Ottoman Qur'an Printing

with Brett Wilson
hosted by Chris Gratien and Nir Shafir
This episode is part of an ongoing series entitled History of Science, Ottoman or Otherwise.
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Printing in Ottoman Turkish first emerged during the eighteenth century. Yet, even when print had arrived in full force by the middle of the nineteenth century, it remained forbidden to print the text most sought after by Ottoman readers: the Qur'an. In this episode, Brett Wilson discusses the rise of print and Qur'an printing in the Ottoman Empire as well as the emergence of Turkish translations of the Qur'an in the late Ottoman and early Republican eras.

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Brett Wilson in an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College (see
Nir Shafir is a PhD candidate at UCLA focusing on history of science and intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire (see
Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate studying the history of the modern Middle East at Georgetown University (see

Episode No. 95
Release date: 3 March 2013
Location: Arnavutköy, Istanbul
Editing and Production by Chris Gratien
Images and Bibliography courtesy of Brett Wilson

The audio clip preceding this episode is a recording of a Turkish version of the Fatiha composed by Hamdi Döndüren and read by Ahmet Deniz
Select Bibliography

Page of Qur'an copied by
Kadıasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi,
a proofreader of first Ottoman printed
Qur'an (1837)
George N. Atiyeh, The Book in the Islamic World: The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East (Albany: State University of New York Press; Library of Congress, 1995).

Michael W. Albin, "Printing of the Qurʾān." Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān. General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Georgetown University, Washington DC. Brill).

Nedret Kuran Burçoğlu. "Osman Zeki Bey and His Printing Office the Matbaa-i Osmaniye." in History of Printing and Publishing in the Languages and Countries of the Middle East, edited by Philip Sadgrove and Colin Paul Mitchell. 35-58. New York: Middle East Studies Association of North America], 2007.

Malissa Taylor. "The Anxiety of Sanctity: Censorship and Sacred Texts." In XI To XVIII Centuries Islamic-Turkish Civilization and Europe International Symposium: Philosophy-State, Language-Literature-Art, Military, Daily Life, Image (Istanbul: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı, 2006), 513-540.

M. Brett Wilson, “The First Translations of the Qur'an in Modern Turkey (1924-1938).” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 41 no. 3 (2009), 419-435.

M. Brett Wilson, “The Optional Ramadan Fast: The Debate over Qur'an v. 2:184 in the Early Turkish Republic,” in The Meaning of the Word:  Lexicology and Tafsīr. Ed. Stephen Burge (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming).


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