A VIEW FROM THE ?EAST? OF THE ?STUDY OF THE EAST?: MAHMUD ESAD EFENDI?S PERCEPTION OF ORIENTALISM IN HIS BOOK ?ER?AT-I ?SL┬M?YYE VE MISTER CARLYLE

Abstract

Author(s): U?ur D?NÇ

Mahmud Esad bin EminSeydi?ehrî was a scholar, educator, jurist and statesman distinguished for his versatile scholarly personality. Although he was one of the prominent personages of the late Ottoman period, it can be remarked that he is rather little known in the present. In this study, his perception of orientalism in his book ?eriat-??slâmiyyeve Mister Carlyle (The Islamic Path and Mr. Carlyle) is examined, and this perception is reviewed in the light of Edward Said's analysis of orientalism some eighty years later. Mahmud Esad assesses orientalism quite optimistically and most often attributes good will to orientalists. This attitude is distinctly different from Edward Said's critical viewpoint. After establishing this point in the study, the reasons for this are scrutinized, and essentially these two points are emphasized: Firstly, owing to the circumstances of the period in which he lived, Mahmud Esad had less chance to see through the negative aspects of orientalism than Said later would. Secondly, as Edward Said criticized the orientalist tradition, he acted to a great extent as an insider, as a member of the Western academia and expected high standards from the academic tradition of which he was a part. However, for Mahmud Esad, the Western orientalist tradition belonged to a foreign civilization after all. According to him, since orientalists were members of the Western civilization and were not molded in the superior Islamic tradition of wisdom, they could not be expected to understand Islam and Muslims better and to have a healthier point of view. It is hoped that this study will contribute to the study of modern Ottoman intellectual history.

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