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III-16 The Muslim Empires

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Robert Dozier

on 2 March 2017

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Transcript of III-16 The Muslim Empires

The Muslim Empires
The Ottoman Empire
The Rise of the Ottoman Turks
• Ottomans began as a group of Turks under what would become the dynastic leadership of Sultan Osman I in the latter 13th century
• They noted the geographic potential of controlling the Bosporus and Dardanelles around the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. The Ottomans saw it as a potential capital of a large state spanning SE Europe, W Asia, and NE Africa
• The Byzantines had been weakened by continuous wars with the Persians and Arabs, and later from the Crusades, which had sacked and looted the capital in 1204
• The Ottomans began to move into Europe, establishing provisional governors (beys) loyal to the Ottoman sultan
• Sultan Murad I established the Janissary corps in 1383, which was recruited from the local Christian population and swore personal loyalty to the sultan
Expansion of the Empire
The Nature of Turkish Rule
• To the Ottomans, the sultan was the supreme authority, but relied on beys for administrative purposes in an ever-growing empire. Local administration was a logistical necessity
• In addition to the beys, the sultan appointed pashas (lords) to collect provincial taxes on behalf of Istanbul
• Harems were the center of the sultan’s family; he did not marry. Appointment to the harem was considered a privilege for the women and their families
• Through devshirme (collection), the sultan acquired talented slaves who could earn prestigious appointments (after conversion). These included scientists, architects, and artists
• Government met four days a week; the sultan conveyed his wishes through the grand vizier, who bore much administrative responsibility
• At the local level, sipahis (similar to knights) collected taxes from the peasants in their fiefdoms
Religion and Society in the Ottoman World
• While nominally Muslim, the Ottomans were more secular than the Arabs who previously ruled the Islamic caliphate
• Freedom of religion was protected, though non-Muslims (dhimmi, or "people of the book") had to pay jizya, a tax for their exemption from military service. They were organized into groups called millets, and largely self-governing
• Conversion to Islam was encouraged to allow full citizenship and participation in society and government, although it was not technically compulsory
• Women were freer than in other areas of the time, and some wielded rare power (the Ottoman ruling class was often called the “sultanate of women”)
The Ottoman Empire: A Civilization in Decline?
• Ultimately, Ottoman expansion could not last forever, as the states of Central Europe began to withstand and defeat them. The collapse of the Ottoman siege of Vienna was the beginning of the end of their power in Europe
• The Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 ceded Hungary and parts of Wallachia and Transylvania to Habsburg Austria, indicating a decline of Ottoman power in the seventeenth century that would persist
• Initial Ottoman successes and the subsequent acquisition of wealth led to corruption at every level of government. As long as the money was coming in, glaring flaws in the Ottoman system were ignored
• Decline of Muslim values and the adoption of Western notions were also blamed. Conservative Muslims thought the ruling class had lost their way
• As the Empire became more cosmopolitan, sultans became less interested in ruling and left all administration to the grand vizier, and by the nineteenth century the empire was not ruled from the palace, but from the Sublime Porte, the grand vizier’s office
• This dissemination of power led to more hands in an increasingly smaller pot
Ottoman Art
The Safavids
• To the east, the Safavid dynasty emerged in Persia after the collapse of the Mongols at the end of the 15th century. Shah Ismail (1487-1524) installed a Shi’ite ruling class
• Their status as a Muslim empire led them into competition and conflict not only with other religious entities, but with the (mostly Sunni) Ottomans
• The Safavids came to power quickly and without many internal problems because of the Shi’ite majority in Persia at the time, in contrast to their western (and eastern) neighbors
• Despite this majority, much time was spent trying to squelch all religious minorities, in contrast with Ottoman tolerance. Whereas they made use of their diverse population, Safavid strength was drawn from its homogeneity
• The Safavids enjoyed a brief zenith before eroding in power. Religious orthodoxy would override any intellectual or creative forces, eventually stagnating their empire
Safavid Politics and Society
• Although Persia was majority-Iranian, there were Turkic and Mongol remnants in their territory
• As mentioned earlier, the Safavids relied on the Shi’ite faith as a unifying force. This was made easier due to the overwhelming majority of Shi’ites there
