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Middle Eastern History

The chronological account of Islam started in Arabia with the first Quran recitations of Muhammad, Islamic prophet in the 7th century.  There was a great revolution in the Islamic world. The significant growth and development in the Islamic countries included maters of politics and governance, agriculture, industry and in the economy as well. The period preceding the 11th century, saw the growth of industrial mills and their operation across the Islamic world among other industrial developments (Adam, 2005). Every province throughout the world of Islam experienced a huge growth in many aspects. The changes and development in the Islamic world mainly took place in al-Andalus, Northern states of Africa and both in the Middle East as well as Central Asia. The developments and rich culture that were experienced during this time, mainly characterized the history of modern Turkey, which has often been referred to as the “cradle of civilization”. Things started to change after the 11th century. By this time, Islamic states and societies began to show many signs of internal weakness, making it, especially susceptible to external enemies and, of course, internal enemies as well. Thus, this essay agrees largely to the fact that, “From the eleventh century to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle Eastern history essentially became the Turkish history”.

There was a lot of invention by the Muslim engineers that included water turbines and crankshafts. Gears were incorporated in mills and machines used to raise water. Water power was also among the major developments that were realized in the Muslim world through the construction of dams. Such developments made it possible for a lot of industrial tasks to be mechanized and move from manual operation procedures. Mechanization, thus, became a great revolution in medieval Islamic world. The transfer of the already developed technologies reaching to medieval Europe had a huge impact on Industrial Revolution.

In addition to these developments, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire also form a very important part of this history.  The Ottomans emerged from the unclear reaches of Anatolia in the western part of Turkey. The Turks from the west were known as Oghuz.  The Oghuz had come basically as settlers during the supremacy of the Seljuk from the 11th century to sometimes in the 14th century covering the period between 1098 and 1308. The Anatolian frontier was greatly hostile to Islam. Some of the people were warriors to the faith of Islam conducting Jihad, which according to Islamic law refers to a holy war or struggle of spreading Islam among the hostile non-believers (Shaw, 1976). It was a harsh life in Anatolia. The Seljuks were the first people to be in power and maintained it in that region.

Later on, the Ottomans governed a small military state in the western Anatolia by the beginning of the 14th century in 1300. During this time, the state of Seljuk was falling apart. This small state was in clashes with a number of other sizeable Muslim states. Each state was preying on for the other’s land and territory.  By the 15th century, the Ottomans succeeded in extending their control and influence over a greater part of Anatolia and also into Byzantine territory in the Eastern parts of Europe: Bulgaria and Macedonia. In the early 15th century, the Ottomans moved their capital in 1402 to Edirne, which was in Europe. Here, they threatened the remaining great the Byzantine Empire stronghold in Eastern Europe and Constantinople, which was its capital (Imber, 2002). The city appeared to go against the great expansion and development of the Islam community. Regardless of the much the region fell to the Muslims, Constantinople resisted every invasion and siege.

The Ottomans were, on the other hand, committed to break such kind of a cycle. The seizure of the Constantinople would be representative of a strong symbol of the Ottoman authority and power as well as making the Ottomans rulers and controllers of the east-west trade. Sultan Mehmed, “The Conqueror” in 1453, consequently took the final remnant of Byzantium and gave it a new name by “Istanbul”. From that time, the main city of the Ottoman Empire was now fixed in Istanbul and under the support of the Sultans of Ottoman (Shaw, 1976). It ultimately became one of the richest and at the same time a greatly cultured city of the early contemporary world.

Now, Istanbul, which was formerly Constantinople, is the main city in Turkey, while it was the capital in the Empire of Ottoman. All these developments and establishments in the past have now come to be a very central aspect in the history of Turkey. The first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk identified Ankara, which was an interior city in Anatolia and made it the capital in 1923 (Adam, 2005). Thus, Ankara is the capital city of Turkey, but with a lot of history and culture of the ancient Islam state and society during the 11th century all through to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In terms of military, Ankara was not much exposed and easily defended compared to Istanbul. The option was symbolic of the nationalism policy of Ataturk. This is due to the fact that Ankara was more of Turkey and in a way less cosmopolitan than the former capital.

One of the main leaders of Jihad and the Ottoman Empire was Osman Bey from 1259 to 1326. The Ottoman Turks have gotten their naming from Osman. In 1290, he proclaimed the independence from the Seljuk Turks, which were his overlord upon the fall of the empire. Assisted by the upsurge of warriors from the Muslim society, he moved the state further in NW Asia Minor at the expense of the petty lords of Christians, who were the neighbors in the region. All the same, he inaugurated a religious tolerance policy.  Mehmed II, who was known as the conqueror and sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1444 to 1446 and again from 1451 to 1481, extended the control of Ottoman of Southeastern Europe to the Danube and of Anatolia to the Euphrates (Imber, 2002). During this time, the Ottoman Empire endeavored to create a great empire comparable to the Roman Empire. Byzantine Constantinople was conquered during Mehmed II’s reign, which saw the rebuilding and transformation of the city to the prosperous Istanbul capital of Ottoman, in 1453.

