11. Osmanlı Khalifate III

11. Osmanlı Khalifate III



بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم




Title: Osmanlı Khalifate III –The Last Decades of the Osmanli Khalifate – 

the last Decades of the Deen

Author:  Dr. Asadullah Yate (Cantab)

Publication date: 17th November 2012


Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the Muslim History Programme of the MFAS. This is the eleventh of 12 sessions which make up the History of the Khalifas module. The lecture will last approximately 40 minutes during which time you should make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture. 


The Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies, 

Nov. 2012, Dhu’l-Hijja 1433


The Last Decades of the Osmanlı Khalifate –

the last Decades of the Deen.


Academics are sometimes hesitant about revealing the underlying mechanics of the demise of the Khalifate. In the name of detailed objectivity they sometimes obfuscate or even conceal the real force behind historical upheavals. What happened to the Osmanli Dawlat was not really the result of a passive weakening of the Old manSick Man of Europe but a concerted attack on a power that was threatening to revive 1, a power gathering momentum after a period of change. Orientalists are – for us Europeans – often the only source for what happened to the Muslims. Events are per force seen through their eyes however hard or sincerely they try to depict both sides of a story. Linguistically they are sometimes slow to realize that a political, economic or social term has no corresponding equivalent in a European language: this necessarily entails a lack of understanding, or worse a christianization of the term in question. If for example we insist on translating the majestic Muslim institution of zakat as alms or poor due – both christian concepts indicating a personal, voluntary donation rather than an enforced, obligatory tax, – then we shall fail to understand to a large extent the politics of Muslim society. If for example, and more importantly, we consider that the word religion as used in the period of our study corresponds to the term deen – which is the Osmanli word describing the whole socio-political nexus based on Islam -– then again we shall miss the point. Religion now refers to the mere trace elements of the once noble teaching of Jesus, the performance of strange rites on occasional days and a still stranger organization called the church - or– or, as Nietzsche had indicated, a spiritual weakness and resentment based on personal ignorance. Deen however has no meaning without power, both power of authority and personal power, and was a reality at every moment and in every situation of the Osmanli society.

Hence the title: “The Last Decades of the Osmanli Khalifate – the Last Decades of the Deen”: it was because the deen was successfully attacked that the Osmanli Khalifate fell, just as it was because the Osmanli Khalifate was attacked that the deen ceased to be, or more correctly metamorphosed into a christian-like religion, devoid of power, devoid of majesty, a mere personal, Nietzschian deviation from the Truth in the manner so ably diagnosed by Nietzsche.

Such carelessness with respect to terms is an impediment to perceiving the other’s view in any historical situation involving conflict. Another of the impediments to objectivity amongst European-educated scholars is the underlying principle of progress: it is tabu to doubt that man and his society is, or should be, becoming better and better. While the earlier studies of the Dawlat are charaterized by a christianisation of terms, and hence of understanding, more modern studies, particularly those which deal with the transition from the Khalifate to the national state, use the language of democracy: in the former progress is discerned when the Islam of the Osmanlis is seen to be withdrawing into a ‘religious’ corner and adopting more christian values, notably of tolérance et charité; while in the latter, progress is reckoned in so far as the new national state is implementing human rights and abandoning the rights of God. 

The final important impediment to objectivity is the lack of prioritization: in the index to the Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam2 for example there is an extremely copious entry of 20 lines for “Sects” while “Khalifate” merits only three and contains no mention of the Osmanli dynasty which lasted over 500 years. The implication is clear: the encyclopedic definition of Islam is not objective-descriptive but rather prescriptive: Islam we are told is to be found in the exotic activities of isolated groups on the margin of legitimate authority.

One does not have to look far for proof of the tendentious nature of christian – or increasingly democratic - appraisals in the field of academics3. There are few exceptions, amongst them, The Spread of Islam in Europe by T. Arnold; but even this lacks objective insight on account of his willingness to see material gain as the intent of Islamic impulse4.