• Like the Ottomans, the Safavids endeavored to encourage the conversion of minority groups to (their brand of) Islam
• Despite this, the Safavids were not hostile to all Christian nations. They employed English aid in taking the island of Hormuz from Portugal, beginning a relationship which would last through the 20th century
• Domestically, the shahs (kings) tried to replace landed aristocracy with powerful government officials loyal to them
• As a result, Safavid society was largely a meritocracy, rather than a hereditary system. However, these “merits” would increasingly come to resemble loyalty and orthodoxy rather than particular skills
Safavid Art and Literature
• The Safavid capital of Isfahan was the crown jewel of Iran, and in many ways is today. Although it is no longer the capital, it is among the best preserved sites of this period
• As the urban centers became more cosmopolitan (in contrast to the rest of the empire), taboos on portraiture began to wane in the later 16th century
• Thus, Isfahan escaped many of the conservative Islamic restrictions on physical veneration
• As with the Ottomans, Persian rugs became valuable commodities domestically as well as with its international trade partners
Society Under the Mughals: A Synthesis of Cultures
• While the Mughals would likely have preferred to make India a fully Muslim nation, they never fully committed to eradicating Hinduism. Even if they had, the result would have been chaotic
• Thus, the oscillating practices of Muslim emperors towards religious tolerance led to the enduring establishment of Islam in some parts of India, and Hindu dominance in others
• The synthesis of these cultures shapes India to this day. Culture, dress, cuisine, etc. are uniquely Indian, but not always exclusively Muslim or Hindu
• Another famous example is the role of women: while Muslim empires typically impose restrictions on females (i.e. purdah, the rule on intersex association), the Mongol-descended Babur came from a culture in which women had influence
• Mixed with the complex Hindu attitude toward women, life in India for females demanded nuanced understanding. Women often experience simultaneous reverence and objectification
• Where cultural synthesis is less pronounced, the differences that would eventually lead to the partition of India began with the Mughal reign
The Grandeur of the Mughals
The Founding of the Empire
Akbar and Indo-Muslim Civilization
• Akbar realized that he would never eradicate Hinduism in India, and historians find that he had little inclination to do so. He did not share the Safavid opinion of the necessity of cultural and religious homogeneity
• Although a Muslim himself, Akbar found his Muslim councilors stodgy and uninspired. Like the Ottomans, he searched throughout his empire to bring the best and brightest to his court
• Unlike the Ottomans, the emperor did not require conversion to enter the highest levels of society. His court employed Hindus and even European Jesuit missionaries
• To the further consternation of his still-majority Muslim council, he endorsed a form of worship called Din-i-Ilahi, or Divine Faith, which advocated infallibility of the emperor
• The freedom to live by one’s own religious law was very popular, as it was in similar cases throughout Muslim empires to the west, excepting the Safavids
Akbar's Successors
• Akbar’s son Jahangir was strong initially, but his influence waned as his life drew on due to disinterest in ruling an empire
• One of Jahangir’s wives arranged for her niece to marry the heir, his third son Shah Jahan (r.1628-1657)
• Shah Jahan imitated the ruthlessness of his grandfather by eliminating his rivals, orchestrating the assassination of all the non-linear heirs
• He is most famous for sponsoring the construction of the Taj Mahal as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal, which is one of the most famous buildings in the world
• After an illness, Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb (r.1658-1707) imprisoned his father and executed his brother Dara Shikoh
• He was a pious Muslim, but ended religious toleration (which ended sati) and renewed forced conversions. All non-Muslims were expelled from his court
The Impact of European Power in India
• The Portuguese under Vasco da Gama were the first to arrive with the intention of establishing a commercial base, but they would certainly not be the last
• Above all others, the English recognized the immense potential of controlling India, and fought fiercely to keep its rivals off of the subcontinent, at the expense of other potential gains in Southeast Asia
• They exploited domestic instability following the interreligious conflicts in the three decades after the death of Aurangzeb
• In the 18th century, they established the British East India Company to manage its assets there. Native Indians were put to work on plantations harvesting cotton, pepper, and other goods
• This venture made Indians second-class citizens in their own country. By 1805, the British were in control of the Indian government despite mismanaged Indian resistance
The Mughal Dynasty:
A “Gunpowder Empire”?