Mehmed II countered the aristocracy of the Turkish by carrying through the expansion policy of his father concerning the Janissary infantry corps.  The Janissaries were characterized as young Christians, who were recruited in a Devshirme system. They were given salaries instead of fiefdoms in order for them to remain loyal to and reliant on the sultan. The sultan also went ahead to authorize autonomous religious societies to provide his subjects with freedom of religion and attain the support of the leaders in the religions. Administrative and equitable tax systems were developed and justice provided for all. Serbia was later conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1459 and many others, like the Morea in 1460 (Shaw, 1976). Therefore, the Ottoman Empire extended in Europe all the way to the Danube and the Aegean regardless of the resistance from Venice and Albania. All these events led to the formation of the Turkish history. By 1461, Mehmed II had already conquered Anatolia from the Euphrates in the Turkmen principalities, although there was resistance from the Syrian Memelukes and from the Iranian White Sheep Turkmen, which prevented further advancement.

All the events that took place in the Middle Eastern region revolved greatly around the Ottoman Empire (Adam, 2005). The Ottoman Empire played a very important role in the development of the history around the region. All these historical facts and events involving the Islamic state and society were greatly influenced by the Ottoman Turkish Empire and community, which were very strong in Islam. The entire empire was sustained through Islam and the institutions of Islam. The Ottoman Empire was particularly one of the longest and largest empires in the history and that is why most of the history during the 11th century and onwards to sometimes in 1923, when it fell is mainly Turkish history. A lot of history that was made had a lot to do with the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The politics, cultural heritage and conflicts of the Ottoman state in the wider geography of the Middle East provide one of the longest narratives in a continuous form. Every tale about the Middle East region during this time and on revolves and appears like what is seen as Turkish history (Shaw, 1976). Thus, the talk concerning the Middle East is a talk about the Turkish history.

During the 1500s and 1600s, the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’ became the most influential state in the world. During this time, it was at its height of power and a multilingual, multinational empire that expanded from the southern borders of the Holy Roman throne to Vienna, Slovakia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to the south in Eritrea and the north in Yemen, Azerbaijan to the east and Algeria in the west (Imber, 2002). The Ottoman Empire controlled a bigger part of western Asia, southeast Europe and North Africa. The empire had many provinces and many other vassal states. Some of these states were ultimately absorbed into the empire as others were given different kinds of autonomy as centuries passed on.  The Ottoman Empire had a lot of influence and its operations covered a very big region. Its control and authority was felt and realized all over the Middle East and in many other Islamic states and societies. Thus, the history that covers these areas and the Islam community was mainly the Turkish history, because of the nature and size of the Ottoman history.

The Ottoman history that covers the period between 1566 and 1792 has been defined as the decline of Faith and State (Imber, 2002). This shows how Ottoman Empire was used to generalize all that transpired in the Middle East region and other Islamic states and societies. Such was the influence and power of the Ottoman Turkish Empire that it affected and became part of everything that took place during that time. Almost everything that took place during the time involved the Ottoman Empire. The decline of faith and state as history covering 1566 and 1792, took a generalized form for the whole region although it only touched the Ottoman Empire. ‘Decline’ according to the Ottomans referred to the dislocation of the conventional order; thus, ‘reforms’ to reverse or check ‘decline’ referred to the restoration of the traditional order, which had given rise to the Golden Age of Suleiman “the Magnificent.” In some occasions, the decline was checked although in a temporal manner.

The decline was slow, interrupted, gradual, taking a period of three centuries and at the same time relative only to its particular Golden Age and the outstanding evolution of the European neighbors, who were Christians. Three centuries was a very long period of history and the changes and developments surpassed every other happening in the region and during the time. The Turkish Empire surpassed all other occurrences within and outside the region, even including many other Islam states and societies. In the final century of the Ottoman Empire, the uncertainty was whether the empire would hold itself together through conciliation and coercion until the benefits of modernization would cause its non-Muslim subjects content to stay within the empire.  In the European provinces, the Ottoman Empire failed since the Christians would not reach reconciliation and the powers of Europe would not permit the coercion from the Ottomans. With time, the provinces started being autonomous and the fall of the Ottoman Empire started as a gradual process and in 1922 it was abolished and finally ended (Imber, 2002). In 1923, the Republic of Turkey stood in its place.

In conclusion, the events that took place from the eleventh century to the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the history of the Middle East essentially became the Turkish history. The Ottoman Turkish Empire had a lot of influence during this time and its replacement by the Republic of Turkey shifted everything to rally behind the latter. It was, indeed, a formation of the Turkish history, because it tells of how the Republic of Turkey came to being. The developments that were made during that time for all intents and purposes ended up being the Turkish history. 

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