Understanding minority religious groups in the Ottoman World: In the case of Sabbateanism

Understanding minority religious groups in the Ottoman World: In the case of Sabbateanism
Kapanci Mehmet Effendi, 1912 (A Sabbatean businessman of Salonika in the Ottoman Empire)

As the last Islamic empire, the Ottoman State respected all minor ethnic and religious denominations throughout history. Unlike, other Muslims empires, Ottoman rulers developed greater understanding for non-Muslims (dhimmi) societies within the same territories. Religious tolerance towards minority groups can be traced back to cultural and traditional rules in Asia Minor before the Ottoman period, during Seljuk era in Anatolia. Contemporary religious scholars like Jelaleddin Rumi or Sufi Yunus Emre also provided a peaceful mystic atmosphere and general social understanding towards all other minorities in Anatolia. This can be only achieved with the Ottomans noteworthy tolerances and pleasant approaches to “others” in most of the World society. In this regard, this paper aims to illustrate the structuring of a marginal sect Sabbateanism in between Judaism and Islam.

As a religious movement, after the death of Aziz Mehmet Effendi, known as Shabbetai Tzvi before his conversion, the sect began to call as Sabbateanism in western literature.  Before his death, Shabbetai Tzvi pretended to convert to Islam in order to save his life but also in his understanding to save his believers who converted to Islam as well with his guidance. It can be asked that one wonders how exactly Sabbateanism has flourished after the Messiah’s and some of his followers’ conversion and also how it increasingly developed among particularly in the Jewish and Muslims circles. After their conversion to Islam, Sabbateans were called Avdeti and later Donmes which means converted in Turkish but with a negative meaning as in western literature also called crypto Jewish. In Ottoman society, Sabbateans preferred to be called Avdeti which is a more polite way to identify them as “others” in Jewish community.[i] These definitions help us to better understand the public image of Sabbatean movement in world societies from past to present.  In this article, I analyse the sources and develop new methodological approaches to different periods of the Sabbatean movement and its subsequent sectarian life in the Ottoman society.

What Dönme means for public in general

The word Donmes is written in Ottoman Turkish as dönme دونمه or avdeti ﻋودتئ basically a causal word more than an academic term but with time, this term became a common word which indicates a religious identity in the Ottoman society. Donmes often translated as convert or turncoat, the most famous appellation used for naming and describing the Ottomans and Turkish Sabbatean communities.[ii] As a western writer Davids made a statement about Sabbateans when he says that “Dônme religion and identity, not simply Jews, not merely Muslims”.[iii] This is another way of saying that Jews in Islam or as it is said in this paper Mohammedan Jews, Sabbateans. Rıfat Bali asks that why Dönmes are hated so much?[iv] This is an important question to answer in terms of the understanding of this marginal sect in Jewish history but apply for all marginal sects in other religions. 

         In the Jewish tradition, it is a common believed that if a new baby is born in Saturday, he is named as Shabbat Shebti which Shabbetai Tsvi’s name also come from the same tradition..[v] Basically, children born on a Sabbath were frequently called Shabbetai.[vi] In this sense, it is possible to say that Sabbateanism drives from the name of Shabbetai Tzvi but originally comes from the term Shabbat in Judaism. Likewise, another marginal sect in Christianity, Sabbatarianism[vii] established based on Shabbat theory and Christian believers of the sect follow the Saturday rituals within similar principles.[viii] However, Sabbateanism only became a proper sect after the death of Shabbetai Tzvi.

How Sabbateanism was established in Ottoman Society 

            General Jews’ view on Sabbateanism is approximately the same as Turkish view in the Ottoman society. Undoubtedly Sabbatean movement secretly developed after the conversion of Shabbetai Tzvi in 1666. As a religious sect, it was always seen an unacceptable and unethical belief within Judaism. Orthodox Jewish community in ottoman society was regarded this group as heresy and many rabbis have issued negative decree against the Sabbateans. However, another factor played crucial role in making Sabbateans evil in the eyes of public. Writers and historians exaggeratedly wrote about Sabbateans and labelled them as a heretical action in society. From the time of Shabbetai Tzvi to the present very rare authors emphasized the remarkable achievements of the community in mercantile and social affairs in the Ottoman state.

When Hanna Swiderska mentioned that the Messiah was one of the latter, directed against the Jewish religion and in particular against the false messiah, he also meant Sabbatai Tzvi.[ix] Miriam said that Perhaps, understand how a great number of Jews in the seventeenth century were willing to follow the weary bizarre of Shabbetai Tzvi[x] According to Miriam the prophetic interpretations of the Kabbalah that convinced the multitudes to see Shabbetai Tzvi as the redeemer.[xi] Furthermore, Scholem noted that “there is no doubt that Shabbetai Tzvi was a sick man, it is worth- while to try and understand the nature of his illness. His contemporaries speak of him as a madman, a lunatic, or a fool.[xii] To Scholem, the sources suggest with almost absolute certainty that Shabbetai suffered from a manic – depressive psychosis, possibly combined with some paranoid traits- a constitutional disease.[xiii] 

With the same understanding, Lehhman noted that the eighteenth century came on the heels of an abortive messianic movement around “the false Messiah Shabbetai Tzvi of Izmir” who had attached a large number of followers throughout the ottoman empire and Europe and across the entire spectrum if Jewish society.[xiv] Lastly Şisman repeated that he was a “false messiah.”[xv] Şişman preferred to called Tsvi as a mystic rabbi from İzmir but almost no scholars have called him only with his name yet.[xvi] Some scholars that once the clergy learned of Sabbateanism’s heretical character, they would the people of Shabbetai Tsvi’s sect.[xvii] These all show that Tzvi was already a negative figure at the past and no chance to defence himself as a founder of his sect. Purpose of this essay certainly not to defence a controversial messianic movement in history but rather as all other faith Sabbatean sect must be considered as a religious belief whether it is hidden or not. From believer point of view, if Sabbatean movement is still valid religious belief, then as most popular religions like Christianity or Islam, controversial sect Sabbatean movement also at least deserve a respect as a religious cult in the world. Oddly enough, Ottoman government did not recognize this sect as problematic congregation in the society. Some official corresponds highlight a historical fact that Ottoman approach to Sabbatean movement were not in hostility throughout history.[xviii] Ottoman administration showed tolerance all the religious dominations including minorities in different religions unless their statements threaten to the State. It is because with multicultural understanding, Ottomans always showed tolerance to other beliefs. One remarkable example in ottoman history, illustrates the ottoman approach to minor religious sects under the Turkish state which was ruled by Sharia Law.[xix]

An Islamic tariqa[xx] called Melami movement[xxi] (Malamatiyya) was established in eight centuries in Iran but impacted Ottoman society in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. This Sufi way of religious thought were followed by Ottoman Sufi Dervish Hajji Bayram Weli and his students and mixed up with the principles of Muhyiddin ibn Arabi. As a result of piety, Melami dervishes hide their religious thoughts in public. According to some scholars Melami movement is regarded as a heretical tariqa and a marginal example of such violence among ottoman dervishes.[xxii] However despite this, Ottoman State did not negatively consider Melamis’s religious ritual within Islamic thought.[xxiii] Turkish Bayrami Melamis was issued a religious decree and say that for the Sheikh namely their religious leader was regarded as ‘amir al mu’minin ve Khalifa al Sayyidu’l Murselin ve Surat al Rahman ve sahib al Zaman Imam al-Mahdi’ which means they actually rejected the Ottoman Khalifat when they recognized their Sheikh as Khalifa.[xxiv] This was found an illegal action against the Ottoman sovereignty which was considered an anarchic revolt under the Ottoman State. Therefore, despite the Ottoman and Melami followed the same religious principles, Ottoman State challenged with Melami community at the same time of the emergence of Sabbatean movement. This event indicates that Ottoman did not interfere religious practices in religious congregation but always considered their intention towards the Ottoman Policy.[xxv]

In this condition Sabbatean movement was established by its followers and found opportunity to develop only in Ottoman society. With this exemplar tolerance, Ottoman allowed Sabbatean people to continue their life in ottoman society. This freedom provided remarkable public sphere for them to establish their enigmatic identity to transmit to their next generations. The freedom of faith under the Ottoman rule also allows them to structure their sectarian life.[xxvi]

 How Sabbateanism flourished until the Present

This question in fact determined a fact with regard to the existence of a religion which is a belief of Muhammedan Jews in world history. Unlike temporally religious movement, in some way, Sabbateanism has survived until the present. Scholem also emphasized that most of the “heretical” literature of the Sabbateans was destroyed during the persecution of the sectarians in the eighteen century and has been virtually unknown that important parts of it survived.[xxvii]  Although this destroyed literature of Sabbateans, Muhammed Jews did not leave their so far.

