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An Ottoman Manifesto Against Smoking by Ahmad al-Aqhisari

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108 Pages



Translated by Yahya Michot

Ottomans initiated the West to the pleasures of opium, coffee and tulips. For their reward, they got literally smoked by Europeans, who started exporting tobacco to Turkey in the early 1600.

This book is the first English language translation of the original Arabic critical edition, presented in a scholarly edition, with arguments drawn on the Quran, hadith and medicine.

How smoking was viewed from an Islamic perspective in the 11th/17th century. you will discover that Initially most jurists likened tobacco to wine in sinfulness and harmfulness and accordingly considered it haram, for example the Hanafi Scholars such as al-Shurubuli, al-Musayyari, al-Haskafi (author of Durr al Mukhtar) and many scholars from other schools of thought subscribed to this view

From the forward:

We are indebted to Y. Michot for discovering and presenting this precious text, for editing it so thoroughly and for a conscientious English translation that will thake it accessible to the widest possible readership. In his learned Introduction, Michot clears up the misunderstanding of some people who identified the author of this epistle with

another Aqhisari, the famous Bosnian scholar Hasan Kafi (d. 1024/1615). He also provides, for the first time in any European language, a useful biography of the author, and a good bibliography of his works, which, as Michot himself acknowledges, cannot be considered complete but suffices to indicate the range of Aqhisari's interests.

The book will appeal to teachers and students of Islam as a living tradition with strong continuities from its past. The topic of how smoking was viewed from an Islamic perspective in the 11th/17th century can serve as a point of entry for classroom discussions about similar issues today, which require a comparable balancing between reasonable private amusement or distraction and ingrained social habits that consistently entail wastage of time and neglect of committed attention to prayer and other religious duties — the examples that come to mind are television, mobile phones and some forms of internet usage: these have the look of addictions in that there are tangible withdrawal symptoms. It does not follow that in these cases (unlike smoking) the harm outweighs the possible good, or that the difficulty of trying to forbid altogether is less than that of just trying to limit misuse informally. Those with more specialized interest in Islamic Legal issues in the Ottoman domains of the periods or in socio-economic history of commercial practices and their linkage with cultural attitudes, or in the migration of ideas and attitudes across the Islamic world — Michot hints at a fascinating

'passage to India' of this text of al Aqhisari — as well as those who are intrigued by manuscripts and the craft of establishing a good edition will find much in this book to instruct and delight them.