MESA Banner
Pre-16th Century Discourse on Muslim Women and Female Youth in the Epic Stories of Anatolian Borderland
This research explores the construction of Muslim womanhood in the Anatolian borderland, and it compares this discourse on Muslim womanhood with the later seventeenth-century texts that instruct Muslim women on how to practice their religion. By focusing on two anonymous epic religious narratives of women, Destan-ı Kız (Epic of the Girl) and Destan-ı Hatun (Epic of the Woman), written down in fifteenth-century Anatolia, this paper delineates that Muslim women were praised in religious narratives with their own faith and practices of Islam. In these narratives, Muslim women were the direct subjects of religion and eulogized for their faith and devotion. As opposed to the post-fifteenth-century religious texts that were produced under the influence of the central Ottoman state and its disciplinary concerns, these texts do not concern women’s submission to their husbands to prove their piety. The socio-economic and political life of the late medieval borderland of Anatolia, where Islamization, settlement of the Turkic people, and conversions had been happening, was central to the production and dissemination of these texts and this kind of idealized pious womanhood. This paper argues that how Muslim womanhood discursively constructed in the borderlands of Anatolia was strikingly different from the Muslim womanhood that was discursively constructed in the seventeenth-century texts that were produced by Ottoman scholars under the influences of the Ottoman centralized state. Although Ottoman historians have produced rich literature on the transformation of Ottoman Islam and Confessionalization/Sunnitization, the very gendered nature of these developments and their impact on Muslim women’s religiosity are understudied. By using gender as an analytical tool and focusing mainly on pre-sixteenth-century epic religious stories of Muslim women and comparing them with seventeenth-century religious texts, this research addresses the gendered aspect of the transformation of Ottoman Islam and its impact on the construction of Muslim womanhood. This research contributes to the Ottoman historical literature by showing that Muslim women’s idealized religiosity that was shaped in the borderlands underwent transformations that were impacted by the influence of the institutionalization of Islam and Confessionalization/Sunnitization.
Geographic Area
Sub Area