There are particular important reasons for this scramble, but the first important reason was to live in ottoman territories. The most important reason is that Ottoman tolerance to all other religious approaches throughout history. Ottoman state provided freedom of thought and religion for other religious dominations within its society. Heretical or not in society, ottoman rulers did not interfere in any religious movements unless it challenged the state policy.  Therefore, the Ottoman administrators condoned the religious practices of Sabbateanism from its emergence to the present.

Certainly, there are other significant reasons for this continuing religious movement. Shabbetai Tzvi had extraordinary achievements to his credit, in order to improve his knowledge, he had studied and mastered the whole of Talmudic and Rabbinic literature by the time he reached his fifteenth year. Other Jewish required a whole lifetime to achieve such a feat.[xxviii] He was sent to the Jeshibah, the school of which Rabbi Joseph Escapa was the head.[xxix] It was the world of the Kabala, a full of wonders, containing the history and promised destiny of a people as well as the meaning of creation and of the universe.[xxx]

Indeed, Shabbetai Tzvi was labeled as manic depressive or a mad rabbi but was not regarded as an ignorant religious leader. His educational background provided him his reputation. Tzvi was thought by Moses Pinherio and he said that Tzvi has a brilliant mind.  Great scholar Galante also stated that undoubtedly Tzvi was an erudite rabbi and very learned man in Halacha and Kabbalah.[xxxi] In Sabbateans tradition, soul of messiah will appear at the bottom of a draw well as a crooked snake which is symbolized the messiah in Kabbalah.[xxxii] The year 1666 was designated by these enthusiasts as the messianic year, which was to bring renewed splendor to the Jews and see their return to Jerusalem.[xxxiii] Tzvi structured all these theories with his own framework.

Another important reason is emphasized by Professor Jacob Barnai who made a significant statement about Shabbetai Tzvi movement, ‘Other factors that must be taken into account are the religious and political upheavals that occurred in the seventeenth century, especially in Europe. Christian millennialism and the broad extent of mysticism among Jews, Christians, and Muslims in this period including the mutual influences among the three religions.[xxxiv] Barnai emphasized another important point for the emergence of Sabbateanism. 

In this years, well-known cabbalist Manasseh ben Israel was considered with his sermons as a rabbi from Portuguese. In this era, he was one of the most remarkable rabbis who mentioned his messianic hopes in his text. Ten years later after Manasseh had passed away, (1657) some of the millenarians when told about the arrival of Shabbetai Tzvi, the Jewish Messiah, were able to put this in the framework Manasseh had given them. Nathanial Homes, for one, said that Manasseh had told him that there would be two messiahs, and here was the second one. Other millenarians tried to recognize the importance of Shabbetai Tsvi’s coming without giving up their acceptance of special statues for Jesus. And some like mist of the Amsterdam Jews did in fact accept Shabbetai Tzvi as the expected Messiah and became Christian followers of Shabbetai Tzvi. It is not clear how long they remained followers after Sabbatai’s conversion to Islam however later Frankist movement shows that the followers had been opportunity to believe him as messiah. [xxxv]

Shabbetai Tzvi episode created much more excitement among both Jewish and Christian. In the west, the news about Shabbetai Tzvi was coupled with all sorts of messianic signs occurring in the place like Aberdeen, where a ship is supposed to have appeared with silken sails, whose crew spoke only Hebrew and with the words. As it is remarkably stated that by Popkin, in this regards it can be said that messianic expectation in Christian World, supported the idea of messianic proclamation Tzvi.  Christian millenarians tried to decide what to make of Shabbetai Tzvi.[xxxvi]

However, after the apostasy of Shabbetai Tzvi, Christian could look at the whole episode as just a Jewish mistake. Either Shabbetai Tzvi the Jews or both could be blamed for having falsely or foolishly created all the tumult. From then Jewish side, an interesting argument, probably only known to a few was advanced by Rabbi Abraham Cardoso[xxxvii], who remained a follower of Shabbetai Tzvi to the end of his life. To deny Shabbetai is possible Messiah is Cardoso contended, to deny the possibility of a Messiah.[xxxviii]

Divisions between some Sabbataist religious leaders

The idea of a messiah is a constant and important feature of Judaism, but through most of Jewish history it has remained latent. Only a few junctures did messianic fervor become manifest on a large scale. Foremost among these was the rise and fall of the so-called false Messiah Shabbetai Tzvi who led the most important messianic movement (Sabbateanism) to arise from within Judaism since Christianity. His antinomian teachings or “redemption through sin” completely disrupted Jewish life in all the major Ottoman cities, as well as in Italy, Germany, and France.[xxxix]

After the death of Tsvi, Sabatian movement have been gradually structured by its prominent leaders in the Sabbatian community. The community is splendid as Karakas, Yakubi and Kapanci.[xl]   The Karakas worships a man who was the leader of the community, and his name was Osman Baba in Turkish but called Baruhia Russo in their own congregation. They have a statute of Osman baba, made out of limestone. They worship the statute which symbols their God, but this also interpreted on wrong way in society end of saying they are idolaters like Zoroastrians. Leaders were called “Agha”[xli] and leadership is passed from father to son. Lastly the religious leadership in the community was in the hands of Miserly Agha.[xlii]

Ottoman archival documents provide important evidence to understand that in fact Ottoman rulers were aware of the Muhammedan jews in the community. The archival record is mentioned that a Sabatian (Avdeti) merchant nikname Honiyos from Karakaş family in Selaniko runaway that shows Ottoman Administrators did not deal their identity.[xliii]

After the death of Shabbetai Tzvi, Sabbateans whom are called Muhammedan Jews in this article were named Sazanikos by Salonikas but they called themselves Ma’aminim. Unlikely, Ottoman Jews preferred to call themselves Manzarim.[xliv] The term Sazanikos is used for describing of corp fish (Sazan fish, cyprinus) which symbolized Sabbatean people. Jewish Mohammedans lost their traditional structure in exchange from Turkey to Greek in 1924. After this time individuals gained more important than congregation.[xlv]

Sabbateans believe messiah as well and they still wait for it as Christians. This makes them theologically closer to Christianity more than Judaism.[xlvi] Şişman made remarkable statement when he that Sabbateanism is theologically different than Judaism as much as Christianity is different than Judaism. His observation is right because according to Jewish people, messiah is not arrived yet. However according to Christian world, Jesus Christ is messiah, and he will come again at the end, in apocalyptic age. In this regard,

According to Sabbateans, it is a tradition among Sabbateans that leaving an empty bed in their house for Saint Osman Baba who was the successor of Shabbetai Tzvi after his death. A candle is always burned next to this bed as a part of the religious ritual. This costume is not practiced by many Donmes any ore but still known for all the Sabbatean community.[xlvii]

Prominent family members in Kapancı and Karakaş families played crucial roles in developing first private school in Salonika and later in Istanbul. Salonika Terakki School, Fevziye School, şişli Terakki School are the most popular Sabbateans educational instututes among them.[xlviii]  Well known educaters of the time, Ismail Hakki Bey, Cudi bey and Şemsi Effendi used to teach in these institutes.[xlix] Beside this, Cavit Bey and Şemsi Effendi from Karakaş family considerably contributed to urbanization of Salonika city in the last quarter of nineteenth century. Despite this reality, due to their religious identity, Sabbateans were discriminated in Muslim and Jewish society and as a result of this treatment, neither allowed to bury in Muslim cemeteries nor accepted in Jewish graveyards but buried in their own cemeteries in Istanbul and Salonika.[l]

Epigraphy science is one of them most neglected fields in Sabbatean studies. Working on gravestone highlights many unknown mysterious with regard to Mohammedan Jews. In Bülbülderesi cemetery[li], some calligraphic scripts on tombstones are very inspiringly interesting and informative for Sabbatean studies. For instance, they noted it on one of the tombstones, I made slept my burden in me but never shared” is actually one of the principles of Sabbatean sect. In another tombstone is noted that he is from a chosen descent. And also, besides that, it was noted I will meet you there soon. These explanations are all key factors to understand the essence of Mohammedan Jews and their lifestyle.[lii] Although these different understanding of religious principles, a conservative Mohammedan Jew show his religious piety when he performs all Islamic rituals and also secretly pray at home as a follower of Shabbetai Tzvi.[liii]

