Social Relations and Official Islam
A Second Account of Arrival and Discovery
In August of 1965, traveling by minibus eastward along the coastal road from Trabzon, I reached the town of Rize in the late afternoon. Wanting to shower and rest, I took a room in a comfortable hotel, patronized for the most part by businessmen, professionals, and officials. That evening, some of the guests invited me to join them in the lobby of the hotel and asked me questions about my university studies. When I found the opportunity, I told them about the elderly bearded man in Eskipazar for whom the restaurant patrons had stood at attention. My hosts were impressed with the story but unable give me any further information about what I had seen. They explained that they had never visited the district of Of and were poorly informed about its peoples and villages. They had the impression that many of the Oflus were exceptionally hardworking and successful in business, but socially conservative. One of them described the Oflus as backward (gerici) and fanatical (mutaassııb) in their religious outlook. Another said there had once been numerous religious academies (medrese) in the mountain villages of the district of Of, but these had all been closed down soon after the declaration of the Turkish Republic in 1923. With this comment, someone spoke of country religious teachers who came from the district of Of, the very mention of which provoked laughter.
As I was to learn later, the "hodja from Of" (Oflu hoca) represented a stereotype for educated urbanites everywhere in the Turkish Republic. He brought to mind a man with a trimmed beard, an education limited to a few religious texts, little or no knowledge of the world beyond the small towns and villages of Anatolia, and a literal, if not erroneous, interpretation of the sacred law of Islam (şeriat). A district that was little known by outsiders had somehow become notorious for its religious teachers. The obvious questions this posed eventually became an important part of my fieldwork. Why had there once been religious academies in a district that was entirely rural and remotely situated? Why was the hodja from Of still notorious all over the Turkish Republic four decades after the National Assembly had imposed strict penalties on all forms of unauthorized religious teaching and learning?
Society Conforms To Islamic Belief and Practice
When I returned to the town of Of some days later, I took a room at the Crystal Palace Hotel and Teahouse. The name, which has metropolitan associations, was probably inspired by a downstairs room enclosed by large glass windows where men from the villages took refreshments during their visits to the town. In my first conversations with those whom I met there, I raised questions about Islamic belief and practice, since I had always intended to make religion part of my study. My queries, together with my ability to speak a little Turkish, were immediately taken as a sign of my readiness to convert, hence to become a "Turk." During my first few days in the town, I was repeatedly "called to Islam," usually before crowds of people in coffeehouses or in the market. Even when I declined to accept, my acquaintances were not discouraged. As far as they were concerned, I was on my way to the truth, and my acceptance of Islam was a virtual certainty. Soon I found that I had been "adopted," breathtakingly transformed from foreigner to companion.
In the Crystal Palace, I had made contact with a group of friends and partners from different villages involved in a variety of business enterprises (see fig. 3). They managed the hotel and teahouse, bought and sold farm products, rented a warehouse in the town, managed a stall during the weekly town market, leased and operated a truck, and so on. Their houses were in the villages of the foothills not far from the town, but they resided in the town for most of the week rather than return each night to their wives and children. Some of them frequented the markets along the coast, buying and selling hazelnuts. Some traveled to nearby cities such as Erzurum, Rize, and Trabzon, buying and selling cheese. Some took the truck on long-distance hauls to other parts of Turkey, such as Adana, Ankara, or Istanbul. Overnight, they had set about to make me part of their little business association, and for a while I no longer had time for anything else. During the remainder of that summer in Of, I was always in the company of others.
Figure 3. Friends at the Crystal Palace Hotel.
My new companions plied me with refreshments during hours of conversation in the coffeehouses. They insisted I join them in their lunches and dinners. They assigned me tasks to perform, including even collecting and holding the cash from sales. They gave me a new name, changing my Christian name, Michael, into a Muslim name, Mahmut. They expressed concern if I was not feeling well or low in spirits. They offered to prepare hot water and to pour it for my baths, an occasion that was as much social and moral as hygienic. They invited me to their homes in their villages and introduced me to their aging fathers and mothers (but not their wives or daughters). They took me with them on excursions to Erzurum and Trabzon, where I accompanied them to markets, mosques, restaurants, and nightclubs. During our trips, we might walk together as couples, hand–in-hand. In the cities, during our entertainment, we might sing to each other, groom one another, two-by-two. When I sometimes left the town to travel alone to other towns—partly in search of respite from their attention—they urged me to look up their relatives and friends and to stay with them during my visit.
Some of my friends from the Crystal Palace were lax in their religious observance until the approach of the month of Ramadan. In the course of their trips outside Of, some drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, gambled at cards, and visited prostitutes, all of which met with strong disapproval in the district of Of during the 1960s. But others were strictly observant, regularly performing their prayers throughout the year and keeping the fast during Ramadan. Despite these differences in religiosity, they formed a circle of intimacy based on notions of obligation, cooperation, and sociability that referenced Islamic belief and practice. Both the bad and the good Muslims had accepted me because of my interest in Islam, and they were all excited at the prospect of my conversion. When I asked about Islamic belief and practice, they were usually able to provide explanations, and, if not, they summoned a friend whom they thought might address my question more authoritatively. They assured me of their wholehearted support. They welcomed me into their community. I could settle in their district forever. They offered me land for gardens and a house to live in. They would find me a wife. Why should I ever return to Chicago, a city of racists and gangsters? Accept! Join us! Stay with us!
The news of my coming to Islam, outrunning the event itself, spread to other parts of the district. I would hear stories about myself during my travels to this or that market or village. After introducing myself as a visiting American, my interlocutor would exclaim, "You are an American. Have you met one of your countrymen who has recently come to Of to accept Islam? You should do the same. Study our religion. You will find it is true and right." At the same time, I found myself trapped by the topic of religion whenever I visited the coffeehouses in the town of Of. My interlocutors would describe for me correct religious practice, the performance of the daily prayers or the pilgrimage, the keeping of the fast at Ramadan, the obligation to pay alms, and so on. Sometimes they would raise questions of a philosophical nature. How could one recognize the truth? How did this recognition affect one's actions? Why did some individuals refuse the truth? What were the consequences of this refusal? Even a visit to the barber, a store, or a workshop would result in a religious debate with a gathering of three to six individuals. And when I sat on the terrace of a coffeehouse, a conversation about religion would soon attract a larger crowd of listeners. At moments when my response to a challenge appeared weak or defensive, the audience might urge me to accept Islam, seeing my hesitation as a fleeting recognition of the truth.
On one occasion in the tiny square of the old town center, I was surrounded by younger men urging me to accept Islam. Then, to my surprise, one of them with whom I had gone swimming in the sea that day revealed that I was circumcised. The crowd was ecstatic. They knew I was interested in Islam and surprisingly well informed about it. Now they had learned that this painful but necessary operation had already been performed. They suspected I had hesitated to accept Islam for fear of the knife, but no such obstacle stood in the way. Come with us to the mosque! Do it now! Accept! Join us! Stay with us! There was a place for me, stranger and foreigner, in the district of Of. I had no family or relatives there, but that would come in the course of time. Someone like myself—that is, anyone at all no matter who he was—could become an Oflu through interpersonal association, underwritten by Islamic belief and practice.
Only very reluctantly, I came to realize that social thinking and practice in the district of Of was not so much "parochial," that is, based on a local system of kinship, as "universal" in orientation. My companions' business association included men who were related and unrelated to one another. They came from different patronymic groups. They even came from different villages. They had gradually become both friends and partners in the course of working together, but it was their mutual acceptance of a discipline of Islamic sociability that had made it possible for them to do so. An ethic of face-to-face exchanges—sitting, conversing, and sharing—was the basis of their business association. Seeing others and showing oneself, speaking and listening in turn, gestures of respect and tokens of affection, all fostered sentiments of intimacy and contracts of reciprocity. Their circle was certainly not independent of kinship relations, but the latter had been channeled through Islamic regulations and courtesies.
In this respect, my acceptance and inclusion were in no way extraordinary but were consistent with the mixed composition of their little group. In the course of time, as my Turkish improved, they marveled at mygradual acquisition of their language and were pleased when I adopted their social thinking and practice. In time, someone noticed that I bore an uncanny resemblance to the Oflus. This provoked a discussion about what might possibly account for this. One of my companions asked me directly about my family origins, and I replied that I was an American, as he well knew. "No, no," he said. "All Americans come from somewhere else. What about your forefathers?" Relenting, I told him that the Meekers were said to be Flemish or Dutch people from Belgium or Holland. "That's it," he replied. "You are descended from a Turk! The Ottomans conquered the Low Countries (Belçika) in the seventeenth century!" The experience of intimacy and familiarity, gained through a discipline of sociability, had led gradually to a sensation of resemblance, then finally to a revelation of common identity.
I did not arrive at the preceding understandings either quickly or easily. From the moment of my arrival, my interest had been in leading individuals and large family groupings. On any occasion that was possible, I steered my companions away from Islam toward the topics of descent lines, marriage rules, vengeance obligations, and dispute mediation. These efforts were not especially rewarding, since my companions seemed to have no concept at all of balanced opposition or lineage mediation. This was extremely annoying and frustrating to me. I was an aspiring anthropologist engaged in a study of a uniquely "local" society and culture. If I could not discover such a phenomenon, if my informants were going to refer their conventional thinking and practice to the sacred law of Islam, my fieldwork made no sense at all. I began to think that my first queries about religion had been a serious mistake. When I came to be perceived as a potential convert, everything "local" had been pushed to the background and the issue of Islam had come to the foreground. I therefore made a renewed effort to uncover a substratum of local society and culture "untainted" by Islam. I began to ask my companions about stories and legends, rituals and shrines, witchcraft and sorcery—anything of an exotic or marginal character that could be opposed to Islamic belief and practice. And, of course, I was able to find such material, although extremely little during my initial, shorter visit. What impressed me, however, was the hostility with which some of my acquaintances greeted my interest in these "lies" (yalan) and "nonsense" (saçmalama).
