Photo by <a href="">Adli Wahid</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>

Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

The Ottoman Empire was founded by a person called Uthman, who defeated Alp Arsalan, the conqueror of the Byzantine Empire; in 1176 C.E. The Ottoman Empire had humble beginnings but soon the Ottoman capital Anatolia (present day Turkey) saw lands on both its east and west being conquered. The Ottoman Empire lasted for over 600 years and was abolished on the 1st November 1924 by Mustapha Kamal Pasha Ataturk. 

Uthman’s grandson, Suleiman, conquered Basra and made it his capital. The Ottomans then moved into the Balkans (Greece, Romania, Albania, part of Turkey, etc.) which led to many Roman Catholics converting to Islam. In 1453 C.E., the Ottomans were successful in conquering Constantinople (Istanbul) making this one of their most important conquest. Constantinople was the centre of the Christian world and its fall to the Ottomans was a major blow to the entire Christian world. The peak of the Ottoman Empire began when Sultan Muhammad II ascended the throne. He developed and beautified the cities of Constantinople and Jerusalem with the help of Sinaan the architect. Sultan Muhammad II turned the famous Sofia church into a masjid. 

The largest masjid, the Suleiman masjid, was also built. Sultan Muhammad II expanded the Empire by conquering Belgrade, Serbia and Bosnia. His attempts at conquering the island of Rhodes, off Greece, were unsuccessful. Mesopotamia and almost all of Arabia was conquered in 1538 C.E. and North Africa was conquered in 1574 C.E. Sultan Suleiman ruled between 1520 C.E. and 1566 C.E. During his rule, the Ottoman Empire stretched from Vienna, the capital of Austria, to Asia in the east and from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Hungary also came under Muslim rule in 1526 C.E. which in turn led to many Romanians also accepting Islam. 

The Ottomans also spread Islam in the Balkans (Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, etc.). The final expansion in the Ottoman Empire came with the island of Crete being conquered. Thereafter, the Ottoman power gradually decreased with the death of Sultan Suleiman. Suleiman’s successors Salim II and Murad II were not military strategists, and this led to many uprisings and as a result; a decline in the Ottoman Empire. By the 18th century, the Russians and Austrians had taken back the areas around the Caspian Sea. In 1805, the Turkish governor of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, declared Egypt independent of the Ottomans. Greece was lost in the 1820 revolts and Romania gained independence in 1856.

The growing naval power of the west caused the decline of the Ottoman economy. Napoleon of France attacked Egypt between the years 1799 to 1801, but the British defeated Napoleon and forced the French out of Egypt to expand their own colonial interests. Revolts in Greece in 1820, Serbia and Montenegro in 1920, the Balkan revolt in 1877, Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Crimean war with Russia proved impossible to manage and became a strain on the Ottoman Empire’s resources. Russia wanted religious powers over the entire Ottoman Empire’s Christian subjects. The Ottomans found it difficult to control the religious minorities and the non-Muslim communities. The administration regarded each community as a ‘millat’ (nation) and gave it the liberty to administer its own affairs according to its own faith, culture and customs. When the Ottomans refused to accept Christianity, the European powers planned to politically divide the Ottoman Empire, thus causing its downfall and demise. In 1774 under the terms of the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca, the Christians came under the protection of the Czar (ruler of Russia). In 1856, the treaty of Paris gave the European powers France, Italy and Austria collective authority for the protection of Catholics. Britain, Germany and U.S.A. assumed responsibility for the Protestants. Russia took it upon itself to protect the Orthodox Christians. In addition to the religious divisions, a number of revolts within the Ottoman Empire were unfolding. The revolts in the Balkans, in Arabia, the Druze in Lebanon, the Armenian rebellion and Egypt being made a British protectorate in 1875 further caused the weakening of the Ottoman Empire. In 1908, the Young Turk revolution organised by a group of young Turks, educated and instigated from abroad, deposed the last strong Sultan Abdul Hamid. They demanded a new constitution. In 1914, the Ottoman government was now ruled by three members of the Young Turk Committee. This committee signed a treaty of alliance with Germany on 2 August thereby bringing Turkey into World War 1. Turkey now faced the allied forces on many fronts; the Russian front, the Iraqi front, the Palestinian front, the Egyptian front along the Suez Canal and the Gallipoli front (European sector of Turkey).

The Arabian front

In 1915, the governor of Egypt, McMahon signed an agreement with Sharif Husain of central Arabia. The McMahon-Husain Agreement promised the Arabs independence from Ottoman rule. But the result of this agreement was that the Arab states only got a change of masters. In1916, the allies used Sharif Husain to spur the Arab tribes to rebel against Turkish rule. The Turkish army was attacked at Madinah and was ousted. Sharif Husain declared himself as King of Arabia. A large chunk of the Ottoman Empire was cut off. Only the province of Hejaz was given to Sharif Husain and the rest of the Arab areas were divided between France and England. The second agreement in 1916 was that of the Sykes-Picot Agreement which planned to divide the entire Middle East into protectorates (areas ruled by the local people but controlled by colonial powers) which would be under French and British influence, until they were strong enough to obtain independence. The French stepped into Syria and Lebanon and the British took over Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine. Sharif Husain was left with the province of Hejaz only.

The Palestinian front 

In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British promised the Jews an independent homeland. This homeland was created out of the Ottoman state of Palestine. A large number of Jews were allowed to migrate from different parts of the world and settle in Palestine which they regarded as the ‘Promised Land’. In 1948, Palestine was given to the Jews and the state of Israel came into being with the help of the allied powers. Palestine was divided into three parts- Israel for the Jews, a part for the Palestinian Arabs and Transjordan (over the Jordan River) which was later called Jordan. During the reign of Sultan Salim I, the Turks had conquered Jerusalem. The Christians were allowed to buy land and settle in Jerusalem. During the First World War, the keys of Jerusalem were obtained by General Allenby of the allied forces and he entered Jerusalem on the 10th December 1917. 

The Turks vacated Jerusalem on the nights of the 18th and 19th December 1917 without any resistance. This occupation was regarded as a Christmas gift to the Christians. This occupation was regarded as the end of the First World War and the allied forces declared it as a successful end to a thousand years of Crusader wars. In 1921, the allied forces - the British, French, Italians and Greeks - invaded Turkey and planned to divide it amongst themselves. The allies made secret pacts rewarding themselves for their successes in the First World War (1914 - 1918). On 1st November 1922, the Sultanate was abolished by Mustafa Kamal bringing an end to 643 years of Ottoman rule. The allies withdrew from Turkey on the 2nd October 1923 and Turkey was declared a republic on the 29th October 1923. On 3rd March 1924, the Khilaafat was abolished. Mustafa Kamal (known as Ata-Turk) declared Turkey a secular state. He adopted the Latin script and abolished hijab, polygamy and Muslim law. The European criminal and civil law system were adopted and the country was modernised on European values and ideas. This was the end of the once Great Ottoman empire.

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The Ottoman Empire - 1200 to1924 C.E.

By The Islam Shop

Published on March 28, 2019

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The Ottoman Empire was founded by a person called Uthman, who defeated Alp Arsalan, the conqueror of the Byzantine Empire; in 1176 C.E. The Ottoman Empire had humble beginnings but soon the Ottoman capital Anatolia (present day Turkey) saw lands on both its east and west being conquered. The Ottoman Empire lasted for over 600 years and was abolished on the 1st November 1924 by Mustapha Kamal Pasha Ataturk.

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