A Look At Muslim Empires
The Muslim community is known to have been under the influence of three major empires: the Ottoman Empire, The Safavids and the Grandeur of the Mughals.Let us take a close look at these three empires and try to identify in which areas are they the same and how they specifically support the Muslim’s view of the world.First of is the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire also known in the West as the Turkish Empire, existed from 1299 to 1923. Osman I is regarded as the founder of the Ottoman Empire.
He gave the name “Ottoman” to the Ottoman State and declared its independence, becoming the first Bey. He extended the frontiers of Ottoman settlement towards the Byzantine Empire, while other Turkish beyliks suffered from internal fighting. Under Osman I, the Ottoman capital moved to Bursa. It was in this period that a formal Ottoman government was created; its institutions would remain for nearly four centuries before being reformed. In contrast to many contemporary states, the Ottoman bureaucracy tried to avoid military rule, (see: millet).
Although the Empire was primarily a military state, its civics and economy did not reflect a policy of aggression. The expansionist policies of the Ottoman Empire were not undertaken with the aim of destruction, but with the goal of Ottoman settlement in the area. The strategic conquest of Constantinople became a crucial objective for Ottoman rule to extend over the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans. In 1389, the Ottoman victory at the Battle of Kosovo effectively marked the end of Serbian power in the region, and paved the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe.
The Mughal Empire, on the other hand, was an empire that at its greatest territorial extent ruled most of the Indian subcontinent, then known as Hindustan, and parts of what is now Afghanistan and the Balochistan region. It was established in 1526, enjoyed expansion and consolidation until about 1707 and survived, even if in drastically attenuated form, until 1857. The empire was founded by the Timurid leader Babur in 1526, when he defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the last of the Delhi Sultans at the First Battle of Panipat. Mughal is the Persian word for Mongol.
The Mughal rulers were adherents of Islam. The Mughal ruling class was Muslims, although most of the subjects of the Empire were Hindu. Although Babur founded the Empire, the dynasty remained unstable (and was even exiled) until the reign of Akbar, who was not only of liberal disposition but also intimately acquainted, since birth, with the mores and traditions of India. Under Akbar’s rule, the court abolished the jizya (the poll-tax on non-Muslims) and abandoned use of the lunar Muslim calendar in favor of a solar calendar more useful for agriculture.
One of Akbar’s most unusual ideas regarding religion was Din-i-Ilahi (“Faith-of-God” in English), which was an eclectic mix of Hinduism, versions of Sufi Islam, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. It was proclaimed the state religion until his death. These actions however met with stiff opposition from the Muslim clergy. The Safavids were a native Iranian dynasty from Iranian Azarbaijan that ruled from 1501 to 1736, and which established Shi’a Islam as Iran’s official religion and united its provinces under a single Iranian sovereignty, thereby reigniting the Persian identity and acting as a bridge to modern Iran.
Even though Safavids were not the first Shia rulers in Iran they were played most crucial role in making the Shia official religion in the whole of Iran. There were large Shia communities in some cities like Qom and Sabzevar as early as 8th century. In the 10th and 11th centuries the Buwayhids who were of Zeydi a branch of Shi’ism ruled in Fars, Isfahan and Baghdad. As a result of Mongol conquest, and relative religious tolerance of Ilhanids, Shia dynasties were re-established in Iran – Sarbedaran in Khorasan being the most important.
ShahOljeitu – the sultan of Ilkhanate converted to Twelver Shiism in 13th century, however the population of Iran stayed largely Sunni until Safavid period. These three empires dominated the Middle East during early 16th to 17th century and all of them played a crucial role in establishing the religion for each of their occupied areas. The leaders of these empires are said to have been chosen by Divine intervention and claimed to have been sent by God or Allah to rule over the land.
In addition, the growth of these three empires was interrupted with wars from one another or other empires in the region. In terms of influence on the rest of the world, the main mughal contribution to the south Asia was their unique architecture. Many monuments were built during the mughal era including the Taj Mahal. Meantime, examples of Ottoman architecture of the classical period, aside from Istanbul and Edirne, can also be seen in Egypt, Eritrea, Tunisia, A
On the other hand, handicrafts such as tilemaking, pottery and textiles developed during the Safavid dynasty and great advances were made in miniature painting, bookbinding, decoration and calligraphy – which still can be seen in Modern European art circles. As for promoting Muslim views, it must be said that the Ottoman Empire was, in a broad sense, tolerant towards its non-Muslim subjects; it did not, for instance, forcibly convert all of them to Islam.
The sultans took their primary duty to be service to the interests of the state, which could not survive without taxes and a strong administrative system. The state’s relationship with the Greek Orthodox Church, for example, was largely peaceful, and the church’s structure was kept intact and largely left alone but under close control and scrutiny until the Greek War of Independence of 1821–1831 and, later in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the rise of the Ottoman constitutional monarchy, which was driven to some extent by nationalistic currents.
Other churches, like the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, were dissolved and placed under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Church. On the other hand, the empire often served as a refuge for the persecuted and exiled Jews of Europe; for example, following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Sultan Beyazid II welcomed them into Ottoman lands. Shia is the ruling religion during the Safavid dynasty and there was no written record of their support to the Muslim community.
On the other hand, the Mughal ruling class were Muslims, although most of the subjects of the Empire were Hindu. Although Babur founded the Empire, the dynasty remained unstable (and was even exiled) until the reign of Akbar, who was not only of liberal disposition but also intimately acquainted, since birth, with the mores and traditions of India. Under Akbar’s rule, the court abolished the jizya (the poll-tax on non-Muslims) and abandoned use of the lunar Muslim calendar in favor of a solar calendar more useful for agriculture.
One of Akbar’s most unusual ideas regarding religion was Din-i-Ilahi (“Faith-of-God” in English), which was an eclectic mix of Hinduism, versions of Sufi Islam, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. It was proclaimed the state religion until his death.
Wikipedia, 2006: Ottoman Empire Available at: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire (cited on October 16, 2006) Wikipedia, 2006: The Safavids Available at: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Safavids (cited on October 16, 2006) Wikipedia, 2006: The Grandeur of the Mughals Available at: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mughals (cited on October 16, 2006)