Late eighteenth-century Ottoman history has conventionally portrayed Selim III (–) as the reforming sultan who undertook to modernize – or Europeanize – all military, administrative and economic affairs. Paradoxically, however, new research shows him to have been surrounded and guided by reformers of Islam, in particular by followers of the Nakşibendiyye-Müceddidiyye sufi order, which stood for strict adherence to the sharia and the tenets of Sunni Islam, as well as their quite controversial Mevlevi or Melâmi allies.1 During the eighteenth century a serious agenda of renewal and reform in Islamic thought seems to have emerged both at the centre and in the provinces, extending to attempts at coming to terms with modern state formation.2