Sultan Murad II included it in Alfay' (taxes)

A boy's tax...

The enslavement of the Turkish race and the enslavement of Christians and Muslims

The Ottoman military establishment also suffered from racism by distrusting the Turkish race itself, but it is a reversed racism. Its forces were made up of Janissaries, and most of them were European mercenaries, and their ability to occupy important positions in the state was one of the reasons for playing influential political roles, so that the Ottoman Sultan in different periods wooed them and sought to win their side. Despite this, the political establishment was not able to dismantle this army consisting of mercenaries. Rather, one who contemplates the control of the Janissaries in certain periods has the right to describe the Ottoman Sultanate as a “military state”. As for the few Turkish soldiers in that institution, they descended at the beginning of the Sultanate (699 AH / 1299 AD) from the Anatolian Turks who still adhered to the principles of chivalry and were described as being brave and courageous thanks to their bond, which is still strong with the values of the tribe. However, with the passage of time and experience, it became clear to the Ottoman Sultanate that their loyalty to the tribe was stronger than their loyalty to the state. There was also a military division called “Ya Ya”, who were the Feudalists who obtained plots of agricultural land to cultivate and were assigned some works that the Ottoman Empire needed in its beginnings. After a long period of time spent in gaining experience, it became clear that the loyalty of this group’s members is more to money and the satisfaction of the feudal lord who they work under his authority and guidance, and even if they show loyalty to the state in some periods, it is the loyalty that is unreliable. When the Ottoman Sultan Orkhan bin Othman, who took over the Sultanate in (726 AH / 1326 AD), noticed this formative disruption in his military establishment and the imbalance that threatens the power of his state, he, his advisors, his brother and his minister, Aladdin bin Othman, searched for solutions to avoid the imminent danger and change the traditional military stereotypes. Four years later, these discussions and consultations resulted in the establishment of a new military division, whose members are raised from an early age on the sincere loyalty to the Sultan and the state. They excluded the Turkish race and introduced an idea to the Byzantines, which is to take Christian children among prisoners of war whose ages range between seven to ten years old to the Ottoman Sultan’s palace and its affiliated institutions, where they were raised under the sight of the Sultan and the supervision of his senior employees in addition to teaching them Turkish sense, Ottoman culture and wipe out their relationship with their country, their families and their culture. Because of the freshness of their minds, and the emptiness of their feelings, it would be possible to shape them into any mold. This idea ended up with the formation of the “Devşirme” division, to which the captive young men were added later, from the smart and healthy people over the age of ten, or from children whose fathers died in the battles fought against the Ottomans. However, Sultan Murad I (760-791 AH / 1359-1389 AD) faced internal criticism for the fact that this administrative approach infringes Turkish nationalism, and external accountability for being an exploitation of children and a breach of their legal rights. He issued in (764 AH – AD 1363 AD) a law (Benjik) which means the law of one-fifth. According to this law, prisoners of war are considered to be from the Sultan’s one-fifth from the spoils of war who is entitled to possess after the war. This decision must have had a prelude from the authority scholars. Most of the Devşirme division was from the Balkans in the beginning until the Ottoman Sultan included in this law the subjects of his state in all non-Muslim countries belonging to his sultanate, and then the Devşirme developed until it included Arabs, Europeans, Africans and others. The situation reached the point that the Ottoman Empire used to take the children of Bosnian Muslims into the Devşirme division to enslave them and include them in the Turkish army. Were the Turks applying the one-fifth tax on Muslims in a clear violation of Islamic Sharia?
The Sultan’s justification to the reason behind bringing in these boys remains weak and fabricated. Islam clearly prohibited slavery. If there is an opinion that includes taxes on orphan children, the poor and the needy, to be brought up according to the teachings of Islam with the aim of converting them to Islam, then it is an opinion that did not take much attention from scholars, as it might contradict the prohibition of human slavery. This indirectly compels people to enter the religion of Islam. This is a violation of Sharia and evidence of Istanbul’s use of theoretical Islam a way to reach its political and economic goals.

After the "Ya Ya" feudal squad, the Devşirme military squad came, and this is a clear violation of childhood rights.

