I had no other concern in [Istanbul] but to complete what I had come for. Many hearts went out to me, amongst which the men of the empire, even though some of the ljunior clerics?] were envious of me. Nonetheless, because many of the people of Istan- bul, especially their chief ulema loved me, they suggested that I settle in the city amongst them and I leave my birth-place. They were very persuasive and kept telling me about the trials and tribulations of going back to live in Baghdad, and intimated that after I left Bagh- dad, the city became intellectually sterile. But when they saw that I was very insistent that I go back to the land of my fathers, they insisted that I place the matter in front of Sultan Abdul-Majid Khan.94

Summoned before the sultan, al-Alusi went before him with a faint heart, "because I was afraid that [the Sultan] would order me to stay."95 As he was ushered into the Protocol office, al-Alusi was busy making his adCiya(prayers), hoping against hope that the sultan would not ask him to stay permanently in Istanbul. Just then, the sul- tan's messenger entered the room and informed him that, regretfully, the sultan would not be able to meet with him that day. Al-Alusi was jubilant: "I nearly flew with wings of happiness at the news."96 The Chief Vizier made time for him, reproaching him for undertaking a return journey to Baghdad at that time, "especially when the sultan may ask to see you tom~rrow."~' Al-Alusi murmured his apologies then bade farewell to the Chief Vizier. He then made his goodbyes to the Shaykh al-Islam, who gave him a gold watch as a parting gift, telling him that he had chosen it be- cause it would remind al-Alusi of him "every hour on the hour."98 With an enigmatic remark, "Time is the enemy of the learned class," al-Alusi was finally free to leave.


As impressionistic as they may be, religious travelogues come closest to explaining what drew Muslims together from all parts of the Islamic oecumene, and where faith and power converged to create the peculiar dynamics of a specific Muslim culture. In this respect, the two Iraqi travel biographies studied here are full of tantalizing glimpses into the complex motives for scholarly travel, and especially of the per- ceptual and psychological baggage accompanying the traveler on his journey. In both travel accounts, the shock of encounter is quickly replaced by the assessment (or re- assessment) of religious practice throughout the wider Islamic realm and the belated recognition of political realities in the application of the faith. In this respect, the pro- cess of recognition and re-assessment can best be seen in the convoluted relationship between the journeying scholar and the state. Ulema-state relations were significant because power and authority quite naturally had a considerable impact on the tenor and overall direction of scholarly travel. In particular, if an alim saw himself as a loyal servant of the state and was perceived to be as such by the scholar-sojourners he met on his route; if his reputation was buttressed by government patronage and support; if he could attest to the good fortune of having been received in audience by representatives of the empire and been called upon to offer counsel to princes and governors, all of these factors weighed in the balance of intellectual worth and status. Most of all, they figured in the creation and re-creation of a traveler's self-image, which took its cue not only from government favor but also from the approbation of the journeying meritocracy of ulema congregated in the Hijaz or Istanbul.

However, power and authority were diffuse in the Ottoman Empire; particularly because the state had so many different categories of representatives, the nature of the relationship between traveler and functionary assumed many different forms. A reading of al-Suwaidi's and al-Alusi's texts makes the point only too well. For in- stance, at the beginning of al-Suwaidi's history, he speaks of being invited to see the governor of Baghdad, Ahmad Pasha. He goes to the audience with a certain amount of trepidation and anxiety, for why would an all powerful Wazir want to seek the advice of a poor alim?99 Upon being told that he has been chosen to represent the Sunni position at Najaf, al-Suwaidi's reaction is instantaneous: "My hair stood up on end."Io0 The demand seems troubling and onerous at the same time. Not only would he have to debate the Persian ulema, who were "stubborn and arrogant but he would have to win. That was the responsibility that Ahmad Pasha had saddled him with and which he bore with a heavy heart throughout the Najaf conference. Even though he may have felt that the whole future of Sunni Ottoman tradition was resting on his shoulders, that may not have been the only cause of his anxiety. In fact, that he eventually "won" the debate or at least acquitted himself with honor may have been almost beside the point in the larger scheme of things. The more sig- nificant issue was that he had scored important polemical points for the Wazir and not disgraced him. As a result of the conference's outcome, al-Suwaidi was given permission (istiJdhdn)to embark on the pilgrimage because he now visibly merited the Wazir's trust.

