A Conjunctural Criticism of Christianity, Resulting from Discussions between Mehmed II and Gennadios II ScholariosFuat Aydın
The Ottoman state continued the traditions of previous Islamic states with its own specific additions. One of these was the tradition of refutation, which included religious criticisms of Judaism and Christianity. The historical sources mention two religious disputes that Ottoman Muslims had with Gregory Palamas and Manuel II Paleilogos from the beginning of the Ottoman state to the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmed II. Risālah, which is fairly certain to have been written one or two years after Mehmed II’s conquest of Istanbul (1454/55) and which is the subject of this article, is the first antiChristian refutation of the Ottoman period. The numbers of such refutations will increase later. David Thomas mentions the name of the Risālah as Hücecü’l-milleti’l-Hanifiyye wa cevābu kulli suāl. However, It provides no information about the reason for writing in the text or the name of the text itself or the author. It is understood from the contents of the Risālah that it is a direct defense of Islam through a criticism of Christianity. The conqueror Mehmed II had several religious talks with the Patriarch II. Gennadios Scholarios. The text in question was written upon a request for Gennadios to write a text that would summarize the Orthodox faith. The title of Gennadios’ text as “The Only Way to the Salvation of Humanity” and the orthodox belief principles it sets forth contain a direct challenge to the claims of Islam as the last religion and its criticisms of Christianity. Therefore, it can be said that the Risālah was request to write by Fatih in response to these challenges. The Risālah, which was composed based on Zāhidī’s er-Risālatü’n- Nāsıriyyah, consists of three parts. The first section is devoted to how the religious debate in the presence of the sultan would be conducted and answered to the questions asked by the Christians. The second part contains the miracles of Muhammad. (p.b.u). The third section deals with those who oppose his prophethood.
Fatih-Gennaidus Tartışmasının Ürettiği, Konjonktürel Bir Hıristiyanlık EleştirisiFuat Aydın
Osmanlı devleti kendisinden önceki İslam devletlerinin geleneklerini, kendisine özgü ilaveler ekleyerek devam ettirmiştir. Bu geleneklerden biri de Yahudilik ve Hıristiyanlığa yönelik dini tartışmaları/eleştirileri içeren reddiye geleneğidir. Kaynaklarda, Osmanlı devletinin başlangıcından Fatih’in İstanbul’u fethine kadar Gregory Palamas ve Manuel II Palelogos’la Müslümanların yaptıkları iki dini tartışma zikredilir. 1454/55’te, Fatih’in İstanbul’u fethinden iki yıla yakın bir süre sonra yazıldığı kesin ve makaleye konu olan metin (Risâle), Osmanlı dönemindeki, daha sonra sayıları artacak olan Hıristiyanlık karşıtı ilk reddiyedir. David Thomas Risâle’nin ismi olarak Hücecü’l-milleti’l-Hanifiyye ve cevâbu kulli suâl olarak zikretse de metinde ne yazılma sebebi ne de kendisinin ve yazarının ismine dair bir bilgi verilir. Risâle’nin içeriğinden, Hıristiyanlık eleştirisi üzerinden doğrudan bir İslam savunusu olduğu anlaşılmaktadır. Fatih’in patrik II. Gennadius Scholaris ile dini müzakereler yaptığı ve ondan Ortodoks inancını özet olarak anlatan bir metin yazması bağlamında kaleme alınmıştır. Gennadius’un metninin “İnsanlığın Kurtuluşuna Dair Yegâne Yol” şeklindeki başlığı ve içinde yer verdiği Ortodoks inanç esasları, İslam’ın iddialarına ve Hıristiyanlığa yönelik eleştirilerine bir meydan okuma içerir. Bu yüzden, Risâle’nin bu tür meydan okumalara cevaben Fatih tarafından yazdırıldığı söylenebilir. Zâhidî’nin er-Risâlütü’n-Nâsıriyye esas alınarak oluşturulmuş olan Risâle üç bölümde oluşur. Birinci bölüm, sultanın huzurundaki dini tartışmanın nasıl olacağı ve Hıristiyanların sordukları sorulara yönelik cevaplara ayrılmıştır. İkinci bölüm, Hz. Peygamber’in mucizelerini içerir. Üçüncü bölüm ise, onun peygamberliğine karşı çıkanları ele alır.
