Islam an Illustrated Journey extract


An extract of pages from Islam an Illustrated Journey - pilgimage

During the reign of Selim i, the Ottomans conquered Mamlukcontrolled

Palestine, Syria, Egypt and the Hijaz. They then

C a s p i a n S e a

undertook building and maintenance projects in Jerusalem,

Mecca and Medina. The Ottomans oversaw the Hajj, maintained

and protected pilgrimage routes (shown on map) and enacted

ceremonies for the departure of Hajj caravans from Istanbul,

Damascus, and Cairo. In addition to the Hajj, the Ottomans

encouraged pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock.


Black Sea




Selim’s successor, Sulayman (d. 1566) commissioned the

recladding of the building’s exterior in coloured glazed ceramic

tiles, which brought a distinctive Ottoman look to the structure.





Detail of a painting of the arrival of the Hajj caravan at an

oasis en route to Mecca by the German painter Georg Emanuel

Opiz (d. 1841). Ottoman officials, dignitaries and soldiers are

shown meeting a religious official (dressed in green robes).

A camel draped in fine textiles carries the mahmal, a ceremonial

palanquin made of silk embroidered fabric that symbolised

the ruler’s authority and accompanied the Hajj caravan from

Egypt to Mecca. Originally established under the Mamluks,

the mahmal ceremony was adopted by the Ottomans. After the

Ottoman Empire’s dissolution in 1923, the ceremony began

to lose its significance. It remained a popular tradition

in Egypt until 1952.

Mediterranean Sea






H i j a z




R e d S e a







P e r s i a n G u l f

c o f f e e

The word ‘coffee’ comes from the Turkish ‘kahve’

which is derived from the Arabic ‘qahwa’. Coffee began

its journey in the Muslim world and Europe from

Yemen where the coffee-berry was cultivated (Yemeni

coffee plantations shown here) and where Sufis used it

to remain alert during their long devotional practices.

By the end of the 15th century, coffee was available

throughout the Muslim world. Its consumption

became controversial when some ʿulamaʾ likened it

to alcohol, an intoxicant, and deemed it impermissible

to consume.

Coffee was also censured because some ʿulamaʾ and rulers regarded coffee-houses as

hotbeds of impious behaviour and rebellion. Coffee-houses, like the one in Istanbul

shown here in a 19th-century painting by the Turkish Armenian painter Megerdich

Jivanian (d. 1906), were male abodes whereas women consumed coffee in private as

shown below in an 18th-century French painting of an Ottoman woman and her

server. During the 16th century the Ottomans imposed a tax on coffee and at various

times both coffee and coffee-houses were banned, most famously under the sultan

Murad iv (r. 1623–1640).

Ottoman traders introduced coffee into Europe between the 16th and 17th centuries.

European coffee-houses and paraphernalia were often replete with Ottoman

references including coffee tokens produced in London (shown opposite) inscribed

with a ‘Turk’s head’. Referred to as a ‘drink of the Muslims’, attempts were made to

ban coffee. Pope Clement viii (d. 1605), who liked its taste and preferred its effects to

those of alcohol, then sanctioned the drink. By the mid-17th century, coffee, coffeehouses

or cafés, along with chocolate, tea and tobacco became fashionable. Cafés

became places for literary, political, and economic gatherings. A London coffee-house

opened by the publisher Edward Lloyd (d. 1713) in 1686 was frequented by merchants,

seamen, traders and brokers. Eventually, Lloyd’s café became Lloyd’s of London, one

of the world’s largest insurance brokers. But there were also efforts to ban coffeehouses

in Europe owing to their potential to foment political dissent or as alleged in

a London women’s petition (shown below right), the drink’s ability to make men

‘feeble’ and ‘dull-witted’.

Portrait of Mihrimah Sultan (d. 1578),

daughter of Sulayman I and his favourite

wife Hürrem Sultan (Roxelana), by the

Cristofano dell’Altissimo (1605), second half

of the 16th century, Italy. Mihrimah Sultan

had political connections and economic

means and was the patron of a number of

building projects including two mosques

bearing her name built in Üskudar (1548)

and Istanbul (1565).