Attempting to outwit my interlocutors, whom I suspected of exaggerating their piety for the benefit of the potential convert, I devised another tactic to uncover a layer of Oflu society and culture that was "outside" conventional Islam. I was able to discover certain local customs that were either forbidden or disapproved in the learned Islamic tradition. These included such matters as the payment of bride-price, the marriage of daughters without their consent, the exclusion of women from land inheritance, and the belief in possession by spirits (cin, peri). When I pointed out these disparities, I was astonished that my remarks were enthusiastically received with expressions of guilt and apology. My companions were not at all surprised by my examples, but told me they had long been subjects of controversy in the district. As it happened, local customs (örf ve âdet) were commonly evaluated by reference to Islam; moreover, such evaluations were not recent but seemed themselves an aspect of district "tradition." Even insignificant gestures might be subject to an Islamic critique. For example, one man told me that the Oflus incorrectly greeted one another in the coffeehouses by touching their fingers to their forehead. "Our hodjas have told us that we should instead greet one another by touching the flat of our right hand to our heart." I began to glimpse a history of Islamization whereby local habits had been subjected to revision according to the sacred law of Islam.
Ordinary Oflus, lacking common family or village origins, were able to form a business association by virtue of a discipline of Islamic sociability. Similarly, they could accept a stranger who did not know the local dialect and came from a distant country on the basis of his anticipated acceptance of that same discipline of Islamic sociability. The inhabitants of what I took to be remote and isolated mountain valleys were somehow able to see themselves as participants in a greater Islamic society. By my experiences in the Crystal Palace, I was fitfully coming to understand that religious teaching and learning, through a process of criticism and argument, had left its mark on the district of Of. In the 1960s, however, the hodjas from Of were a more or less forbidden topic.
Local Elites Conform to Islamic Belief and Practice
During intermittent visits to Rize and Trabzon I heard further reports about religious teaching and learning in the district of Of, at some time in the past, or perhaps still in the present. Meanwhile, in the district of Of, I had difficulty finding anyone who would speak to me openly about such matters. For example, no one ever explained to me the simple fact that scores of religious academies (medrese), hundreds of professors (müderris), and thousands of students (talebe) were officially listed in the district during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. My interlocutors were understandably reticent. The tradition of religious study had gone underground sometime after its prohibition during the first years of the Turkish Republic. At the time of my visit, unauthorized religious instruction could still result in a prison term, even though many public prosecutors chose to look the other way. No one was eager to delve into the sensitive subject of proscribed religious activities with a foreigner who had appeared out of nowhere, even if he was a potential convert.
At last one of my regular interlocutors commented on the local tradition of religious study when I pressed him about the issue. "Oh yes, there were once religious academies in Çaykara [a sub-district of Of that had become a separate district after 1948], but they are no longer in existence and they were not located here [in the new district of Of]." By this response, the hodjas from Of were set at a double remove, both in time and in space. The man who made this comment was the director (müdür) of the middle school (orta okul), or so I erroneously considered him to be. He was about forty years old and resided in a nearby village. He usually wore the standard dress of local officials, a necktie, hat, dress shirt, and suit. He sometimes spoke of the backwardness of the villagers and made condescending remarks about their accents, expressions, food, and dress. By his conversation and appearance, I took him to be a radical nationalist (Kemalist, Atatürkçü), and by that fact an enthusiastic secularist. He seemed exceptionally well informed about contemporary affairs and was something of a polemicist on the subject of the place of Islam in the Republic. This was not especially surprising to me, given his (supposed) position as a school administrator. He had no doubt developed arguments to counter local religious conservatives. Based on such presumptions, I came to depend on him as an authority when I had questions about religion in Of, failing to recognize numerous clear indications that he was not at all what I had taken him to be.
On one occasion, the "school director" had delivered an eloquent lecture, or should I say a "sermon" (hutbe), ostensibly for my benefit, but in fact for a crowd that surrounded us before one of the coffeehouses. He explained to me, now and then turning to his audience, how the Turkish Republic was not an "innovation" (bid’ءat) but was compatible with the sacred law of Islam. He went on to argue that the National Assembly and Constitution of the Turkish Republic had their direct counterparts in the first community of Muslims at Medina and the Charter of Medina drawn up by the Prophet Muhammad. I was impressed with his cleverness in defending secular national institutions by references to Islamic history. He knew his listeners were resentful of the restrictions that the early nationalist movement had placed on religious observance. He had therefore chosen to undercut their objections by defending the Turkish Republic as conforming to Islamic tradition. I surmised that the "school director" had composed his little lecture by way of familiarity with the writings of nineteenth-century Islamic modernists, such as Afghani and Abduh. The thought even crossed my mind that he might have read these authors as part of the curriculum of a government training institute for school administrators. Perhaps the works of Islamic modernists had been included in the curriculum, precisely as a way of countering religious reactionaries. And so I kept missing the significance of our private conversations that took on the color of public harangues.
During another conversation, or at least what had begun as such, the "school director" told me a parable about the Sufi mystic and poet Celalettin el-Rumî, founder of the Mevlevi religious brotherhood (tarikat). The two of us were seated facing one another in the old town square, surrounded by a crowd of adolescent boys. He spoke directly to my face but in a louder voice than necessary since his intended audience was really not I but all the boys around us:
The "school director" concluded with the moral: "A man will wish to see the face and body of a woman that much more when she is covered up. The practice of veiling does not keep the peace but sows discord among the believers."
One day a man saw Celalettin put something under his robe as he came out of a shop. Curious, this man began to follow the great mystic and poet. As he did so, he met others who asked him where he was going. He explained that he was following Celalettin in hopes of learning what he was hiding. These others then joined him until at last a large, noisy crowd was trailing along behind the sage. Upon noticing that he was followed by a throng of people, Celalettin turned to ask what it was they wanted from him. Their leader replied that he wished to learn what he had concealed beneath his robe. "Bread," Celalettin replied, exposing the loaf for all to see.
I correctly understood the narrow meaning of the story at the time, even if its wider implications had escaped me. The "school director" was obviously criticizing local veiling practices that were regarded as Islamic by most villagers during the 1960s. When women of the villages in the surrounding countryside came to the weekly market, they covered their hair with white scarves and their heads with large shawls of various sizes and colors in accordance with the convention of their particular village. If they happened to encounter a man on the way to the market, or if they asked a shopkeeper a question about price or quality, these women would often draw the shawl across their nose and lips as they did so. The "school director" had told his story in response to my questions about this kind of behavior, and he had concluded it by mocking village women, drawing his hand across his face as though concealing his nose and lips.
I had my first hint of the gravity of what the "school director" had said only a few days later. Hitching a ride with an Oflu trucker near the town of Giresun on my way back to Of, I told the driver about Celalettin's loaf of bread, simply by way of making conversation. By the time I had finished, the trucker was almost bouncing out of his seat, so angry that he considered stopping his rig and asking me to get out. I regained his good graces only by telling him that it was not my story but a story told to me by one of his own countrymen. "And who was the man who told you this lie?" he asked. This was only the first of many occasions that proved to me how seriously women's dress was taken. In the 1960s, all the women who were natives of Of, whether they lived in towns or villages, covered their head and hair as I have described, while wearing blouses, skirts, and aprons that concealed their lower arms and legs. When my wife accompanied me to Of the following year, she decided the best course would be to respect local custom because we were guests. She therefore adopted the use of a headscarf and wore a long coat when she left our house to go to the marketplace. This behavior was rewarded with gifts of anchovy pilaf and fresh yogurt brought to our door in thanks for our respect for Islam. On the other hand, the wife of the pharmacist, also an outsider, was less compromising. Having moved to Of from Istanbul only after her marriage, she was an avowed secularist who detested all forms of veiling. She purposely went to the marketplace with her head uncovered, provoking some of the village women to curse and spit at her.
In retrospect, I realized that the "school director" had been expressing an inflammatory opinion in a loud voice in the middle of the town square, and that it was as though some invisible barrier protected him from any kind of challenge. The trucker had been on the right track when he had asked for his identity. He was indeed a man of a certain social position and background, but not at all the one I had supposed. I am embarrassed to recall that I did not immediately understand that the "school director" himself was a hodja who had studied in a religious academy of the district. Knowing only that he worked at the middle school, I had assumed that he was the highest functionary of that institution by virtue of his reception among the town worthies. The directors and chairmen of public associations invited him to their tables in restaurants to share their meals, listened respectfully to his opinions, and addressed him as "my hodja" (hocam) rather than by his personal name. Without really thinking about it, I had assumed that the title accorded him referred to an earlier career in the classrooms of state schools. After all, it was common practice for Turkish citizens to address their former teachers by the title "my hodja" all their lives. Only toward the end of my initial visit did I realize he was merely the school secretary (as I shall henceforth refer to him). The town worthies deferred to him not because of his employment, which was a post of no particular distinction whatsoever, but rather by virtue of his religious studies, which were entirely unofficial, even illegal, in character.
I was later to learn of various partnerships between leading individuals and religious teachers, especially in the past but continuing during my residence. These took the form of friendships of convenience between an uneducated but socially prominent individual and an educated but socially humble individual. The town worthies did not extend their hospitality to everyone engaged in religious study, far from it. Instead, they welcomed and hosted the school secretary because he was a hodja from Of who spoke with and for them. As I came to understand some years later, his arguments were not intended to persuade religious conservatives that the Republic and Kemalism conformed with Islam. They were instead intended to justify the dominant position of his kinsmen, friends, and associates in public institutions and organizations. To see how this is so, the lessons I learned from my companions in the Crystal Palace must first be applied to leading individuals from large family groupings. As I have explained, it was my initial presumption that the town worthies had come to dominate the public life of the district by means of clan solidarity and alliances. However, my experiences at the Crystal Palace had indicated that social relations in the district of Of were based on a discipline of Islamic sociability rather than any parochial system of descent and marriage. Like my companions at the Crystal Palace, the town worthies also engaged in day-to-day interactions of sitting, conversing, and sharing. By these activities, they, too, were bound together by sentiments of intimacy and contracts of reciprocity. So the town worthies had come together to dominate public life in much the same way that my companions at the Crystal Palace were able to come together to engage in multiple entrepreneurial adventures.
Leading individuals of the Selimoğlu and Muradoğlu were the principals of two circles of interpersonal association in the district of Of. But the latter were but unusual examples of many other circles of interpersonal association among townsmen and villagers, such as the one that had adopted me at the Crystal Palace. Leading individuals of the Selimoğlu and Muradoğlu were different only in their ability to extend and reinforce their circles of interpersonal association by dominating public institutions and organizations. The least seepage of power or resources out of the hands of state officials had always resulted in the consolidation of their social networks. Moreover, their interpersonal associations had been purposely perpetuated from generation to generation by the collusion of state officials who had relied on them for local social control, now in the Republic as formerly in the Empire. Anyone who might oppose the Selimoğlu or Muradoğlu would therefore take on more than a single individual with a few friends and partners. They would confront entrenched district social oligarchies that had bee n and still were supported by the state system.