This subject is well studied by particular scholars but lastly C.S Kösemen has written an out breaking book on the Sabbateans’ tombstones and indicates that Sabbateans identity are all recorded on gravestones in Dönme cemeteries in Istanbul.[liv] Karakaş, Yakubi and Kapancı families are known from their surnames and despite they hide their religious identity as crypto Jew, they were known as Avdeti in the Ottoman society.[lv]

In those days son of Baruh Paşarel, Osman became very famous in Jewish circles for his mystical power. Osman was not even educated man but wring or right abled to tell people about their future. His reputation was increasingly grown in his environment as a blessed man.  As time went by, it rumored that Osman has the same talent like Shabbetai Tzvi and he is able to heal sick people. This skill made him very respected distinguish figure in the community. Eventually everybody agreed that Tsvi’s soul reincarnated on his body. After his death, Sabbateans even made his little statue and preyed on him. Some people even called him soul of God on earth. Despite following similar tradition, oddly enough [lvi]Jewish and Sabbateans have antagonism for each other. [lvii] Osman Baba left spiritual sermon for his followers. He addresses his believers like phrase from Holy Scripture as ‘ohh my children, you must always be aware of wrongdoing and right doing. Injustice is a poisoner snake in your heart. Stay away from it. Our past is hell, but our future will be heaven for us.  Absolute right is science and I invite all of you to this privilege that cannot be undermining at all.[lviii]

Karakaş Dönmes did not also prefer to marry from different communities and rather stayed away intermarriages until 1870s. However, after the loosing provinces of the Ottoman Empire in Balkans areas, Sabbateans had to migrate to Anatolia from Eastern Europe and did not only settle in Istanbul and Izmir but also in country side of Anatolia, like Sivas Erzincan and Siirt. They were naturally much more relaxed and comfortable when they were living such a multicultural and civilized cities like Salonika and Rhodes under the Ottoman Rule. However, when Sabbateans met conservative Muslim community in Turkey, and they had struggled to communicate and socialize with Sunni Muslim people due to cultural differences.

Especially after the exchanged with Greek and Turkish in 1925 (mübadele) massive population were settled in Anatolia and they seriously faced a social problem with Muslim Turks.[lix] Population exchange between Greece and Turkey also affected other ethnic populations in Anatolia. Living in double religious identity made them look awkward in eyes of Anatolian Sunni Muslims. Sabbateans immigrated to Anatolia and some of them were settled in Sivas where mostly Alavi[lx] Muslims live. Alavi Muslims more moderates about religious practices and mostly do their practices in their own temples, Cemevi.[lxi] Alavis’ religious practices in Turkey are based on representing   cultural values and humanitarian side of Islam which is linked to principles of Caliph Ali. This way was easier for Sabbateans to call themselves Alavi Muslim because Alavi Muslims also allow their women to not covering their hair. Therefore, instead of declaring their identity, Sabbateans preferred to say that they are also Alevi Muslims. In this way, Sabbateans mixed up with Alavi Muslims and partially lost their identity in countryside of Turkey. Most original Sabbateans are still living in Izmir and Istanbul.[lxii]

Frankest in between Sabbateanism and Christianity

According to the Frankist chronicle Yaakov Ben Leyb later known as Jacob Frank was born in Podolia in 1726. When Frank was only few months old, his family left the Poland and moved to the Ottoman Empire.[lxiii] Goldish places Sabbateanism squarely in the context of contemporary Christian Millennial phenomena, in all its remarkably eclectic varieties.[lxiv] According to the interpretation of the seers the Messiah was expected to appear in the year 5408.[lxv] Another reason for flourishing of Sabbateanism was about emerging of new sectorial faiths under the Sabbateans form, like Frankism. Therefore, Sabbateanism did not die with the conversion of Shabbetai Tzvi to Islam.[lxvi] Probably best example for this statement is that Frankism movement. Frankism lead the Sabbateans spread their thought in different form within Christianity in Europe. The eighteenth century came on the heels of an abortive messianic movement around Shabbetai Tzvi of Izmir who had attached a large number of followers throughout the Ottoman Empire and Europe and across the entire spectrum of Jewish society.[lxvii]

According to Scholem, the name Tzvi is unknown among Sephardim, either as a personal or as a family name and it’s likely that both the name and the family are of Ashkenazi origin.[lxviii] A detailed history of the Sabbatean Movement, the most important messianic movement in Judaism since the destruction of the Second Temple has long been badly lacking in Jewish historiography.[lxix] The messiah would be reviled, persecuted, and made to suffer. These were some of the sings whereby he would be recognized. And these sings were clearly manifesting themselves in the life of Shabbetai Tzvi. [lxx] According to his believers he was the messiah chosen and appointed for the age.[lxxi]

After the death of Tsvi, his popularity increased among his followers. Jacob Frank proclaimed his messahsip with saying that Tsvi’s soul is living in his body with reincarnation. Thereafter he converted Christianity in 1750 and pursued his messianic statements as Christian[lxxii] it seems that conversion to other religion became kind of level of piety in Sabbatean community. Conversions to Christianity were among the most traumatic events in the history medieval and early modern Jewish community. Jews regarded baptism as a,’ betrayal of communal values, a rejection of Jewish destiny, a submission to the illusory verdict of history.[lxxiii]

Such a views and arguments were fast becoming unpopular with the leading Christian theologians, who dubbed the belief in an earthly Messianism and in the kingdom of saints, theologically called “chiliasm”[lxxiv] and its adherents “chiliasts”.[lxxv] According to Frankist Saints Jesus Christ will return and reign for a thousand years as a messiah.

Simon Dubnow stated that Jacob Frank was for the Polish-Russian Jews of the eighteen century. What Shabbetai Tzvi was for entire of seventeenth century? Scholem argued that there is no basic difference between the terms Sabbateanism and Frankish.[lxxvi] While Shabbetai Tzvi – the true Messiah ascended to the status of the bridegroom of the true word of God, in Frankism the true word of God descended to palpably material female flesh.[lxxvii] According to some scholars the lineage of French post-structuralism can be traced back to the seventeenth century apostate Messiah, Jacob Frank.[lxxviii] Jonas Wehle (1750_ 1825) from Prag and Gitschinli Emanuel Wehle from Bohemia were known as most prominent religious leader in Sabbatean congregation from Frankest ecole.  Roesel Eger who was close family member of Jacob Frank was also contributed to spread this sect in Offenbach where the city was regarded as holy place of Frankest people for pilgrimage.[lxxix]

Identity of Sabbatian people in the late Ottoman society

Great Ottoman Jewish scholar Abraham Gallante of twenty century shared his experience about the neglected Ottoman Jewish when he visited Israel in 1950s.  Prof Gallant noted that only news and documents on Shabbetai Tzvi and his religious movement had taken place in museums and libraries in Israel in spite of existing of many archival materials regarding the Sephardim Jews and their migration to Ottoman lands. Gallant finishes his writing with a remarkable question “as Ottoman Jewish who lived in this region for seven centuries, are we only about Sabbateans in the history.[lxxx] This indicates that as a religious action, Sabbatean movement impacted Jewish world more than other social-historical events. Then how the image of Sabbatean sect was impacted in social life in the Ottoman Empire? Image of Sabbateans are not unpleasant only in Turkish Muslim society but also, Christian and Jewish circles.[lxxxi] According to some orthodox Jews this heretical people must be killed one of Holy Saturday.[lxxxii] 

The Donmes have always been the scapegoats of the conservative Turkish (Both İslamist and nationalist), who have considered them as the main source of all problems that have preoccupied rightist intellectuals. This wide range of problems consists of the advance of communism in turkey, the abolition of the Caliphate and the establishment of the republic in 1923, degeneration of the Turkish society [lxxxiii] therefore some writers say that converted people are in fact never converted but turned around 360’ which takes one to the same destination.[lxxxiv]

Kasten exaggerated the social situation without showing any evidence and stated that “All Shabbetai did was the worship God in the open, a simple proceeding which he did not allow the mockery of the unsympathetic Turks to interrupt.[lxxxv] This interpretation seems general understanding of western world rather than historical realities.[lxxxvi]

As mentioned in the first chapter, the legal pluralism in Ottoman times was called millet system. The three leading non-Muslim religious communities, the Jews, Rum (Anatolian Greek) Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church were established as recognized Zimmah communities known as millets.[lxxxvii] The religious traditions of the Middle East and Balkans codified them into laws. Each religious group was named as millet. Their leader represented the needs of their people to the Sultan’s government. Sometimes as was the case with Greek Orthodox, the place of the millet was specially recognized by law. Other millets such as the Jews were simply recognized by tradition. As the centuries passed more sects were officially recognized but the millet system was an essential element of Ottoman Government from an early date. The notion of dhimmi was formulated in early Islam as a kind if contract.[lxxxviii] In this regard, it must be understand that Tzvi was more hated figure in Jewish society than Turkish during the ottoman era. Turks began to react Sabbateans after the establishment of modern turkey. It is because many nations claimed their independence and even some of them betrayed to loyalty of the Ottoman State for independency.

