The Dönme are a secret sect of descendants of the followers of the false messiah Shabbatai Tzvi. When Tzvi was proven false by the sultan of Turkey, he converted to Islam; the Dönme converted along with him, thinking that this was all part of a greater plan. The Dönme continued their secret religion for centuries; outwardly they were Muslims, in private they were Jews.
These were not conversos, who were forced to convert to Christianity or die by the sword of the Inquisition. The Dönme converted of their own volition because of their personal convictions.
The Dönme developed their own set of laws and disciplines. Over time they remained separate yet attained extremely high levels of power. To this day rumors circulate about whether certain major players in the contemporary Islamic world were formerly Jews or Dönme.
Marc David Baer vividly describes how this ancient, secret sect of Jews, about which little has been written until now, fit in to the Islamic world without being found out.
Micah D. Halpern is a columnist and a social and political commentator. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Terror, and maintains The Micah Report at www.micahhalpern.com.