Muslims’ Collective Amnesia of the Ottoman Past—and Why We Should Reclaim Our History
Do Muslims have anything to contribute?
The Qur’an matters
Challenging approaches to the teaching and learning of Ottoman Studies
The challenges of ideology, narrative, and language
So who are the Ottomans?
It started in a small part of Anatolia
The conquest of Constantinople/Istanbul
The Ottomans as a Caliphate
A series of defeats—Indication of a decline?
Ottoman modernity—The so-called long nineteenth century
Sultan Abdülhamid II—The pious sultan
The end of the Ottoman domains
1 All Glory and thanks belong to Allah for it is He who is the Knower of all. Anything written in this essay of any value is from Him and anything that is not is from me alone. I ask Allah to forgive me if at any point of this essay I have slandered or misrepresented any of the people that I have written about.
2 I would like to thank Dr. Nameera Akhtar for her efforts in editing and providing valuable feedback on this essay. I would also like to thank the blind reviewer for their insights.
3 S. Parvez Manzoor, “Studying Islam Academically” in How We Know: Ilm and the Revival of Knowledge, ed. Ziauddin Sardar (London: Grey Seal Books, 1991), pp. 40-45.
4 Syed Farid Al-Attas, Applying Ibn Khaldun: The Recovery of a Lost Tradition in Sociology, Routledge, 2015, pp. 75-77.
5 Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
6 Al-Attas, Applying Ibn Khaldun, p. 95.
7 Ziauddin Sardar, The Future of Muslim Civilization, (Mansell Publishing Limited, New York, 1987), pp. 181-207.
8 Manzoor, “Studying Islam Academically,” pp. 40-45.
9 Sardar, The Future of Muslim Civilization, pp. 180-207.
10 I would like to thank Humza Azam Gondal for his insights and contribution to the writing of this essay.
12 Ovamir Anjum, ‘Islam as a Discursive Tradition: Talal Asad and His Interlocutors,’ In Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Duke University Press, Volume 27, Number 3, 2007, pp. 656-672.
13 Mohammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Ashraf, Lahore, 1971, pp. 147-8.
14 I would like to thank Dr. Burcin Kagan Mustafa a lecturer at Princess Nourah University, Riyadh, and a graduate of the School of Oriental and African studies for his conversations on these points.
15 Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey. (London: Oxford U.P., 1961); Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (New York: Routledge, 1998); Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, Türk İnkılâbı Tarihi, Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları (İstanbul: Maarif Matbaası, 1940).
16 Edward Said, Orientalism, (London, Penguin Books, 2003).
17 Cameron Michael Amin, Benjamin C. Fortna, And Elizabeth B. Frierson, The Modern Middle East- A Sourcebook of History, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp.viii-xi.
18 Wael Hallaq, Restating Orientalism: A Critique of Modern Knowledge, (Columbia University Press, 2018).
19 Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey.
20 Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey.
21 On the challenge to the theory of Ottoman Westernization see Frederick F. Anscombe, State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands (New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2014); on the idea of Ottoman modernity, see Olivier Bouquet, Is It Time to Stop Speaking about Ottoman Modernisation? Order and Compromise: Government Practices in Turkey from the Late Ottoman Empire to Early 21st Century, 2015, 45; and on the idea of Ottoman decline, see Cemal Kafadar, The Question of Ottoman Decline, Harvard Middle East and Islamic Review, 1999.
22 Mahmut Mutman, The Politics of Writing Islam: Voicing Difference (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), pp. 1-7.
23 Hamidian is the term used to depict the governance of Sultan Abdulhamid II.
24 Salman Sayyid, Recalling the Caliphate: Decolonisation and the World Order (C. Hurst & Co Publishers, London, 2014), pp. 1-7.
25 Caroline Finkle, Osman’s Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923 (John Murrey Publishers, London), 2006, p. 42.
26 Halil İnalcık, Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300-1600, London, 1973, pp. 3-9.
27 Paul Wittek, The Rise of the Ottoman Empire: Studies in the History of Turkey, Thirteenth-Fifteenth Centuries (Routledge, London, 2012).
28 Heath Lowry, The Nature of the Early Ottoman State (State University of New York Press, 2003), pp. 43-56.
29 Abdulrahman Atçıl, Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 17-40.
30 Finkle, Osman’s Dream, p. 118.
31 Halil İnalcık, ‘Mehmed the Conqueror (1432-1481) and his Time,’ in H. İnalcık, Essays in Ottoman History, Istanbul (1998) 87-109 (Speculum XXXV (1960)).
32 “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader he will be, and what a wonderful army will that be!” Narrated from Bishir al-Khath’ami or al-Ghanawi by: Ahmad, al Musnad 14:331.
33 Atçıl, Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, pp. 59-100.
34 Here when I mention devlet or state I do not mean what modern conceptions represent but rather the Ottoman configurations of the various power groups that reflected that the House of Osman was the main dynastical power that represented the Caliphate. It must be stressed that throughout Ottoman history ‘the state’ was a fluid entity that transformed as political configurations evolved.
35 I use the word din (deen) here as meaning worldview rather than religion as this is how it was understood in the Ottoman world.
