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).