Q. What I would like to find out about is the Ottoman Empire and how Islam once ruled it. I heard a podcast on BBC entitled “Crescent and the Cross”.
A. The following is some information regarding what you have asked.
The Ottoman Empire of Turkey
The Seljuks had pushed most of the tribes of the Oguz Turks back to the provinces of Armenia and the coast of the Caspian Sea. Among them was one, which has the credit of founding the Ottoman Empire. When the Seljuk Sultan’s rule was over and the Mongols began to create havoc, there were 10 to12 small states in that part of Asia Minor, which were under Muslim occupation. Seljuk princes or the Seljuk’s slaves governed those states. One of these states located near that border of Armenia, was under the control of Sulaiman Khan, the chief of a tribe of the Oguz Turks. When the Mongols invaded Alauddin Kaiqbad Seljuk’s state, Sulaiman and his son Artughril accompanied by their native Turks help Alauddin Kaiqbad. Their attack was perfectly timed and that forced the Mongols to retreat and flee. Alauddin Kaiqbad honored Sulaiman with a royal robe and made him the commander in chief of his army and awarded a large feudal estate to his son Artughril near the city of Ankara. Alauddin Kaiqbad’s capital was the city of Konya at the time. Artughril’s feudal estate was located at the border of the Roman emperor’s territory. After his father’s death, Artughril extended the frontiers of his territory. He secured some territory from the sultan of Konya as a reward and some he took from the Christians. In this way, he came to establish a good sized state. The Mongols did not disturb these small rulers in Asia Minor and left them alone. In 657 A.H., Artughril died and was succeeded by his son Uthman (Turkish Uthman) at the age of thirty. The Sultan of Konya, Gheyathuddin Kaikhusru married his daughter to Uthman and appointed him the commander in chief of his army too. When Gheyathuddin Kaikhusru was killed in 699 A.H., all the Seljuk Turks put Uthman on the throne of Konya and so besides his own state, the territory of Konya came under his control also. He called himself Sultan. This is the sultan after whose name the Ottoman Empire is known. The Ottoman Sultans were soon able to capture Asia Minor and drive out the Romans. In 663 A.H., the Ottoman sultans conquered Adrianople and made it their capital and established an Islamic government in southeast Europe by capturing the province of Trabzon. The Roman emperor made peace with him and this saved the rest of his empire from the Ottoman powers. Then the Ottoman’s started giving the Christians one defeat after another and continued to extend their frontiers. Finally, in 792 A.H., the Christian kings of Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Hungary jointly launched a very big offensive against the Ottomans. Sultan Murad with a small army confronted this huge Christian army at Kosovo and gave them a crushing defeat that shook and shocked the whole of Europe. In 799 A.H., the whole of Europe including the French and German armies stood up to root out the Ottoman Empire. The confrontation with Sultan Bayazid, Sultan Murad’s son, took place at Nicopolis. Sultan Bayazid, known as Bayazid Yaldram, scored an important victory over the united European forces. Over 20 Christian rulers and dignitaries were brought as captives to the court of Bayazid, who were either kings or princes. This defeat sent a wave of fear all over Christendom. The vanquished Christian kings went back to their countries and made extensive publicity for the formation of a crusade. Then these Christians with ever more religious enthusiasm and fervor collected and prepared to fight a decisive ear with Bayazid Yaldram. Bayazid Yaldram defeated them in this battle also and was thus able to force the whole of Europe to obey him. At that time, the Roman emperor was in terror. He did not lag behind in sending reinforcements to the Christian crusaders secretly. So, Bayazid Yaldram decided to punish the Roman emperor and finish Christian rule from the Balkan Peninsula and then finish the Christians forever by conquering the entire European continent. He was still thinking of attacking when news came from the Asian continent that Timur with a huge army had invaded Bayazid Yaldram’s Asian territories. He was forced to turn to Asia Minor and face Timur. In 814 A. H., the battle took place at Ankara, which resulted in a victory for Timor and Bayazid Yaldram’s capture thus the European continent escaped from being over run by the Muslims. It then appeared as if the Ottoman Empire was going to end but after a few years, it was restored to the power and glory seen during Bayazid Yaldram’s regime. Within 50 years, Muhammad II conquered Constantinople and put an end to Christian rule in the Balkan Peninsula. Then Sultan Salim gave a crushing defeat to the Iranians, conquered Egypt, Iraq, and Arabia and established the Islamic caliphate in 922 A.H. by finishing the Abbasid caliphate and introduced the chain of Islamic caliphate into the Ottoman dynasty as has been mentioned above. The history of this dynasty is highly interesting as well as instructive for the Muslims. ( Tareek Al Islam Vol. 2 pg.633-635).
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan