At the Time He Was Adoring Anything That Was German

The "Chauvinist" Sultan Was Suffering from "Arab" Phobia

It is another lapse of the Ottoman sultans. When we see the many books and literatures that talked about Sultan Abdul Hamid II and his diary. However, the names of that diary differed and were written in multiple languages. There were variable trends emerged; some of which described him as an aggrieved, another praised him emotionally strong, and there are who criticized his era and reign with prudence and a considered view. In fact, when we observe those diary or sultan thoughts, and read them in a non-ideological view, we will find many inconsistencies in them.
Some of the most notable lapses and inconsistencies that were mentioned by Sultan Abdul Hamid in his diary regarding the glorification of the Turkish element over other elements in the state. Further, he gave the Turkish element a priority and a considerable interest, such as his saying: “We must show our care for strengthening the Turkish element. It is essential to strengthen the Turkish element in the countries of Rum and Anatolia, as well as to consolidate and integrate the Kurds into us. The biggest mistakes for my predecessors of Turkish rulers were that they did not seek to consolidate and integrate the Slavic element. Yet, Thankfully, our blood has managed to maintain its superiority”.

Abdul Hamid II exaggerated the glorification of the Turks and compared the Turks to Germans in pride and flaunt.

These words were in the first half of his reign. When he was glorifying and priding of his Turkish racism so far as despicable fanaticism. As if the Turks were the only inhabitants who solely make up the population of the Ottoman Empire! Abdul Hamid exaggerated the comparison between the Turkish and the German elements, as we see him being boast and take pride in saying: “Now and then, the Turks were said to be the East Germans. The fact is that there is similarity between us and the Germans. Where this similarity may be a reason for our tendency towards them. As calmness, prudence, and patience over hardships are the characteristics of these two peoples. Our people are sober and solemn. Where their forbearance precedes their rage. So they endure injury for a long time. But if they get angry, it would be intense rage. In addition to boldness, integrity, kindness and generosity that are the characteristics of the Germans as they are our characteristics”. There is no doubt that such a saying arises from a view of admiration for the German race, who used to see himself as one of the purest human races. This supreme view conveys to any reader that the Sultan adopted the same chauvinism and supremacist view of the Turkish race. As this raises many marks of exclamation by the readers about this who claimed to be the caliph of the Muslims and the primary responsible for them. This who called for the Islamic League, which apparently was not invoked except in an attempt to get rid of the internal and external crises that engulfed the pillars of his state. 

Indeed, the character of Sultan Abdul Hamid needs a psychological study to find out his behavior, thinking and emotions. In addition to his reactions that were issued by him during that era of the modern history. Especially that he has been known for the conditions of suspicion and uncertainty that dominated him, his actions and behavior. About this matter, Tahseen Pasha, head of the writing department at Yildiz Palace, and as he was close to the Sultan, talked in his diary about Abdul Hamid, by saying: “the illusion of Sultan Abdul Hamid, whether congenital or acquired, was an illusion that is far beyond the normal extend. This illusion had significant and sometimes painful effects on his behavior in general. However, with no doubt that part of this illusion arose from his character. As it is certain that, at the time, when he was a prince, crown prince, or sultan, the people around him did not stop raising his concerns. So they showed him concerns that exacerbate those illusions”.

Once again, we find that the Sultan mentioning in his thoughts his saying: “We have to admit, with all regret, that the British were able, through their poisoned propaganda, to sow the seeds of nationalism and intolerance in our country. As the nationalists moved in the Arabian Peninsula and in Albania”. However, the question here is why did these peoples move against the Ottoman government, which had a racist view over other peoples? This is an excellent example of the inconsistencies that the Sultan was experiencing in his treatments with the peoples and races of his empire. Here it is true that the famous Arab proverb befits him, as it says: “This man’s obviously a lunatic”. 

By acknowledging in his diary: "If we lost Istanbul, the caliphate would inevitably be devolved to the Arabs”.

Perhaps, speaking of which, among the inconsistencies of Abdul Hamid II that draw attention was his comment on the proposal, which was presented to him by the Grand Vizier, Minister Saeed Pasha, regarding the transfer of the location of the government from Istanbul to Bursa. In the event that the Russians attack the capital again. He answered by saying, in his words: “If we lost Istanbul, the caliphate would inevitably be devolved to the Arabs”. Here any one stands wandering and feeling confused at this strange connection for the Turkish capital to the caliphate and the Arabs. In particular, the inevitability of the caliphate devolving to them one day again. Thus, was Sultan Abdul Hamid really concerned of the Arab nation? Or was he respecting and appreciating them as he was pretending to be on occasions; or was it the concern of losing the legitimacy of his rule and the devolving of the caliphate to those it was swiped from? Or was that what actually was in the mind and conscience of the Sultan among his illusions that were uttered by his tongue? There is no doubt that the illusion and suspicion of Sultan Abdul Hamid II reached beyond extent. As he lived under those illusions for the remainder of his reign, ending to be deposed. 

1. Abdul Hamid II: My Political Thoughts 1891-1908 AD, 2nd Edition (Beirut: Al-Risala Foundation, 1979 AD).

2. Diary of Aisha Othman Oglu “My Father, Sultan Abdul Hamid II”, (Jeddah: Dar Al-Bashir for Publishing and Distribution, 2007)

3. Tahseen Bey, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, translated by: Kamal Ahmad Khoja (Kuwait: Dhat Al-Salasil, 2017 AD).