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HIST 151
Paul Sedra

Arabism and Turkism 5/15/2012 2:54:00 PM Sultan Abdul Hamid II The last great sultan of the Ottoman empire. He faced a hole raft of challenges as he assumed power. o Not least of which was the growing military threat that the Ottoman empire faced from abroad. o To deal with these challenges Abdul Hamid developed a quite a distinctive strategy of rule. Perhaps the central feature of this strategy was an emphasis on his Islamic credential, on his status as an Islamic ruler. The Institution what was called The Khalifait the central to Abdul Hamid notion of his rule as Sultan. He viewed him selves as the leader of all Muslims. And thereby, was in a sense reviving the institution of The Khalifait which , of course, have played a very significant roll in Islamic history over many centuries. But during the period of the Tanzimat had some what waned its importance And so this reemphasis on The Khailafit was a departure It was a departure from the trend of thought which had prevailed from the early 19 thcentury within the Ottoman intelligence. So, what did Abdul Hamid do to demonstrate this credentials in this regard ? He directed, for instance, the construction of the Hejaz railway, which stretch from Damascus to Medina. o And became critically important in facilitating the pilgrimage of Muslims. Furthermore, as Khalif, he encouraged the construction of Mosques He encouraged respect, a greater respect for religious holidays. And, as Khalif, Abdul Hamid founded scores of Muslims educational projects. o In the effort to preserve the loyalty of the Muslims scholars, The Ulama, (with whom he surrounded himself with in Istanbul) Abdul Hamid directed to them a steady flow of founds from state covers. This is not to say though that Islam was the Sultans only concern. Or his role was a complete departure from the trend that had prevailed to that point, indeed under Abdul Hamid II we see not only an expansion of Muslim educational and institutions, but also an expansion of what we might call a secular educational institutions. Educational institutions that were not particularly focused on issues of faith and, of course, this was a trend that continued on from the time of the Tanzimat, during which educational institutions were a priority. In order to get a sense for how important education generally was under Abdul Hamids rule Between 1867-1895, both the number of schools and the number of students in the Ottoman educational framework doubled. It is an extraordinary growth in the level in education that was available to young people within the Ottoman Empire. The sultan added no fewer than 18 higher and professional schools to that system during his rule. Now, this expansion of education was going to have a very serious consequences for the empire, and specifically for the rule of Abdul Hamid II This is a trend that we are going to see emerging time and time again in the history of the modern middle east. That the prevision of education leads very often to circumstances that were entirely unforeseen by the rulers who promoted it. In this case we see that the prevision of a modern education, that is to say, an education not like that which we saw depicted last time (Not the Kuttab form of education), but a modern education, this will lead to arise in the social and political expectations of Ottoman youth. Again, this is one of the broader themes of the course to keep in mind That with the raise of modern education, we get a raise in social expectations and political expectations. And yet, these expectations would soon be frustrated because the empire ruling circles would remain limited to a very small elite. And so these young people, who were making their way though new schools learning of new opportunities would not be able to realize their expectations, their new goals, their aspirations. Who is these young educated Ottomans ? The young Turks o The best and the brightest that the Ottoman empire had to offer. o And yet, according with the theme, these best and brightest, these very promising young men who had unprecedented opportunity to improve themselves through these educational institutions, they were, for the most parts, relegated to low level positions within the Ottoman bureaucracy. And this would soon become, as we would find, a source of an enormous frustration for them. There is one historian about whom we will talk, a fellow called Shokri Hanioglu This historian captures the dilemma that the Sultan (Abdul Hamid II) faced with reference to these young men o On the one hand He [Abdul Hamid II] desired to be the single patrimonial figure in the empire, that classic image of the sultan as the centrally important figure. and on the other [hand] he intended to govern efficiently with the help of a modern bureaucracy and military. o And of course the education of these young man was intended to fill that bureaucracy. That military. To enable the Ottoman empire to compete. To enable the Ottoman empire to reverse what was perceived to be declined. To reverse the military defeats that they had been facing in the field.
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