Despite these circumstances, Sabbateans stayed in modern turkey instead of moving somewhere else. Because Sabbateans did lived 400 years under the ottoman rule and realized that there is no more tolerance for their sectarian beliefs in another place on earth.[lxxxix] Apart from this, Scholem states that ‘Our knowledge of the last-named communities and of their attitudes during the messianic movement outbreak is good. Turkish Jewry was safely established Ottoman Empire in which anti-Jewish persecutions were extremely rare and ran counter to consider policy of its rulers’[xc] also clearly proof that Mohammedan Jews were even tolerated under the Ottoman umbrella. Additionally, Samuel stated that, Salonika is a paradise for Jews. Jews in turban, news out of turbans, Jews as builders of houses and as barbers, ‘the children of Israel are everywhere, in every kind of work.[xci] Jewish merchants of Salonika, Capandji are also Donmes and had excellent relationship with ottoman government[xcii] is also indicates that Muhammedan Jews did not discriminate in Ottoman society but this way or other they were regarded as citizens so this independent condition allow them to pursue their lifestyle among other minorities.

When Ottoman general Kazim Karabekir visited Salonika, in 1910, he saw interesting religious ritual in new mosque (yeni cami) Karabekir Pasha did not understand significance of the rituals but emphasized his amazed in his memoir. Because Sabbatean community gradually mixed with Islamic principles. For instance, Donmes believe in the existence of one God who is the creator of the universe. The World must be saved; a people must be saved- the Messiah cult![xciii] After God, Shabbetai Tzvi ranks second. The Jews call them ma’minkino. Like Jews, their prayers are in Hebrew. Sabbateans don’t separate men and women in their meeting.[xciv]

As a marginal belief, not only Sabbateans but all new religious sects are considered a reformist challenge in the religion and accepted kind of uprising within the community. Therefore, instead of understanding of the emergence of this movement, conservative people among the community aggressively protect their religious principles with judging newborn sect heresy and its leader “False Messiah”, Shabbetai Tzvi.[xcv] This directly damages the reputation of religious leader, like Tzvi. Certainly, Shabbetai Tzvi also damaged his image when he converted Islam and accepted named Mehmet for himself in 1666.[xcvi] However, later he still managed to protect his image in public which is very remarkable action for a religious leader. In this way, Tzvi still managed to spread his ideas and religious thoughts as far as Italy, Poland, Holland and this established serious followers in Salonika, Izmir and Istanbul.[xcvii]

As far as it is understood from archival sources, Muhammedan Jews always used Ottoman magistrate court. In one of court cases proof that they were also recorded as Sabatian in cort geistrwtion books but not mentioned in the case. So, in this way, Ottoman rulers might intented to not insult Muhammedan jews.[xcviii]         

Similarly, for a controversial court case, a sabatian ibrahim Effendi from Selanik was taken to Istanbul under the securty guidance. This is another instance to realize that Ottoman State treated all the citisent with same democratic tolerance.[xcix]Another document hightligt this court case, ibrahim effendi was found guilty and prisoned but due to his heatlh problem in prisnoed, his companing was taken into consideration.[c]

Transformation of a religious identity from a spiritual to a negative image in society

Rifat Bali made a remarkable statement when he describe the general conditions of Sabbateans in Turkish society; “The most powerful minority within Turkish society the Donmes take pride of place among those who stealthily form a systematic front against Turkish nationalist movement.”[ci] The main reason that they are seen as ‘enemies’ is the opinion, widespread among the Turkish public, that converts Islam never truly accept the religion of Islam and continue to practice their Christianity or Judaism in secret. As it is explained before, this is reflected in the popular saying ’Donmes’ (religious converts) never change.[cii]

Another important subject here is that being Sabbateans became shameful identity in the public. When someone attend to put down somebody in society, he labeled him as Donmes or/ and Sabbateans, the world turned to a derogatory term like Qafir[ciii] in Muslim community. With this understanding many great Turkish leader and politician incorrectly labeled as Donmes and even took place in media. One of the most prominent figures of 20th century was the founder of modern turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was labeled as Sabbateans by radical Armenian propagandist Vahan Kardashian. Kardashian left Turkey after Armenian rebellion in Anatolia in 1915 and moved to America. Kardashian began to do Armenian propaganda in America and gave an interview to newspapers, called The Miami metropolis. In order to damage the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in public, Kardashian stated that “Mustafa Kemal was born a Turk and his parents were from Salonika and were Donmes that is converts.”[civ] Another newspaper in America, Philadelphia J.S B published that “traces Kemal Pasha’s Antecedents to Shabbetai Tzvi” in its column.  Based on the same fake news, called the daily Mail in London noted that “Mustapha Kemal is a Jew.” All these Armenian news in the newspapers contains strong antagonistic notion against Mustafa Kemal Ataturk because of political situations at the time between Turks and Armenian.[cv]

Firstly, this is historically an inaccurate statement.[cvi] Great Jewish historian J. Nehame wrote seven volumes history of Jewish people and in the section of Salonika Jews Nehame noted that Mustafa Kemal grew up in Jewish environment and studied among Donmes students at the same classes in Salonika but he is not Sabbatean.[cvii] Moreover, Turkish historian Mehmet Ali öz wrote specifically studied on the ancestral history of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and discovered his family three which goes back to well-known Turkish family Nakipzades in 17th century. According to all the archival sources Mehmet Öz provides in his book, Atatürk has proper Turkish descents[cviii]

However, there is another dimension of this subject which is regarding the image of Sabbatean movement. The statements above arise a question that why being Sabbatean is a problem? As it was stated by an Armenian propagandist Kardashian, that “Turkish leader Kemal Pasha has Jewish blood in his veins” statement looks like that being Jewish is a horrible problem or a great crime.  Even if this was a true statement, why or how his ancestral roots make Mustafa Kemal good or bad? Is being Jewish or Sabbatean bad thing? What makes people good or bad? Of course, this can only be explained with political or racial discrimination. Otherwise, being Jew or Dönme does not make people better or worse human being. However, in this news, when Armenian propagandists labeled Kemal pasha as Sabbatean, their intention was put him down and damages his image in Muslim Turkish society. Otherwise, Kardashian would not talk about his linage but actually might has been mentioned his leadership in Turkish state. According to this news, being Sabbatean is very shameful situation. This is very important aspect of the subject that Sabbateans have always being treated like scapegoats or negative figures in all societies.[cix]

Similarly, some ottoman newspapers in Istanbul like Vatan, Resimli mecmua or Tan mentioned Dönmes in their column again as negative way. It is said that “Dönmes are living in our community, thinking like us, speaking with our language but actually are different hidden people”.[cx] This negative image was not different in Jewish environments in ottoman empire. Jewish newspapers in Izmir and Istanbul were written similar things about Sabbatean people. According to both communities Sabbateans were devil among them and must be persecuted.[cxi] According to this view, Sabbateans are complicated and living like scorpion among them.[cxii] The debate circulated among religious congregations and in 1924, chief rabbi of Istanbul, Bacerona stated that Dönmes are neither Muslim nor Jews.[cxiii] Unfortunately this same partially writing on Sabbateanism have influenced some scholars and continued to attack Sabbateans based on emotional thoughts.[cxiv]

