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The coffee ban in Istanbul prohibits cafes instead of drinking coffee

by Courtney Olson 5 months ago in history
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In 1633, the Ottoman Empire Sultan Murad IV (Murad IV) issued a “coffee ban”, which prohibits drinking coffee in public places, regardless of the punishment of violators.

Sufi Muslims will drink coffee at religious ceremonies to enhance sectarian unity

In 1633, the Ottoman Empire Sultan Murad IV (Murad IV) issued a “coffee ban”, which prohibits drinking coffee in public places, regardless of the punishment of violators. He would travel all over Istanbul in disguise, wave his sword, and personally execute those who violated the order.

However, Murad IV was not the first person to issue a “coffee ban”. He is just one of the most brutal examples. From the beginning of the 16th century to the end of the 18th century, in the Ottoman Empire, from religious leaders to secular leaders, there were many people who advocated the prohibition of coffee.

The application of coffee beans is believed to have originated in Ethiopia, and its history is difficult to trace. As for the records of human production of coffee drinks, it goes back to Yemen in the fifteenth century. Local Sufi Muslims (Sufi Muslims) will drink coffee at religious ceremonies to enhance sectarian unity and refresh the believers. Soon after, the coffee drink spread to all parts of the Red Sea, reached Istanbul, and spread to Europe and India in the sixteenth century.

In the Ottoman Empire, there were several reasons why people demanded a ban on coffee. First of all, many conservative people demand a ban on coffee from a religious point of view. Some people believe that coffee has psychedelic effects that change the mind and are detrimental to health; others say that coffee beans are unclean after roasting and should not be eaten. It is also said that coffee shops are prone to criminal activities such as gambling, prostitutes and drug abuse, so they should be banned. Not only the Ottoman Empire with an Islamic background, but also religious leaders in Europe want the Pope to ban coffee.

Historian Ralph Hattox (Ralph Hattox) wrote the academic book "Coffee and Coffeehouses" (Coffee and Coffeehouses). He believes that purely religious reasons cannot explain why the Ottoman regime banned coffee shops. At that time, the Ottoman Empire also had Islamic scholars who loved coffee. More often, the upper echelons like Murad IV banned coffee shops for political reasons. They are afraid that when people gather in groups, they will affect social order, spread dangerous ideas, and even instigate rebellion.

Madeline Zilfi, a social historian at the University of Maryland, pointed out that the Ottoman Empire lacked a public space where people could gather and chat. Although mosques can gather crowds, there are many rules and restrictions. The consumption of coffee shops is cheap and there are not many social restrictions. They are open to everyone. Coupled with the production model of coffee shops at that time, it took 20 minutes for a cup of coffee to be baked, and the coffee was bitter and steaming, which also encouraged people to sit in coffee shops and consume slowly, chatting with people of different classes in the process.

In 1511, the city of Mecca in the Ottoman Empire issued the first “coffee ban” on religious grounds. But the ban lasted only a few weeks. Since then, there have been “coffee bans” in Mecca, Cairo, and Istanbul, but most of them have been occasional and short-lived. The main reason is that the coffee trade is a big business. By the end of the 16th century, there were hundreds of coffee shops in Istanbul.

By 1633, Murad IV banned coffee shops because of personal factors.

During his tenure, his brother Osman II wanted to reduce the power of the Janissaries and close the coffee shops of the Janissaries to prevent them from gathering. In the end, the new Army rebelled and overthrew him.

Afterwards, Murad IV's uncle Mustafa I succeeded to the throne and was overthrown by the new army. Murad IV was only eleven years old when he ascended the throne. After many revolts and riots in his early years, he has been in a state of anxiety and panic. As a result, after he slowly grasped power, he governed the country with an iron fist and eliminated everything that might threaten the regime. He also banned smoking and drinking in public, and those who violated the law were sentenced to death.

It is worth mentioning that Murad IV did not prohibit the wholesale of coffee beans. It is also said that he personally has the habit of drinking coffee, and he suppresses the coffee shop, not the coffee itself.

After the death of Murad IV, his successors also continued the ban, but the implementation became more and more tolerant. By the mid-seventeenth century, the underground coffee shop culture of the Ottoman Empire was very prosperous. By the 18th century, many different public places had emerged. Coffee shops were no longer the number one target of the regime, and the “coffee ban” was abolished, but the government would send personnel to coffee shops to secretly monitor them.

To this day, coffee culture has passed through religious and political limitations. In 2016, Starbucks had more than 300 branches in Turkey, covering more than 20 provinces.

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About the author

Courtney Olson

Food enthusiast. Have a great passion in trying food in every restaurants. A new cooker.

See restaurants in Yummyadvisor.

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