LECTURE: Legitimating Occult Practices of Dubious Orthodoxy: The Case of Dream Interpretation in the Muslim World

04 December 2019 19:00 to 21:00 | Ankara

The British Institute at Ankara, Wolfson Foundation Conference Room, Atatürk Bulvarı 154, first floor, 06690

A BIAA Lecture by İrvin Cemil Schick (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)

Discussant: Nil Tekgül (Department of Turkish Literature, Bilkent University)

Summary of Event:

The Qur’ān makes clear its opposition to occult practices, and yet, they were and continue to be practiced widely and not by any means as marginal traditions. How can the sharī‘ah’s distaste for divination be reconciled with the latter’s widespread acceptance? This talk offers an answer by reviewing the various means by which occult practices have been legitimated as they appear in extant treatises, focusing in particular on dream interpretation. Many treatises begin with lists of citations from the Qur’ān and the ḥadīths that can be interpreted as sanctioning the practice of oneiromancy; to determine the more subtle means by which such legitimation was accomplished, it is instructive to compare Islamic oneiromancy with its Greek and Jewish antecedents.


İrvin Cemil Schick was born in İstanbul and received his secondary education at the English High School for Boys (1969) and Robert College (1972). He holds a doctorate in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1989) and is currently working on his dissertation for a second doctorate, this one in history, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of eight books as well as numerous articles.


Nil Tekgül obtained her PhD from Bilkent University, Department of History, with her thesis titled “A Gate to the Emotional World of Pre-modern Ottoman Society: An Attempt to Write Ottoman History from 'the Inside-Out'” in May 2016. Her research explored the role of emotions on state-subject relations, intra-communal relations, and familial ties, in the 17th and 18th centuries. After completing her PhD thesis, Nil Tekgül worked in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), Harvard University as a post-doctoral visiting research scholar. She has an MA degree in history from Bilkent University (2011). She holds an undergraduate degree from Boğaziçi University, Department of Economics (1987) and a MSF degree from Seattle University, Albers School of Business and Administration, Washington (1996). Her research interests include history of emotions, cultural studies, history of the ordinary people, and Ottoman law. She is currently teaching Ottoman History and Ottoman Turkish and Paleography courses in Bilkent University.

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