The matter extended even more so that the Ottoman Sultan sent his delegates to bring these young men from the countries under his rule whenever the army needed support with human cadres. It was rumored that most of these delegates were taking a bribe from some Christians; so that their children would not be chosen, in addition to being tempted by women for that purpose.
The Devşirme division abused Turkish citizenship, and ordinary Turks began to interact only in the social and economic aspects of the state. Moreover, this group ignored Islamic Sharia as long as it did not comply with the interests of the Ottoman Sultan and his individual desire to make achievements of his own that would overcome his predecessors, even if it was at the expense of killing the Islamic spirit within the state or within the Islamic nation that suffered from all the ways of injustice against it and its approach to life.

The delegates appointed by the Sultan to bring the young men into the army took advantage of the mission in favor of themselves.

1. Talal Al-Tarifi, the Ottomans – This was not a lie (Riyadh: First Edition, 1441 AH / 2020 AD). 

Ottoman Feudalism:

Slavery of the Land

There is nothing worse than the exploitation of human beings to work without giving them their rights, and this is one of the most forms of slavery that the Ottoman Empire practiced through its feudal system in the Middle Ages. The slave system was used in all areas. This is what made historians call it the period of Arab and Islamic decay and decline, which has never happened, and described the period of the Ottoman occupation as centuries of darkness for Muslims.
Egyptian peasants lived under the oppression and arbitrariness of the Ottoman governors. Historian Abd Al-Rahman Abdul Rahim says: “Although the peasants constituted the productive class in the countryside, they were deprived of the fruit of their production and only obtained little due to the arbitrariness of the administrative and economic systems that prevailed at the time. Their lives were between running away, getting beaten, cursed, and being very tired without a wage, and those who had a mind would lose their minds and those who had a profitable business, lost it because of injustice”.

Abdel Rahim: The Egyptian farmer was deprived of the fruit of his production.

It came to the point that the Ottomans were practicing plundering, stealing homes, violating sanctities and encroaching on property. The historian Al-Jabarti describes that “in the year 1218 AH, the soldiers who were accompanied by Suleiman Bey, the ruler of Upper Egypt, entered the town and disturbed many people, and they lived in the homes of ancient Egypt, after they had taken them out of it, and took their furniture and belongings. They did the same thing in Bulaq. Those among the peasants who oppose this are accused and killed. On that day, they hanged one person at Bab Zuweila and another in Habbaniyah. They were both farmers, and they were not guilty. It was said: They found gunpowder with them bought to keep away their aggressors from the Arabs, so they said: You are taking it to the warriors, and it was only a little amount”.
They besieged the Arab human being from every direction, so they exercised a policy of starvation against him in order to subjugate and enslave the peoples. In Mecca, the holiest place on earth, the country whose people are safe from fear, this holy land that was under Ottoman occupation, specifically in the year 1241 AH, and at the time of the Turkish ruler Ahmed Pasha, people fell from hunger and thirst, as described by eyewitness Hussein Al-Omari in his memoirs.

Al-Omari: Meccans fell from hunger and thirst.

In Medina, the Turkish governor Fakhri Pasha deprived the people of Medina of their dates and their bread. In addition, he and his soldiers seized it. They were attacking the homes of the people of the city and forcibly entering it; in order to steal all the bread and dates in it. This made people complain about hunger, until it reached the people of the city and its environs that some of them ate cats, although the warehouses were full of goods, but they were allocated to the Turkish army. The people of Medina were not allowed to taste a single date or a grain of wheat, as mentioned by the historian and writer Muhammad Hussein Zaidan – may God have mercy on him – as he was a witness and a contemporary of Fakhri Pasha’s period.

1. Ibrahim Shaaban, the Ottoman Empire … 6 centuries of terrorism, castration and harem, (Article in Sada Al-Balad newspaper, Saturday 7 September 2019). 

2. Hussein Al-Omari, Hawliat Alnami Altohamia (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 1987 AD).

3. Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper, Safar Berlik, an Ottoman movement, misery and displacement for the Arabs, July 16, 2018).