That is perhaps why the tone of al-Suwaidi's writings about his journey is differ- ent from those of al-Alusi, for al-Suwaidi obviously enjoyed the full support and pa- tronage of Ahmad Pasha and, in return, may have gloried in serving the aims of the intellectual revival so often associated with early Mamluk rule.lo2 As further corrob- oration, we need go no further than to recollect al-Suwaidi's statements with regard to the charitable donations he was offered by well-meaning fellow ulema and nota- bles in Aleppo. Even though he was given quite a lot of cash (and perhaps more blan- kets than he could pack on his camel), there is not a trace of condescension in the manner that his benefactors donated their charity, and not a shred of extra humility in his gratitude.lo3 For al-Suwaidi, these donations were his due, granted to the wor- thiest alim embarking upon the hajj, in return for which he was to remember his benefactors in his prayers in Mecca. There is even a touch of superiority in his ac- count. Was he not, after all, the mudarris of the most prestigious mosque-madrasa in Baghdad, attached to the Qadiri shrine? In one of the many ijdzas he wrote for the ulema he met on the way, he signed his name with a flourish: he was khddim al-sunna al-cuzzd ladd darih qutb ~l-~drifin

wa markaz dd3irat al-muwahhidin Sayyid Muhyi al-Din al-Shaikh Abdul-Qddir al-Jili (the Servitor of the powerful Tradition at the Mausoleum of the Axis of all Knowledge, and the Center of Monotheism Sayyid Muhi al-Din al-Shaikh Abdul-Qadir al-Jili).lo4 And, of course, however much he wanted to discount it on his later journey to al-haramayn, was he not the one alim who had been chosen to intercede between the Persian and Afghan ulema at Nadir Shah's campsite in Najaf? Because of the combination of state support, his fellow ulema's admiration for his great learning, and his not inconsiderable self-esteem, al-Suwaidi felt that he was indeed a luminary of the very highest order.Io5

With all that, al-Suwaidi continued to face governmental intrusions throughout his journey. The fact that his hajj was prone to almost hourly interruption by the Sharif of Mecca has already been discussed; the interlude cast a pall on al-Suwaidi's pilgrimage that would only have evaporated as he distanced himself from the Holy City. Another example, however, provoked considerably more annoyance: he was inveigled into writing a poem in praise of the Amir al-hajj AsCad Pasha al-Azm and his management of the pilgrimage by none other than his faithful ally in the Mecca incident, Sayyid Yunus al-ACzami.lo6 Upon being told that Sayyid Yunus had already volunteered his services and that AsCad Pasha was awaiting the poem, al-Suwaidi flew into a rage, telling Sayyid Yunus that the only obedience owed was to God and that praising governors was tantamount to lying.lo7 Even though al-Azm invited al- Suwaidi to recite his completed poem and offered him pecuniary compensation, al- Suwaidi remained unmoved. To the very end, he remained unforgiving of the secular concerns and petty problems of local and district governors and leery of governmen- tal obligation outside his native Iraq. To paraphrase his earlier statement, it can be argued that after obedience to God, he made it clear to all concerned that he owed fealty only to Ahmad Pasha.

Al-Alusi's experience with the abuse of power had already soured him on govern- ment even before his departure from Baghdad for Istanbul. After all, he had been a first-hand witness to the often brutal re-imposition of government control on Bagh- dad, and may himself have been a prime instigator of the Jamil Zada revolt against the Ottoman occupation of the city. Even had he wanted to re-ingratiate himself into power, he would have been an unlikely choice as ally of the Ottoman administration of Baghdad, for the first two governors of Baghdad were intent on building a coali- tion of interests around a Tanzimat-led policy and had a ready clientele of religious men to choose from. Al-Alusi was a known quantity and quite possibly spelled trou- ble for an administration bent on enforcing the re-centralization of the Iraqi prov- inces. Because of the vicissitudes he had suffered, both at the hands of his enemies in the religious establishment (at one point, both the Hanafi and ShafiCi muftis of Baghdad were reportedly involved in a plot to sully his reputation)lo8 and that of the Wali Najib Pasha, he was already in a suspicious frame of mind at the beginning of his journey to Istanbul.