This concerted attack was of seminal significance for both parties in the conflict. It has since determined the state of the Umma and the nature of the deen for the following decades. The first real blows – called aptly enough “reforms”, i.e. measures to re-form the Dawlat into a new and different form which would be acceptable to the re-formers - to the authority of the Khalifate were inflicted during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II and continued with his issue of the Tanzimat Ferman in 1939 by his successor Sultan Abdülmecid I. This ferman was essentially a list of changes which would eventually affirm the supremacy of secular-christian law over Islamic law. Under increasing pressure from the European powers he introduced the French system of bureaucracy – producing salaried wage-earners rather than free men, allied to guilds, who would perform specific jobs for specific remuneration in a specific time. He severed the educational system from its Islamic basis – paving the way for secularization, or kufr to give it its scientific name in Islam. This would soon give rise to the curious christian-like phenomenon of Islamic Schools, Islamic Orphanages and Islamic Ministries – i.e. institutions which by definition render the rest of society un-Islamic – and of course was the prelude to the complete separation of the state from what is then rightly termed “religion”, i.e. pious concepts without any executive authority. In 1840 the first paper money kaime-I mutebere was introduced5 ensuring the swift transfer from the legal bi-metal currencies of gold and silver to the illegal fiat money and eventually the casino capitalism of the stock exchange in Istanbul. 

The use of paper money, bonds and securities as weapons against the Osmanlis has been documented in great detail by Muslim scholars6. Although touched upon by the orientalists they are coy when assessing the actual role of the banks in the whole affair – bound as they and the universities often are to a tacit acceptance of their de facto pay-masters - and so the import of the phenomenon is often lost to the reader unversed in their understatement. Existentially what happened was that the gold and silver of the Dawlat gradually but inexorably mounted in the cellars of the European bankers and disappeared from the hands of the Sultan and from the pockets of the ordinary citizen. The possession and minting of gold and silver had represented one important aspect of the power of the Sultans; taken away and substituted for paper or numbers controlled in European capitals, this power was also effectively substituted and controlled. Financial problems had on occasion manifested in the Dawlat but they had been insignificant in comparison with the manipulation which now took place7. 

Other re-forms of note during Sultan Abdülmecid I’s reign were the abolition of the jizya8 tax on non-Muslims, a tax which had throughout the centuries ensured their protection and their being absolved from military duty; the destruction of the Janissaries [undertaken by his father] was completed with the introduction of European-style conscription thus reducing a Sufic-based, inspired body of men committed to the defense of the Sultanate to a horde of disparate mercenaries; and the nationality law which rendered all Osmanlis equal before the law: Muslims became mere citizens instead of members of  – and brothers in - the deen of Islam. Up to this point the law had been theirs, and the other millets had been generously provided for and tolerated; now it was the Muslims and their deen which were tolerated by an emerging atheist democratic force and the millets themselves became the vanguards of progress – free as they already were of any meaningful divine injunctions and more easily infiltrated by the forces of progress. Other re-forms included a Meçlis-I Maarif-I Umumiye which would become the mode for the first parliament in 1876 – in other words the dividing of the Muslim Umma into parties with all this entails of division and strife; and most significantly the adoption of French law and a French finance system which would eventually result in the reduction of Islamic law to births, marriages and deaths, destroying the complex and all-inclusive rulings of muamalāt which regulated all the daily practices of the Muslims, from markets, contracts and trade to disputes and offences. The Ittihad ve Terakki society of the Young Turks, as is often the case in the rhetoric of politics, meant exactly the opposite of union and progress, at least for Sultan Abdülhamid: it meant the break-up of the multi-national Osmanli Dawlat and the regression of society.9 In short these changes were in line with the ideals of the French Revolution, a revolution nurtured in terror and destined to nurture terror.10

Abdülaziz I’s modernization of the navy and the opening of the first Ottoman railway initiated a crucial relationship between the Dawlat and technology/European finance which would intensify the crippling state debt and the Dawlat’s submission to still further re-forms.

The Wikipedia entry for Murad V is interesting for its questioning of the real reason for his short lived rule: “He became the Sultan when his uncle Abdülaziz was deposed. He was highly influenced by French culture. He reigned for 93 days before being deposed on the grounds that he was supposedly mentally ill, however his opponents may likely have used those grounds to stop his implementation of democratic reforms.” The writer of the article is concerned with the truth regarding the cause of death, he is not concerned with democracy per se – it is a given in his mind. Whatever the real reason of his death, its mere mention is telling: any means seemed conceivable, at least for the writer, for the introduction of democracy, i.e. the introduction of a political form of governance compatible to the enemies of the personal power of the Sultan and the Pashas and accessible to the dubious figures of high-finance [just as any means were conceivable for the introduction of the model of the French Revolution].

