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
The Institution what was called The Khalifait the
central to Abdul Hamid notion of his rule as
He viewed him selves as the leader of all
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
It was a departure from the trend of
thought which had prevailed from the early
19 thcentury within the Ottoman
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.