For Turkish writers in early twenty century, there were some reasons to blame others (Christians, Jews, Greek Armenian, Arab, etc.) for their treatment during the First World War. In the beginning of establishment of the modern Turkey, Turks saw themselves alone at the battle of independency against all allies, namely western world. However, Muslims like Arabian nations did not also support Ottoman State anymore due to emergence of national understanding of Muslims in Middle East in the new century. Turks realized that new age came with new ideas which does not value religious unity under the Ottoman Caliphate anymore but essentially national identity for states in the new century. Turkish jewish historian Avner Levy remarkably stated that, the history of the Turkish Jewish is part of Turkish history and Turkish history is a part of the world history.[cxv] Turkish traditional treatment towards Jewish people can be generally named as tolerance as a summery. Additionally, Turks have always protected Jews from Greek and Armenian, briefly Christian’s pressure in Ottoman Empire.[cxvi] Lastly, Turks protected stateless Jewish scholars against Nazi racism in Germany during the Second World War. [cxvii]  Frank Tachau states that university reforms in Turkey were made by Jewish scholars by the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. According to tachau, ‘reform of Turkish higher education was a natural culmination of Kemal’s Atatürk’s nationalist program.[cxviii]

On the other hand, national awareness was appeared in the early 20th century in Europe and brought nationalism that caused the fall of multinational empires. Ottoman Empire was an exemplary multi-cultural and religious structure which had mosaic nations who lived for centuries under the Islamic rulers. Sabbateans also appreciated the tolerance of Ottoman rulers towards all other religious dominations including their marginal beliefs. However, with the emergence of national Turkish state, conservative writers began to criticize other minorities and religious communities. Jews also shared the same destiny in Anatolia with Turkish. Therefore, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the modern Turkey, he said that in his one of public speeches in Izmir; “we have some countryman who attached their destiny with us for centuries. But particularly, Jewish, due to their loyalty to this land, they lived in peace with us but they will continue to live in happiness and welfare in Turkey”[cxix] in spite of this general positive view, Conservative Turkish writers regarded Christian, Jews and Sabbateans minorities as fitnah in the Turkish society. Baer noted that, nationalist Turkish writer Nihal Atsiz also attacked Yalman, the most visible Dônme in the early Republic claiming although he carried a Turkish passport as a Turkish citizen; he was not a Turk and not a Muslim but a Jew.[cxx]

After the war of independence, some Turkish politicians in Asia Minor blamed all other religious groups as hidden enemy who possibly acted like secret spies against the Ottoman State during the First World War. Certainly, there were some substantial reasons for these allegations during the First World War. Zionist commander soldiers in British army in Gallipoli fought against the Ottoman State in the WWI. Jewish ester legion are also known as the first Jewish fighters after 2000 years in Jewish history. Similarly Loyal Armenian began to revolt against the Ottoman Empire in order to establish their own state in eastern side of Anatolia. In the same vein, when Greeks army occupied Izmir, some ottoman Greek (Rum) citizens welcomed the Greek soldiers from Greece. So in this circumstances, conservative Turks were very understandably suspicious about the all other dominations whether they were loyal or not. Conservative Turkish writers like Abu Zeya Teyviq (Ebu Ziya Tevfik) labeled Jews and Sabbateans as secret enemy. For this reason, an ottoman journalist, Ahmet Emin Yalman who was Sabbatean origin wrote an article in 4 January of 1924 in order to defence minor groups like Sabbateans. Yalman also noted that: “it is indeed an ugly attitude to create division between Turks and Sabbateans who were converted to Islam two and half centuries ago. This is faction seed what writers declared in newspapers about Sabbateans who actually proof themselves already about their loyalty to Turkish state.”

Indeed there are many benefactors people among those people like well-known banker of Salonika Mehmet Kapancı who was also from famous Sabbatean family, made donation to the Ottoman Navy for many times during the WW1.[cxxi] Another well know Sabbateans, journalist Hasan Tahsin (Osman Nevres Bey) who first time fought against Greek occupation, for sacrificing his life in Izmir in 1919. [cxxii] Several examples show that in fact Sabbateans have faithful to Turkish state throughout history.

Similarly, Sabbatean institutes, Fevziye and Terakki schools of Sabbatean congregation were established for particular reasons in Istanbul and Salonika. According to some conservative Turkish writers notables statesmen and eminent politicians were all from Salonika at the time of establishment of modern Turkey. Well known woman novel writer Halide Edip Adivar, from Kapancı family and head of economy Mehmed Cavid Bey from Kapancı, wellknown jurnalist Ahmet Emin Yalman from Karakaş were from Sabbatean Movement basically originally from Salonika.[cxxiii]

The problem about their image in fact still continues. As a religious belief, Sabbateans haven’t been seeing as a proper faith from past to present. Almost all the writers have analyzed Shabbetai Tzvi and his movement with similar words. For instance, despite, important research made by Bear, he preferred to classify Shabbetai Tzvi as false messiah.[cxxiv] Whether he was true or false messiah in Judaism, Tzvi is still an idol and religious leader for his followers. In this regard, calling Tzvi as false messiah and labelling his movement as heretical belief would not be scientifically right in terms of religious context. This marginal sect can only called by its name which is still called by its followers without insulting the sectarian believers. It is because as it explained in the third chapter, according to Jewish belief, Jesus Christ is also false messiah but on the other hand about two billion people believe him as messiah, basically Christians even Muslims believe Jesus as prophet.

The last Ottoman Muhammedan Jews

There were quite important historical figures among Muhammedan Jews in Turkish society and enriched their environments in Ottoman Empire. Well-known musician Udi Ahmet, well-known journalist Hasan Tahsin, famous merchants like Mehmet Kapanci can be cou8nt last Ottoman prominent Muhammedan Jews in history.

As it is explained before, Almost from the moment of their arrival in Turkey as part of the population exchange, the Dônme were greeted with suspicion about their true nature.[cxxv] At the beginning of 1924, a cartoon titled, ‘one word, two meanings’ in one of the most popular humor magazines in Istanbul making fun of Sabbatean sect.[cxxvi] Today it is thought that the donmes live only in Salonika and Turkey but that is not true. There are still Muhammedan Jews in Albania, Hungary, Montenegro, and Jerusalem and in America. There are Donme communities in countryside of Anatolia, but they lost their identity became Sunni or Alevi Muslim.[cxxvii] Additionally they moved to countryside of Anatolia in 1925 and lost their identity.

According to Kazım Nazım Duru Selanik was a cosmopolitan city but most of businessmen were Jewish. He noted that in his memoir “there was an interesting group in Salonika, speaking Turkish and looking Muslim however they did not have close relationship with Muslim society. Then I heard of it they were called Dönme. They even go to mosque.[cxxviii]

Kapanci Yusuf and Ahmet Effendi dealt linen drapery in Salonika but abled to sell his items all Balkans regions. Similarly, Shabbetai Elhasi also did textile business.  Another well-known Mohammedan Jew Karakas Mehmed Effendi did all kind of business.[cxxix] Bankers Mehmet and Yusuf Kapani Effendi were settled in Frank square.[cxxx]

Another Muhammedan Jew, Hakkı (Hakko) Effendi from Izmir used to go to mosque in Salonika but Jewish called people like Hakki Effendi old Jewish, namely not Jewish anymore but Dönme. In spite of following Islamic religious practices, people like Hakki Effendi, also fasting in Yom Keeper and eat particular foods in Passover. Hakki Effendi said that they wanted to convert Judaism again but Jewish community in Salonika did not accept this request. It is because Jewish congregation demands for Sabbateans to do proper religious ritual for spiritual cleanliness, (tevilah) and circumcision according to Jewish rights (giyur). Hakki Effendi said that whereas if we converted to Judaism, then we would have serious problem with Turkish. Because converting to other religion to Islam is regarded as a terrible heresy (zendeka) in Muslim society. Sabbateans scared of facing this social issue.[cxxxi]

Similarly, well-known conservative woman writer, Semiha Ayverdi also mentioned Sabbateans in his books. According to her own experiences, Dönme community hates Turkish and only people like Ayverdi can understand this because she comes from a Dönme family. Ayverdi stated that when she married a Muslim man her family rejected her because she supposed to marry a dönme man. It seems that based on her unpleasant experiences in her own family, Ayverdi generalized Sabbatean people in her memoir.[cxxxii]

Rifat Bali’s interviews some Dönme families provide considerably important information to better analyze the other side of the story.  A dönme declared it in the interview; “Radical conservative Muslims see us as fake Muslims. According to them we are too liberal and mason people. This is maybe not totally wrong allegation; we are liberal and respect all the religions. Communist Turkish sees us as capitalist because some Sabbateans are wealthy merchants. For these reasons, we have to hide our religious identity in society.[cxxxiii]

Plenty of Mevlevi and Bektashi are also known from Sabbatean families. Hamdi bey from Yakubi side of Sabbateans sect became the Mayer of Salonika, in the same vein, Fazli Necip and Ahmet E. yalman were prominent journalist in Turkish public-sphere and played crucial rolled in the development of publish house in Turkey.[cxxxiv] In 2001, an Istanbulian Donmes boy was still listening to her mother song in Hebrew as a religious hymn.[cxxxv]