The problem with Sultan Abdülhamid for the promoters of the new secular religion of democracy was that he was - as the western scholars so aptly put - a traditional Muslim: that is, he trusted deeply in Allah and His Messenger, looked upon himself as a slave of Allah, and as such was ready to serve his Master in any way he could. This meant that he had to look to the commands and prohibitions in the Book of his Master and follow them. That democracy can be compared to a new religion, or at the very least a substitute for it, has been the subject of widespread research11: it has its “sacred” rites and its creed of human rights 12. Societies like the Young Turks promised a new way of life for its adherents: freedom from all natural restraints if one was ‘democratically’ strong enough to shake off such restraints. Sultan Abdülhamid’s attitude to life however was not at the time something abnormal; indeed up until the introduction of the reforms and new values it had been the norm for all members of the Osmanli Umma. What made Abdülhamid so formidable an opponent was that he was still the Sultan, however much the authority of the Sultanate had been eroded; and he had made a conscious decision to fight back, to renew the deen and to make use of the authority invested in him.

He was a man of character: he was physically strong, was a skilled carpenter, knowledgeable of birds, butterflies and animals – in particular thoroughbred horses, well versed in the sciences of Islam and most importantly aware of the developments beyond the borders of the Sultanate13. He did not succumb to the sometimes dangerous luxuries of his precedents.14 He oversaw a cultural renaissance, in particular at the faculty of literature Dar ül-Funun-u Osmani in the Osmanli University. He and his supporters recognised that one of the keys to stability and growth was the upholding of the Osmanlica, the rich language of the Dawlat, suffused with the languages of its peoples and in particular that of the deen.

His success lay in his sincerity: his character was in harmony with this claims and goal; and he was knowledgeable of his people and knowledgeable of his enemies. Furthermore he saw the advantages of technology and was determined to incorporate them. He almost succeeded in paying off the debt and freeing his people from the banker creditors. His shortcoming was perhaps not to fully realise the nature of the attack against him and that it was partly hidden in the technology he needed. Technology came at a terrible price: indebtedness and the adoption of the capitalist system. Europe had had centuries to come to terms with technology and capitalism. The Europeans, at least the modernists and the progressives, had realised that it necessarily entailed the end of personal sovereign power – with the result that the kings and princes of Europe were disappearing or had been reduced to mere figureheads; they realised that high finance and casino capitalism had to have unfettered licence in order to succeed and this only came through democracy which declares that the markets are free, i.e. that the financiers were free to finance whatever project they liked irrespective of its benefit to the society as a whole, and must not be subject to any outward control, least of all a king or a prime minister. Sultan Abdülhamid’s dilemma was that the technology he wanted for his people could only come at the sacrifice of his authority and this he was not willing to make because he knew that his authority represented his responsibility towards Allah and his Umma. He was a man of principles and this was a barrier to the unfettered capitalism of the banks; democracy was a matter for the politician, and politicians as he knew were unprincipled.

Abdülhamid II thus represented a threat to the success of the attack on the Osmanli Dawlat. His move of genius was to recognise the necessity of personal rule. Seeing through the machinations of the politicians and the newly formed parliament, he dissolved the latter and took matters into his own hands – anathema to the aspiring democrats. His shortcomings were magnified by his enemies who had understood that he was not about to submit to the modernization of everything: to technology he said yes but to the modernization of the deen he said no – knowing that it was immutable15.  His great railway project testifies to both: his recognition of the importance of linking the two great historic capitals of Islam, Istanbul and Baghdad; and also Istanbul with Makka – which was clear proof of his desire to facilitate the Muslims in their performance of one of the pillars of their Deen. His joining in partnership with Kaiser Wilhelm II and the subsequent annoyance of French and England however must not let us be led into believing that it was a matter of mere national differences – as some popular writers still insist16: the technological alliance still depended on financiers in Europe and they were essentially a network of families of supra-national allegiance .

