History


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Even as Muslim Arabs are realizing the grievous mistake of some of their grandfathers in helping divide the Middle East into almost 40 countries, some historians and publishers are pushing their agenda of immortalizing an illegitimate son in a new book The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, Michael Korda.

By BEN MACINTYRE
Published: December 24, 2010 – NYTimes.com

Lowell Thomas, the pioneering American journalist and filmmaker, was buying dates on a Jerusalem street soon after the holy city had been wrested from Turkish control by British forces in 1917, when he spotted a group of Arabs, led by a most remarkable figure. “A single Bedouin who stood out in sharp relief from his companions; . . . in his belt was fastened the short curved sword of a prince of Mecca, . . . marking him every inch a king. . . . This young man was blond as a Scandinavian. . . . His expression was serene, almost saintly, in its selflessness and repose.”

The robed figure was T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, Laurens Bey to his Arab comrades in arms, the “Uncrowned King of Arabia” according to his boosters. And if Thomas’s description seems sensationalist, that is hardly surprising, for the American did more than any other single person to turn Lawrence into a glittering multimedia global celebrity, a fable, a saint and a myth.

continue the review below

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/books/review/Macintyre-t.html?ref=world

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One of the earliest Sahabis to set foot in India was Hazret Malik ibn Dinar (RA). At the entrance to the old part of the masjid, which is surrounded by the new complex, a calligraphic brief history is mounted on the archway. It reads as:

Malik ibn Dinar (RA) Masjid

This is the Malik ibn Dinar Masjid. A group of Arabs travelled to India to build masjids and bring the religion of Islam. They are the honorable Ibn Malik, his brothers from the mother of Malik ibn Dinar, and his nephew Malik ibn Habib ibn Malik. They arrived at the town of Kangerkut. A Jami Masjid was built on Monday, 13th of Rajab, 22nd year of the Nabawi Hijra. He appointed his son, Malik ibn Ahmed ibn Malik, as judge. May Allah sanctify their souls, illuminate their graves, and benefit us with their overflowing bounty. Later, it was rebuilt by Malik, owner of the town, in 1223 A.H.

Malik ibn Dinar Tomb

Malik ibn Dinar’s (RA) Tomb

Malik ibn Dinar old part

In The Old Part of the Masjid

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Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of 15th century. There are 30 statues mounted to the balustrade of this bridge.

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Statues of Saints of John of Malta, Felix of Valois, and Ivan are the most spacious and expensive sculptures on the bridge. This was designed in 1714  by Ferdinand Brokoff and sponsored by František Josef Thun, the lord of Klášterec nad Ohří. The sculpture was intended to honour the two founders of the Trinitarians, the order that supervised buying back and redeeming of Christians in captivity under Turks. St. Ivan, the saint patron of Slavs was added to the group for unknown reasons. The base depicts a cave in which three chained Christians are praying to the Lord for salvation.

[source: wikipedia.com]

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800px-Flag_of_Xinjiang_Uyghur_(East-Turkestan).svg

From Times Online – July 6, 2009

As a people, the Uighurs [pronounced ooy-gur, not wee-gur] look more like Afghans than ethnic Chinese. Ethnically, they are a Turkic race whose homeland is at the meeting point of Asia and Europe. The area now called Xinjiang was annexed by the Chinese Empire in the 19th century, although it briefly achieved independence before the Communist victory in China in 1949.

Separatist sentiment has always been present, but the stern censorship and political repression of the Chinese Government have prevented it from forming a large-scale organisation. Small groups operated in secret but only began to make their presence felt in the 1990s, when the liberation of the former Soviet republics and the increasing dominance of ethnic Chinese stirred a new sense of aspiration among many Uighurs.

In 1949 the Han Chinese had made up six per cent of Xinjiang’s people; today they represent 41 per cent in a population of 19 million, compared to 45 per cent Uighur. Many of them believe that the goal of the Chinese Communist Party, barely concealed, is the complete cultural, religious and linguistic assimilation of the Uighur people.

CHINA-Uighur.large.prod_affiliate.91

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, China identified itself as a victim of international terrorism and the Uighur separatist movement as its own al-Qaeda. Uighurs were captured in Afghanistan — four of them were released last month to Bermuda. The Chinese authorities, fearful of violence before the Olympics, announced a raid on a training camp run by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in January last year. Human rights organisations say that the Chinese anti-terror campaign has blurred the lines between genuine men of violence and those who peacefully support independence.

China pays lip service to freedom of religion for Uighurs, but only under its own terms. Imams must be licensed by the state. Public servants, including teachers, are barred from worshipping at mosques on pain of dismissal. Most resented of all, no one under 18 is allowed to worship or to receive religious instruction.

This goes further even than the control exerted over Tibetan Buddhism — to many Uighurs it represents a deliberate attempt to snuff out their religion over the course of a few generations by ensuring that young people grow up fully secularised. There is a small overseas diaspora, but compared to the Tibetan cause the Uighurs have few influential international friends. The chances of realising the dream of an independent “Uighurstan” are slight to non-existent. But, as the latest events have showed, it is a dream that will not die peacefully.

[http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6649318.ece]

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From Emirate to Empire

Belgrade was the gateway to Hungary and Central Europe; Rhodes was the stepping stone to the establishment of Ottoman supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea. Belgrade fell to Suleiman (the Lawgiver) on August 29, 1521, and on Christmas Day of the following year he made his triumphal entry into the citadel of Rhodes, which the Knights of St. John were forced to abandon after a long and terrible siege. Suleiman had succeeded where even Mohammed the Conqueror had failed.

