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The World of the Convert

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The convert's inner world is filled with feelings that must be among the most difficult to express. No matter how many times they tell their life story, there is always an untold feeling in the depths of their spiritual world. They have embraced the new religion by struggling with the question "which is harder to endure: going or staying?" hundreds of times. For a person who has changed their religion, the question "Which one is harder to endure? Accepting a new faith or leaving the former faith?" is always valid. No matter how much they adhere to their new religion or how great their intellectual satisfaction is from their new religion, they always carry traces of an emotional relationship with their former religion... A Turk considers pigs to be cursed and disgusting animals. Pigs are not only animals whose meat is forbidden by religion, they are also disgusting animals for a Turkish person. A German convert is also not allowed to eat pork. They also believe that pork is forbidden, but they do not consider the pig to be a disgusting animal, it may still be a pleasant animal for them.

But who knows, sometimes, it may be quite the opposite ... It is the negative emotional traces that drive the convert to their new religion. It is the feeling of abandoning the old that calls them in this direction... This condition may become a more dominant feeling in the spiritual world of the convert. The fear of returning to past becomes a nightmare. This worry is so deep that the traumatic experience of the past frequently recurs in their minds. They develop an extreme hatred against this traumatic experience. Think of the experience of Yusuf Islam for a moment. After he became Muslim, he isolated himself from music for years. He imposed upon himself the fatwa that that music is forbidden. He even said that singing hymns was makruh (unpleasant according to Islamic terminology). He feared a return and it was because music reminds him of Cat Stevens that he reacted in such a way. When he surmounted this fear he began to make music again.

The novel Muhtedi by Osman Naci Gurmen on the surface seems to be a historical novel, but in some aspects it has the characteristic of a "psychological novel". The novel is built on similar themes that present the psychology of the convert. There are two protagonists in the novel; one being Kilic Ali Pasha. The other protagonist is Luka, a former slave, foster child and companion of Kilic Ali Pasha. Both of them are converts. Kilic Ali Pasha is an Ottoman sailor who earns the title of "Kaptan-i Derya" (Fleet Admiral). Kilic Ali Pasha was a European who was sent to a clerical school by his family when he was 15 to be trained to fight against the Ottoman Empire, but he was captured by Ottoman seamen. Luka is a boy who has a similar story.

Even many years after his conversion to Islam, Kilic Ali Pasha receives proposals from Europe asking him to revert to Christianity. It is rumored among the Christians that he has not been able to abandon his past and that he reads the Bible in secret. One day an envoy comes to him to bring him back. Treasures, principalities and baronies are offered to him. Without hesitation he sends the envoy to the depths of the sea; he is afraid to return; just like Yusuf Islam. Luka, on the other hand, revives in his mind the experience he lived in the past. He wants to push the hatred of his past deep into his subconscious. The people that caused this trauma were his father and elder brother. He desires revenge and dreams of attacking his former city and giving them what they deserve. Yet, at the same time, he cannot forget his childhood love. Although his childhood love is a Christian, he always swings his sword in the Mediterranean with the dream of finding her...

Osman Necmi Gurmen's novel is a work that contributes to the historical consciousness of the Turkish nation. Even the title of the novel, Muhtedi indicates a concept and a reality of the Turkish people. It reminds the Turks once again that they are the descendents of the Ottomans, the descendants of Barbaros, Turgut Reisi and Sokullu. Reading between the lines we learn that Uluc Ali Pasha and Kilic Ali Pasha are one and the same person, the nickname Uluc being given to converts and that Hurrem Sultan is the Russian girl called Roxalan.

Such novels, which have increased in recent years, attract the attention of the younger generation in particular. With such novels the young people are able to discover their roots and satisfy their emotions of belonging. Going back to history and returning to our present time are important states of psychology for our younger generation, who from day to day are increasingly aware of the process of globalization. The 16th century, which is the subject of the novel, was the century of Suleyman the Magnificent. Being a Muslim and being a Turk was something that was tremendously important in that era. Being a convert meant taking side with those who held the power in the world... These were times when a Christian would move aside when they encountered a Muslim in a narrow street, giving way to the Muslim; at the same time it was an era when the Christians and Jews took refuge in the tolerance of the Muslims. These were the times when the Catholics burned the Protestants alive and expelled the Jews from Spain. At that time, the name of the harbor in which the survivors in Europe took shelter was the "Ottoman Empire". 

 

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