4. Abd Al-Rahman Abdel Rahim, the Egyptian countryside in the eighteenth century (Cairo: Madbouly Library, 1986 AD).

5. Abd Al-Rahman Al-Jabarti, A History of Wonders of Archeology in Translations and News (Beirut: Dar Al-Jeel, 1988).

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Sultans are its products

The Ottomans traded in human beings and supported "slavery"

The Ottoman Empire worked to revive the slave trade and bring it back to life again. Islam, with its humanity, has fought this trade, directly and indirectly. This explains the Ottomans’ passion for slavery, so they worked to revive the slave market, and slavery became a clear leap in the period of their colonization of Arab and Islamic society.
The Ottoman sultans were considered the most Sultans who were keen on increasing the number of slaves, considering that they represented the people of service in their palaces and were assigned their tasks, so the Ottomans encouraged the slave pirates in all countries for their inhuman actions, by accepting all the slaves they send them. Therefore, these pirates raced to be active in attacking the coasts and stealing girls and boys to win the Ottoman money that awaits them in Istanbul and the areas where the slave market is concentrated under the auspices of the Ottoman governors.

They were accustomed to beating slaves, mocking and mistreating them.

The composition and hierarchy were affected within the palaces of the Ottomans, as it became a full product of slaves and hybrids, considering that the sultans are mostly children of maidservants, and they marry slave girls, and thus the matter for them came in a different concept, considering slavery has become an asset of their social arrangement. Therefore, it is very rare for sultans to marry natural marriage to build a royal family, but the basic principle for this stems from the fact that their children are the products of concubinage by slaves, and then their sultans are basically considered slaves in the racial classification.
Slaves were not classes or elements in the era of the Ottoman Empire. Rather, in some cities, they formed a social class and a fabric with its own laws, ranks and deep details. In the city of Jerusalem, the nationalities of those who came to it during the Ottoman colonialism reached 35 nationalities from all countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Some places became called by their names due to the large number of slave girls selling there, such as: the slave neighborhood, the slave village, and other places where slaves and maidservants were bought and sold.

They revived "slaveholding" due to its economic return on their treasury.

The data on dealing with slaves in the Ottoman era revealed the extent of the sultans’ insults and passion for slavery and the violation of human rights. What confirms this matter is the amount of hatred and injustice in the Ottomans’ souls towards humanity, and it gives a negative impression of their failure to fight slavery and the serious institutional work to end up the sources of slavery, which is considered shameful to humanity. 

The Ottomans did not curb slavery and human trafficking, or enact laws to mitigate this inhuman phenomenon, especially as it was tempting because of the tax revenues that the Ottomans collected from the slave markets when selling slaves. This explains the philosophy of slavery pursued by the Ottoman Empire, as if the enjoyment of enslavement of a person had become an official hobby sponsored by it.

Human rights have been ignored, and human dignity became at a sharp edge. The slave girls were sold in a humiliating manner, and the slave girl might be sold with her faults and illnesses, such as pregnancy, leprosy, Vitiligo and other defects and diseases, without treating her diseases as a human being.

Humanity ceases to exist when slaves are sold in slave markets. This group of people has been exploited in a hideous manner, in cruel occupations, and for degrading purposes. The slaves were subjected to the most unethical dealings, physical and sexual assaults, without mercy or fear of any punishment. In many cases, the matter may amount to killing, especially since there is no protection for them by the Ottomans to deter their aggressors and exploiters.

The Ottomans also assigned slave women to professions that are arduous and tiring, without mercy and relentlessness. They put them in the trades of logging, farming, plowing, and domestic service. Whoever fails to perform her work will be exposed to mocking, ridicule and beatings, and may be presented to slave markets to be sold as a form of punishment and abuse.

1. Ghalib Arabiyat, “Slaves and Maidservants in Ottoman Jerusalem,” (Al-Manara Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2017). 

2. Abd Al-Salam Al-Termanini, Slavery, its past and present, 3rd Edition (Damascus: Dar Tlass, 1997).

3. Lawrence Nader, The Status of Slaves in the Arab States during the Ottoman Era 1188-1273 AH / 1774-1856 AD, (Ph.D., Damascus University, 2012).