Ottoman Ulema and the Second Constitutional Revolution

with Yakoob Ahmed

hosted by Taylan Güngör

This episode is part of an ongoing series entitled Rethinking the Ottoman State.
Download the episode
Podcast Feed | iTunes | Hipcast | Soundcloud

The conventional story of the 1908 Revolution in the Ottoman Empire is that of the Young Turks and a multi-confessional alliance of political parties usurping the authoritarian rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The learned class of Muslim notables, the ulema, are usually portrayed as apprehensive bystanders threatened with marginalization by the restoration of the Ottoman constitution. But as our guest Yakoob Ahmed explains, ulema engagement with the revolution and the parliamentary elections that followed was robust. In this episode, we explore that engagement through a discussion of the writings and activities of the Ottoman ulema during the transformative period of 1908-1912.

Stream via Soundcloud (US / preferred)

Stream via Hipcast (Turkey / Türkiye)


Yakoob Ahmed is a final year Ph.D. student at SOAS. His thesis, in which he is writing and revising narratives of the ulema’s role in the late Ottoman Empire, is titled the ‘The Role of the Ottoman Sunni Ulema in the Parliamentary Elections of 1908–1912’. Yakoob has previously been a research fellow at Istanbul Şehir University in Istanbul and has a interest in nineteenth and twentieth century Islamic intellectual thought.
Taylan Güngör is a doctoral candidate at SOAS in London. His interests are in Medieval and Pre-Modern Eastern Mediterranean trading circles and his research is on trade in Istanbul after 1453.


Episode No. 228
Release Date: 4 March 2016
Recording Location: School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Audio Editing by Taylan Güngör
Recorded at SOAS Radio studios. SOAS Radio is an outlet for creative media and talent housed by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Run by alumni, current students and staff at the School, including volunteers from like-minded communities, SOAS Radio is dedicated to varied and original programming on world music, culture and current affairs.
Special thanks to Kara Güneş for allowing us to use the composition "Istanbul" in the intro and outro music
Image "Member of Turkish Parliament in chamber" via Library of Congress


Members of Ottoman Parliament in Chamber, Bain News Service (Library of Congress)
Yakoob Ahmed (left) and Taylan Güngör at SOAS Radio in London

Abu-Manneh, Butrus, Two Concepts of State in the Tanzimat Period: the Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane and the Hatt-ı Hümayun, Turkish historical review 6 (2015) 117-137.

Bein, Amit, Ulama and Political Activism in the Late Ottoman Empire: The Political Career of Seyhulislam Mustafa Sabri Efendi (1869-1954) in Hatina, Meir, Guardians of Faith in Modern Times, Ulama in the Middle East, 2008

Bein, Amit, Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic : Agents of Change and Guardians of Tradition, Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2011

Campos, Michelle U, Ottoman Brothers : Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine, Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2011

Commins, David Dean, Islamic Reform : Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria, New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1990

Der Matossian, Bedross, Shattered Dreams of Revolution : From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire, Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2014

Green, Arnold H, The Tunisian Ulama : 1873-1915 : Social Structure and Response to Ideological Currents, Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1978

Hasan Kayalı, Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908-1918 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)

Hanioğlu, M. Şükrü, Preparation for a Revolution : The Young Turks, 1902-1908, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2001

Kansu, Aykut, Politics in Post-Revolutionary Turkey, 1908-1913, Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2000

Kara, Ismail,  İslamcıların Siyasi Görüşleri 1, Hilafet ve Meşrutiyet, İstanbul, İz Yayıncılık, 1993

Meyer, James H., Turks across Empires : Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands, 1856-1914, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2014

Sohrabi, Nader, Revolution and Constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire and Iran, New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011

Sönmez, Erdem, From Kanun-ı Kadim (ancient law) to Umumun Kuvveti (force of people): Historical Context of the Ottoman Constitutionalism, Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 52, Issue 1, 2016


Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.