The above title and author are identified by a later inscription on the first folio of the manuscript: “Treatise on the Islam by the converted Ibrahim efendi who during the reign of Ahmed III promoted the art of printing in the Court.” 2 The manuscript has no colophon, so it can be dated on the basis of a number of its internal historical references. The most decisive one is a hint to the conflict between the papacy and the German emperor, on the basis of which the work can be dated to 1710. 3
The purpose of the apologetic treatise is to justify Mohamed and the Islam on the basis of the Quran and the Islamic tradition and with reference to some arbitrarily extracted passages and allegedly removed prophetic parts of the Old and New Testament. On the basis of the title words on the margin, the continuous Ottoman Turkish text can be divided into 58 shorter or longer units. The original places of the biblical and Quranic quotations are given in marginal notes. The biblical quotations, written in Latin but in Arabic letters, as well as the citations from the Quran, are highlighted in red ink.
The author refers to the Latin translators of the Torah and the Psalms (Tevrat, Zebûr), Immanuel Tremellius (1510-1580) and probably also to his son-in-law Franciscus Junius (1545-1602), as well as to Theodeore de Bèze (1519-1605), translator of the New Testament (5r-5v). It is likely that the really existing verses were quoted in the manuscript from their 16th-century translations. 4 A small suggestion to the author’s Hungarian origin is that the Latin words ending in “s” (ﺱ) (e.g. in the nominative of masculine nouns) are consistently transcribed in the manuscript as “sh”(ﺶ), which is characteristic in Hungarian. The latin letter C was usually transcribed as ﺙ .
This manuscript was also used by Imre Karácson for the biography of Müteferrika, but its lessons on the ideological development of the author were not exploited either by him or by the researchers followin him. A more founded critical analysis and a revision of contemporary reports was first attempted by the social historian Niyazi Berkes. 5 On the basis of the manifestations of the author’s anti-papacy, anti-Hapbsburg and antitrinitarian views Berkes concluded to the idea that the treatise, in contrast to the late inscription, is not so much a polemics for Islam, but rather for the Unitarian views of Müteferrika. However, he did not take into account the fundamental differences between Unitarianism and Islam, which clearly attest the manuscript’s being the credo of a devout Muslim provided with a biblical erudition. 6 The apologetic religious and theological approach of the work cannot be separated from the contemporary political environment and from the related ambitions of the author. This is clearly indicated by the passages praising the Ottoman state and its ruler, as well as the actualization of the prophecies included in the treatise.
The first two pages of the manuscript of Risâle-i İslâmîye