In Istanbul, the situation only got worse. To the welter of religious and temporal authority was added the insecurity of tenure of almost everybody he met in the im- perial city. For al-Alusi, Istanbul may have seemed like a maze of separate author- ities, each power ensconced in its own fief and competing with other powers-that-be to appropriate more privileges and prerogatives. What was a poor provincial alim to do in all that confusion? How was he to maneuver among the alliances and me'sal- liances in the city to gain audience to the ears of the mighty? No wonder he seemed always to be on the verge of despair. Although he was received with great courtesy by the highest echelons of the imperial bureaucracy and was accorded a warm re- ception in scholarly circles and by the fluctuating community of secular officials and power-seekers congregated in Istanbul's diwdns, the true mark of success, a victori- ous outcome of his case, eluded him. Despite the many kindnesses and good feel- ings that he found in the imperial city, he may have been forced to conclude that his stay had been a complete disappointment. His rush to leave Istanbul must be seen in that light; far from being an attempt to deflect a possible sultanic order to remain in Istanbul, it may have been a proud alim's way to come to terms with the fact that he had no alternative but to leave.

Ultimately, both al-Suwaidi's and al-Alusi's narratives are significant as journeys of self-discovery. Alienated by the dishonesty and corruption around them, they fell back on local identity in self-defense and self-justification. As a result of al-Suwaidi's encounter with the richer ulema of Damascus, he developed a momentary loss of self-esteem, which he compensated for through a wholesale attack on the religious establishment in the city. Because of the psychological wounds inflicted on al-Alusi in Istanbul, he leveled wide-ranging and critical comments at his co-religionists. Both travelers sought out the "nobler" elements within each city's religious hierarchy; not surprisingly, these were often scholars and bureaucrats who either had passed by way of Iraq on their travels or expressed admiration for the "Baghdadi" curriculum im- bibed by al-Suwaidi and al-Alusi. Moreover, both travelers' growing critical sense stemmed in part from the multi-faceted aspects of power in the empire, which al- lowed "lesser" district governors a certain amount of leeway to manipulate any scholar-sojourner that could legitimize their various political agendas or otherwise serve their purposes. As a result of the heavy toll imposed on the travelers' psyches, their resentment and disillusion spilled over into an idealized Iraqi identity and a politicized literary awareness.


Author's note: This article was first presented at a MESA panel in Washington, D.C., in 1995. I thank all the participants of the panel. I am especially grateful to Professor William Ochsenwald for his com- ments. I also thank Dr. Edward Mitchell, Paul Powers, and the anonymous reviewers of IJMES for their insights. Needless to say, I am solely responsible for any errors in the text.

e en edict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Rej7ections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

(London and New York: Verso, 1991). 4-7.

21bid., 47-65.

3~ichelFoucault, "Two Lectures," in Culture/Power/History: A Reader in Contemporary Social The- ory, ed. Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley, and Sherry B. Ortner (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994). 200-2 1. 4~l-~uwaidi's al-

Rihla is available in several versions. The original, penned by Shaykh 'Abdullah Suwaidi, is still in manuscript form. A shorter, anonymous version was written by one of his sons, most probably 'Abdul-Rahman al-Suwaidi, and is also in manuscript. The section of the original manuscript in which 'Abdullah al-Suwaidi recounts his debates with the Persian and Afghan ulema in Najaf was edited and published separately in Egypt. See 'Abdull~h ibn Husain ibn Mirci ibn Na~ir al-Din al-'Abbasi al-Suwaidi, "Al-nafha al-miskiyya fi al-rihla al-makkiyya" (The Fragrant Breeze of Musk in the Meccan Journey), British Library, London, or. ms. add. 23385; "Narratio Obsessionis", British Library or. ms. add. 7337; and 'Abdullah al-Suwaidi, Mu'tamar a/-Najaf (The Najaf Conference), with an introduction by Muhyi-al-Din al-Khatib (Cairo: Salafiya Press, 1973).