So leading individuals from large family groupings controlled public institutions and organizations by using them to consolidate their position in interpersonal associations based on a discipline of Islamic sociability. And yet at the same time, they dominated these same public institutions and organizations, not for the most narrow and selfish reasons, but to assert their claims to take part in the sovereign power of the state system. They therefore presented themselves as members of a national political elite. In the instance of the Selimoğlu in the town of Of, this fusion took the form of a curious strategy that I shall characterize as "Kemalo-Islamism." To explain this phenomenon, I must first mention how the old rivalries had more recently come to work through national political parties.
The Selimoğlu and their friends and partners, once associated with the old Five Party (fıırka), were aligned with the Republican People's Party (RPP), the political party founded by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk). The RPP had been the only legal political party from 1925 to 1945. During this period, the RPP had implemented the Kemalist program of secular reforms that placed certain restrictions on religious observance and was much resented by some believers. The Muradoğlu and their friends and partners, once associated with the old Twenty-five Party (fıırka), were aligned with the Justice Party (JP), successor to the Democrat Party (DP). The DP (now the JP) had turned the RPP out of the government in the first openly contested, national elections held in 1950. Since that time, the DP (now the JP) had been able to appeal to those believers who resented the restrictions placed on religious observance.
So, then, the rivalry between the Selimoğlu and the Muradoğlu was a rivalry between the defenders and the critics of the Kemalist principle of secularism. Accordingly, the town worthies who were most active in public affairs declared themselves to be Kemalists and defended the principle of secularism. And yet they were also scrupulous in their observance of Islamic beliefs and practices, more so than their friends and partners (see fig. 4). They performed their daily prayers punctiliously, and not only during the month of Ramadan. Then, during Ramadan, they demonstrated exceptional piety. They kept the fast in full view of the public, sitting in their coffeehouse. They joined the supererogatory prayers (teravih) in the old town mosque each evening. They received visitors in their public offices during the holiday Şeker Bayram, which followed the month of Ramadan. Very few if any of them ever touched a drop of alcohol or smoked a cigarette so far as I could determine, and the coffeehouse they attended had banned card playing, not to mention gambling. The town worthies of Of therefore led a kind of double life that drew together contradictory principles. They would extol the radical secularist policies of the RPP in the midst of a coffeehouse discussion, then suddenly excuse themselves to perform their ablutions and prayers. They wore hats, neckties, dress shirts, and suits in accordance with the strictest Kemalist codes, but would not fail to be present at the Friday prayers. Echoing official RPP policy of the day, they condemned the JP and its predecessor, the DP, for injecting religion into politics, even as they took care to display their religious piety.
Figure 4. A descendant of Ferhat Agha (in fedora), relatives, friends, and others.
If we recall the aghas of the 1830s during the time of Osman Pasha, this contradictory behavior becomes familiar rather than strange. The ascendants of the Selimoğlu and the Muradoğlu were a local elite exercising sovereign power in the state system. They had built immense mansions and maintained large households, more or less in the manner of higher state officials, but they had also been recognized by the central government on the basis of their position in district networks and coastal coalitions. Now during the Turkish Republic, their descendants were still a local elite exercising sovereign power in the state system. While they no longer had mansions and households, they held directorships and chairmanships in national associations, supported national party ideologies and programs, and were recognized by RPP and DP party officials. So the Selimoğlu had become Kemalists who donned hats and neckties and defended the principle of secularism, and the Muradoğlu had become populists who dressed like country squires and criticized official curbs on religious observance. But neither of the two had achieved public prominence on the basis of their commitment to (and certainly not their understanding of) their respective party ideology and programs. They were the leaders of circles of interpersonal association that spread from their coastal settlements into all the villages of the district. And because these district social oligarchies were based on a discipline of Islamic sociability, they performed the prayers and kept the fast more visibly if not more scrupulously than most other Oflus.
The Kemalo-Islamism of the town worthies largely fits into what we have already learned in the preceding chapter regarding the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties. Party officials (and, by that fact, state officials as well) recognized the town worthies because they could not possibly ignore them, just as Osman Pasha could not ignore their forebears in the 1830s. And yet, the preceding analysis, based on drawing an analogy between my companions at the Crystal Palace and the town worthies in public offices, has most definitely led us to a discovery: In order for an individual to position himself in the state system (whether as leader, follower, or subject of the district social oligarchies), he was obliged to accommodate himself to a certain kind of Islamic belief and practice. That is to say, he had to be a certain kind of Muslim, not just any kind of Muslim. The school secretary had already announced such a principle in his two "sermons", but I had been unable to recognize it during the period of my fieldwork.
On the occasion of his first "sermon," the school secretary cited the first Muslim community at Medina as an Islamic precedent for the National Assembly and Constitution. As I saw it, he was cleverly responding to criticisms of religious reactionaries who saw the Turkish Republic as an unacceptable "innovation." However, he never really addressed the basic principle of republican government at all. Neither the parliamentary representation of a body of citizens nor the constitutional balancing of state powers appeared in his analysis. Rather, by his analogy, the National Assembly was a kind of community (like the Muslims at Medina), while the National Constitution was its charter (like the Charter of Medina). In other words, an exclusive political elite (Kemalists) who formed an interpersonal association (Muslims) came into his mind when he contemplated the Turkish Republic.
On the occasion of his second "sermon," the school secretary cited the story of Celalettin's loaf of bread as an Islamic precedent for the disapproval of women's seclusion and veiling. I had assumed he was defending Kemalist standards of dress and behavior by meeting religious conservatives on their own ground. However, he never made a case for the active role of women in public life, which was the point of the Kemalist attack on seclusion and veiling. Rather, the school secretary concluded with the moral that ordinary villagers who practiced seclusion and veiling (they were not good Kemalists) were beset by social discord (they were not good Muslims) and thus unfit to manage their affairs. By way of contrast, the town worthies were fit to share in the sovereign power of the state system (that is, they were good Kemalists) because they formed a proper interpersonal association (that is, they were good Muslims). The school secretary, a hodja from Of, was able to please the town worthies. He could articulate their embarrassing Kemalo-Islamist predicament as a coherent political philosophy. For our purposes, his exotic views are significant because they indicate that the domination of the state system by circles of interpersonal association had placed a kind of pressure on Islamic belief and practice. As we shall see, an oligarchy of leading individuals from large patronymic groups had evolved in tandem with the tradition of religious study in the district of Of.
The Hodjas From Of
Toward the end of my initial visit, my interlocutors had more difficulty evading my questions about religious teachers and students. I had repeatedly encountered individuals in the streets of the town who had been introduced to me as a "hodja." Almost none dressed in a manner that was consistent with the conventions of the Turkish Republic (see fig. 5). Many compromised these conventions by wearing berets and overcoats, western apparel that was tolerated by authorities but consistent with an Islamic sensibility. Some wore scarves wrapped around their heads to form a turban, a gesture for which one could be prosecuted, if the authorities wanted to make a case of the matter. Most of them also had well-trimmed beards, signifying they had performed the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Figure 5. Village hodjas (in berets, turbans) bid pilgrims farewell.
When I asked the school secretary about all these berets, turbans, overcoats, and beards, he attempted to belittle the question with a joke. "But of course, after our local squash (kabak), we Oflus are most famous for our hodjas!" In other words, religious teachers, like the humble squash for which the Oflus were indeed famous, were also a matter of little importance. Each time I questioned the school secretary about hodjas, he refused to attribute any significance to them. They had existed in the past but not in the present. And if they somehow did exist in the present, they were not here in Of but only in Çaykara. And if they were somehow here in Of, they were of no more importance than squash. As a dis-informant, the school secretary was a revealing informant, but only after I could understand how and why he was misleading me.
During the later Ottoman Empire, the largest numbers of professors, academies, and students were to be found in the upper western valley-system, which had later become the district of Çaykara. This part of the old district of Of had not been settled until the sixteenth century, at which time it became a place of refuge for Pontic Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians who subsequently converted to Islam. More isolated and mountainous than the rest of the district, the upper western valley-system lacked fertile soil and level land, and the growing season was shorter. Grain deficits were therefore persistent, and the absence of fodder precluded large flocks or herds. Under such circumstances, its villagers had been pressed to use whatever skills they had to make up for the lack of material resources. These skills appear to have included reading and writing and, quite possibly, even before conversion, religious teaching and learning. After a shift from Greek literacy and Byzantine Orthodoxy to Arabic literacy and Ottoman Islam, a tradition of religious study had not only continued but even flourished in the upper western valley-system. According to one of my interlocutors, the conventional manner of addressing an elder in this part of Of had recently been "O teacher" (Ey hocam), in contrast to "O father's uncle" (Ey amcam) or "O mother's uncle" (Ey dayıım) elsewhere in the district.
Perhaps the tradition of religious study had first begun in the upper western valley-system, but if this was the case, it had also spread to other villages. Ultimately, the professors, academies, and students had become a local industry of impressive proportions all over the old district of Of. And although most of the fee-paying students were residents of the district of Of, some came from other parts of the coastal region as well as from the interior highlands. As a pathway toward some level of learning in the Islamic sciences, the religious academies in Of were affordable, beyond the immediate oversight of government inspectors, and most importantly, perhaps, open to almost anyone, regardless of their social background. The religious academies therefore exported large numbers of graduates, both Oflus and non–Oflus, in the manner of any contemporary university system. A few would continue their studies in the more prestigious religious academies in the major cities. A few would become religious officials in the middle to upper ranks of the imperial religious establishment. But most would seek appointments as prayer-leaders and sermon-givers in the towns and villages of Anatolia. It was the latter, the very large majority, who had come to be known as "hodjas from Of," famous and infamous throughout Asia Minor during the Empire and then again during the Republic.
The professors, academies, and students in the district of Of therefore represented the outer, marginal reaches of the imperial religious establishment. In this regard, the local tradition of religious study was both inside and outside the state system, legal and proper in some respects, but illegal and improper in others. Many hodjas from Of were officially recognized as sermon-givers and prayer-leaders in the mosques of towns and villages all over Anatolia. But many others made a living from what was called "imaming" (imamlıık) without official assignments or licenses. Most of these illegal hodjas from Of provided religious advice and services for a fee in the course of pursuing other itinerant occupations. When the occasion arose in the course of plying a trade—peddling, tinning, cooper-working, or carpentry—they were always ready to give a sermon, lead the prayers, conduct a burial, conclude a marriage contract, or perform a circumcision for a modest gratuity. All the hodjas from Of, the legal and the illegal, were of variable character and judgment. By my own experiences during the 1960s, some of them would have been relatively thoughtful and educated. Others would have been "şeriatçi," subscribing to an interpretation of the sacred law of Islam so literal as to bar any kind of music or dancing, not to mention the use of alcohol and tobacco. And still others would have been "cinci," engaging in shady practices such as casting spells for the lovelorn (büyüme), performing cures (okuma) for the possessed, and selling charms (nuska) to fend off the evil eye.