He reasserted the real role of the Sultan – i.e. the highest authority of the Dawlat, as the Osmanli word sulta means.17  His position was not unlike that of the King of England who also decided to take matters into his own hands: “Whatever his deficiencies in those arts of politics - manoeuvre, management, compromise – Charles, convinced that he pursued courses for the good of the commonweal, held to 'convictions' when a politician might have surrendered them”18. These convictions were unshakeable. He was a man of his word, a man of trust, a man who was conscious of his historical role as upholder of the Osmanli dynasty and as upholder of the deen of Islam. His courage during the long battle to pay back the Dawlat’s debts to the European bankers, the new and covert forces of occupation -  in order to free it from the enslavement to the ever more blatant conditions attached to the debt is legendary, at least amongst his supporters.19 His biographer Neçip Fazil in Ulu Hakan has documented all this in great detail.

Abdülhamid never gave up his fight, even to the end. Technically speaking, with his demise, the Khalifate had merely entered into an interim period. This is made clear in a letter to his Shaykh of Instruction, Mahmud Abu'sh-Shamat Efendi, in which he writes:  “I did not abandon the Khalifate of Islam for any reason. It was rather that I have been forced to leave the Khalifate of Islam by the pressure and threat from the leaders of the Committee of Union, known as the Young Turks”20. Thus those fighting for the introduction of democracy, knowing that the main obstacle to “freedom of expression” and “freedom of the market forces” - i.e. the financiers - were the Sultanate, forced him to abdicate. This is not a fanciful connection of his but rather a fact learnt through his own bitter experience: the connection between the democratic unionists and their European backers – ultimately these financiers – became clear to him in the question of Palestine: “These Unionists [i.e. the young turks] have continuously insisted on the establishment of a National Homeland for the jews in the Sacred Territories and in Palestine, which I strictly refused to accept and affirm. Whatever their threats and however strong their insistence was – I did not accept this proposal. Then, they promised they would pay £150,000 English pounds in gold but I refused this proposal too and I responded to them: "Not for £150,000 English pounds and not even if you piled up the gold of the whole world before me could I accept your proposal!”21

The problem for them again was that he could not be bought, he was not a politician, his integrity vis-à-vis Islam and the Muslims could not be compromised - for this reason he had to be coerced into moving.22

He had been a Sultan in service to his people: “I have served the Millet of Islam and the Ummah of Muhammad for more than thirty years”. These are of course his own words but his actions bear him out; he did not betray the trust of his people and hand over Palestine, however great would have been his personal gain: “I cannot put a black spot on the whole of the Muslims, the Sultans and Khalifs of Islam, my fathers and ancestors – therefore, I can definitely not accept your proposal” 23.

As well as the enmity of high finance and the press, mention should be made of the Wahhabite rebellion in Najd which was supported and financed by the European powers.  Although Abdallah ibn Saud was executed as a rebel in Istanbul in 1818, the Wahhabite ideas continued to grow into a force  and ultimately contributed to the downfall of the Sultanate. The key to understanding their effect is their de facto separation of deen from everyday affairs and trade and commerce – thus rendering it a religion, in the sense indicated above, not a deen. Nowhere is this more obvious than in in present day Saudi Arabia where piety and severity rule on in the home [amongst the womenfolk] and mosque, but where the American law of commerce and finance rules in the streets and supermarkets. It is not insignificant that immediately after the fall of the Khalifate Abdalaziz ibn Saud could regain Makka and Madina24. This outcome was not unwelcome to the modernist forces: although their hegemony ensured the continuation of a pious exterior, it permitted the legality of modernist ‘business’ based on banking to flourish.