'~ohn Voll, Islam: Continuity and Change in the Modern World (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press,

1982), 62.

%oil, Islam, 37.

'~bu Than%' al-Aliisi, Kitab gharnJib a/-ightiriib wa nuzhat a/-albab fi a/-dhihab wa a/-iqdma wa al-

iynb (The Book of Marvels of Expatriation and the Promenade of Essence in the Departure, Residence and Return) (Baghadad: Shahbander Press, 1909).

if at Ali Abou-El-Haj, Formation of the Modern State: The Ottoman Empire, Sixteenth to Eigh- teenth Centuries (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), 1-28; and Cornell H. Fleischer, Bureaucrat and Intellectual: The Historian Mustafa Ali: 1541-1600 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univer- sity Press, 1986). 230-3 1.

9~l-~uwaidi,"Al-nafha al-miskiyya," fol. 133-38.

"AI-~liisi portrays himself as "a bird in a cage" in Baghdad and hopes that, as soon as his situation is ameliorated by imperial ircida, he will regain his "verdant living. . . and render the faces of [his ene- mies] blue [with anger]." See al-Aliisi, Kitab gharciJib al-ightircib, 226-28.

"AI-~uwaidi, "Al-nafha al-miskiyya, fol. 3-5.

"~uhammad Khalil al-MurHdi, Silk a/-durarji acycin al-qarn a/-thani 'ashr (The String of Pearls on the Notables of the Twelfth Century) (Baghdad: Al-Muthanna Press, n.d.), 3:84-86. I31bid. I4~ohnForan, "The Long Fall of the Safavid Dynasty: Moving Beyond the Standard Views," Interna

tional Journal of Middle East Studies 24 (May 1992): 281-304. 15~oll,

Islam, 83.

I6~amidAlgar has published an excellent analysis of the whole episode in his article "Shicism and Iran in the Eighteenth Century," in Studies in Eighteenth Century Islamic History, ed. T. Naff and R. Owen (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1977), 288-403. See also Hamid Enayat, Modern Is- lamic Political Thought (Austin: University of Texas at Austin, 1982), 39-41; and J. R. I. Cole, Roots of North Indian ShiCism in Iran and Iraq (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 30-32.

I7~nayat,Modern Islamic Political Thought, 18-3 1.

l81bid., 40.

19~amidAlgar has argued that Nadir Shah's reasons for sponsoring the Jacfari madhhab were, in the main, political. Because Twelver Shicism was closely identified with the Safavids, a modified Shicism, more akin to Sunni precepts, might be more easily adopted as Nadir's credo, as well as appease his troops, who were for the most part Sunni Afghans and Turcomans. Finally, Nadir's "ambitions went beyond the boundaries of Iran [and] the profession of Shicism, which had become closely identified with Iran in the Safavid period, would have been inappropriate for the ruler of a broader Islamic realm." See Algar, "Shicism and Iran," 298-99.


Islam, 34-39.

"Al-nafha al-miskiyya," fol. 55-1 12.
22~bid.,fol. 133-37.
231bid., fol. 134-37.

Rafeq, The Province of Damascus, 1723-1 783 (Beirut: Khayats Press, 1966), 98- 101 ; and idem, "Changes in the Relationship Between the Ottoman Central Administration and the Syrian Provinces from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries," in Studies, 60-73.

25~lbertHourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Cambridge: Belknap, 1991), 236-37.

26~oll,Islam, 58-59.


28~adeleineC. Zilfi, The Politics of Piety: The Ottoman Ulema in the Post-Classical Age (1600

1800) (Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1988), 129-235. 291bid., 229. 30C~bdul-~ahmiin al-Suwaidi, "Hadiqat al-zawrH3 fi sirat al-wuzarH3" (The Garden of

ibn 'Abdulliih Baghdad in the Biographies of Governors), ms. or. add. 18507, British Library, London, fol. 122.


32~1-~uwaidi,"Al-nafha al-miskiyya," fol. 162-65.

33~bid.,fol. 135-37.

