We are delighted to announce that this year CEMS best thesis award goes to Cankat Kaplan (Medieval Studies, 1YMA).
Cankat's thesis entitled "An Anti-Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) Polemicist in Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Istanbul: Ibrahim al-Halabi (d. 1549) and His Interlocutors" makes a significant and original contribution to the field of early modern Islamic intellectual history. It focuses on the important yet unstudied issue of the Ottoman reception of the Mamluk-era Arab scholars' intellectual legacy and its impact on Ottomans' understanding of Sunni orthodoxy. Kaplan examines how the Mamluk-era scholars' debates about Sufism in general and the controversial Sufi master Ibn Arabi in particular were received by the Ottoman intellectuals and scholar-bureaucrats in the early sixteenth century, after the Ottoman conquest of Mamluk Syria and Egypt. Working with heretofore unstudied and unpublished polemical treatises of the Damascene scholar Ibrahim al-Halabi who migrated to Ottoman Istanbul in 1500, Kaplan's thesis shows how his anti-Ibn Arabi stance was transmitted to various chief jurisprudents of the Ottoman Empire, thus changing the tenor of the heretofore overwhelmingly positive attitude of the Ottoman scholars towards Ibn Arabi and influencing Ottoman notions of heresy. It is an analytically sophisticated and intellectually mature piece of scholarship that offers a rare insight into the encounter of Arab and Turkish intellectual traditions in a crucial historical moment, and we hope to see its findings published before too long.