When I had mentioned berets, turbans, overcoats, and beards, the school secretary had thought of the practitioners of imaming. These were the hodjas who came from the poorest villages, like those of Çaykara, villages that had no leading individuals and no large family groupings. With this low end of the tradition of religious study in mind, the school secretary had compared the local hodjas with the local squash. The most impoverished of the Oflus had been able to supplement the income of their families either by peddling religion or by peddling squash. Both were produced in the district of Of, and both could be put up for sale in the towns and villages of Anatolia. The comparison appropriately directs our attention to a "religious market."
The professors, academies, and students in the district of Of represented only one kind of Islam, the official Sunni Islam of the imperial religious establishment. Elsewhere in Anatolia, other kinds of Islam were to be found among the townsmen and villagers of the later Ottoman Empire. There were leaders and followers of religious brotherhoods (tarikat), some closer to and some distant from the official Sunni Islam. There were also what might be called non–Sunni Islams, such as the Alevis and Bektaşis, who varied in their beliefs and practices from group to group. And finally, there were folk Islams that featured Islamic, Christian, and Judaic influences as well as Hellenic, Central Asian, and Anatolian influences.
If the tradition of religious study in the district of Of flourished during a certain period of imperial history, this increase in the "supply" of hodjas versed in official Islam must have been the result of an increase in the "demand" for this kind of Islam. The likely correlate of such a change in the religious market has been mentioned in the conclusion to the last chapter. An important segment of the population along the eastern Black Sea had begun to participate in imperial military institutions during the post-classical period. Those who did so would have most likely been motivated to bring themselves into conformity with the behavioral standards of the imperial system, that is to say, official Islam. If this is correct, the aghas, family lines, and parties were linked with the professors, academies, and students.
Before this last issue is considered, we have to know more about the tradition of religious study, its "upward" relationship to the state system, and its "downward" relationship to ordinary townsmen and villagers. In the next two sections, I shall examine each of these matters in turn as they appear in recollections of the professors, academies, and students during the transition from Empire to Republic.
Professors, Academies, and Students
The professors, academies, and students in Of had been officially recognized by the imperial religious establishment during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But does recognition alone demonstrate that the tradition was really representative of the imperial system of religious education? The writings of Hasan Umur (1880-1977), our local historian, provide an answer to these questions. Umur received his early schooling in one of the local religious academies before pursuing further study in Istanbul. Some years before the Great War, he left Istanbul and returned to Of, where he carried out an "investigation" of the conditions of religious education, a project that brought him into contact with teachers and students all over the district.
According to Umur, the teaching duties of the professors, the course loads of the students, the methods of instruction, the kinds of courses offered, and the granting of diplomas in the district of Of all more or less conformed with official standards. Indeed, he tells us, this was exactly what was wrong with the local tradition of religious study, since it consequently suffered from all the many problems of the imperial system of religious education. The professors had to teach too many subjects for too many hours each week so that they never dealt with any topic as they should have. Their methods of instruction retarded the progress of the students so that they never properly learned Arabic after many years of study. The official curriculum was excessively narrow, being entirely limited to courses in the Islamic sciences. Since students were never given instruction in basic subjects, such as writing, arithmetic, history, and geography, they could not progress satisfactorily in their studies of the higher Islamic sciences. The absence of any kind of examinations meant that many graduates received their diplomas without learning anything at all.
Umur paints a bleak picture of religious education in the district of Of. In addition to its pedagogical deficiencies, he also refers in passing to widespread corruption, which he preferred not to discuss. Still, Umur admired the old tradition of religious study, to which he felt personally indebted. As an example of the best of what it had to offer, he gives a brief account of the accomplishments of his own teacher in the district of Of, Zühtü Efendi Veli Efendi Oğlu. This man, still famous for his erudition during the 1960s, appears to have offered his students a rigorous and demanding program of study. He had himself received his diploma, or "authorizing certificate" (icazet), sometime during the middle of the nineteenth century, at the age of twenty-eight. So it would appear he had studied for many years before qualifying for his diploma. By time of his death at an advanced age, he had granted thirty-one authorizing certificates. Since this number is considered exceptionally large, it would appear that many of the teachers offered courses of study that were not easily or quickly completed. The character of the thirty-one certificates provides a hint of the intentions of his students. Thirteen had been "general" authorizing certificates (büyük icazet), confirming that the graduate had mastered the complete course of study in the religious academy. These individuals may have been hoping to qualify themselves for appointment as minor officials in the imperial religious establishment. The remaining eighteen had been "inheritance" authorizing certificates (feraiz icazet), confirming that the graduate had mastered the law of inheritance, but nothing more than this. These individuals may have been content to provide advice and counsel to clients among townsmen and villagers. Knowledge of the law of inheritance would have enabled them to give plausible assistance in regard to the writing of wills, the distribution of property, bills of sale, and the arrangement of marriages.
From Umur's account, we can conclude that the professors, academies, and students were most certainly a local branch of the imperial system of religious education. Their "upward" relationship to the state system confirmed, I shall now examine the tradition of religious study as it continued after the imperial religious establishment was no more. Once the superstructure of the state system had been swept away, the "downward" relationship of the tradition to townsmen and villagers was all the more clearly exposed.
The Underground Tradition of Religious Study
Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), the National Assembly abolished the Ottoman Sultanate (1922) and declared the Turkish Republic (1923). Soon afterwards, steps were taken to remove Islam from the public life of the new nation-state. The Caliphate followed the Sultanate into oblivion (1924), and along with it the upper hierarchy of the imperial religious establishment, the Şeyh-ül-İİslâm, the Ministry of the Şeriat, the Şeriat courts, and the religious academies and schools. This accomplished, the National Assembly adopted the Swiss civil code and Italian penal code (1926), thereby removing the last traces of the sacred law of Islam from the state legal system. For a short while, the nationalists contemplated a reform of the system of religious education and so permitted a number of new religious academies to reopen during the later 1920s. Then, after serious incidents in which religious conservatives challenged the Kemalist program of reforms, all religious academies were closed and all religious instruction was banned (1931). Religious study in Of was henceforth largely useless as an official path toward any kind of position in the state system, just as the religious expertise of its graduates had no relevance whatsoever to the official legal system. And yet, religious teaching and learning did not come to an end in the district of Of. Why was this the case?
With the collapse of the Empire and the founding of the Republic, "Muslim subjects" had become "Turkish citizens." To take part in public institutions and organizations, they would henceforth be obliged to conform to a new nationalist standard of behavior. In the district of Of during the 1960s, the changes in masculine dress were still keenly remembered. Turbans, baggy pants, and slippers were out. Hats, trousers, and shoes were in. These examples of the transformation of masculine attire are but superficial indicators of a wide range of profound changes whose significance should not be minimized. But, this admitted, it must also be said that the old standards of personal conduct and social relations were still very much in place in the context of family, relatives, friends, and partners. That is to say, everyday interpersonal association was still based on a discipline of Islamic sociability. So there was still a demand for religious expertise regarding official Islam, even after the transition from Empire to Republic, and the teachers and students of Of, tucked away in their mountain fastnesses, would have a near monopoly on the supply for a while.
Toward the end of my first period of fieldwork, I had known some residents of the town of Of for more than two years. Over this period of time those who had become my friends had told me what they knew about the tradition of religious study. One of these men had traveled and worked among Oflus in all parts of Turkey. He had a wide network of friends in the district, and he had always been interested in its history. Born in 1908, he was able to write Turkish in the old Arabic letters and was familiar with the official terms and offices of the late imperial period. He offered me the following synopsis of religious study during the first decades of the Turkish Republic, saying that it still continued as before:
Judging from this account, the tradition of religious study in Of had continued to resemble the old system of professors and academies even after the latter became illegal. The one-on-one relationship of teacher and student, the subject matter of the courses taught, the period of study required, and the granting of authorizing certificates all remained similar. On the other hand, my friend's account, by contrast with Hasan Umur's analysis of the religious academies, underlines the ad hoc character of the tradition of religious study. The teacher and student met one another from time to time, in any place of convenience, for a number of years. At some moment, without examination, the teacher decided the course had been completed and granted a written slip of paper to that effect.
A student might come to the village of a reputed hodja during the summer or winter for a few months in order to receive lessons from him for a certain fee. They would meet in the dwelling of the teacher or in the mosque of his village. [The speaker did not use the defunct official terminology, "professor" (müderris) or "academy" (medrese), even though he was familiar with these words.] This student might be from some other village in the district or he might come from elsewhere in Anatolia. He would continue his studies under the tutelage of his teacher for several years until he had mastered a course of study of some kind. A student required at least four years to complete a course of study, more if he were not especially gifted. The average course of study normally took six years. [However, it has already been stated that teacher and student met together duringonly part of the year.] The lessons would involve the memorization of the Koran, the study of the Arabic language, instruction in the sacred law, explanations of passages in the Koran, and other matters. Eventually, the student would meet certain requirements stipulated by his teacher. In recognition of this, he would be awarded an "authorizing certificate," a written document also known as a "permission" (izin). The written document recorded the name of the student, the course of study he had followed, the name of his teacher, and the scholarly lineage (silsile, zincir) of the latter. For example, the scholarly lineage might pass from the Prophet Muhammad to Hazreti Ali, or sometimes Hazreti Abubakr, or one of the other four rightly guided Caliphs, thence to Mustafa Samarkanti, or another Konyavi, Bagdadi, Hindustani, or Andalusi, and finally to an Ofi [Oflu], after which the name of the student is given. The hodjas are very anxious to grant these authorizing certificates to the students who work with them and very upset should a student choose to leave them in order to work with someone else.
Given the ad hoc character of instruction, not only in Of but also in Istanbul, the religious teachers and students in the district of Of would have found themselves in a singular position soon after the disestablishment of Islam. The upper level personnel of the imperial system of religious education, situated in the major cities such as Istanbul, would have been under the nose of state officials. So the implementation of the Kemalist program of reforms would have been especially successful in curbing or suppressing their activities. In contrast, the professors, academies, and students of Of had always been at the outer reaches of the state system. They had, in effect, penetrated and colonized the imperial religious establishment from its fringes. By virtue of their more or less marginal position, the hodjas from Of had adapted and adjusted their activities to suit themselves and their clients. Already during the imperial period, they had streamlined courses of study, granted diplomas for a fee, and worked without licenses. It was precisely all these illegalities and subversions that Umur Hasan had chosen not to discuss when he referred darkly to the widespread corruption.