341bid., fol. 195.

351bid., fol. 196.

36~bdulRahman Alorabi, "The Ottoman Policy in the Hijaz in the Eighteenth Century: A Study of Political and Administrative Developments, 1143-1202" (Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1988). 75-77. 37~1-~uwaidi,

"Al-nafha al-miskiyya," fol. 38-39,
38~bid.,fol. 24.
39~oll,Islam, 56.


Kitiib ghariiJib al-ightirab, 5.

41~ormore information on the origin and development of the Naqshbandi fariqa, see Butrus Abu- Manneh, "The Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya in the Ottoman Lands in the Early Nineteenth Century," Die Welt des Islams 22 (1984).


Kitab gharaJib a[-ightiriib, 15.

43~bid., 16.

44~amid Algar, "The Naqshbandi Order: A Preliminary Survey of its History and Significance," Studia Islamica 44 (1976): 148; and Abu-Manneh, "The Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya in the Ottoman Lands," 1-36. 45C~bba~ al-Alusi) (Baghdad:

al-CAzzawi,Dhikrii Abi ThaniiJ a[-AlOsi (In Memory of Abu Thana' Tijara and TibaCa Press, 1958). 25-26. 46c~bb~s

al-CAzzawi,Tarikh a[-'Iraq bayna ihtilalayn (The History of Iraq Between Two Occupations) (Baghdad: Tijara and Tibaca Press, n.d.), 8:15.

47~bid., 16.

48~bid., 17.


Kitiib ghariiJib al-ightircib, 23-24.

Solbid., 25.


52~ordetails on the Shikaya literature, see Suraiya Faroqhi, "Political Activity Among Ottoman Tax- payers and the Problem of Sultanic Legitimation (1570-1650)," Journal of the Economic and Social His- tory of the Orient 35, part 1 (February 1992): 1-39. See also Haim Gerber, State, Society and Law in Islam (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994). 154-73.

53~aroqhi,"Political Activity," 2. 54~uraiya Faroqhi, Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj under the Ottomans (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1994), 7-10, 184-87; and Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples, 222. 55~1-~uwaidi,

"Al-nafha al-miskiyya," fol. 191-93.

Kitiib gharaJib al-ightiriib, 106.
571bid., 117.
"Ibid., 117-22.
60~bid., 128.
611bid., 129.

Dhikrii AbO ThanaJ a[-AlOsi, 96. 63~arterV. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire: The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980). 61-63. 64~l-~liisi,

Kitdb ghariiJib al-ightiriib, 128-29. 65~bid., 129. 661bid., 129. 67~indley,Bureaucratic Reform, 3-220; and idem, Ottoman Civil Oficialdom: A Social History

(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988). 68~ourani,A History of the Arab Peoples, 224. 69~l-~liisi,

Kitiib ghariiJib a[-ightiriib, 127. 70~bid.,127. 711bid., 129-30. 72~bid., 129. 73~bid., 129-30. 741bid., 129. 75~bid., 13 1. 76~ormore details on the rankings and gradings within the Istanbul ulema hierarchy, see Fleischer,

Bureaucrat and Intellectual, 3-33. 77~l-~l~si,

Kitab gharaJib al-ightiriib, 132.
78~b~ in the Ottoman Lands," 26.

Manneh, "The Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya
791bid., 24.

Kitab ghariiJib al-ightiriib, 207.
"Ibid.. 207.

76 Hala Fattah

84~indley,Bureaucratic Reform, 204.

Kitclb gharaJib al-ightirab, 173.
87~bid., 188-89.
8s~bid., 135-36.
s9~bid., 148.
90~bid., 142.
92~bid., 128.

"Al-nafha al-rniskiyya," fol. 16.


ibn 'AbdullHh al-Suwaidi, "Hadiqat al-zawra',"
fol. 15, 16, 19, 22, 28, 40, 41
103~l-~uwaidi, ..

"Al-nafha al-rniskiyya," fol. 55, 57.
I0hbid., fol. 149-50.
'051bid., fol. 186.
'061bid., fol. 389-99.

Dhikrcl AbO ThanclJ al-AlOsi, 25-26

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