Spread Of Islam In The Ottoman Empire ( 1700-1922)

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Spread OF Islam in the Ottoman Empire ( 1700-1922)

Spread OF Islam in the Ottoman Empire ( 1700-1922)

The Turks established their dominion over Albania just as the Renaissance began to unfold in Europe, so that, cut off from contact and exchanges with Western Europe, Albania had no chance to participate in, or benefit from, the humanistic achievements of that era. Conquest also caused great suffering and vast destruction of the country's economy, commerce, art, and culture. Moreover, to escape persecution by their conquerors, about one-fourth of the country's population fled abroad to southern Italy, Sicily, and the Dalmatian coast. Although the Turks ruled Albania for more than four centuries, they were unable to extend their authority throughout the country. In the highland regions Turkish authorities exercised only a formal sovereignty, as the highlanders refused to pay taxes, serve in the army, or surrender their arms--although they did pay an annual tribute to Constantinople. Albanians rose in rebellion time and again against Ottoman occupation. In order to check the ravages of Albanian resistance--which was partly motivated by religious feelings, namely, defense of the Christian faith--as well as to bring Albania spiritually closer to Turkey, the Ottomans initiated a systematic drive toward the end of the 16th century to Islamize the population. [Heinemann, London, 1971, pp. 267-268].

This drive continued through the following century, by the end of which two-thirds of the people had converted to Islam. A major reason Albanians became Muslims was to escape Turkish violence and exploitation, an instance of which was a crushing tax that Christians would have to pay if they refused to convert. Islamization aggravated the religious fragmentation of Albanian society, which had first appeared in the Middle Ages and which was later used by Constantinople and Albania's neighbours in attempts to divide and denationalize the Albanian people. 2

The Abbasid Empire disintegrated between the 9th and 13th centuries. Peasant revolts and slavery increased. Despite the artistic and intellectual creativity of the age, the position of women eroded. Signs of decline were present during the reign of Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785). He failed to reconcile moderate Shi'i to Abbasid rule. Al-Mahdi abandoned the frugal ways of his predecessor and surrounded his court with luxury. He failed to establish a succession system resolving disputes among his many sons, leaving a lasting problem to future rulers.

One son, Harun al-Rashid, became one of the most famous Abbasid caliphs. The luxury and intrigues of his court were immortalized in The Thousand and One Nights. The young ruler became dependent on Persian advisors, a trend followed during later reigns as rulers became pawns in factional court struggles. Al-Rashid's death led to the first of many civil wars over the succession. The sons of the winner, al-Ma'mun, built personal retainer armies, some including Turkic nomads, to safeguard their futures. The armies became power centers, removing and selecting caliphs; their uncontrolled excesses developed into a general focus for societal unrest. Imperial Breakdown and Agrarian Disorder. The continual civil violence drained the imperial ...
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