During the years immediately following the declaration of the Republic, it seems, the tradition of religious study in the district of Of remained more or less the same. The professors, academies, and students had lost their official and legal status, but the ban on unauthorized religious instruction was not enforced, at least in the mountains of Of. Then, from the early 1930s, state officials became more vigilant in meeting any challenge to the Kemalist program of reforms, and thus vigorously enforced the ban on religious instruction. When this happened, the numbers of teachers and students in the district of Of probably declined for a while. By the later 1940s, however, the tradition of religious study had moved underground, where it began to flourish anew. For a few years, before the re-opening of official religious academies in the later 1950s, the hodjas from Of became the principal suppliers of religious expertise responding to a rising demand.
One of my acquaintances in the district of Of had been a schoolteacher in the sub-district of Kadahor (later called Çaykara) at that time. The following passage is an edited version of my notes:
The schoolteacher then told a story that pointed to the opening of a divide between state and society at just that point where they had previously been cobbled together:
He told me that it was certainly true that many individuals had received religious instruction in Çaykara and had gone elsewhere in Turkey to work as imams in villages and towns. This was a result of the restrictions that the government had placed on the training of prayer-leaders and sermon-givers. Because Çaykara had a tradition of religious academies, it had become an ideal place for meeting the shortage of imams that had arisen as a consequence of the government ban on religious education. In more remote villages of the district, the Çaykaralııs were able to continue religious teaching and learning in secret. On a one-by-one basis, those individuals with religious training had trained just a few young men at a time, usually in the mosques. When their course of study was completed, they moved out to other parts of Turkey in order to serve as prayer-leaders and sermon-givers.
The profession of imaming had acquired a new significance by continuing its old function. Earlier, during the Empire, the hodjas from Of had provided "popular" access to a scarce resource, official Islamic belief and practice. That is to say, they had facilitated the wish of ordinary Muslims to align themselves with the normative standards of the imperial system. Now, during the Republic, the hodjas from Of still provided "popular" access to what had become a still scarcer resource. But now, in doing so, they were enabling ordinary Muslims to subvert the imposition of a new standard of thinking and practice in the public life of the nation-state.
When [the hodjas from Of] left their homeland, they could not depend on the living they made from imaming alone. They also had to ply other trades. To illustrate this point, he mentioned an acquaintance of his, a schoolteacher in a secular state school who had been threatened with dismissal [for his criticism of the secular reforms]. This man had received lessons from one of the local hodjas and was prepared to look for work as an imam somewhere in Anatolia. He had said on this occasion, "If I am dismissed, I shall take my kit bag and put my hammer (çekiç) on the bottom, then I shall put my saw (bııçkıı) on top of that, and I shall put my Koran on top of that and leave. Wherever I go, I shall certainly be able to find work."
Another interlocutor in the town of Of told me of a personal experience that also illustrates these points. At the end of World War II, he was demobilized from the army. Since he had some education and could use a typewriter, he began to work as "public secretary" (kâtip, yazııcıı). He would sit in a small stall or even on the street before his typewriter, somewhere near a government building, and accept requests to fill out official forms, write letters to friends and family, and submit petitions to the court. During this time, he had not been able to return to his family in the district of Of but moved from town to town in accordance with changing prospects for work. On one such occasion, during the month of Ramadan, he had stopped for the evening in the town of Havza (near Amasya):
Townsmen and villagers had difficulty finding prayer-leaders and sermon-givers at the time because none had been officially trained for many years. By my interlocutor's eastern Black Sea accent, the citizens of Havza realized he was from the district of Of and assumed he was a hodja. They were determined to keep him because they had no one else to instruct them in the performance of prayers, to perform marriages, or to bury the dead. They believed that he might have been summoned by a district religious official (müftü) but assumed they might be able to persuade him to abandon his official obligations:
When I arrived there, I went to a restaurant. After finishing the meal and asking what I owed, the proprietor told me, "We don't accept money from people like you" (Böylenizden para almayıız). I was surprised but simply accepted this response. I then asked where I might find a room for the night. The proprietor then took me to a room with nothing but straw mats that were ordinarily let to travelers. But now he brought in a nice bed for me and again refused to accept my money. That evening I was taken to meet several people as a guest of the town. By then I realized that they thought I was an itinerant imam. They were trying to persuade me to stay with them and become their imam.
My interlocutor had not explained that the month of Ramadan had traditionally been the occasion for the so-called cer. During the old regime, religious teachers and students had traveled into Anatolia to preach to the people and lead them in prayer in return for alms to finance their studies. The religious teachers and students of Of had always done the very same thing, and they were once again going out on the cer during the later 1940s. The citizens of Havza would have therefore been on the lookout for hodjas from Of who might serve as their prayer-leader and sermon-giver.
I told them that I did not know anything about being an imam. I had business in another town and was obliged to leave. They did not believe me. They suspected I was going to report to the müftü in that town. They urged me not to continue on my way. They said the müftü would send me to a very poor village where I would be uncomfortable. I told them I did not have any business at all with the müftü. They would not accept this. They thought I was only trying to escape from them and take a job as imam in some other village that would offer me more money. At long last I was able to escape them and reach my destination.
Official Islam As Social Islam
I have still not answered the question with which this chapter began, "Why so many hodjas from Of?" but the conclusions reached in the last two sections permit the question to be rephrased more precisely. Why had the hodjas specialized so exclusively in official Islam, to the neglect of all other versions of Islam? And having done so, why was the demand for official Islam at the outer reaches of the imperial system so great as to generate such a large supply of hodjas? These questions direct our attention to the ways in which the district of Of was similar to the other coastal districts of the old province of Trabzon.
The very large numbers of professors, academies, and students in Of were unusual, without any exact counterpart in the other eastern coastal districts. But this having been said, a number of the other eastern coastal districts certainly did have important traditions of religious study, some of which produced graduates who were more successful than the Oflus in obtaining middle- and upper-level appointments in the imperial religious establishment. Moreover, the dominant position of official Islam was not a unique feature of Of, but typical of most of the coastal districts of the old province of Trabzon. Almost everywhere in the eastern coastal region, religious teachers, academies, and students represented official Islamic belief and practice while other versions—folk Islams, brotherhood Islams, and heterodox Islams—were strangely undeveloped or even altogether absent. So it is not just Of but all the eastern coastal districts that stand out as different. In this particular region of Asia Minor, unlike other regions, official Islam was unusually dominant while other Islams were unusually absent.
This brings to mind another way in which the eastern coastal region stands out as different. As we have seen in the last chapter, aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties had been local branches of the imperial military and administrative establishment during the post-classical imperial period. And, as we have seen in this chapter, the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties, which had comprised a major proportion of the masculine population, took the form of interpersonal associations based on a discipline of Islamic sociability. So it is possible that the rise of professors, academies, and students was somehow associated with the rise of aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties. If so, the district of Of would certainly be an excellent place to examine the relationship of aghas and hodjas, for this particular coastal district had been just as famous for its soldiers as for its students. To explore this issue, on a structural rather than historical level, I shall return to the question of the "downward" relationship of the tradition of religious study to the inhabitants of the district of Of.
The professors, academies, and students had been hosted and feted by the villagers of Of on specific occasions. A group of religious teachers, working together with the residents of one or more villages, would arrange to hold such celebrations whenever a large number of students had completed their course of studies. The religious teachers called them an "authorizing certificate prayer" (icazet duasıı) or a "granting of permission prayer" (izin duasıı). But ordinary people called them an "authorizing certificate celebration" (icazet merasimi). The different terminology indicates that these occasions had two different but related sides. For the hodjas, they were primarily solemn ceremonies of learned Islam, while for the villagers they were communal festivals as well.
During the later Ottoman period, several "authorizing certificate celebrations" were held each year in the district of Of, and some of them had been attended by thousands of villagers. By the size of the crowds they attracted, these occasions would have been without rival as public ceremonies during the old regime. The same friend who described the tradition of religious study in Of gave me an account of the granting of authorizing certificates during the course of an extended interview. He had attended more than one and had heard of many others. He began by explaining how such occasions had initially declined but then later recovered in the course of the first two decades of the Turkish Republic:
The ceremony (merasim) is an occasion when the teachers in the academies give their students certificates that qualify them to practice as a teacher (hoca). During the period immediately following the declaration of the Republic [more probably, some years after 1931], these occasions were held in secret and were never very large. During the Inönü period [more probably, during the years following World War II], these occasions were held more or less openly but in a more secluded spot in a forest or away from the road. During the Menderes period [1950–1960], they were completely out in the open and held at the side of village mosques. At the present time, they are occurring very frequently. Many hodjas are now granting authorizing certificates to students.
According to these remarks, the graduation celebrations never ceased altogether. Few villagers had participated during the period when the ban on religious education was vigorously enforced, but they had been eager to sponsor the celebrations when not faced with official reprisals. My friend then described an example of this:
First several hodjas determine that they have a group of students who are ready to receive certificates. They come together and decide on a time for the award and they look for a village to sponsor the occasion. Such an occasion adds to the religious merit of its sponsors (sevaptıır). So the villagers are anxious to sponsor the ceremony in their village, and they all contribute money for the occasion in accordance with their means. Different villages vie with one another for the honor of having the ceremony in their precincts because it is a matter that reflects on the honor of the village (köy şerefi için). It is said that some villages would not even be considered as a site for such a ceremony because of stains on their reputation. "What! You people want to have an authorizing certificate ceremony? You are all drunkards (sarhoşsunuz). You are lazy and shiftless (çalıışmazsıınıız). You have no manners (edipsizsiniz). You are without morals (ahlaksıızsıınıız)."
My friend spoke as a townsman who considered himself more educated and cultivated than an ordinary villager. When he said that the sponsors of the graduation ceremony wanted to gain merit or honor, he was more or less belittling them as typical villagers who were concerned with matters of reputation and standing. For example, he mimicked the villagers by speaking in dialect, making a face, and brusquely gesturing. But even as he so portrayed them, the words he put in their mouths—their denunciations of the ethics and morals of their competitors—implied that they strove to behave as good and proper Muslims. In this last respect, he admired them.
