Ottoman-era complex focus of Istanbul symposium

A weekend symposium on Istanbul's imperial Suleymaniye Mosque Complex discussed Ottoman-era education, music, art, architecture, and administration.

Academics, scholars, and intellectuals took part in the two-day symposium at Ibni Haldun University in the city, which concluded on Sunday.

The symposium came on the heels of the university opening the three-part historic mosque complex to education for the first time in about a century.

On day two of the event, Professor Saadettin Ökten, an author and architectural scholar, underlined the importance of the Islamic complex known as "kulliye" for lifestyles in the Ottoman era.

Kulliye means a complex of buildings centered on a mosque including education centers, clinics called "Dar al-Shifa," kitchens, Turkish baths, and many other buildings used for various social purposes.

Ökten said: "The Ottoman community lived according to Islamic civilization. They designed a life according to this system of values and built this place [kulliye]."

"Islamic complexes are a center," he explained. "Whatever you need in life, you can find it at these complexes."

"They are both symbolic and functional structures and at the center lies mosques," Ökten said, praising the silhouette of the mosque complex.

Speaking on the complex's musical and architectural aspects, author and musician Savas S. Barkcin said: "Music is an architecture made up of sounds. Architecture is a music made up of structures."

Calling music and architecture "two marks of civilization," Barkcin stated that the Ottoman-era imperial Suleymaniye complex as a whole is a beautiful, calibrated, and harmonious complex, saying: "It has own trademarks."

He compared the mosque complex to Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral in terms of architectural and musical style.

The Suleymaniye complex, like other Ottoman structures, has a horizontal architecture and symbolizes tawhid, an Islamic belief supporting the belief in one God and the unity of God, Barkcin said.

Notre Dame has a vertical structure and symbolizes the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and resembles Western music in terms of structure, he added.

For his part, music scholar Yalçın Çetinkaya cited Goethe's well-known remark: "Music is liquid architecture, and architecture is frozen music."

"Architecture and music complete each other," he said, adding that there are similarities between the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Ottoman-Turkish musician Itri, and other musicians from the same period.

There is calmness and silence in both Ottoman architecture -- including the Suleymaniye complex -- and music, Çetinkaya said.

The Suleymaniye Complex in the Suleymaniye district on the European side of Istanbul has three sections, called Dar'ul Hadis, Medrese-i Salîs, and Dar'uz Ziyafe.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the symposium, Recep Şentürk, the rector of Ibni Haldun University, spoke on the complex, which opened for studies on Oct. 2.

Some 200 students from 40 different countries are currently studying Islamic science and civilization in the newly opened parts of the complex in three languages -- Turkish, English and Arabic -- Şentürk said.

The university is planning to turn the Dar'uz Ziyafe section of the complex into a library featuring local and international books and material on Mimar Sinan, Ottoman Sultan Süleyman, and the Suleymaniye complex.

Şentürk added the university provides training based on traditional but innovative understanding, just like the Ottoman Empire did in the past.

Contact Us