Disputes over the permissibility of tobacco smoking among the ulama of Ottoman Syria

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The article analyzes the history of tobacco smoking in Great Syria of the 17th - mid-18th centuries. The consumption of tobacco, brought to the Ottoman Empire by European merchants from the New World, began to spread rapidly among various groups of society, including women and children. The popularity of the new habit caused a wary attitude to it of the Ottoman theologians from the Turkish Kadizadeli movement. In the middle of the 17th century, they managed to achieve significant influence on the sultan’s court and banned tobacco smoking in the Ottoman Empire for a while. However, after the unsuccessful military campaign of the Turks initiated by the Kadizadeli near Vienna in 1683, the Hanafi “Puritans” of Islam were expelled from the capital. This time, they chose Greater Syria as one of the main strongholds of the movement. In Damascus, the question of the legality of tobacco smoking from the point of view of the norms of Islamic law was defended by Sufis under the leadership of the Syrian mystic ʻAbd al-Ghani al-Nablusi. As a result of the disputes, the Kadizadeli lost their influence in Syria, which partly contributed to the further rejection by the inhabitants of the region of another “Puritanical” movement in Islam, led by Muhammad ibn ʻAbd al-Wahhab.

About the authors

Nikita Romanovich Krayushkin

Institute of Oriental Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Email: kranr@mail.ru

PhD in History, Research Fellow, Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies

12/1 Rozhdestvenka street, Moscow, Russian Federation, 107031


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