The Ottoman state continued the traditions of previous Islamic states by adding its own specific traditions. One of these is the tradition of refutation (raddiyah), which included criticisms and religious debates against Judaism and Christianity. Islam identifies itself as the continuation of Judaism and Christianity to legitimize itself. We have information about the existence of religious disputes between Ottoman Muslims and Christians (Gregory Palamas—the ulema of the Bursa and Iznik, and Manuel II. PaleologosHacı Bayram Veli) from the beginning of the Ottoman state to the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmed II (the Conqueror). However, we do not have any information about the existence of any refutations written by the Ottomans in that period. Therefore, Risālah, which is the subject of this article and which is relatively certain to have been written in 1454/55, approximately two years after Fatih’s conquest of Istanbul, is the first example of this literature. In the text, neither the reason for writing the refutation nor the name of Risālah or the author is given. These are not mentioned in any other contemporary biographical books either.
It is understood from the contents of the Risālah that it is a defense of Islam against Christian claims rather than a direct criticism of Christianity, indicating that it was written in response to such a criticism of Islam. However, in an environment where Mehmed II (the Conqueror) put an end to Byzantium and called himself the emperor of the east and west, such an open criticism does not seem very likely. However, religious discussions were held between Mehmed II (the Conqueror) and Gennadios II Scholarios, whom he appointed as first patriarch of Muslim Istanbul. We know that Mehmed asked Gennadios to write a text that summarized the Orthodox faith, which text we have today. When one considers the title of the text of Gennadios, generally known as the Confession (Itikatnāmah), as “The Only Way to the Salvation of Humanity” and its explanations about the Christian faith, it will be seen that it contains implicit challenges to the claims of Islam. Therefore, as a reasonable conclusion, we believe that the Risālah was requested to write by Mehmed II as a response to the secret challenge contained in these religious negotiations and Gennadios’s text. We have two manuscripts of Risālah. The first and the oldest manuscript was found at the French National Library. The second manuscript dates to the seventeenth century (1657 CE) and was found at the Library of Leiden University. Neither of them is based on an author copy. The French manuscript may have been used as a source for the Leiden manuscript or both of them may have used another manuscript that we do not have.
The Risālah consists of three parts. The first part is devoted to demonstrating how the religious discussion in the presence of the sultan would take place. In addition, It provides how the answers to give for the questions asked by Christians. According to the title, this chapter treats two themes. One of them is the methodology concerning the Muslim– Christian religious discussion in the presence of the sultan. Second, the author sets forth questions that Christians ask about Islam. He divides those questions into those that are scientific and those that are popular. He then communicates the questions and offers the answers given by Muslims.
The second part contains the miracles of the Prophet. In this chapter, the author mentions, as a first topic, Christian suspicions about the miracles of Muhammad and then analyzes those suspicions to demonstrate their invalidity. According to the author, the miracles of Muhammad are properly divided into two groups. The first group is preprophetic miracles that prepare Muhammad for his prophethood and are named as Irhāsī. The second group consists of Tasdīkī miracles that demonstrate the claim of prophethood by Muhammad as true.
The third chapter deals with those who oppose His prophethood. In this chapter, the author discusses those who do not accept the prophethood and divides them into two groups. The first group argues that there is no need for the prophethood. According to the second group, Muhammad was not sent to all human and non-human beings. The two groups together comprise 10 sub-groups.
The main source of the Risālah is Zāhidī’s ar-Risālatu’n-Nāṣıriyyah. Zāhidī wrote his text to express how the Muslim–Christian debates in the presence of Berke Khan should be conducted. This supports our acceptance that the cause of the anonymous author’s writing Risālah is the conversations between Mehmed II (the Conqueror) and Gennadios and the Itikātnâme written in this context. The Risālah has been written expressly to respond to such criticisms. However, it can be said that Mehmed II’s discomfort with Gennadius discussion style is a primary effect of those discussions. It can be observed in the fact that the author of the Risālâh includes the issue related to the religious discussion in the presence of the sultan, which Zâhidī included in the third chapter, immediately after the introduction of the Risālah.