By the 17th century, when their number may have

been as high as 100,000, the Janissaries had become closely

affiliated with the Bektashi Sufi dervish tariqa founded in

the 13th century. The Bektashis were inclined towards Shiʿism

and upheld the centrality of ʿAli b. Abi Talib, the Twelver

Shiʿi line of Imams and extremist (ghulat) beliefs, and

through their dervish lodges (tekkes) influenced the education

of the Janissaries, who eventually regarded the founder

of the tariqa, Haji Bektashi Wali (d. ca. 1271) as their patron

saint. If anything, this association with the Bektashis highlighted

the importance of the Janissaries to the Ottoman

sultans, since their championing of Sunni Islam was downplayed

in order to ensure the support of these elite regiments.

Calligraphic tiles in the Valide Sultan Mosque

(or Yeni Camii) built in Istanbul’s Eminönü

district upon the order of Safiye Sultan

(d. 1603), the consort of Sultan Murad iii

(d. 1595) and completed in 1665 under the

patronage of Turkhan Sultan (d. 1683), who

served as Ottoman regent for her son Sultan

Mehmed iv (d. 1693). The mosque is part of

an endowed complex (külliye) that included

a hospital and school as well as a market

that is known today as the Spice Bazaar

(or Mısır Çarşısı), one of Istanbul’s most

famous tourist attractions.

The Sultanate of Women and

the Gates of Vienna

In the decades after Sulayman i’s death in 1566, the extent of

the Ottoman Empire made it difficult to govern and protect on

all sides. In addition, Suleyman’s successors proved ineffective

rulers and their authority was weakened by palace intrigues

and cabals. Some sultans came to power as minors and were

controlled by viziers or relatives serving as regents, while

the decline of some of the sultans’ power encouraged royal

mothers, wives and concubines to take an active role in

political life, thus giving rise to the term the Sultanate of

Women to describe this period in Ottoman history.

One of the most powerful regents was Kösem Sultan

(d. 1651), the wife of Ahmad i (d. 1617) and mother (affording

her the title valide sultan) of Murad iv (d. 1640). In 1638,

Murad vi had managed to take Baghdad from the Safawids

of Persia, but his controversial attempts to ban alcohol,

tobacco and coffee, and issuing penalties of execution for

those who did not obey, proved unsuccessful. His mother,

who was highly intelligent and politically astute, managed

to outlive and outmanoeuvre Murad and see her second

son, Ibrahim (d. 1648), followed by grandson Mehmed iv

(d. 1693), ascend the throne. But Kösem Sultan was eventually

killed when she was implicate in a plot to overthrow

Mehmed, probably by her daughter-in-law, the mother of


A watercolour painting made in Mughal India in ca. 1615–1618

depicting a bejewelled and haloed Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) favouring the

Sufi Shaykh Husayn with a book. The painting is an allegory. Jahangir,

who adopted the name meant ‘Seizer of the World’ and honorific title of

Nur al-Din (‘Light of Faith’), is shown to prefer the poor and pious

shaykh to the kings depicted at a distance from the ruler and

represented by the Ottoman sultan and King James i of England

(r. 1603–1625). The painting’s artist Bichitr (active ca. 1610–1660), a Hindu,

has also included himself in the painting with a self-portrait bowing

before the king on the lower left. The painting also has a number of

European styled cherubs, two of whom write in Persian at the base

of the hourglass pedestal of Jahangir’s throne, ‘O Shah, May the Span

of Your Life be a Thousand Years’. The painting’s frame is densely

decorated with colourful flowers. Jahangir was known for his

patronage of botanical paintings and drawings.

seeking the eternal

Jahangir’s successor, Shah Jahan (r. 1628–1658) built the Taj Mahal

in Agra as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal

(d. 1631). Built on the banks of the Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is a complex

of buildings within a garden, at the north end of which is the main

mausoleum built of brick faced with white marble decorated with

precious and semi-precious stones including lapis lazuli, sapphire,

cornelian, jasper, chrysolite and heliotrope.

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