For my interlocutor, the residents of the district approached Islam more or less as simple villagers, but they nonetheless found in Islam something that could make them more than simple villagers. As he continued, he oscillated between these two contrasting themes. For example, he next told me that the graduation celebrations were organized as marriage celebrations. That is to say, an occasion of high religious study and learning appeared in the guise of a familiar rural festival:
Once the village is chosen, people are invited from everywhere. Of course the families of the boys who are to receive certificates invite guests, but other people come as well. It is like a marriage celebration (düğün). Individuals and families come from Rize, Istanbul, Sürmene, and Trabzon, from everywhere. A proper ceremony is expected to host 5,000 people and as many as 10,000 is possible. The invitations are sent out (davet ederler) to friends and relatives.They say, "There is an authorizing certificate prayer, come!" (Icazet duasıı var, gel!). The villagers begin to make preparations. They bake sweets (baklava, tatlıılar) to be served on the occasion. As many as ten beds, or even more, might be laid out in each house. On the day or night before the ceremony, the guests begin to arrive and they are assigned to different houses.
He then adopted a very different tone as he began to describe the granting of the authorizing certificates. He was now specifically recalling a graduation ceremony that he had attended. As he did so, he became less condescending as he began to indicate how the occasion revealed special qualities of the students and teachers:
The students sit before their teachers, not facing them directly, but rather as though presenting themselves to God. In the course of their studies they have acquired religious learning, and we now see this achievement through a performance. The students remain in their assigned places, sitting silent and still, enduring the heat of the sun that bears down upon them. This passivity is also an activity. To acquire religious learning is not just to acquire knowledge; it is also to acquire discipline.
The next day the people assemble in the village, and the ceremony begins after the morning prayers (sabah namazıı). Let us say that there might be five teachers (hoca) who are awarding certificates and about twenty students (molla) who are receiving them. There might be about two hundred other hodjas at the ceremony. All the hodjas collect in rows at the head of the assembly, and the students are in lines in front them, sitting as though in the mosque and facing sideways one behind the other. Their heads are bowed. As the day wears on and the sun shines down on them, they perspire under their turbans (sarıık) that they are wearing.
With the picture of the teachers and students before his mind's eye, my friend began to contemplate the effect of the occasion on the audience. As he did so, he implied that their witnessing the teachers and students brought the villagers closer to Islamic belief and practice. This thought first appeared, however, in the guise of the negative example of the women in attendance:
The women are bored and restless because they cannot see or hear the teachers and the students. Their marginal position is correlated with a lack of personal discipline, a quality instilled by Islamic belief and practice. To calm the women, the hodjas delegate one of their number to preach to the women.
All the men assemble in this open square surrounding the hodjas and the mollas. The women assemble in another place apart from the men, but close enough to listen. The women want to hear what is said by the hodjas because it is meritorious (sevaptıır) to do so. They listen to the speeches much as they listen at the back of the mosque during the festival prayers (bayram namazıı) and the festival sermon (bayram vaazıı). Among the 10,000 people who attend, there might be as many as 2,000 women. Sometimes the women become bored with being shunted aside and are anxious to participate [The speaker is now recalling a particular occasion]. They begin to complain and the hodjas are forced to send someone to speak to them expressly. When this happened on one occasion, they sent a hodja who was considered a "contrary" (aksi) person and was not liked by the women. The hodjas were simply trying to get rid of the problem presented by the women so they would no longer be bothered by them.
At the same time, the hodjas have taken the opportunity to rid themselves of a troublesome character. The contrary hodja will eventually reappear as a negative example of what the teachers and students give to their audience just as the women are a negative example of what the audience receives from the teachers and students. First, however, my friend returned to the scene of the graduation ceremony:
The hodjas exhort and encourage the assembly to lead their lives as good and proper Muslims. Some hodjas address the assembly plainly and directly in the local dialect. But other hodjas will speak in a manner that reveals their ties with a center of religious study and learning. The ceremony brings the audience into contact with the simple truths of Islam but also with a world center of Islamic sophistication and cultivation.
Eventually some of the hodjas begin to speak [in turn], not only those who have students receiving authorizing certificates, but others who are considered appropriate, such as the elder ones (en lâyıık olan hocalar konuşurlar, ihtiyarlar konuşurlar). As they speak, the hodjas exhort the people of the assembly to live a good life (ikna ederler). For example, Hacıı Dursun Efendi, one of the well-known district hodjas, might preach to the crowd (vaaz eder). There might also be hodjas from Istanbul who would speak with an Istanbul accent. Their address would be more cultivated and dignified. The speeches of all these hodjas might last a few hours. When I heard Hacıı Dursun Efendi speak, for example, he continued for about an hour. After the hodjas have finished speaking, they say a prayer, in Turkish or in Arabic. They ask for blessings from God on the proceedings, on the village, on the people present, and so on. They ask for help that they might be good people (iyi insanlar), have sufficient land, or a good road. At the end of the prayer, all the people say, "Amen!" (amin!)"
My friend then described the granting of diplomas according to procedures that would have previously been in conformity with the criteria set by the imperial religious establishment:
The accomplishment of the teachers and the students has enabled the villagers to gain merit and honor before God, but precisely as a proof that they are not just simple villagers. They have attended the assembly in hopes of seeing and listening such that they will be able to live as good and proper Muslims.
Then when the hodjas have finished preaching, the certificates are awarded. Each of the hodjas who are awarding certificates has a notebook (defter) with the certificate written out, with its heading, a chain of attribution (silsile), and the name of the student (molla). He reads it out and awards it. Thus all the students receive their certificates. At the end, a hodja recites a short prayer. He announces the names of the students. He asks blessings on the people of the assembly, and he asks that the angels (melek) give the news of their having attended. He concludes by saying, "Let there be another one like it."
As he brought such an image before his mind's eye once again, my friend also recalled the contrary hodja who had been dispatched to address the women:
The contrary hodja has crossed a line. The criticism of others by appeal to religious learning results in belittling and shaming of others. The gift of expert knowledge and performance to the assembly should enable them to experience the pleasure of sociability, not mutual conflict and discord. All those present begin to remark on this difference:
The "contrary" hodja who had been sent to the women had been listening to the proceedings from afar. Now, at the end, he returned and insisted on speaking. He came running up, saying to the people of the gathering, "O Assembly!" (Ey cemaat!). At first the hodjas tried to silence him, but they reluctantly agreed that he might speak. An elderly man, he launched into criticisms of some of the younger hodjas present. He accused one of them, who was assigned to one of the district mosques to which pilgrimages were made, of improperly accepting gifts from the people. As he made these remarks, the hodja who was being attacked began to bow his head in shame, but the contrary hodja hotly continued with his criticisms.
The contrary hodja is silenced by a call for him to serve the assembly by exhorting and encouraging them, not by criticizing. The graduation ceremony is an occasion for both recognizing the achievement and enjoying the rewards of a discipline of Islamic belief and practice. If these rewards will only be experienced in full measure in the next world, they are partially available in this world through the pleasure of sociability. The granting of authorizing certificates having concluded, the villagers go to their separate groups of families and friends, where they enjoy one another's company.
The people in the assembly began to murmur. He is not preaching to us; he is insulting individuals (vaaz etmiyor, hakaret ediyor). One of the hodjas then shouted out, "Don't tell us stories, preach to the people!" (Halka vaaz et, bize atma!). Finally the contrary hodja desisted. The people of the assembly scattered to the different houses, where they were then served baklava and visited with one another.
The granting of authorizing certificates came at the end of years of effort on the part of teachers and students. In principle, if not always in fact, these efforts consisted of memorizing the Koran, learning to read and speak classical Arabic, and the mastery of some secondary canonical texts. At the same time, the graduation celebration was also a very special occasion for the villagers who attended them. By taking part in them, the inhabitants of a remote rural landscape, both men and women, could lay claim to being something much more than impoverished and ignorant villagers. During these occasions they could demonstrate to themselves that they were good and proper Muslims, and also participants in an imperial civilization whose foundations lay in the Islamic religion. This is why their engagement in and celebration of religious learning was so closely aligned with the imperial religious establishment.
My friend's description attributed to the graduation ceremony the quality of theater, with a multiplicity of performances and audiences. First of all, of course, the teachers and students, as well as the attendees assembled, performed for a divine audience who was beseeched to respond with blessing and favor. But the teachers and students also performed for one another, just as they also performed for the assembly, and the assembly performed for them. In the wings of this theater, somewhere offstage, there were yet other audiences that have gone unmentioned in my interlocutor's account.
During the later imperial period (nineteenth century), one of these other audiences would have been provincial governors, district administrators, judicial authorities, and military officers of the imperial system. All these state officials, who were in a position to tax, conscript, arrest, punish, and coerce, might have been impressed by a district population who so diligently took its proper place in the imperial system. So the Oflus would have been claiming a moral standing in the eyes of state officials who represented a regime that sponsored Islamic belief and practice.
But now, with this official audience in mind, let us consider the moment when the professors, academies, and students first appeared and proliferated during the post-classical imperial period (late seventeenth to early nineteenth century). During these years, all the higher state officials just mentioned would have been far away and out of sight since they had been locally replaced by aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties. These local representatives of the state system exercised the same sovereign powers as higher state officials, but they had a very different relationship with the district populations.
The rise of the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties, let us recall, was coincident with the militarization of the population, hence the principle of force of numbers and the compromise of legal statues and judicial procedures. By local memory and tradition, the rivalry among the aghas grouped in different factions had led to anarchy and disorder, the resort to talion and the spread of vendetta. But, all this admitted, the legitimacy of aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties was also directly linked with official Islam. The aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties were local branches of the imperial military and religious establishment, but took the form of broad and deep interpersonal associations that comprised a substantial proportion of the masculine population.
So the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties were doubly linked to the official Islam of the imperial religious establishment. First, like state officials, they claimed to exercise sovereign power in an imperial system whose legitimacy was underpinned by official Islam. And second, unlike state officials, their claim to exercise sovereign power was entirely dependent on their position in interpersonal associations based on a discipline of official Islam. This being the case, they were more significant than state officials as an audience whom ordinary villagers might hope to impress by the performance of a discipline of official Islamic belief and practice. Moreover, in so impressing them, the ordinary villagers might also advance a claim to being true and better Muslims than those who ruled them in the name of official Islam.
