They Attempted to Betterment Abdul Hamid's Repute and Upbringing

Those Who; However, Praised Him, He Disappointed Them in His Diary

Abdul Hamid II is the son of Sultan Abdul Majid; the sultanate term of his father was 22 years and six months. He created the Nishan al-Majidi al-Ali Al-Shan, i. e. majestic, and give it primacy over Nishan al-Iftikhar, which was founded by Sultan Mahmud II. His reign coincided with the period of rule of the governor Muhammad Ali Pasha in Egypt, which influenced the upbringing of Abdul Hamid and his view to Egypt during his Sultanate. 

Abdul Majid had 26 sons, as Abdul Hamid is the second one after his brother Murad, yet each of them is from a different mother. Abdul Hamid grew up isolated, where he felt comfortable and had pleasure in his sociability. He explained that by saying: “A human being arises under the influence of the circumstances that he endures”. His statement shows the extent to which he was psychologically disordered due to the restrictions that were imposed on such children, so that their preparation was to be different from and beyond the human nature to being mannerisms and arrogant in interaction with everyone around them.

Some researchers have written about him as a shy personality, which is not surprising if he was isolated for a lot of reasons, including his many brothers, from his point of view. Because they were living in freedom and they were unrestricted and interested; however, his father treated him toughly and badly. The question that arises here is if Sultan Abdul Majid was preparing his son Abdul Hamid for the Sultanate: what was the reason for his focus on him? While the first candidate for the Regent was his brother Murad V, who did not experience what Abdul Hamid did!! In his diary, the Sultan mentioned that the only kindness that he received was from his brother Murad, but he described his brother as a poor.

He felt that he was deprived from his childhood because of the serious treatment that he experienced, as that was the nature of Turkish bringing up and the Ottoman family that was characterized by its superiority even over each other.

He himself assured that he did not like to play as a child …

The nature of the education that was received by the sons of the sultans was important, yet from which he was also deprived. His teachers even severely reprimanded him for his lack of discipline and attention during teaching. In his diary, he himself explained that; further, that was confirmed by some historians that he adored isolation far from everything surrounding him. Because he was not convinced of all the people around him for feeling contrary to his ideas. But there are some who denied that upbringing, as that it is unacceptable that he is missing the opportunity to learn; nemo dat quod non habet, i. e. an empty hand has nothing to give. Amani Al-Ghazi stated that he took an interest in education and its reforms, where this was testified when he took the Sultanate. As if he was not educated, he would not initiate scientific reforms. While there were those who were worse than him of the sultans and rulers that initiated to introduce reforms and changes when they had an opportunity to power. On the other hand, he had the opportunity to accompany his uncle, Sultan Abdulaziz, during his journey to France in the year (1867 AD), so that he was influenced by the French progress comparing to their country; accordingly, he took care of education.

In his diary, Abdul Hamid mentioned that the increase in the number of private schools had brought foreign investment, which he was seeking in Istanbul. In addition, he wrote that the model of Al-Azhar made him eager to establish a religious center to bring learners of knowledge to the capital of his country. Also he was interested that Istanbul institutes must graduate scientists by preparing high-level curricula to graduate engineers, architects and technicians. That was what he said about his fascination with Europe and its traditions, as well as he was impressed by the European life with all of its weird living, different ethics and formality. Then he got lost in the documentation of his policy that he wanted to withdraw Al-Azhar graduates to his country. While he forgot that the Muslim Arabs differ from the faith and political orientations of the Ottomans, especially that the sultan had his own mindset from a young age that grew up with him until his youth and became a sultan of an arrogant state despite its backwardness.

Particularly noticeable was that Abdul Hamid admired for the personality of Napoleon, despite the fact that Napoleon was exerting pressure on his uncle, Sultan Abdulaziz, so that visit was reflected in the nature of Abdul Hamid’s rule thereafter. 

Abdul Hamid also had no confidence in those around him from a young age, which was seemed in his personality when he assumed power and control. He was not in understanding or agreement with anyone, in addition to that he did not even trust himself, as this was reflected in his hesitation and confusion in taking decisions when he exerted leadership.

He admired Napoleon, despite his inferiority to the Ottoman State and its Sultan.

Abdul Hamid admitted that he lacked love and kindness. He was trying to simulate the inferiority complex that he was suffering from. Thus, he lost an important meaning in his life that affected him after old age. Where this appeared in his cruelty and indifference that was apparent in his personality, especially when he got older. 

Researcher Amani Al-Ghazi stated that the mother of Abdul Hamid took care of and loved him, so that he grew before his peers, according to her description. Furthermore, she did not cease to nourish him spiritually and morally, so he became intelligent and attentive. Besides, she stated that he had lost his mother but that his father had restored his psychological balance after losing her by caring for him, and that he had entrusted one of his wives, who did not give birth to care for him. However, those who read Abdul Hamid’s own diary will find out exactly the opposite, when he talked about his isolation, unsociability, and his father’s cruelty towards him. So those who wrote in praise of Abdul Hamid and attempted to improve his repute were disappointed by his personal diary that was written by him.

Some of the events that affected both of his personal and psychological compositions were the dominance and despotism of ministers and exacerbation of their behaviors when dealing with him since the reign of his uncle, Abdul-Aziz. He complained about his situation when he wrote about Midhat Pasha after the constitution was promulgated in (1876 AD), as Abdul Hamid said: “I found that Midhat Pasha was establishing himself as a commander and guardian of me. As in his treatment, he was far from diplomacy, i. e. democracy, and closer to tyranny”. This shows that his personality was extremely weak and that he was unable to have a natural confrontation with those around him. Thus, this was reflected in his subsequent treatment after he took charge, and began to deal with everyone with dictatorship, mistrust and terrorism. 

It was also known that he was associated with Sufism. As he aimed at its Tariqahs to gain its loyalty to the Ottoman state and to advocate the idea of an Islamic League. Abdul Hamid made the capital of his state Istanbul as a headquarters and a link that connected the state and the Takaya with the centers, which were gathering Sufi Tariqahs throughout the Islamic world. He took them as advocates of propaganda for the Islamic League, and thus a central committee was formed and consisted of scholars and sheikhs of the Sufi Tariqahs. Where they served as advisors to the Sultan in the affairs of the Islamic League, which he had aspired to conquer the world with its ideology and slogan “O Muslims of the World, Unite”. The slogan that was intended to save the Ottoman State from collapse and fall.

Inferiority complexes and disorder appeared in his policy when he became a Sultan.

Abdul Hamid was bad at running the economy despite his scarcity and miserliness. He confirmed this in his diary, as he had collected huge amounts of money that was deposited outside his country in the Ottoman German banks for investment. As they are a very safe place for his personal interest. Because Istanbul did not have a reliable bank, unlike his predecessors. All that was collected of taxes that exhausted people, Abdul Hamid was transferring what belonged to him to those external accounts. Abdul Hamid was also fond of trade, which he was passionate about during the reign of his father, Abdul Majid I. Despite that, he was not skilled at it.

1. Amani Al Ghazi: The Ottoman State through the writings of the Orientalists in the Department of Islamic Knowledge (Jeddah: Cultural Works, 2012 AD). 

2. Khalil Inaljik: The history of the Ottoman State from emergence to decline, translated by: Muhammad Al-Arna`out (Tripoli: Dar al-Madar al-Islami, 2002 AD).

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

4. Lawyer \ Mohamed Farid: Tarikh Aldawlat Alealiyat Alothmania, revised by: Ihssan Haqqi (Beirut: Dar al-Nafaes 1983 AD).