Olga Razuvajeva (Tallinn University, Estonia) “Conversion in the Late Ottoman Empire (1856-1876)”


Conversion is one of the most difficult subjects in the attitudes of any Islamic state towards non-Muslims who reside within its borders. While conversion to Islam (ihtida) is mostly considered as a proper act, the conversion from Islam to another religion (irtidat) is seen by some governments as worthy of a death penalty even today. This paper will discuss the cases of conversion using the example of one of the most long-lived Islamic states in history, the Ottoman Empire. After a brief overview of what the situation with conversion was in the period of the expansion of the imperial borders, the paper will focus on the developments of the second part of the 19th century, when both ihtida and irtidat became officially permitted by the Ottoman government.