Constructing Ottoman Beneficence: An Imperial Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem / Edition 1

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Presents the political, social, and cultural context behind Ottoman charity.
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Editorial Reviews

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 (
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

  • ISBN-13: 9780791453520
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Series: Suny Series in Near Eastern Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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
Note on Ottoman Turkish and Arabic Transliterations


1. “Devote the fruits to pious purposes”

What is a waqf?
The roots of waqf
Why found a waqf?
The Ottomans

2. A Bowl of Soup and a Loaf of Bread

The written record
Institutions of the endowment
Endowed properties
Why Jerusalem?

3. Ladies Bountiful

The conflated traditions: Hurrem-Helena
Beneficence and women in Islamic history

Early examples
The Byzantine factor
Turco-Mongol heritage
The Ottomans

The Gender of Beneficence

4. Serving Soup in Jerusalem

A report from the 'imaret
On management
Getting started
Tax arrears and firewood
Food for all
Building a bath
Dealing in grain
Adding to the endowment

5. Feeding Power


Istanbul and Topkapı Palace
Provincial towns
The army on campaign
Hajj caravans

On the word 'imaret
Pre-Ottoman precedents
An Ottoman institution

Conclusion: Practicing Beneficence


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