37 Selâhattin Tansel, Yavuz Sultan Selim, (Ankara, 1969), pp. 118-120; see also Hüseyin Yılmaz, Caliphate Redefined – The Mystical Turn in Ottoman Political Thought, (Princeton University Press, 2018), pp. 21-64.
38 Finkle, Osman’s Dream, p. 280.
39 Yılmaz, Caliphate Redefined, pp. 64-107.
40 Baki Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformations in the Early Modern World (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
41 Ibid., pp. 191-226.
42 Hüseyin Yılmaz, “Containing Sultanic Authority: Constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire before Modernity.” Osmanlı Araştırmaları/The Journal of Ottoman Studies, no XLV (2015).
43 The term “Circle of Justice” was coined by the sixteenth-century Ottoman thinker and scholar Kinalizade. It described the relationship between state and society prior to the nineteenth century. For more information see Linda Darling, “Circle of Justice” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Consulted online on 6 January 2019.
44 Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, pp. 115-184.
45 S. Tufan Buzpinar, ‘The Question of Caliphate under the Last Ottoman Sultans’ in Ottoman Reform and Muslim Regeneration (I.B. Taurus, London, 2005), pp. 17-20.
46 Ibid., pp. 20-25.
47 Dana Sajdi, ‘Decline, its Discontents and Ottoman Cultural History: By Way of Introduction’ in Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century (I. B. Tauris, London, 2014), pp. 1-40.
48 A Muslim response on Ottoman decline can be seen in the ideas, for example, of the likes of Abul Hassan al-Nadwi who examines the crises of Muslim civilization and the paths to revival. Revivalism requires decline which is an evident theme within works of Muslim writers. See in Islam and the World: The Rise and Decline of Muslims and its Effects on Mankind Trans by Mohammed Assif UK: UK Islamic Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, 2005.
49 Ali Yaycioğlu, Partners of the Empire – The Crises of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford University Press, 2016), pp. 38-64.
50 Khaled Fahmy, All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt (Cairo, The American University of Cairo Press, 2002), pp. 1-40.
51 Frederick F. Anscombe, State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post Ottoman Lands (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 61-90.
52 For a response to this debate, see Ibid., pp. 83-87.
53 Butrus Abu-Manneh, “The Islamic Roots of the Gülhane Rescript,” Die Welt Des Islams 34, no. 2 (1994): 173–203; Butrus Abu-Manneh, “Two Concepts of State in the Tanzimat Period: The Hatt-I Şerif of Gülhane and the Hatt-I Hümayun,” ed. Kate Fleet, Turkish Historical Review- Brill 6, no. 2
54 Frederick F. Anscombe, State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post Ottoman Lands.
55 Butrus Abu-Manneh, Mehmed Ali Paşa and Sultan Mahmud II: The Genesis of a Conflict, Turkish Historical Review 1 (2010) 1-24.
56 Şerif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization of Turkish Political Ideas, 1st Syracuse University Press ed., Modern Intellectual and Political History of the Middle East (Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 2000).
57 Samy Ayoub, “The Mecelle, Sharia, and the Ottoman State: Fashioning and Refashioning of Islamic Law in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 2:1 (2015) 121-146.
58 Jun Akiba, ‘Sharia Judges in the Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, 1864-1908,’ Osmanlı Araştırmaları/The Journal of Ottoman Studies, Volume 51, 2018, pp. 209-237, Samy Ayoub, The Mecelle, Sharia, and the Ottoman State, pp. 121-146. For an alternative reading see Murteza Bedir, Fikih to Law: Secularization Through Curriculum, Islamic Law and Society, 2004.
59 Ahmet A. Ersoy, Architecture and the Late Ottoman Historical Imaginary – Reconfiguring the Architectural Past in a Modernizing Empire, Routledge, 2015, pp. 2-18.
60 Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire 1876-1909 (London : I. B. Tauris, 1998).
61 Feroze Yasamee, Ottoman Diplomacy: Abdülhamid II and the Great Powers 1878-1888, Studies on Ottoman Diplomatic History; (Istanbul: The Isis Press, 1996), pp. 20-21.
62 Nader Sohrabi, Revolution and Constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire and Iran, Reprint edition (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 72-250.
63 İsmail Kara, Islâmciların Siyasî Goruşleri (Dergah Yayınları, 2001).
64 Nader Sohrabi, “Global Waves, Local Actors: What the Young Turks Knew about Other Revolutions and Why It Mattered,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 44, no. 01 (January 2002), pp. 45–79.
65 Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920 (London, Penguin, 2016).
66 Gail Minault, The Khilafat Movement- Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India (New York, Columbia University Press, 1982), pp. 65-207.
67 Mona Hassan, Longing for the Lost Caliphate: A Transregional History (Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 218-252.
68 Madawi al-Rasheed and Carool Kersten, Demystifying the Caliphate, Columbia, Hurts, 2013.
69 Cameron Michael Amin, Benjamin C. Fortna, and Elizabeth B. Frierson, The Modern Middle East- A Sourcebook of History, pp.viii-xi.
71 Halil İnalcık, The Ottoman Empire and Europe – The Ottoman Empire and Its Place in European History (İstanbul, Kronik Books, 2017), pp. 11-12.