Archive for the ‘Ottoman Secularism’ Category

Isn’t This “Secularism” (la-diniyet)?

European and Ottoman officials engaged in a contest to win the loyalty of the local inhabitants — the French by claiming to protect the Maronites; the British, the Druze; and the Ottomans by proclaiming the sultan’s benevolence toward all his religiously equal subjects.

The important part of above mentioned is the Ottomans by proclaiming the sultan’s benevolence toward all his “religiously equal subjects”. And “secularism” means the equality of religions in politics and no preference is given to one religion or religious group and all the religious groups are equal in government’s view. How more secular could Ottoman Khilafat get?

Tragic Effects of Tanzimat

Those educated in the schools established during the Tanzimat period included Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and other progressive leaders and thinkers of the Republic of Turkey and of many other former Ottoman states in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa. Christians enjoyed freedom of speech, western education and rights in politics. Most Muslims, on the other hand, received none of these benefits and were ultimately left worse off by the reforms. This led to anti-Western sentiment in a radicalized population, evidenced by the rise of groups like the Young Ottomans who in 1876 forced new sultan Abdul Hamid II to establish a constitution that would be obeyed by Sultan himself. This attempt was to ensure that Sultan will be forced not to impose his will on people.

The reforms peaked in 1876 with the implementation of an Ottoman constitution checking the autocratic powers of the Sultan.Study “First Constitutional Era”. Although the new Sultan Abdülhamid II signed the first constitution, he quickly turned against it and suspended the constitution as he could not let go the wish to forcefully impose his will on people which was not allowed according to constitution.

The Abolishment of Millet System in Ottoman Empire

April 14, 2012 1 comment

The Rescript of the Rose Chamber was the first major reform in the Tanzimat reforms under the government of sultan Abdulmecid and a crucial event in the movement towards secularization. It guaranteed the life and property for all subjects, including non-Muslims. This put an end to the kul system, which allowed the ruler’s servants to be executed or have their property confiscated at his desire. The reforms eliminated the millet system in the Ottoman Empire giving rise to Ottoman nationalism. The millet system created religiously based communities that operated autonomously, so people were organized into societies.

The Rescript of the Rose Chamber also represented a move towards Westernization. It mirrored the liberal ideals of the French Revolution, which glorified humanity and individual rights. The Rescript was imagined as the savior of the Ottoman Empire by imposing modernizing and nationalizing forces. This move towards western ideals was also an effort to keep Europe out of the Ottoman Empire. By conforming to their standards, the Ottoman Empire hoped to appease Europe enough to keep them out of Ottoman affairs and avoid European control.

List of Secular Laws that Ottoman Caliph Adopted

By getting rid of the millet system, the Ottoman Empire hoped to be able to control all of its citizens. They thought that the Great Powers would accept this as long as reforms were ongoing, leaving them to act as enforcers of these goals. The ambitious project was launched to combat the slow decline of the empire that had seen its borders shrink, and was growing weaker in comparison to the European powers.

Tanzimât reforms began under Sultan Mahmud II. On November 3, 1839, Sultan Abdülmecid issued an organic statute for the general government of the empire named Hatt-ı Şerif (the Imperial Edict) of Gülhane (the imperial garden where it was first proclaimed). It is also called as Tanzimât (تنظيمات) Fermânı and was followed by a series of edicts enacting the imperial statute of 1839.

In this very important document, the Sultan stated that he wished “to bring the benefits of a good administration to the provinces of the Ottoman Empire through new institutions”, and that these institutions would principally refer to:

  • Guarantees to ensure the Ottoman subjects perfect security for their lives, honour, and property (1839, see Rescript of the Rose Chamber below for details);
  • The reorganization of the finance system according to the French model (1840)
  • The reorganization of the Civil and Criminal Code according to the French model (1840)
  • The so-called “Hatt-ı Hümayun of 1856 (called Islahat meaning improvement) promising “full legal equality for citizens of all religions” (1856)
  • The abolition of the capitulation (Jizya) tax on non-Muslims, with a regular method of establishing and collecting taxes (1856)
  • The Land Code (Arazi Kanunnamesi (1857) [whih led to the creation of Israel in future]
  • The decriminalization of homosexuality (1858)
  • The so-called “Nationality Law of 1869” creating a common Ottoman citizenship irrespective of religious or ethnic divisions (1869)

Tanzimat (Ottoman Secularism)

In 1839, When Ottoman Empire was facing harsh conditions regarding its territorial boundaries. The Ottoman government sought out a way out of worst condition an empire could ever see. They decided to reorganize the empire by introducing new laws and implementing them by hook or by crook. This re-organization was named Tanzimat and it ended in 1876. The Tanzimât reform era was characterized by various attempts to modernize the Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against nationalist movements and aggressive powers. The reforms attempted to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into Ottoman society by enhancing their civil liberties and granting them equality throughout the Empire. During the reigns of Mahmud II and Abdülmecid I the Tanzimat was originated and implemented. They recognized that the old religious and military institutions no longer met the needs of the empire in the modern world. Many of the reforms were attempts to adopt successful European practices. Changes included universal conscription; educational, institutional and legal reforms; and systematic attempts at eliminating corruption and abolishment of capital punishments suggested by religion.

For this purpose, Islamic law was put aside in favor of secular law.