. . . The Ottomans became locked in an unyielding struggle with the Hapsburgs that had all the overtones of a contest for world supremacy. After 1525, following Francis I’s defeat at the hands of the Hapsburg at Pavia, the French sought Ottoman support as a counterweight to Hapsburg power. The French-Ottoman alliance became a significant factor in the recognition and spread of Protestantism. Support for France and the Protestants, as well as for other anti-Hapsburg elements, such as the Muslims and Jews ejected from Spain, was the cornerstone of Ottoman policy in Europe at this time.

This anti-Hapsburg posture of the Ottomans is also discernible in the Mediterranean, where the holy ward was also waged. The Ottoman ghazi spirit, harnessed to the state policy of alliance with France, found a significant outlet against the Hapsburgs in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. The Ottoman admiral Khair ed-Din Barbarossa established control over Algeria and contended with Charles V over Tunis. . .

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. . . In addition to defending the Islamic world against its Christian enemies, the Ottomans also had to contend with the Persian Safavids, who were always ready to attack the Ottoman rear.

The European hope of a second front against the Ottomans was rekindled by Charles V, who sought to move the Safavids into action against the Ottomans. Suleiman could not afford to neglect the serious challenge and threat posed by the Safavids. The emergence of any power on their eastern flank, regardless of sectarian considerations, made the Ottomans uneasy. Suleiman mounted two full-scale campaigns against the Safavids, once in 1533 and the other in 1548. Both were preceded by peace or truce arrangements patched together in Europe that enabled the sultan to shift his forces eastward. In the first campaign Suleiman brought Tabriz and Baghdad under his control, along with the important trade routes that passed through those cities. . .

With the eastern border stabilized, Suleiman returned to the struggle in the west. The Mediterranean and North Africa became areas of almost constant warfare. In 1565 the Ottomans embarked upon a costly and eventually futile effort to conquer the island of Malta. The next year Suleiman decided to campaign in Hungary.

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Sultan Selim Khan (Jennet Mekan) is mentioned and recorded to have seen the Holy Prophet (saw) on many occasions. In one instance, he was called on a mission to rescue the holy cities from the encroaching naval power of Europe at the time, the Portuguese. In another instance, he was lead through the desert on his campaign against Egypt. In addition to physical power often noted by the West, the Ottomans possessed immense spiritual power and acted upon instructions, not whims.

FROM EMIRATE TO EMPIRE

Preparatory to the campaign against Shah Ismail, Selim [the Grim] hunted down suspected Shi’ite supporters in eastern Anatolia, and it is said that some 40,000 were killed. After a long march from Istanbul, made more arduous by the scorched-earth policy of the Safavids in their own territory, Selim forced Ismail to give battle at Chaldiran, northeast of Lake Van, on April 23, 1514. Ottoman artillery carried the day. The Safavids fled, and Selim entered Tabriz on September 5. Selim wished to follow up his victory in the next campaigning season by wintering in Tabriz, but the janissaries, tired and weary, forced him to abandon those plans.

Selim I also had to deal with the Mamluks. In the course of swift campaigns in 1516 and 1517, during which Ottoman artillery and firepower overcame Mamluk horsemanship, he had made himself master of the Mamluk domains, including Syria, Egypt, and the Hejaz.

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Selim’s drive to the Red Sea may have been his response to the oceanic revolution ushered in by Vasco da Gama’s circumnavigation of Africa and by extension of Portuguese naval strength in the Indian Ocean. Ottoman expansion into North Africa between 1515 and 1519 can be seen in the same light. The Mamluks, hampered by a lack of timber and possessed of a cultural tradition that extolled horsemanship and knightly virtues to the detriment of firearms and naval skills, had not been equal to the task of defending Islamic interests against the Portuguese. By taking over the Mamluk domains, the Ottomans had inherited the role of defender of the holiest places in Islam, the cities of Mecca and Medina, which were the cradle of Islam.  The Ottoman Sultan was now the supreme Islamic ruler and as such had to shoulder responsibility for resisting invaders. By 1517 Selim was already too late to check Portuguese expansion in the Indian Ocean, but until the mid-sixteenth century he carried the battle to the Portuguese by constructing fleets at Suez using Cilician timber and artisans who had gained experience in the dockyards of Istanbul, and employing commanders battle-tested in the Mediterranean. Although Ottoman attempts to expel the christian intruders were unsuccessful, the Portuguese never fully dominated the Indian Ocean trade, and spices continued to appear in markets of the eastern Mediterranean.

During the eight years of Selim I’s reign Christendom knew a period of comparative peace, free of any large-scale imperial campaigns in Europe. His death in 1520 and the accession of his son Suleiman marked the end of that respite. Under the leadership of the dynamic young sultan, Ottoman military power once again swung westward and the traditional ghaza policy was resumed.

At this time the predominant power in Christian Europe was Charles V of the house of Hapsburg. Contesting for the prize of universal monarchy was Francis I, of the house of Valois. With this dominant theme of Hapsburg-Valois rivalry influencing his policies, Suleiman set about to gain two objectives that had eluded his predecessors. The first of these objectives was Belgrade; the second the island of Rhodes.

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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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