What we find prior to the demise of the khalifate, or at least prior to the attack of which we speak is a world – for those within the khalifate - basically in order, the people strong, strong in their trust of the Divine, and justice, albeit not based on christian or democratic rules, but rather the justice as determined by the Lord of the Worlds in the Quran and through His Prophet. The Dawlet, it is true, was maintained on occasion by horrendous means – the killing of royal family members on occasion to ensure the “right” heir was and still is inexcusable despite the fatwas of some ulama25 but it ensured peace and stability – almost inconceivable in comparison to the wars and devastation which afflicted Europe during the same period. It extended almost from the Atlantic to the steppes of Asia – and beyond to islands of Nusantara, if one takes into account the commercial and diplomatic ties. In any war, in any struggle, one must look to the outcome to determine the true nature of the rhetoric of the combatants prior to the victory or defeat. K. Ataturk is the proof of the real nature of the struggle that had been going on in the last decades: in him the reformists had the found their ideal - he was a modernist par excellence and expressed their understanding of personal licence to the full: his sexual preferences were so far in advance of his time that they have still not be condoned by any of the known schools of fiqh and his taste for the stronger spirits - making their way at that time into the growing number of western hotels and restaurants in Istanbul - are sanctioned as yet only by the more bizarre shia sects26. Although a dictator, something abhorrent to their rhetoric of elected representatives, he was best equipped in the short term to deal with the enemies of progress27.  He marked the end of the khalifate, the remaining khalifs being symbolic, devoid of power; the deen had been stripped of its wordly authority and become a religion - its realm was only the next world; the leader was an atheist-materialist. His list of achievements were of course dismal from the perspective of the losing party. After the khalifate the Dawlat became the nationalist state of Turkey, the borders of the treaty of Lausanne the final disgrace in relation to the former breadth and  majesty of the Dawlat28; his academic committees presided over the linguicide, stripping the once illustrious Osmanli language which had contained some 3000000 words to a mere shadow of itself – i.e. modern Turkish possessed of a minute vocabulary and written in the alphabet of the new masters. More laws were passed in the initial years of his rule than the total number of new fatwas promulgated throughout the five centuries of the Osmanli Dawlat. This is a phenomenon familiar in current democracies; and whereas the new laws of the latter are often radical, changes to Dawlet’s legal system had been minimal - affected only by mere amendments upon an unchanging base.29 

Because the age we are discussing is pivotal to the warring parties mentioned above the impressions left by the writers of the respective parties appear quite different from each other, indeed black/white, conflicting on occasion. This is not merely a lack of objectivity and excess of partisan zeal but rather a faithful reflection of the nature of a continuing intellectual and linguistic struggle: namely how to deal with the European phenomenon of Islam. As an exotic and foreign religion it is easy booty for the academic hunters; as an integral way of life which historically has become part of the very fabric of this continent it is a beast still very much alive and kicking.30 The last decades of the Khalifate were characterised by change and resistance to change: the modernists wanted immediate change, the Sultans, especial Abdülhamid, insisted on changing at a speed of their determination. 

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. Thank you for your attention. Assalamu alaykum.

Dr A. Yate (Cantab.), Stralsund, Germany.


1 In the words of Abdülhamid’s biographer Neçip Fazil: “During his 33 year rule, Abdülhamid managed to strengthen the weaknesses of an empire whose final hour of liquidation seemed near, and to prepare the ground for a complete renovation of the edifice from its foundation to the roof by erecting the supports necessary for rescue. By the time a few years had passed after having taken affairs into his own hands, he had manifested all the characteristics of the period bearing his name and established around his personality an ambience which reflected both the capital and the rest of the country”. Ulu Hakan 3.The Hamidi Period, p. 180, trans.: Sezgin, Sh. Dr. A. as-Sufi, Yate, 1991. 

2 Leiden, ed. Gibb and Kramers, 1974, p.663, 665.

3 Historically many orientalists have been in the pay of governments. The words of one acknowledged master in this field, a controversial, one-time consultant to the U.S. government, reveal – inadvertently perhaps – the incipient lack of objectivity even in the most academic of studies: commenting on his own “standard work” as it is known in the field he says: “In a work of this nature [i.e. the isolation and examination of certain basic issues from a vast subject matter] it is not possible or even desirable to acknowledge the sources of every point of fact and interpretation [italics my own].” B. Lewis, The Arabs in History, London, 1950, p,7

4 The aim of this article is to stimulate reflection and point to non-orientalist sources. The usual ‘version’ of events is that the Osmanli Dawlet fell because of military pressure – however unlikely a thesis, given that the army never lost militarily - not through financial or deliberately fomented social change. 

