Tolerance, Minorities, and Ideological Perspectives
Published: March 19, 2018 • Updated: October 21, 2020
Author: Dr. Tesneem Alkiek
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Case Study: The Ottoman Millet System
A Model for Tolerance
From Group-Rights to Liberalism: The Tanzimat Reforms
...As for the non-Muslims, this day, when they left the status of raya [i.e. minorities] and gained equality with the ruling millet, was a day of rejoicing. But the patriarchs and other spiritual chiefs were displeased, because their appointments were incorporated in the ferman [royal decree].
1 Early Modern Spain: A Documentary History, ed. Jon Cowans (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 145.
2 Ibid., 146.
3 Ibid., 145.
4 Ibid., 149.
5 This is not to imply that non-religious rule is free of fault. Because the focus is on medieval or classical histories, secularist rule is not considered in the current discussion.
6 Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, “Introduction” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, eds. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, vol. I (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1982), 12-13.
7 Kemal Karpat, “Millets and Nationality: The Roots of the Incongruity of Nation and State in the Post-Ottoman Era” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, eds. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, vol. I (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1982), 141.
8 Ibid., 142.
9 Ibid., 143.
10 Saba Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), 35.
11 Amnon Cohen, “On the Realities of the Millet System: Jerusalem in the Sixteenth Century” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, eds. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, vol. II (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1982), 12.
12 Ibid., 13.
13 Will Kymlicka, “Two Models of Pluralism and Tolerance,” in Toleration: An Elusive Virtue, ed. David Heyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 82.
14 Ibid., 83.
15 Ibid., 84.
16 Ibid., 85.
17 Ibid., 86.
18 Mahmood, 33.
19 Kymlicka, 87.
21 This was true in the Muslim community as well.
22 Ibid., 88.
23 Ibid., 89.
24 Ibid., 93.
25 Stanford J. Shaw and Gökhan Çetinsaya, "Ottoman Empire" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World.
26 Mahmood, 40.
27 Braude and Lewis, 32-3.
28 Shaw and Çetinsaya, "Ottoman Empire.”
29 Mahmood, 25.
30 Mahmood, 39.
31 Moshe Maʿoz, “Communal Conflicts in Ottoman Syria during the Reform Era: The Role of Political and Economic Factors” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, eds. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, vol. II (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1982), 91.
32 As cited in Braude and Lewis, 30.
33 Karpat, 144.
34 Look no further than Robert Spencer’s The Myth of Islamic Tolerance (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2005).
35 Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 21.
36 Ibid., 21-2.
37 Ibid., 23.
38 Ibid., 7.
39 Ibid., 37.
40 Mahmood, 2.
41 Ibid., 2, 4. “Conventionally, tolerance is adduced for beliefs or practices that may be morally, socially, or ideologically offensive but are not in direct conflict with the law...Laws of course may be changed in the name of greater tolerance, as in the repeal of antimiscegenation or antisodomy laws, or in the name of less tolerance, as in laws banning same-sex marriage or restricting abortion. But in each case, the negotiation is between what is deemed a private or individual choice appropriately beyond the reach of law (hence tolerable) and what is deemed a matter of the public interest (hence not a matter of tolerance)” Mahmood, 12.
42 Brown, 36.
43 Brown, 12, 36; Mahmood, 36.