Constructing Ottoman Beneficence: An Imperial Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem

Overview

Ottoman charitable endowments (waqf) constituted an enduring monument to imperial beneficence and were important instruments of policy. One type of endowment, the public soup kitchen (>imaret) served travelers, pious mystics, and local indigents alike. Constructing Ottoman Beneficence examines the political, social, and cultural context for founding these public kitchens. It challenges long-held notions of the nature of endowments and explores for the first time how Ottoman modes of beneficence provide an ...
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Constructing Ottoman Beneficence: An Imperial Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem

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Overview

Ottoman charitable endowments (waqf) constituted an enduring monument to imperial beneficence and were important instruments of policy. One type of endowment, the public soup kitchen (>imaret) served travelers, pious mystics, and local indigents alike. Constructing Ottoman Beneficence examines the political, social, and cultural context for founding these public kitchens. It challenges long-held notions of the nature of endowments and explores for the first time how Ottoman modes of beneficence provide an important paradigm for understanding universal questions about the nature of charitable giving.

Author Biography: Amy Singer is Senior Lecturer, Department of Middle Eastern and African History, Tel Aviv University. She is the author of Palestinian Peasants and Ottoman Officials: Rural Administration Around Sixteenth-Century Jerusalem.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Those interested in women's roles as charitable patrons, the Ottomans, and the Islamic institution of will find this study a welcome addition to the field. Singer (history, Tel Aviv U., Israel) provides a detailed, thoroughly documented history of the charitable soup kitchen in Jerusalem that was run by Hasseki Hurrem Sultan, wife of Suleyman I. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
...Singer's study ... will be a major landmark in this field, and in the social history of the Ottoman Empire at large. Its clear and concise style will help to make it a standard assignment for undergraduate and graduate courses ... In its attempt to bring together the historiography of social and political life in the Ottoman Empire ... [this book] breaks important new ground.— H-Net Reviews (H-Turk)

"Constructing Ottoman Beneficence is an admirable example of what a monograph can be. Singer has read a rich body of archival sources deeply, producing an excellent analysis of the Hasseki Sultan waqf and imaret."— International Journal of Middle East Studies

"...the book contributes to our understanding of Ottoman philanthropic policy ... and of the role of highly placed women in this policy ... it provides insight into life in Jerusalem in the mid-sixteenth century."— Journal of Palestine Studies

"A tightly argued look at a remarkably rich set of records about a royal patronage institution in the grand imperial age of the Ottomans."— Virginia Aksan, McMaster University

"This book will be useful because of its readability, clarity, and the way it unites the different strands of political, religious, social, and economic history."— Linda T. Darling, University of Arizona"
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Amy Singer teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, Tel Aviv University. She is the author of Palestinian Peasants and Ottoman Officials: Rural Administration Around Sixteenth-Century Jerusalem.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Note on Ottoman Turkish and Arabic Transliterations
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 "Devote the fruits to pious purposes" 15
What is a waqf? 17
The roots of waqf 22
Why found a waqf? 25
The Ottomans 32
Ch. 2 A Bowl of Soup and a Loaf of Bread 39
The written record 44
Institutions of the endowment 46
Endowed properties 48
Personnel 54
Soup 58
Why Jerusalem? 65
Ch. 3 Ladies Bountiful 71
The conflated traditions: Hurrem-Helena 73
Beneficence and women in Islamic history 81
The Gender of Beneficence 93
Ch. 4 Serving Soup in Jerusalem 99
A report from the 'imaret 99
On management 104
Getting started 105
Tax arrears and firewood 108
Food for all 112
Building a bath 117
Dealing in grain 121
Adding to the endowment 125
Ch. 5 Feeding Power 131
Provisioning 132
On the word 'imaret 143
Pre-Ottoman precedents 145
An Ottoman institution 152
Conclusion: Practicing Beneficence 159
Notes 171
Bibliography 207
Index 229
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