5 There was obviously much concern at the time about this new phenomenon. N. Fazil uses the word “shame” when describing a loan during the time of Sultan Abdülaziz: “In order to pay the old debts and cover the shame of the introduction of paper-money, a two hundred million franc loan from London was taken”. The shame was the invention of the institution of Duyun-i Umumiyye, the Public Debt. Ulu Hakan, The New Sultan, p.17.

6 For example S. A. as-Sufi in his The Return of the Khalifate, M. Maksudoğlu  Osmanli History 1289 – 1922, Malaysia 1999, and for an overview U. Vadillo, The Return of the Gold Dinar, Cape Town, 1996.

7 Sultan’s Selim III’s debasement of coinage did not place the supremacy of bi-metal currency in question even if he admired aspects of the French revolution and could have theoretically introduced the assignats.

8 A tax much criticised by modernists – who however fail to see the moderation of its tariff and the advantages to those who pay it. As Arnold notes: “The Christian subjects of the Turkish empire had to pay the capitation-tax, in return for protection and in lieu of military service... in the nineteenth century the rates were 15, 30 and 60 piastres, according to income" in The Spread of Islam in  Europe, India 2001, cited from I. Silbernagl, Verfassung  und gegenwärtiger Bestand sämtlicher Kirchen des Orients, p. 60,  Regensburg 1904; and Arnold goes on to appraise it as negligible. It was certainly far below the rate of tax today on the “citizens” in our modern societies.

9 As M. Maksudoğlu  notes: “as far as Sultan Abdülhamid was concerned the freedom that the young turks were out for was ‘a destructive weapon for the Dawlat…giving freedom was similar to giving a gun to a man who did not know how to use it’”, Osmanli History 1289 – 1922, p.537,  cited from E. Karal. Osmanli Tarihi, Ankara 1983 VIII, p. 537. 

10 See Ian Dallas, The Time of the Bedouin, Cape Town 2006, 45ff.

11Aasim al-Maqdisi, ad-Dimuqratiyya Deenun [Democracy: A Religion], Cairo, Arabic no date. Such comparisons are obviously not restricted to Muslim authors.

12 It is now for example an offence not to vote in some countries; in others a non-voter is often frowned upon; the new – historically speaking - election-days, bank holidays and national holidays, it may be argued, are not dissimilar from holy-days, as the root meaning of the word indicates.

13 As N. Fazil notes: “He used to have European magazines and newspapers translated and read to him. He especially enjoyed reading and reflecting on history”. Sultan Abdülhamid was aware of the power of the press, second only in enmity to the financial establishments of the West, having often suffered at its hands: “The newspaper Meshveret began to curse and blame Abdülhamid like a small child insulting a bully from the safety of a treetop. Abdülhamid contacted the French government via the Paris Embassy and had the Meshveret closed down. A clamour arose in the French Press: “Good Lord! How can a newspaper be closed down in the home of democracy?” Upon this, the French government revoked its decision and instead prohibited its circulation. By this minor legal stratagem the newspaper was in effect still closed down. Ulu Hakan VII The Centre of Activity, p.357; Prince M. Fazil, the liberal precursor to the democratic opponents to Sultan Abdülaziz had been able to voice his influential support in the Hürriyet newspaper he founded in London; Muhammad Ali’s “Egyptian Events” Al-Waqa'i`a al-Masriya, the first real newspaper in the Middle East, was founded in 1828 and published in Arabic and Osmanlica. See the History of Arabic Literature, Clément Huart, p. 437. It was one of the instruments whereby its founder rebelled against the Sultanate and established a precedent for other territories. See Ibid, C. Huart, p. 437.

14 Simplicity, doing with little and refraining from luxury — these were the characteristics that he never renounced from his youth to his end. Ulu Hakan, 7, The Centre of Activity, P.15

15 That he was consciously taking a direction of change - without adopting wholesale the life-style of the west is clear from the following - while retaining the deen: “The main intention of Abdülhamid regarding the Japanese and the issue of Japan had been to open a way to the true deen for this nation; a nation which had embarked upon the path of progress with an astonishing impetus and which had not compromised its identity by becoming europeanised. Indeed, an organisation for religious research had been set up and a congress was planned. The propagation of Islam, which had been until then very poor in Japan could have been suddenly directed more effectively to the Japanese population and a completely new potential for action could have opened up for Islam at the hands of that great Eastern nation. Ulu Hakan, Section 3, “Foreign Politics”, p.128.

