Friday, July 10, 2009
Ibrahim Muteferrika or İbrahim Müteferrika (1674 – 1745) was a Transylvanian-born Ottoman polymath: a publisher, printer, courtier, diplomat, man of letters, astronomer, historian, historiographer, Islamic scholar and theologian, sociologist, and the first Muslim to run a printing press with movable Arabic type. His volumes, printed in Istanbul and using custom-made fonts, are occasionally referred to as "Turkish incunabula". Muteferrika, whose last name derived from his employment as a müteferrika, head of the household, under Sultan Ahmed III and during the Tulip Era, was also a geographer, astronomer, and philosopher.
Born in Kolozsvár (present-day Cluj-Napoca, Romania), he was an ethnic Hungarian Unitarian who converted to Islam. His original Hungarian language name is unknown.
Following a 1726 report on the efficiency of the new system, which he drafted and presented simultaneously to Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha, the Grand Mufti, and the clergy, and a later request submitted to Sultan Ahmed, he received permission to publish non-religious books (despite opposition from some calligraphers and religious leaders). Muteferrika's press published its first book in 1729, and, by 1743, issued 17 works in 23 volumes (each having between 500 and 1,000 copies).
Among the works published by Müteferrika were historical and generically scientific works, as well as Katip Çelebi's world atlas Cihannüma (loosely translated as The Mirror of the World or the World Seer). In the appendices that he added to his printing, Müteferrika discussed the Copernican view of astronomy in detail, with references to relatively up-to-date scientific arguments for and against it. In this regard, he is considered one of the first people to properly introduce heliocentrism to the Ottoman readers.