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  • Writer's pictureYunus Emre Institute

Humans Of The Ottoman Empire Series Kicks Off With Hundreds of Guests

Dr. John Curry And Dr. Cengiz Sisman Discuss Sufis In The Ottoman Empire

Washington, D.C. - On March 5th, the Yunus Emre Institute in Washington D.C. hosted Dr. John Curry and Dr. Cengiz Sisman in a webinar to discuss the legacy of Sufism in the Ottoman Empire. Over 200 guests joined the lecture to learn about Sufis and their influence on Ottoman culture. The lecture was moderated by Dr. Sisman, who is a scholar of Ottoman culture, and showcased the research of Dr. Curry, an expert on religious beliefs in the Ottoman Empire. The lecture was organized as a conversation between Dr. Sisman and Dr. Curry.

Dr. Sisman began by explaining that this series was inspired by reading recent news pieces about people in their social and historical contexts. He said that he wanted to have the chance to tell the story of people and individuals in addition to the traditional historical narrative. He also sought to explore the universals of what it means to be human. He hopes that the series will address the questions “Who are we?” and “How should we live?”

Over the course of the event, Dr. Curry explained what defined a Sufi and how their practices were developed. Sufis were fairly common throughout the empire with chapters located in townships and the countryside. They were mystics who were concerned with recognizing and honoring God’s love. Sufism continued to expand throughout the Ottoman Empire as their Islamic tradition of mysticism gained popularity.

Guests were very curious about the Sufis and asked their own questions. The professors were able to incorporate the guest questions throughout their discussion. Many guests wanted to understand the origins of Sufism within Islam. The speakers explained that its origins are rooted in the very early years of Islam and that it was able to spread to the different branches of Islam through Sufi orders like the Mevlevi Order in the Ottoman Empire. One guest shared a story that they were fortunate enough to attend a rare ceremony in the presence of a leader in the Sufi community on their travels. They said as an American Christian it was one of the most meaningful spiritual experiences for them in their life. As the event started to wind down, guests expressed their gratitude to the speakers for bringing attention to such a fascinating topic.

Yunus Emre Institute is a Turkish cultural center located in Washington, D.C. and around the world. The institute hosts events and programs that educate the public about Turkey’s culture, history, and language. For more information about the institute’s mission or online programs, please email or follow @yeewdc on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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