Ahmet Cevdet Paşa and Islamic modernism
Yavuz, M. Sait
Shaw, Stanford J.
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The ideas to introduce an Islamic Modernization in the political and social realms of the Ottoman Empire started as a reaction to the westernization attempts of the Tanzimat bureaucrats. It was not a quick response to the 1839 reforms, but a gradual development of opposition that started as of the 1856 decree, then reached its peak after the promulgation of the first constitution. The main purpose of this study is to find out the seeds of the attempts to give the Tazminat reforms and Islamic character in Ahmet Cevdet Paşa's thoughts, who was one of the leading Islamic scholars, as well as the statesmen, of the time. Since his life and his works have the most useful clues, which give us the best information about his struggles, I tended to organize my discussions around his ideas on various issues of the time. In the first part of my work, I will provide the biography of Cevdet Paşa in order to enable the reader to understand the following discusssions. In the second part, Cevdet's understanding of Islam and 'Islamıc Modernısm' will be discussed. In this part, I will make comparisons between his ideas and the contemporary Islamic thinkers' works in order to determine his standing among the Islamic intellectuals. The topic of the next section will be "how he opposed the 1856 decree and to the 1876 constitution despite the fact that he had been a fervent advocate of the 1839 Tanzimat Reforms?" In this section, I will also focus on his pro-Shari'a perspective, and discuss how he tolerated the establishment of the courts other than the Shari'a courts and the enforcement of the French codes in these courts. In this way I hope to show all the ambiguities inherent in the moderate Islamic position in a reforming Ottoman Empire.