SABBATAI SEVI’S CONVERSION TO ISLAM


 

A 17th-century ‘holy apostasy’: like Christ’s crucifixion, the fulfillment of a messianic prophecy?

Sevi surely had a hard time explaining himself in every sense. He knew some Turkish, but he was not fluent enough in that language to pursue a legal/religious argument during the trial. One of the palace physicians, Hayatizade Mustafa Efendi, a Jewish convert known as Moshe ben Abravanel, helped him to make his case. Similar to other sedition and heresy cases, the authorities were ready to punish with death. However, with the involvement of the sultan, who was fond of converting non-Muslims to Islam, the Jewish messianic figure was given another option: conversion.