And so, whatever the precise origins of professors, academies, and students in the district of Of, the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties would have provided a strong incentive for the broadening and deepening of the influence of official Islam at the expense of other versions of Islam. Ordinary townsmen and villagers, whether affiliated or not with the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties, would have been inclined to claim moral standing and social prestige by the performance of the discipline of official Islam. And as for those who were not affiliated, they would have been inclined to align themselves with the local representatives of the imperial religious establishment.
So the rise of aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties was coordinated with the rise of professors, academies, and students. As some Oflus became soldiers of the aghas, so, too, other Oflus became students of the hodjas. The result was the "imperialization" of personhood and community, most notably in the district of Of, but also generally in all the old provinces of Trabzon. As a consequence, then, of an especially far-reaching process of ottomanization, the inhabitants of Trabzon became adherents of an official Islam to the relative exclusion of all the other kinds of Islam that were otherwise available in Asia Minor during the later centuries of the Ottoman Empire.
Osman Pasha brought the post-classical phase of the imperial period to an end in the coastal region in the 1830s, but he did not suppress leading individuals, large family groupings, district networks, and coastal coalitions. This being the case, ordinary townsmen and villagers would have continued to align themselves with the official Islam of the imperial system. As a consequence, aghas and hodjas continued to be a part of the later imperial period, right up to the declaration of the Turkish Republic. As we have seen, however, the two representatives of the post-classical period met different fates after the declaration of the Turkish Republic. By the 1960s, leading individuals and large family groupings occupied a central place in public associations, but religious teachers and students were more or less reviled by state officials as subversives and outlaws. I shall conclude with a few remarks on the Kemalist attempt to disestablish Islam.
I have already cited the comments of a retired schoolteacher who had described how the practitioners of imaming had defeated the ban on unauthorized religious instruction, if not during the 1930s then certainly during the 1940s. On another occasion, however, I had met a second retired schoolteacher who had also been assigned to Kadahor [Çaykara] during these same two decades. Unlike the first, this second schoolteacher had always been a firm supporter of the Kemalist program of reforms, and, not surprisingly, he had a very different recollection of the local reception of the new regime. He recalled that a large speakers' platform had been constructed in the sub-district center of Kadahor on the occasion of the tenth anniversary (1933) of the declaration of the Turkish Republic. Some of the best known of the hodjas (âlimler) had been invited to address the crowd, and each of them had spoken eloquently in praise of the Turkish Republic. He went on to conclude that the residents of the upper western valley-system had accepted the Kemalist program of reforms, never rebelling against them as had some of the residents of Rize.
Although the second retired schoolteacher was overstating his case, he nonetheless made an important point. There were many representatives of the old tradition of religious study who became nationalist supporters, and even nationalist activists. On the other hand, some other representatives of the old tradition, whose numbers were no doubt very considerable, would more reluctantly and hesitantly transform themselves from Muslim subjects into secular citizens. The schoolteacher himself continued with the following recollection seemingly designed to minimize this fact:
The example, which takes the form of a traditional moral teaching (misal), even though the speaker is a Kemalist, makes two points. It was only the very aged who had been unable to accept the new regime, and state officials had treated these individuals with discretion and humanity.
I was teaching in the middle school of [Kadahor] during the year 1935. This was the peak of the program of secular reforms that had been put in place by Atatürk. A report came to the sub-district [Kadahor] that a certain individual was giving lessons from a book in the old [Arabic] script. Members of the police, the gendarmerie, and myself set out to arrest this man. This was not long after the events at Menemem [a local uprising in western Turkey calling for the restoration of the sacred law of Islam]. As our party approached the village, a line of women [moving along a narrow trail] were returning with baskets on their backs [having been gathering crops or fodder from the fields]. When they saw us coming, one dropped her basket and ran to warn the man. The police came by one path and the gendarmerie came by another [to prevent the man from escaping]. The man tried to run away but he was apprehended. He was shaking with fear. They had a warrant for his arrest. But he was ninety years old. They took his books, but they didn't have the heart to take him in. He was not involved in politics. He was only teaching. They decided to put the warrant away. They did not destroy it. It would be overlooked.
The Kemalists were attempting to displace Islamist associational virtues from public life so that they might be replaced with civic associational virtues. To do so, they would have to break open the closed circles of interpersonal association that dominated the institutions and organization of the old regime. Otherwise there would have been no hope of broadening and deepening the circle of citizenship. And so they were obliged to mount a challenge to, if not entirely defeat, the old imperial religious establishment. But our concern here is not intentions but rather the results of Kemalist policies in the eastern coastal districts.
As we have seen in the previous chapter, leading individuals from large family groupings gradually aligned themselves with the new nationalist standards of public life so that they were Kemalist rather than ottomanist in orientation by the close of the second decade of the Turkish Republic. It was not the old aghas that did so of course, but their sons, grandsons, nephews, and grandnephews. First they donned hats, neckties, and suits at an early period. Later they learned to defend their different party ideologies and policies. Their ability to reposition themselves with changes in the state system had always been a feature of their very existence as a local elite. They therefore instinctively sought to retain connections with state officials just as state officials sought to retain them as their assistants and intermediaries.
On the other hand, leading individuals, family groupings, district networks, and coastal coalitions were circles of interpersonal associations based on a discipline of Islamic sociability. Hence the local elites in many of the eastern coastal districts, Kemalist on the surface and Islamist below the surface, still monopolized public power and resources on the basis of the old, not the new, associational virtues. The disestablishment of Islam had therefore not led unambiguously to the opening up of public life beyond the old circles of interpersonal association. It had led instead to Kemalo-Islamism.
As a consequence, many ordinary villagers and townsmen could not participate as citizens in the public life of the nation-state since they were prevented from doing so by closed circles of interpersonal association. These ordinary villagers and townsmen were therefore left with their older claims to moral standing and social dignity based on Islamic belief and practice. So then a large segment of the population continued to resent its exclusion and rejection by the state system when it should have rather recognized and accepted them. And with the beginning of the multiparty period, this segment of the population became a "floating" electorate for which every political party would attempt to provide dock and anchor. Their combined efforts would eventually lead to the end of the hodjas from Of.
In the 1930s, state officials had disestablished Islam, abandoning the religious market in provincial Turkey to the low end of the religious tradition where hodjas would proliferate like squash. For a few years, from the 1940s through the 1960s, the hodjas of Of enjoyed a near monopoly as suppliers for the continuing demand for religious expertise. But sometime in the 1970s, the expansion of the state system of religious education brought an end to the old tradition of religious study in the mountain villages of Of. The problems of access to public power and resources had not been resolved. The political parties had only agreed that the state should reclaim the sponsorship and propagation of official Islam.
1. The term "hodja" (hoca) would have commonly designated a religious teacher during the Ottoman period. The term is now used to refer to any kind of teacher, whether religious or secular. On the other hand, the phrase "hodja from Of" would always be understood to refer to a country religious teacher. [BACK]
2. Elsewhere (Meeker 1994a), I have given another account of Islamic sociability in Of. [BACK]
3. The peoples of the eastern Black Sea coast are thought to conform to a certain physical type, with tall stature, light complexion, narrow head, and large nose. While I fit this type, many Oflus do not. [BACK]
4. These are classical anthropological concepts. See, for example, Evans-Pritchard (1940, 1949) and Evans-Pritchard and Fortes (1940). [BACK]
5. During the early years of the Turkish Republic, the National Assembly, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), had adopted various laws that encouraged or required new forms of "secular" (lâik) dress and behavior, usually of western European origin. [BACK]
6. The word "bid’ءat" is usually translated as "innovation" or "heresy." It is a technical term in the Islamic sciences that some believers use to condemn behavior they consider un-Islamic. [BACK]
7. This would have been very unlikely. During the first decades of the Turkish Republic, there was very little dialogue between Kemalist and Islamist partisans. See Esposito (1991) for an account of the Islamic modernists. [BACK]
8. By comparison, the circles of interpersonal association among ordinary Oflus were both more flexible and more evanescent. Economic opportunities that required group cooperation and organization stimulated a potential for sociability derived from Islamic belief and practice and so spawned a little circle of interpersonal association that did not exist before the fact. Correspondingly, as economic conditions changed during the early 1970s, their little circle began to change in its membership and activities. Two brothers who were key members of the group became more and more involved in long-distance trucking. This was a demanding occupation that entailed extended absences from the town. Eventually the two brothers no longer worked together with their old associates, but made new friendships and partnerships among Oflus residing outside the district. [BACK]
9. The fusion of Republican and Islamic principles was a common feature of public life in the district of Of in the 1960s. The holders of the most important public offices, including the district officer (kaymakam) and the executive director (müdür) of the tea factory, neither of whom were Oflu, "officially" recognized major religious holidays in various ways. For example, during the holidays concluding the month of Ramadan, the district officer personally greeted the crowds who issued from early morning prayers in the mosque, and the executive director received visitors in his office in the tea factory. [BACK]
10. The "Kemalo-Islamism" of the Selimoğlu in Of was matched by the "Libero-Islamism" of the Muradoğlu in Eskipazar. [BACK]
11. Cf. Lewis 1961, 280. [BACK]
12. During the 1960s, the government was opening religious schools at the middle and high school levels. These were designated "prayer-leader and sermon-giver school" (imam hatip okulu). Since there was no such school in the district of Of at the time, the hodjas were clearly the result of illegal religious teaching and learning. [BACK]
13. Many believers were reluctant to accept brimmed headgear, since the forehead must touch the ground during prayer, or tight–fitting outer clothing, since it is identified with secular life. [BACK]
14. In this respect, the hodjas were not alone. By the time of my first visit to Of in 1965, the government had eased currency and passport controls that severely restricted the ability of Turkish citizens to perform the pilgrimage. After the easing, the pilgrimage had become highly organized as a commercial business. A convoy of buses departed from the district each year on the same day. [BACK]
15. The religious academy in the village of Paçan [Maraşlıı], not far from Kadahor [Çaykara], may have been one of the first. See chap. 5. [BACK]