16 See the journalist Bertram Weiß for example in the article in GEO Epoche, nr. 56, “Die Eiserne Karavane”: “Great Britain, Russia and France viewed the German-Osmanli cooperation with suspicion…”, p.128-9. He notes that Sultan Abdülhamid had to raise capital for the technological project and gives the impression that Germany as a country is the financing agent. Ibid, p.124. However on a closer study of the financiers involved this proves not to be the case – see: S. A. as-Sufi, The Return of the Khalifate, pp 19-21, in which it becomes clear that the banker Hirsch’s financial power is an amalgamation of French, Austrian, German and Ottoman Bank funding – the latter itself being Ottoman in name only, its actual directors being European financiers.

17 See the Osmanli Dictionary of Samsettin Sami, Qamus Turki, 1317 AH, Istanbul; for more modern meanings and an insight into the change or degeneration of certain key social and political words – in comparison with the meanings listed in the previous dictionary - see Redhouse’s Türkce-Ingilizce Sözlügü, Istanbul 1997 [first published in 1890].

18 Charles Sharpe, The Personal Rule of Charles I, Avon 1992,  p.954.

19  Recognising the principle of enslavement in debt, he took a personal interest in the accounts of the Dawlat – something which his enemies attributes to miserliness: “One of the greatest lies about Abdülhamid is that salaries were not paid on time, indeed delayed for months. How could such grossly unfair lies be told! First of all, it is not true that the delay lasted for months. There was sometimes a short delay, but this again points to yet another of Abdülhamid’s merits. On the one hand he was paying off debts to the Public Debt Commission, not incurring any further debts, and managing all the financial affairs with a strict discipline in order to maximise their benefit and utility according to the available income and did not lower himself by giving people the false impression of being able to pay salaries in time while in fact taxing them heavily by other means”. Ulu Hakan,  3. “The Hamidi Period”, p. 180.

20 See the appendix ii to N. Fazil’s Ulu Hakan, p.2.

21 See appendix ii, N. Fazil’s Ulu Hakan p.3.

22 N. Fazil’s words may be emotional in their love for his subject but they are undoubtedly irrefutable testimony to the role which the deen played in his life: to ignore this is to misunderstand the nature of the Osmanli revival: “It would be worthwhile asking whether there has been a padishah among the Ottomans who was more committed to the deen than Abdülhamid. We are of the conviction that neither Murad, who spent the night before the battle on the fields of Kosovo in sajda, nor Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, nor Bayazid the Wali, nor any other attained Abdülhamid’s degree of commitment to the deen.” Ulu Hakan Section 3, The Sultan Committed to the Deen, p. 263.

23 See the appendix ii to N. Fazil’s Ulu Hakan p.3.

24 This critical split often goes unnoticed by many academics: for Dr M. Mesenhöller in Eiferer aus der Wüste the wahhabites are essentially an extreme religious, desert clan whose rich culture has been overlooked, see Geo Epoche, p. 106.

25 The condoning of the procuring of eunuchs for the harem is another example of hîla – legal stratagem.

26 Details may be obtained from his non-Muslim biographers, Lord Kinross for example.

27 The number of ulama he had tortured and hanged in his ‘religious’ purges  has still not been adequately documented.

28 See map “Decline of the Ottoman Empire“, S. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, vol. 1, pp 301-302, Cambridge 1976.

29 The comic figure of the president of a fictitious “highly civilised, democratic and reputable” South American country who causes laws to be invented at will is not entirely without foundation: See W.S Maugham, “the Closed Shop” in Collected Short Stories, vol.II, GB, 1972; moreover the rapidly changing forms of democratic systems – within the extremes of the Chinese and American models - can be bewildering when trying to assess the archetype.

30 One is reminded of the differing ‘images‘  of Abu’l-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd: for centuries he was popularly ‘Averroes’, the philosopher- scientist of Arab origin, until the educated public was allowed by Bercher, then Brunschvig and others, a glimpse of him as a Spanish, Muslim Qadi, Khateeb and Jurist. See A. Yate, Ibn Rushd Mujtahid of Europe, Weimar 1999.