How did the Ottomans
use the Qur’an and Sunnah to serve "Political Empowerment" projects!
Ibn Khaldun believes that states and kingdoms are based on fanaticism, and that the religious nature limits the slides of competition and envy, which are considered characteristics of people of fanaticism. He emphasized that religious preaching increases the power of the state in addition to the strength of fanaticism. Ibn Khaldun concludes that resorting to the religious text remains necessary in matters of conquest and helps to advance these battles to the best end.
At a time when a group of Islamic countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were established on the dialectic of adhering to the religious text as a guide to the political behavior of the head of state, and considering the text a “fixed given” and the political decision a “variable given”, a group of “Islamic” political systems tried to research for a kind of religious sanctity that helps them to power the spread and the crowd. That behavior is what characterized the history of the Ottoman Empire since its establishment at the hands of Osman bin Ertuğrul. The Sultans of the Othman family have worked hard to search for some religious foundations to legitimize their occupation of a group of countries, especially the Islamic ones, which believed that the Sultans of the Othman family did not have a set of legal precepts that would qualify them to assume the position of the Islamic caliphate.
Faced with these constraints, the Ottomans will try to surround the establishment of their state with an aura of sanctity that makes it a continuation of the Islamic caliphate on the prophetic approach, in addition to the demarcation of the “Sheikh of Islam” institution, which will be relied upon to justify a group of massacres in which the armies of the Ottoman Empire were involved in the rights of the peoples of other Islamic countries.
At this level of analysis, it can be said that a group of “Turks” intersected over the Ottoman Turks’ exploitation of the Holy Quran to gain a lacking religious legitimacy. This tactic, which is considered at the core of the strategy of the organizations of political Islam, will characterize the Ottoman discourse until today, when the new Ottomans did not hesitate to exploit the religious text to serve the projects of political empowerment internally and military expansion abroad.
The Ottoman media machine made an effort to try to rewrite history in line with this political goal. Here we refer to one of the books that monitor such attempts, as Abdul Aziz Muhammad Al-Shennawi, in his book ” The Ottoman Empire: An Islamic State that was distorted ” narrates a novel that is closer to myth than to reality. He tells the story of Ertuğrul (Othman’s father) with the Holy Quran and says: “Ertuğrul spent a night in the home of one of the Muslim ascetics. Before going to his bed, the ascetic brought a book and put it on a shelf, so Ertuğrul asked him about this book and he answered him that it was the Holy Qur’an, and he inquired from him about its content, so the owner of the house said that it was the word of Allah revealed by Muhammad, may Allah ’s prayers be upon him. Ertuğrul carried the book and began to read it standing until the morning, then fell asleep and saw in a dream an angel preaching to him that he and his descendants will enjoy a high position over the centuries and prosperity in exchange for his respect for the Qur’an”.
The German historian Giese, who specializes in Turkish affairs, believes that this novel is an attempt to support the legitimacy of the Ottoman rule for the rest of the Turkish tribes in Asia Minor on the grounds that this ruling came with divine intervention, and therefore the expansion outside the narrow limits granted by the Seljuk state to the founder of the Ottoman state stems from the core divine and religious guidance.
Since the Ottoman behavioral structure is one, as confirmed by the studies and researches covered by the “White Ink” website, the researcher on Turkish affairs notes the continuation of the same political theses during the era of the new Ottomans. Politicians in Ankara have maintained the same tactic of tearing down Qur’anic verses in the service of declared political agendas. The Islamic world recorded with great disapproval what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did of insulting and falsifying the Holy Qur’an for the reasons for the revelation of Surat Al-Fath, claiming that it was revealed in the conquest of Constantinople and not in the conquest of Mecca!
This heinous exploitation of the texts of the Holy Qur’an did not stop at this point. Indeed, the new Ottomans had previously resorted to Surat Al-Fath to justify their invasion of the Syrian lands and attacking the Kurdish forces there in October of 2019. The head of religious affairs in Turkey, Ali Erbaş, posted a tweet on his official Twitter account, inviting all mosques to read “Surat Al-Fath” every day during morning prayers, throughout the period of the military operation. “We will read and pray Surat Al-Fath in the morning prayer in all our mosques until we achieve victory in the military operation launched by our security forces against – terrorist organizations – in northern Syria … May Allah accept our prayers,” Erbaş said.
