June 14, 2024

Al-Tikriti Lectures on Ottoman Intellectual and Maritime History

On Nov. 14, Associate Professor of Middle East History Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a lecture entitled “Ottoman and Safavid Religious Identities of the 16th Century” to the Philosophy Department at Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas. In the course of this lecture, Al-Tikriti outlined the effects of the Safavid rise to power on religious identities in both Iran and the Ottoman Empire, as well as its longer term legacies on sectarianism in the Middle East. In addition, he drew parallels with developments which shaped Europe during the same period, pointing out that widely recognized trends experienced during the “Age of Reformation” took place well beyond the regions covered in most Western Civilization textbooks.

On Nov. 15, Al-Tikriti offered the keynote lecture for the Texas State University Phi Alpha Theta Graduate History Conference. During this lecture, entitled “Warrior Knights and Sea Ghazis in an Age of Empire,” Al-Tikriti criticized the narrative of most Western Civilizationtextbooks, which ignores what McGill University’s Professor Giancarlo Casale has referred to as the “Ottoman Age of Exploration.” In doing so, he first described Ottoman patronage of “sea ghazi” activities in the Mediterranean, particularly against the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. He then elaborated on the Ottomans’ “pivot to Asia,” whereby the imperial strategy shifted focus towards the Indian Ocean, where they successfully engaged with the rival Portuguese. Al-Tikriti thanks his colleagues at Texas State University for making this engaging and productive visit possible.


  1. Unfortunately, more and more research on Islamic history is driven “underground”. More and more researchers publish under pseudonym these days to avoid deadly fatwas and therefore can often also not participate in open discussion. President Erdogan of Turkey has just made it more or less mandatory in Turkey to publish school books that maintain that Columbus saw a mosque when passing by Cuba. And that Muslims discovered the Americas shortly after the Mohammedan conquest of the Arabian peninsula. The list goes on. And the botched Iraq war has already made it possible for fanatics to destroy the finest pre- (and thus anti-) Islamic relics in Iraq. Now the ISIS caliphate systematically destroys all the evidence conflicting with their idea of Muslim history. In a few years, you may be told all the above is “fringe science” as you won’t be able to prove it anymore if this is allowed to continue.

  2. Nabil Al-Tikriti says

    A point of clarification — a “fatwa” is nothing more than a legal opinion, which only carries weight in the public arena if the person offering the legal opinion has studied the requisite legal tradition to an advanced level (which usually means the legal expert has successfully completed publications and carried out research). It is NOT a synonym for “death sentence,” although of course that might be the penalty suggested by a legal expert’s legal opinion.