• The rapid spread of Muslim empires in the 15th and 16th centuries led to the term “gunpowder empire”, which provided them with an enormous advantage over the indigenous peoples in their territory
• This is similar to the European spread of influence, and a testament to the speed with which they were achieved
• Historians today reject the term, as it ignores the nuance of Muslim governors and how they dealt with their populations in contrast to the Europeans
• The Mughals are an example of a tolerant minority tacitly recognizing that diplomacy would be more effective than armed subjugation in the case of the Hindus
• Overall, while the Mughals employed gunpowder-based infantry and artillery, the term “gunpowder empire” is an incomplete descriptor here
Mughal Culture
• The Hindu/Muslim synthesis made itself apparent in art and architecture. Elements of each tradition manifest in many artistic masterpieces of the period
• As in Persia, the combination of the two cultures consistently make for magnificent pieces of art
• The Ottoman Empire ruled the Muslim world and much of Southeast Europe from 1453-1918
• Turkic peoples came from Central Asia around the time of the Mongols in the 14th century, but were more inclined towards traditional empire-building
• Most adopted Islam. The Seljuk Turks allied with the Abbasid Caliphate, and waged war against the Byzantines on the Anatolian peninsula
• However, the Ottomans saw the weakening Byzantine Empire as an opportunity for an enduring empire of their own
• Although the Ottoman Turks made headway into Europe as far as the Danube River, Sultan Mehmet II desired Constantinople, which was still one of the richest and strategically important cities on Earth
• After securing the surrounding area he built fortresses, making his intentions plain. Despite the Byzantine Emperor’s pleas to the West, he received little European Christian aid
• Constantinople fell in 1453, bringing an end to the nominal Eastern Roman Empire after over a millennium
• The Turks established their capital there (Istanbul), and again looked north and west to continue expansion. They would wage war against the nations of central Europe, among them the powerful Austrian Habsburgs
• When the Portuguese fleet led by Vasco da Gama arrived at the port of Calicut in 1498, the Indian subcontinent was still divided into a number of Hindu and Muslim kingdoms
• However, it was on the verge of a new era of unity brought about by a foreign dynasty – the Mughals, from the mountainous region north of the Ganges
• Founded by Babur (1483-1530), whose father was descended from Tamerlane, and mother from Genghis Khan, the Mughal leadership boasted a considerable pedigree
• Babur possessed a multitude of modern weapons, including artillery, and used them to great effect, capturing Delhi in 1526
• Babur died early and his son and heir Humayun (r.1530-1556) was largely ineffectual, but his grandson Akbar (r.1556-1605) was intelligent and driven enough to bring most of India under his rule
• Although it appeared unified, it was actually deftly managed by local authorities linked together, not dominated by, the Mughal Emperor (zamindars)
Akbar reigned from 1556-1605
• During their heyday, Sufi influence on the Ottomans led to great patronage of the arts
• Conservative Muslims sometimes found this practice gaudy, and antithetical to the asceticism of Islam
• Like art, architecture flourished for socio-political reasons, to Islamize the conquered territory (Hagia Sophia)
• The textile industry also proliferated in the Ottoman era, especially the famous Turkish rugs
• As Islam spread east during the Mongol occupation, it gained a foothold in northwest India and around the Bay of Bengal despite a Hindu majority elsewhere
• The Mughal Muslims were the first government to rule a (mostly) united India since the Mauryans in the BCE era
• Emperor Akbar was the first of a series of rulers strong enough to achieve this feat. They deftly managed to consolidate power without alienating the Hindu majority
• Geographically, they were beset on multiple sides by rivals, as well as the emergence of the European colonial presence
• Moreso than the other Muslim states, outside influences would prove to be the most damaging to the Mughal Empire
Janissaries, though recruited from the Christian population of Ottoman territory, were expected to convert to Islam and adopt Turkish customs
Ismail claimed to be a descendant of ancient Sheikh Safi al-Din, from whom the term "Safavid" is derived
Isfahan's construction was commissioned by Ismail's successor Shah Abbas the Great
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