The falsification of facts and religious texts and linking them to the Turkish strategic environment will not stop there. The representative of the new Ottomans has gone over to claim that the Holy Quran was written in Turkey. He claimed, in a speech he gave during the awards ceremony for Culture and Art in the Presidential Society, that the Holy Qur’an was revealed in Mecca, it was read in Egypt and written in Turkey. This is what we refrain from delving into or discussing, given the consensus of Muslims that this talk falls under the category of heresies that we are used to hearing by those who have taken religious texts as a commercial substance that is used to justify political choices and expansionist ambitions.
In the same context, the hadiths of the Prophet were not immune from the attempts of exploitation and distortion at the hands of the Ottomans in an attempt to perpetuate an arrogant belief and influence the feelings of the simple Muslims and try to convince them that their rule receives divine care. Perhaps the most important hadith that the Turks resorted to in order to gain that religious legitimacy is the hadith that was mentioned in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal on the saying of the Prophet, may Allah ’s prayers and peace be upon him: “You will conquer Constantinople. Its prince is one of the best princes, and its army is one of the best armies”.
In this regard, some have linked the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 AD by Sultan Muhammed El Fateh with the hadith of the Prophet to reach a conclusion that the Ottoman Sultan and his army are the intended people of this text. It is the matter that the Ottomans and their political Islam groups exploited to try to impart an aura of holiness to the Ottoman rule and consider it a fulfillment of the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad.
In the course of his interaction with one of the articles published on the Sky News Arabia website, which analyzed and criticized the Turkish interpretation of the hadith, the official website of the Anadolu Agency, which is affiliated with the official line in Turkey, responded by saying: “The author of the aforementioned article tried to make the conquest of Constantinople and its transformation into the capital of the state an example of the Ottomans’ use of this paper to impart legitimacy, ignoring the natural context of the attempts of Muslims throughout the ages to open the capital of the Byzantine state to achieve the good news of the Prophet Muhammad, since the time of the Companions. Since the Ottoman Empire was the most prominent Islamic power, its tendency to realize the Muslim dream was something natural that did not go out of its natural context”.
In response to this matter, it can be said that this hadith was not mentioned in the nine basic books with the exception of Imam Ahmad’s Musnad and the compilations of some later scholars such as Mustadrak Al-Hakim. Moreover, no one related this hadith to the entry of Constantinople except for the Islamic political movement, which strives in propagating the Turkish agenda.
On the other hand, and without delving into the narration of the hadith that contains a semi-unknown companion (Bishr Al-Ghanawi or Bishr Al-Khathami), everyone who deals with the hadith has linked it to the contexts of the end-time epic associated with the coming out of the Antichrist, the appearance of the Mahdi, the revelation of Christ, peace be upon him, and what follows it from the Day of Judgment.
Accordingly, we find Shihab Al-Alusi, who was a contemporary of the Ottoman period, hesitating to attribute the hadith to entering Constantinople, where he says: “This conquest may be one of the signs of the Resurrection, and it may not be the case, and the conquest will be one of its signs that occurs at the time of the Mahdi”.
Most of the contemporary Salafists claim that the hadith is a prophecy of the events of the end of time, as Sheikh Hammoud Al-Tuwaijri says in his book ” Dazzling the community with what came in the seditions, epics and the signs of the Resurrection”: “Constantinople was conquered in the year 875 AH by the Ottoman Sultan Muhammed El Fateh. Constantinople is still in the possession of the Ottomans until our time at the end of the fourteenth century of the Hijra, and this conquest is not the one mentioned in the hadiths above. That is because that is only after the great epic, and shortly before the Antichrist comes out. This was also explained in several hadiths of this section”.
Based on the foregoing, it is evident by the definitive evidence and the apparent argument that the Ottomans relied on the religious text not as a way of commitment and discipline to the directions of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet, but rather as tools that can be exploited and adapted to serve political agendas and ambitions that the Arab and Islamic world still suffers from its consequences to this day.