Sabbatians’ Contribution to Ottoman Society and Modern Turkey

There is, indeed, no doubt that Shabbetai Tzvi and his followers created a great stir among Jews in Europe and around the Mediterranean basin and that the crisis following the Messiah’s apostasy to Islam generated an enormous amount of polemic literature. [cxxxvi]

Other than its socio-historical impact, it must be revealed that what Mohammedans Jews left a considerable legacy behind. Are these people that evil because they believe something else than others. As we stated earlier, Socrates also labeled and found guilty for more than two thousand years ago. This age supposes to be a technically more civilized society in modern days because, if one still criticizes other for his believe, how can one say that modern world is more civilized or more understanding. The question what we must ask that is why or how Sabbateans become evil due to their religious identity. If contribution of Sabbatean movement takes into consideration, it can be clearly seen that they contributed to development of the ottoman society with modernizing several factors in comparison to many Islamic congregation in the ottoman world. For instance, Sabbateanism was an important catalyze for the development of communication channels and the scope of information transmitted. From historical perspective it would seem that this was the most important and lasting impact of Sabbateanism.[cxxxvii]

In the late nineteenth century, plenty of Sabbateans prominent leaders eagerly showed their loyalty to Ottoman state at the time of emergence of national ideas in world. Well-known ottoman musician Udi Ahmed Effendi 1868 – 1927, composed lots of classic ottoman musical works and contributed to Turkish music in Salonika.[cxxxviii] Ahmed Effendi absorbed ottoman culture and showed this in his lifetime with his lifestyle. Like him, many Mohammedan Jewish lived with same the feelings on Ottoman soils and bequeathed important cultural values in history.

Mohammedan Jews like journalist Nevres Bey, known as Hasan Tahsin San from Izmir was killed by Greek while he was protecting his city against Greek soldiers.[cxxxix] Similarly İsmail Cem was a former university professor who has successfully ably to serve as Turkey’s Foreigner Minister in Turkish governments since 1990s. He preferred to drop the name İpekçi early on in his career, most likely in an attempt to distance from his Domes origin are all benefited the Turkish policy.[cxl] One of the most famous Turkish fashion designers Cemil Ipekçi is from the same family.


Analysing such a complicate religious situation really need very much attention to truly define religious communities and their identities. In spite of using primary sources from various archives, playing such sensitive terms requires great carefulness to put the words to right places.  

Two religious identities like Mohammedan Jews or Crypto Christians in ottoman land, tried to be examine in this chapter. Of course, in order to better understand the situation of Muhammedan Jews, it is aimed to compare similar religious dominations with Sabbateans. In this regard, following chapter will provide another similar sectarian belief Ahmadiyya movement in Islam. 

Unfortunately, sensitive religious subject’s like Sabbateanism cannot be easily analyzed without judging that as a social religious and historical event at the past due to its mystic links to living popular religions, basically Islam and Judaism. Some Muslim and Jewish scholars usually fall prey to such a mistake. It is because they assume that such marginal or ‘heretical’ sects like Sabbateans in Judaism or Ahmadiyya in Islam might damage the main structure of the religion which individuals would deem as dogmatic. Whereas these sects address only their own communities and cannot change anything in the religion itself. However, most of writers cannot leave these feelings and emotions knowingly or unknowingly. They partially examine the newly born religious movement which causes intolerance towards to believers of those marginal sects. This chapter analyzed the events with an awareness of these different social understandings of Sabbateanism.


[i] Michal Galas 1995 Sabbateanism in the seventeenth century Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth. P. 43 Jerusalem studies in Jewish Thought.

[ii] Cengiz sisman, 2008, in search of the name, a history of naming ottoman/ Sabbatean communities. In studies on Istanbul and beyond Studies on Istanbul and beyond, edited by Robert G. Ousterhout, Vol. 1. University of Pennsylvania ‘ The history of naming the Ottoman /Turkish Sabbatians by Cengiz Sisman p. P. 37

[iii] Ibid, p. 12

[iv] Rifat. N. Bali. A scapegoat for all reasons: the dönmes, or crypto- Jews of turkey.  P.37

[v] Ibid, P.20 Galante noted that the Exodus of the Hebrews, and look forward to a future Messianic Age.

[vi] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi,p. 104

[vii] Sabbatarianism is a movement within Protestantism whose proponents advocate that certain observances, specifically enumerated in a code of behavior or law, are required for Christians to properly observe the Sabbath or Sabbath principles. See, Neufield, D. 1976 Sabbath Conferences. pp. 1255–6.

[viii] Watts, Michael R. March 19, 2015. The Dissenters: Volume III: The Crisis and Conscience of Nonconformity, pp. 156–160 Oxford University Press.

[ix] Hanna Swiderska 1989, Slavonic and East European Collections: three polish pamphlets on Pseudo-Messiah Sabbatai Sevi Vol. 15 No, 2 P.222

[x] Miriam Eliav – Feldon 2004, The Sabbatean Prophets Vol. 15. No, 2. Review, p.224 Penn State University Press

[xi] Miriam Eliav – Feldon 2004, The Sabbatean Prophets Vol. 15. No, 2. Review, p. 224 Penn State University Press

[xii] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, p. 125

[xiii] Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi, .., p. 126 similar statements in page 129,137

[xiv] Matthias B. Lehmann, 2005, Ladino Rabbinic Literature, Ottoman Sephardic Culture, p. 24  Indiana university press

[xv]  Cengiz sisman, 2008, in search of the name, a history of naming ottoman/sabbatian communities. In studies on Istanbul and beyond Studies on Istanbul and beyond, edited by Robert G. Ousterhout, Vol. 1.  P. 84

[xvi] Cengiz Sisman 2008 Save Sabbatai Sevi house from oblivion, Vol. 40. No, 1. Cambridge University press p.10

[xvii] Ibid, P.133

[xviii] Ottoman state archive, 15/M /1319 (Hicrî) I. HUS. 88/1319 

[xix] Gerber Haim, 1994, State Society and Law in Islam, Ottoman Law in Comparative Perspective, p. 61 State University of New York Press.

[xx] Tariqah is school of Sufism (Tasawwuf) a path pf Islamic mysticism. See, Mustafa Kara, 2008, Metinlerle Osmanlılarda Tasavvuf ve Tarikat, p. 3 Sır Yayıncılık.

[xxi] Malamatiyya is an Islamic mystical movement which goes back to Iran Khorasan in 9th century. See, Sviri Sara, 1999, Hakim Tirmidhi and the Malamati Movement in Early Sufism, p. 585 Oxford.

[xxii] Gölpınarlı Abdulbaki, Melamilik ve melamiler p. 202-204 Melami poet and musician Neyzen Teyvik also emphasized the way of complicated lifestyle for melamis in his interesting poem as follow “melamet mülkünün meczubuyum ben, eşek bir milletin mensubuyum ben, kapıldım her nasılsa ehl-i aşka, s…m her herife başka başka.”

[xxiii] Well known Turkish melami poet Imadedin Nesimi, composed an interesting lyric in 14th century named “Ben Melamet Hırkasını Kendim Giydim Kimene” but this lyric is still very popular in turkey as protest music. See. Hasan Aktaş, 2004, Yeni Türk şiirinde Seyyid Nesimi Okulu ve misyonu. P. 87 Edirne

[xxiv] Ahmed Yaşar Ocak, 2010, Osmanlı Sufiliĝine Bakışlar, Makaleler – Incelemeler p. 171 Istanbul

[xxv] Melami Shaikhs in the Ottoman State furthermore stated that “Constantine ve Diyar ul Rumda Fisk’u Fucur ve Zulm ve Cehalet” criticism show that Melami were not happy about the Ottoman administration.  Because Magnificant Sulaiman ordered to kill  two prominent Melami religious leaders Sheikh Hamza Bali and Oğlan Sheikh Ibrahim Efendi  by the religious decree (Fatwah) of the Sheikh-ul-Islam of the Ottoman Empire See; Ahmed Yaşar Ocak, 2010, Osmanlı Sufiliĝine Bakışlar, Makaleler – Incelemeler p. 168 Istanbul

[xxvi] Cengiz sisman, 2008, in search of the name, a history of naming ottoman/sabbatian communities. In studies on Istanbul and beyond Studies on Istanbul and beyond, edited by Robert G. Ousterhout, Vol. 1. p. 37

[xxvii] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, The mystical Messaih 1626-1676, P. X Princeton University

[xxviii] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.15  London

[xxix] Ibid. P 14

[xxx] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.17  London

[xxxi] galante, s. 34

[xxxii] S. 26 J, freely kayıp mesih Sabatay Sevinin izini üzerken, s.42

[xxxiii] Ibid, P.61

[xxxiv] Jacob Barnai the case of Izmir P. 42 I am very grateful to Prof Jacob Barnai who spent his valuable time with me and shared his important thought with me during my visit in Israel.