16. See chap. 5 for a fuller discussion of the historical documentation of the tradition of religious study in the old district of Of. [BACK]
17. It is probable that the first religious academies in Of were founded in the upper western valley-system, but it is not altogether certain that the first professors and students in these early religious academies were Greek-speakers. See chap. 5. [BACK]
18. Umur (1949, 22–40) lists the religious academies in the eastern valley-system, citing them by name and by village. [BACK]
19. So the hodja from Of is not necessarily from Of at all but is rather an individual who pursued his studies there for some period of time. [BACK]
20. The staff of an official mosque—for example, the prayer-leader (imam) and the caller-to-prayer (müezzin)—required official approval in both the Ottoman and Republican periods. [BACK]
21. Strasser 1995. See also Hann and Beller-Hann (2001) for an account of such a hodja from Of in the eastern district of Pazar. Even though some of the hodjas indulged in shady practices at least some of the time, this should not obscure their other, more prosaic function as modest religious experts in the sacred law of Islam. [BACK]
22. Although there were some hodjas from large family groupings (as was the school secretary), the individuals who worked as itinerant prayer-leaders and sermon-givers were rarely the descendants of aghas or the members of their family lines. I was sometimes told that individuals had pursued the profession of imaming for lack of economic opportunities in the district of Of and as a means to escape domination by or collaboration with the aghas. [BACK]
23. For the later nineteenth century, see the citations of the Trabzon yearbooks (salname) for 1869/1286 and 1888/1305 in chap. 8 (notes). [BACK]
24. Umur, a native of Yıığa [Yarlıı] village, received his first diploma in the district Of and completed his studies at the Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul before returning to the district of Of. When the Russian army occupied the district in 1916, he left the district again to become an activist in the nationalist movement, serving as the mayor of Samsun from 1935 to 1936. Sometime later, he turned from politics to commerce before retiring in Istanbul. In his retirement, he carried out an extensive program of archival research on the history of Of. The published results of this work are cited in later chapters. [BACK]
25. Umur 1949, 25-28. [BACK]
26. He lists the subjects taught as grammar (sarf), syntax (nahiv), logic (mantıık), semantics (maânî), rhetoric (beyan), jurisprudence (fııkııh), applied jurisprudence (usulü fııkııh), study of the Koran (kelâm), commentary on the Koran (tefsir), and study of the Tradition (hadîs). This list appears to include the full range of subjects that would have been offered in a religious academy of the Ottoman Empire. [BACK]
27. After his first return to the district of Of, sometime around 1910, Umur is reported to have offered such supplementary courses. According to Albayrak (1986, 68–70), this was the first time such basic subjects had been taught in the district of Of during the late Ottoman period. Umur is also said to have given instruction in Persian and Arabic. [BACK]
28. Examinations, once a part of the system of religious education, had been abolished by official decree sometime during the later Ottoman period. [BACK]
29. Umur (1949, 25–28) formulated a program of reform for religious education in Of and submitted it as a proposal to the müftü. He recommended that a new kind of academy be set up in Çufaruksa (Uğurlu) village. This new kind of academy would be financed by public contributions (an idea that suggests Umur's views were shared by other Oflus). Its professors would use different teaching methods and offer a different course of study. There would still be religious courses and instruction as before, but they would be supplemented by secular courses and instruction. The müftü was never able to implement his proposal because of the crises that were to accompany more than a decade of warfare. [BACK]
30. He writes that he will leave unmentioned irregularities that were characteristic of the religious academies in Of (ibid., 27). I would guess he is referring to the offering of authorizing certificates for a flat fee. The status of certified religious teacher would have sometimes been useful for escaping conscription during the later nineteenth century. Umur also writes that a good system of religious education is necessary in order to protect the people from charlatans (ibid., 30–31). I would guess he has in mind the hodjas who worked spells and cures. See chap. 8 for further discussion of the significance of this practice. [BACK]
31. Ibid., 36-37. [BACK]
32. See chap. 8 for a review of the number of Oflus in the imperial religious establishment in the later Empire. [BACK]
33. The Ottoman Civil Code (mecelle), compiled between 1869 and 1876, was based on the sacred law of Islam but took the form of a modernized legal code (Lewis 1961, 120-21). [BACK]
34. Ibid., 259–60, 266–69. The nationalists did not ignore official Islam. A new Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Pious Endowments took the place of the old imperial institutions. See Zürcher (1993, 195). [BACK]
35. Ibid. [BACK]
36. The nationalists discussed reform of the existing religious schools (medreses) during the Independence War (1921–22). Later, in 1924, they abolished these schools but opened new ıımam-Hatip schools "to train enlightened [aydıın] imams," and reopened the faculty of theology, which had been closed in 1919 (Akşit 1991, 161). Then new, more restrictive policies were adopted. An ıımam-Hatip school that had been opened in the town of Of in 1925 was closed down in 1928 (Tursun 1998, 45). By 1929, instruction in Arabic and Persian was abolished in secondary education, and the last two ıımam-Hatip schools in the country were closed in 1931 (Lewis 1961, 409). [BACK]
37. In 1928, the National Assembly adopted a new Latin alphabet for printed Turkish and prohibited the public use of the old Arabic alphabet. See Lewis (1961, 271–74) and Zürcher (1993, 196-97). [BACK]
38. When I interviewed the müftü of Of in 1988, he told me that the authorizing certificate would not list a chain of authorities but only the name of the student's teacher and the name of a teacher's teacher, usually a sheikh (şeyh) of a Nakşibendi religious brotherhood (tarikat). It is possible that this comment reflects a change in the character of the authorizing certificate over the intervening period. See chap. 8 (notes) for further comment on religious brotherhoods in the district of Of. [BACK]
39. The passage fuses together the results of two interviews with the same individual, one in the fall of 1966 and another in the fall of 1967. [BACK]
40. When I interviewed the müftü of Of in 1988, he told me he was the last graduate of one of the last academies during the early 1940s. By his account, I have concluded that his early religious education in Of at that time was but a fragment of the old system of religious education as described by Hasan Umur. [BACK]
41. The citations, which are edited versions of my field notes, were recorded in 1967. [BACK]
42. In 1988 I met a young man from Çaykara who told me that he had himself engaged in religious studies in his village and had gone out on the cer when he was in his early twenties (circa 1970), as had all the young people from his village. During the month of Ramadan, they had traveled to Çukurova, near the city of Adana, where they were received as guests by villagers and given food and lodging. However, his generation may have been one of the last to engage in this kind of activity, at least in any significant numbers. [BACK]
43. There appears to have been at least one other country area where residents had accomplished such a massive penetration and colonization of the imperial religious establishment: the districts of Akseki and Ibradıı, which are adjacent to one another in the province of Antalya. But see chap. 8 for an analysis of the differences between Of and these two districts in the Toros Mountains of southern Asia Minor. [BACK]
44. See the counts of learned class officials for Batum, Arhavi, and Rize in chap. 8, table 3. [BACK]
45. This was more the case toward the east than toward the west. See chaps. 3, 4, and 5 for a more precise accounting of the place of official Islam in the coastal districts. [BACK]
46. Various peoples and groups affiliated with other kinds of Islam had from time to time arrived and settled in the eastern coastal districts. Eventually, however, these peoples and groups tended to re-orient themselves toward official Islamic belief and practice. See chaps. 3, 4, and 5. [BACK]
47. See chaps. 4, 5, and 6 for further discussion of the historical connections between soldiers and students. [BACK]
48. I have never heard of such ceremonies elsewhere in Anatolia, but it would be surprising if they did not have their counterparts. See chap. 8 for a discussion of the professors and academies of Akseki and Ibradıı. [BACK]
49. Umur 1949, 32. [BACK]
50. The fairs (panayıır) held each year during the late summer would have been attended by a larger number of people, but these were informal gatherings rather than ceremonial occasions. [BACK]
51. I was not able to witness an authorizing certificate celebration, but I have spoken with a number of individuals who did attend someof them. [BACK]
52. I have taken the citations that follow from my notes, breaking the text at certain points for the sake of analysis. Before analyzing their content, I edited them for grammar and redundancy. They have not been rewritten to support my commentary. [BACK]
53. I have not been able to refer to descriptions of any official graduation ceremonies, which would have been held by the teaching staff of the imperial religious academies in Istanbul, so I cannot comment on the extent to which these local celebrations imitated them. One has to consider the possibility that the authorizing certificate ceremony had come under the influence of secular graduation exercises by the 1950s or 1960s. [BACK]
54. This indicates that the graduates were usually adolescents during the later years of the Turkish Republic. This was confirmed by the reports I received from other individuals who were religious teachers and students. [BACK]
55. The word "düğün" can be applied to any of the festivities that are part of the marriage, such as the fetching of the bride, the hosting of the bride-takers, or the reception of the bride. [BACK]
56. Cf. Umur (1949, 32) for the Ottoman period. [BACK]
57. See Meeker (1997), in which I describe the same kind of performance, silence and stillness, as a recognition and acceptance of state authority, versions of which appear in both the Empire and the Republic. [BACK]
58. Umur describes these exhortations as follows: "The best known of the learned class give advice and counsel [to those in attendance]. They condemn such immoral practices as dishonesty, rape, carousing, and gambling, and so they encourage the fostering of brotherhood among the Muslims and they give especially effective advice and counsel" (Umur 1949, 32). [BACK]
59. My friend may be "forgetting" that public prayers were sometimes still spoken in Pontic Greek in some of the villages of Çaykara. See chap. 5, note 38, for further comment on Pontic Greek in the district of Of. [BACK]
60. My friend was well known for his ability to provide entertaining accounts of individual characters, reflecting their speech and behavior. The translation suffers from the absence of his mimicking of accents, facial expressions, and gestures. [BACK]
61. The text is based on an interview that took place during the fall of 1967. [BACK]
62. I met this man in Sürmene in 1988. He was nearly ninety years old and had been retired for many years. [BACK]
63. We have already encountered two, Hasan Umur and the school secretary. Another interesting example is Mustafa Cansıız, reported to have been well read in both the Islamic sciences and Western philosophy. He is also said to have joined the Turkish Workers Party (Türk Işci Partisi) during the 1970s. [BACK]
64. Most secular schoolteachers would have been ardent Kemalists during the 1930s. [BACK]
65. The uprising occurred at a town near Izmir on December 23, 1930. More than a score of men were hanged in the aftermath. The schoolteacher may have incorrectly remembered the date of the incident in Kadahor, or, more probably, the events at Menemem may have still been fresh in his mind five years later when he accompanied the gendarmerie to the village. [BACK]
66. The citations, which are edited versions of my field notes, were recorded in 1988. [BACK]
67. A new faculty of theology was opened in Ankara in 1949, and the first new ıımam-Hatip schools began to be opened in 1951. By the 1980s there were nine faculties of theology and 376 middle-level and 341 lycée level ıımam-Hatip schools enrolling about a quarter-million students. See Akşit 1991, 147. By the 1980s, a school for prayer-leaders and sermon-givers had been opened in the town of Of. By the early 1990s, hundreds of students were enrolled in two ıımam-Hatip schools in the district. [BACK]