Across centuries, the Islamic Middle East hosted large populations of Christians and Jews in addition to Muslims. Today, this diversity is mostly absent. In this book, Heather J. Sharkey examines the history that Muslims, Christians, and Jews once shared against the shifting backdrop of state policies. Focusing on the Ottoman Middle East before World War I, Sharkey offers a vivid and lively analysis of everyday social contacts, dress, music, food, bathing, and more, as they brought people together or pushed them apart. Historically, Islamic traditions of statecraft and law, which the Ottoman Empire maintained and adapted, treated Christians and Jews as protected subordinates to Muslims while prescribing limits to social mixing. Sharkey shows how, amid the pivotal changes of the modern era, efforts to simultaneously preserve and dismantle these hierarchies heightened tensions along religious lines and set the stage for the twentieth-century Middle East.
Heather J. Sharkey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (2003) and American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire (2008).
1. Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East; 2. The Islamic foundations of inter-communal relations; 3. The Ottoman experience; 4. The Ottoman Empire in an age of reform: from Sultan Mahmud II to the end of the Tanzimat era, 1808-76; 5. The pivotal era of Abdulhamid II, 1876-1909; 6. Coming together, moving apart: Ottoman Muslims, Christians, and Jews at the turn of the century; Epilogue.