[xxxv] Richard Popkin 1992, Jewish – Christian relations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: The conception of the Messiah Vol. 6 no ½ p.166

[xxxvi] Richard Popkin 1992, Jewish – Christian relations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: The conception of the Messiah Vol. 6 no ½ p. 169

[xxxvii] Abraham Miguel Cardozo was a Sabbatean prophet from Spain. Cardoso believed in the Messiah even when Tsvi embraced Islam in 1666. He was born in the same year with Tsvi 1626 and died 1706.

[xxxviii] Richard Popkin 1992, Jewish – Christian relations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: The conception of the Messiah Vol. 6 no ½ p.169

[xxxix] Emily Benichou Gottreich 2013, Of Messiahs and Sultans: Shabatai Sevi and Early Modernity in Morocco, Journal of Jewish Studies Vol. 12, No, 2. P187

[xl] Cengiz sisman, 2008, in search of the name, a history of naming ottoman/sabbatian communities. In studies on Istanbul and beyond Studies on Istanbul and beyond, edited by Robert G. Ousterhout, Vol. 1. p. 37

[xli] Aga or agha is an old title used among common people, local big landowner and Turkish chief.

[xlii] Scholem, Mystic Messiah, p. 830

[xliii] Ottoman State Archive, BEO, 152/11390, 21/B /1310 (Hicrî) Selanik; 4886) Selanik’de Karakaş Honiyos lakaplı Avdetilerden olup Üsküb’de ticaret yapan Osman Efendi’nin nezdinden firar ettiğini … Kosova Vilayetinden bildirildiği.

[xliv] Cengiz Şişman 2006, Ortada açığa vurulmayı bekleyen bir sır yok, (Nokta, sayı, 9, 2006)

[xlv] Cengiz Şişman 2006, Ortada açığa vurulmayı bekleyen bir sır yok, (Nokta, sayı, 9, 2006) p. 13

[xlvi] Cengiz Şişman 2006, Ortada açığa vurulmayı bekleyen bir sır yok, (Nokta, sayı, 9, 2006) p. 14

[xlvii] Rıfat N. Bali 2002, Anılarda ve Söyleşilerde Sabetaycılar, Sayı, 223, p. 35 Tarih ve Toplum

[xlviii] M. N. D. Nisan 1933, Resimli şark mecmuası, Türkiyenin en eski hususi mektebi Selanik Terakki Mektebi. P.2 İstanbul

[xlix] Şemsi Effendi was also teacher of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who was the founder of modern Turkish State.

[l] Hayrullah Cengiz, 2008, Avdetilikten ihtida eden Selanikli bir kızın evliliği, Türk kültürü incelemeleri dergisi, C. 18

[li] The name of this cemetery is religiously important because the coming of the Messiah, described also as the “time of the nightingale, singing of birds are besides very few in Scripture; but especially the bulbul and the nightingale abound in the wooded valleys, filling the air in early spring with the rich cadence of their notes. See, (Tristram’s Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 160.

[lii] Cengiz Şişman 2006, Ortada açığa vurulmayı bekleyen bir sır yok, (Nokta, sayı, 9, 2006) p’ 15

[liii] Cengiz Şişman 2006, Ortada açığa vurulmayı bekleyen bir sır yok, (Nokta, sayı, 9, 2006) p.16

[liv] C.S Kösemen, 2009, Osman Hasan and the tombstone photograps of the Dönmes.p 29 Istanbul.

[lv] Erhan afyoncu 2013, sahte Mesih. P 171 Istanbul

[lvi] This belief also similarly exists in the circles of some Muslim Sufi scholars like Hallaci Mansur, See, Yaşar Nuri Öztürk, 1976, Hallac-ı Mansur: Darağacında Miraç (2 Cilt Takım) istanbul.

[lvii] Ebu’l Mecdet, Türk sesi nr. 197, 8c. 1924 Salı, p. 1 – 2

[lviii] Ebu’l Mecdet, Tùrk nr. 203, Ca, 15, 1342 Hijree s.2

[lix] Orhan Koloğlu, 1991, İttihatçılar ve Masonlar, p. 23 İstanbul

[lx] Alawiyyah /Alevism or Alevi is a mystical branch of Islam whose adherents are followers of Chalip Ali.

[lxi] Alavi Muslims perfom their religious rituels in such a temple called Cemevi, means Meeting House.

[lxii] Mustafa Suphi Erdem, 2004, The Exchange of Greek and Turkish populations in the 1920s and its social-economic impacts on life in Anatolia. pp. 261- 282 Journal of Crime Law & Social Change international Law

[lxiii] Ibid, P.12

[lxiv] Matt Goldish, the Sabbatean Prophets, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 2004 P. 36

[lxv] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.33  London

[lxvi] Ibid, P.7

[lxvii] 134. Matthias B. Lehmann, 2005, Ladino Rabbinic Literature, Ottoman Sephardic Culture, Indiana university pressP.24

[lxviii] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, p. 106

[lxix] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, The mystical Messaih 1626-1676,  p.IX Princeton University

[lxx] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.67  London

[lxxi] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.70  London

[lxxii] Cengiz Şisman temmuz 2002 Sabetaycılığın Osmanlı ve Türkiye Serüveni, Tarih ve Toplum.sayı 223,  P.5

[lxxiii] 135. Pawel Maciejko, 2011, The Mix Multitude, Jacob Frank and Frankist Movement, 1755 -1816, Philadelphia  p.1

[lxxiv] Chilism is milleniraism and belief in Christianity is refered that in an earthly thousand year, period of peace and prosperity. 

[lxxv] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, The mystical Messaih 1626-1676,p 98 Princeton University

[lxxvi] P.19

[lxxvii] Ibid, P. 27

[lxxviii] Michael Weingrad 2001 Parisian Messanism, Catholicism, Decadence, and the Transgression of Georges Bataile, Vol. 13, No, 2. Indian university pressp.113

[lxxix] Gershom G.Scholem Newyorklu bir Sabetayistin Vasiyeti, translated by cengiz şisman, p. 38 temmuz 2002

[lxxx] Mose Grosman, p. 5

[lxxxi] Samiha Ayverdi, 2013, İbrahim Efendi Konağı, p. 134 İstanbul

[lxxxii] Orhan Koloğlu, 1991, İttihatçılar ve Masonlar, p. 22 İstanbul

[lxxxiii] Rifat N. Bali  2001 Another Enemy : the dônmes  or Crypto Jews. P.1

[lxxxiv] Ergun Hiçyılmaz, 1995, Çengiler, Köçekler, Dönmeler, Lez’olar, p’ 65 İstanbul

[lxxxv] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.22  London

[lxxxvi] For these kind of subjective approaches, see, Aslı Çırakman, From the teroor of Empire to the sick man of Europe: The Terrible Turk

[lxxxvii] Kemal Karpat- Yetkin Yıldırım, 2009, The Ottoman Mosaic. p. 93 Cune Press

[lxxxviii] Avigdor Levy, 2002, Jews, Turks, Ottomans, A shared history, fifteenth through the twentieth century,p. 89 Syracuse University Press.

[lxxxix] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, The mystical Messaih 1626-1676, P. XIII, Princeton University

[xc] Gershom Scholem 1973 Sabbatai Sevi, The mystical Messaih 1626-1676, p.4 Princeton University

[xci] Samuel S. Cox, 1887, Diversions of a diplomat in Turkey. New York (C.L. Webster) p. 187

[xcii] Donald Quataert, İndustrial working class of Salanico. P.205

[xciii] Joseph Kastein, 1931, The Messiah of Izmir Sabbatai Zevi translated by Huntley Paterson p.12  London

[xciv] The Donme Affair:  a letter on assimilation (1925) A Sabbatian from Salonica, Greece, p831

[xcv] Ahmet Keleş Dönmelik üzerine bir değerlendirme (Sabetay Sevi Örneği) s.6

[xcvi] Naim. A. Güleryüz. 2012, Bizans’tan 20. Yüzyıla Türk Yahudileri P. 100

[xcvii] p, 108

[xcviii] Ottoman State Archive, BEO, Adliye; 4886), 157/11723, 02/Ş /1310 (Hicrî) Selanik’de avdetilerden Osman Efendi’nin kızı Nigar’ın nikahlısı olduğunu rivayet eden Halil Osman’ın nikahlısı olduğu tahakkuk etdiği takdirde mezburenin serbest bırakılması ve hakkında cereyan eden muameleden bahisle Kosova Selanik Müddei-i umumilerine vesaya-yı lazıme ifa ve neticesinin inbası.

