The book is the first ever monograph on martyrdom in Turkic literature. The focus is on Oghuz Turkic (Turkish, Azerbaijani, Ottoman and their predecessors) literature but chapters on Bashkir and Modern Uyghur martyrdom literature are added for comparison.
After a detailed theoretical introduction into the history and phenomenology of martyrdom that starts from the Jewish and Christian origins and covers the classical Islamic age, the publication discusses the basic terminology of martyrdom and jihad and related terms (such as feda, kurban and kahraman) in the Oghuz Turkic world.
In the main chapter, significative martyrdom narratives from nearly a millennium of Muslim Oghuz Turkic literature are discussed. The topics covered include Seljuq and early Ottoman jihad narratives, martyrdom in the divan of Yunus Emre, mystical gazis, the poetry of Imadeddin Nesimi, Kadı Burhaneddin, Hatai and Füzuli, the topographic aspect of Ottoman martyrdom, the figure of Şeyh Bedrettin, a discussion of the metaphoric character of some martyrdom narratives, martyrdom interpretations related to the sultans Süleymān the Magnificent and Meḥmed III, medieval Kızılbaş martyrdom narratives (with special attention paid to Pir Sultan Abdal), the Young Turks, the First World War (with special attention to the Dardanelles battles), Mehmet Akif Ersoy, the Turkish War of Independence, Republican Turkish Alevi martyrdom culture, the “Korea martyrs”, Nazım Hikmet, Adnan Menderes, and the “July 15” martyrs of 2016. An important part of the martyr figures presented are discussed on the basis of literary texts, which for their greatest part are analyzed from the perspective of martyrdom for the very first time.