Arab unity made Mahmoud II declare state of alert

The Saudis caused the Ottomans to lose their political base used to justify their colonization of the Arab world

The emergence of the first Saudi state (1744) in the Najd region was a shocking surprise to the Ottoman Empire, which at first did not give great importance to the new state nor the whole region, before it sensed the new political power led by Imam Muhammad bin Saud (founder of the first Saudi state), which then became a serious threat due to the pure religious vocation as ground to its political existence; as it broke big in the Arabian Peninsula.

The influence of the first Saudi state expanded within a short period in the Arabian Peninsula, and worked to unify its geographical outskirts, and sought to recover the Two Holy Mosques from Ottoman control to its legitimate Arab incubator, based on the first geographical unity of the Arabian Peninsula, and the innate Arab refusal to submit to the colonial authority regardless of its various names, which raised the fears of the Ottoman governors in Hijaz; accordingly, their governor of Makkah, Masoud bin Said, sent a petition to Istanbul (1749) warning of what he described as “the jurisprudence of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab”, a warning to which the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754) responded with a cross-petition, asking the governor of the province of Habash, the Mutasarrif of Jeddah, and the Sheikh of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Othman Pasha, to work actively with the governor of Makkah  in this regard.

Confronted with this new political reality imposed by the Saudis, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire sensed the gravity of the situation, which prompted him to describe Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab as an “atheist” and to accuse the Saudi state of deviating the “caliphate” despite all the signs confirming the absence of any aspect of any political sovereignty over the region for nearly three centuries, and all tasks related to matters of state, judiciary, and hisbah, in which the Ottoman state had no power, not to mention excluding an ethnic dynasty from being an invader that did not meet the conditions of the Islamic caliphate, either legally or actually.

All signs confirmed the absence of any aspect of political sovereignty over the Arabian Peninsula during the Ottoman occupation for three centuries.

The Ottomans dealt with the situation according to their supremacist nature, which was reflected in the reply message sent by the Topkapı Palace to the Emir of Makkah, which stated in one of the paragraphs therein: “…due to the fact that (the atheist) was able to win over the inhabitants of those regions to his side with all tricks… The inaction regarding this person, will cause the need to arise for more forces.

Further to the Ottomans’ stance regarding the warnings of their governor regarding the Saudis and the establishment of their first state; A group of researchers believe that the conflict between the Saudis and the Ottomans was objective, due to the nature of the creedal dispute between a Salafist state of pure belief and an exaggerated Sufi state, which formed the pillars upon which each political entity was based. This is the doctrinal contradiction that the researcher and media person Sultan al-Asqa describes by saying: “One of the natures of the exaggerated mystic whose belif is corrupted that he fights those who call for monotheism and those who revive the belief of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a… It is the nature of things that the Ottoman Empire and its mystical sultans fight it.

Initially, the Ottomans saw that confronting the first Saudi state requires legitimate justifications accepted by the Arabs who were adjacent to the new borders of the Saudi state; the Ottomans found no justification but “deviation” in order to sanctuaries this war. Rather, it was even filled with hatred towards the inhabitants of Najd by preventing them from performing the Hajj rituals under the justification that they are “Wahhabi Kharijites,” and they imprisoned and abused them in a scene described by the historian Othman bin Bishr, in his book “Glory title in history of Najd” about the events of (1749): “during which, Masoud bin Said, the Sharif of Makkah, the pilgrim of Najd was imprisoned, and several of them died in detention.”

The Ottoman Empire’s hatred towards the inhabitants of Najd reached the point of preventing them from performing the rites of Hajj.

The Two Holy Mosques are the center of gravity of both Arab and Islamic world, so the threat of taking them back by the first Saudi state, caused the Ottomans to lose their religious base on which they established the legitimacy of their political colonialism. This fact explains the operational status declared by the Ottoman Sultan to stop the expansion of the Saudi state, which was looking forward to gathering the Arabs of the island under one Arab leadership, in light of the Ottoman Sultanate’s lack of the legal pillars of leading the Islamic nation, and also in light of the ethnic policy pursued by Istanbul towards Hijaz, which was nothing but the “legitimacy instrument” on which it rests in the process of subjugating the rest of the Islamic societies under the justifications for the invasion at times, and for conquest at other times, which would not have been possible without the strong religious symbolism of the sacred feelings.

In conformation of this new geostrategic reality, the Ottoman Sultan prompted some of his governors to seek the first Saudi state’s destruction in its infancy, by directing a series of campaigns that were unsuccessful due to the strength of the Saudi armies, which were armed with a pure belief stemming from the spirit of the Islamic religion and guided by its Sharia to shape a heroic epic in defense of religion, honor and homeland, and it managed to repel the Ottoman danger, even for the time being.

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  1. Salih Al-Saadoun, “The Prohibition of Hajj between the Ottoman Empire and the First Saudi State, Riyadh: Al-Darah Journal, No. 2, Volume: 35 (2009).


  1. 6- Dr. Sultan Al-Asqa, episodes of the “Al-Asmali” Program.