[xcix] Ottoman state archive, I. HUS. 88/1319, 15/M /1319 (Hicrî) Selanik’den koruma altında Dersaadet’e getirtilmiş olan Selanik Vilayeti Evrak Müdür Muavini Avdeti İbrahim Efendi’yle polis komiserlerinden Süleyman ve Arif Efendiler’in yargılanmaları.

[c] Ottoman State Arcive, DH. MKT. 2495/ 55 21/S /1319 (Hicrî) İshak Tevfik Efendi’nin, tevkifhanedeki biraderi Selanik Vilayeti Evrak Müdürü avdeti İbrahim Efendi’nin gözlerinin tedavi ettirilmesi talebi.

[ci] Necdet Sancar Çiftçioğlu, Türklük Sevgisi, p. 57. İstanbul

[cii]  Dönmeler aslında dönmez See,  Rifat N. Bali  2001 Another Enemy : the dônmes  or Crypto Jews p. 1

[ciii] Qafir is a term used in an Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as “unbeliever” or “disbeliever”, or sometimes “infidel”. The term refers to a person who rejects God or who hides, denies, or “covers” the truth. The Quran also uses the word for Muslims; in Sura 2 Verse 256, it asks them to take upon themselves the action of “Kofr” of all unjust idols.

[civ] The Miami Metropolis, Wednesday, 30 June 1920. Denies That National Turks are Foreigners

[cv] These kinds of onfounded allegetions unfortunalley affected western histogramphia so far and created more hostility among nations. This is not directly subject of this paper but in order to analyse the actual story of the historical matter See, Profesor Justin McCarthy, 2014, Death and Exile, the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims 1821-1922, p.3 Prenceton.

[cvi] According to Profesor Arnold Tonebee, Russin Gowernment of 1878, in Berlin Treaty, used Armenian question as a political tool for Russian policy against the Ottoman Empire.  Tonnybe emphezised that in order to cover up jewish masaccare in Poland Russian gowernment advertised Armenian Question  and emphezised it in Lahey contract. See, Ahmet Tetik – Mehmet Şükrü Güzel, 2013, Osmanlılara karşı işlenen savaş suçları p. 89 Istanbul.

[cvii] Bkz, J. Nehame, p. 602. Vol. 7 Additionaly, Arnold Toynbee confessed in a later  work that the “Blue Book” was a piece of  war propaganda. Arnold Joseph Toynbee 2009, The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the Contact of Civilisations, p. 50, 2009 Reprint of the 1922 Edition.

[cviii] Mehmet Ali Ōz, 2014, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürkün soy kütügü, p. 35, istanbul

[cix] These types of allegations can not certainly change the historical facts but only shows Cardashian’s own negative thoughts on Jewish and Sabbatians.

[cx] Selanik Dönmelerinin Duası, no, 117, page, 3 Resimli mecmua. 1924, Istanbul

[cxi] Orhan Koloğlu, 1991, İttihatçılar ve Masonlar, p.  19 İstanbul

[cxii] David. B. Ruderman, 2010, Erken modern Dönem Yahudi Tarihi, p. 140

[cxiii] Duzdag, s.274

[cxiv] For a similar documtary movie, one of these documentaries is fabricated based on imagination as follow; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNAAWB3TvK4

[cxv] Avner Levi, 1998 Turkiye Cumhuriyetinde Yahudiler P.7 Avner Levi , 26 Agustos 1996 Kudus

[cxvi] Avner Levi , 26 Agustos 1996 Kudus p. 9

[cxvii] Avner Levi, 1998 Turkiye Cumhuriyetinde Yahudiler P.98

[cxviii] P. Frank Tachau, German Jewish Emigres in Turkey p. 235

[cxix] Stanford J. Shaw, 2008, Osmanlı Imparatorluĝunda ve Türkiye CUmhhuriyetinde Yahudiler. (Çev. Meriç Sobutay ) P. V. Istanbul

[cxx] Ibid, p. 255

[cxxi] Donanma Mecmuası, 1915, p. 21 Istanbul

[cxxii]  “İki buçuk asır evvel İslamiyeti kabul eden ve pek çokları hakiki bir Türk olduğunu fiilen ispat eden bir nüfus kitlesini Türklüğün camiasından hariç göstermeye çalışmak, memleket nokta-i nazarından çirkin ve delice bir nifakçılıktır. Aralarında memlekete fedakarca hizmet edenlerin bulunduğu ve bunların son örneği yunanlılara ilk ateş eden gazeteci Osman Nevres Bey (Hasan Tahsin) olduğu vakidir” See, Ertuğrul düzdağ, 1994 yakın tarihimzde gizli gerçekler, s.274

[cxxiii] İ. Zorlu, s. 166

[cxxiv] Ibid, P. 84

[cxxv] Akbaba Istanbul, no 114, ocak 7 1924, sf 3

[cxxvi] Marc David Baer, P.155

[cxxvii] The Donme Affair:  a letter on assimilation (1925) A Sabbatian from Salonica, Greecep. 830

[cxxviii] From the memories of Kazim Nazım Duru, See, Rıfat N. Bali 2002, Anılarda ve Söyleşilerde Sabetaycılar, Sayı, 223, p. 27 Tarih ve Toplum

[cxxix] Nurdan İpek 2011, Selanik ve İsyanbul’da Seçkin Yahudi Bankerler (1850 – 1908) (Istanbul university, PhD thesis)p. 12

[cxxx] Nurdan İpek 2011, Selanik ve İsyanbul’da Seçkin Yahudi Bankerler (1850 – 1908) (Istanbul university, PhD thesis)p.18

[cxxxi] From the memories of the dendets Dr Eli Şaul, see, Rıfat N. Bali 2002, Anılarda ve Söyleşilerde Sabetaycılar, Sayı, 223, p. 21 Tarih ve Toplum

[cxxxii] Samiha Ayverdi, 1985, Ne idik ne olduk. P. 77 Kubbealtı yayınları, istanbul

[cxxxiii] Rıfat N. Bali 2002, Anılarda ve Söyleşilerde Sabetaycılar, Sayı, 223,  Tarif ve Toplum P. 31

[cxxxiv] Mehmet Ali Doğan Rivew, Dönmez Jewish Converts, Muslim revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Standford University press) 2010) İsam, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, Sayı, 38. 2011

[cxxxv] Rıfat N. Bali 2002, Anılarda ve Söyleşilerde Sabetaycılar, Sayı, 223, p. 34 Tarih ve Toplum

[cxxxvi] Miriam Eliav – Feldon 2004, The Sabbatean Prophets Vol. 15. No, 2. Review, p. 224 Penn State University Press

[cxxxvii] Lehhman, P. 25 Lehhman might be confused about the script what Ottoman Turkish used in publishing. Lehman noted it prints was in Arabic script which is not accurate because Ottoman alphabet is based on Persian alphabet..Ibid, P. 40

[cxxxviii] Yılmaz Öztuna, 1978, Türk Musikisi akademik Klasik Türk Sanat Musikisinin Ansiklopedik Sözlüğü , P. 37 A,L İstanbul

[cxxxix] Süleyman Yeşilyurt, 2007, Geçmişten günümüze Rum ve Ermeni dönmeler, p. 79 istambul

[cxl] Elçin macar Selanik dönmelerinin yaşayan simgesi, yeni camii, tarih ve toplum, aralık 1997 Abdurahham dilipak, 25 eylul 2000. Sabataycılık yada soykırım iddiaları üzerine “Akit p. 3

Halim Gençoğlu
Historian Halim Gençoğlu is the author of four books and several articles in African Studies. He was born in Turkey in 1981. After his Bachelor's degree in Historical Studies, he completed his second Master’s degree in Religious Studies and Doctoral Studies in Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town. Dr Gençoğlu continues his academic research as a postdoctoral fellow in Afro-Asian Studies and contract staff in African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

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March 2023