bismillahBismillahirRahmanirRahim

For the sake of being aware of what Orientalists have written – we know where they stand – and maybe learn something, I will be taking extracts from Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition, Norman Itzkowitz,The University of Chicago Press, 1972. It should not surprise us any more, but I am still amazed at the enmity certain Western Academics bear towards Islam and the Ottomans. They cannot stomach the brilliant accomplishments of our ancestors, whom they fancy as exotic and fail to comprehend.ottoman-empire-and-islamic-tradition2

FROM EMIRATE TO EMPIRE

Three significant developments occurred in Bejazit II’s [the Thunderbolt] reign that played important roles in determining much of the subsequent course of Ottoman history. One of these developments was the growth in size and strength of the Ottoman navy. This growth had important implications for extension of the holy war and ghazi warfare to challenge Venice and Spain in the Adriatic, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. With a viable naval force to balance their feared army, the Ottomans became part of the European diplomatic system, an ally much sought after by those who wished to prevent the domination of Europe by a universal monarchy.

The second development was the rise of the Safavid house in Persia, yet another threat to Ottoman supremacy in the east. The Safavid ruler, Shah Ismail, had converted a Sufi order founded by his ancestor in the fourteenth century into a militant, expanding Shi’ite state. Shi’ism, a major division of the Islamic religion, originated in the split in the Islamic community that developed upon the death of Muhammad. The Shi’ites supported the claim of Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, to the caliphate, and the Sunnites, who included the Ottomans, accepted the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s actual successor. That split perpetuated itself in Islam, and the Sunnite and Shi’ite communities were mutually antagonistic. The Shi’ite Safavids were conducting a vigorous propaganda campaign among the Turcoman tribes of eastern Anatolia. Ottoman administrative and fiscal policies had alienated the Turcomans; and Shi’te ideas, tinged with anarchical radical and social overtones, spread among them. Bajazet sought to diminish the threat of losing large areas of Asia Minor to the Safavids by deporting suspected Shi’ite elements to the newly conquered lands in Morea. A serious Shi’ite revolt in Asia Minor in 1511 revealed the ineffectiveness of this policy.

The third development, which future research may well show to have had the greatest consequences, was the circumnavigation of Africa by Vasco de Gama in 1498. One of its consequences may have been to influence Selim I’s drive to conquer the Mamluk domains in Egypt.

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