Freedom of Expression – Are Muslims Excluded?

This is a summary of some of the points made  by Abdullah Al Andalusi during his presentation on November 22 at the event titled ‘Freedom of Speech – are Muslims excluded’ conference. He spoke alongside Dr Abdul Wahid, Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad, Omar Ali, FOSIS president, Shaykh Shams ad-Dhuha, Imam Shakeel Begg, Shaykh Abdul Raheem Green. The Summary was provided courtesy of Zill-ur Rahman

Various prominent speakers coming together to address the important topic
Various prominent speakers came together to address the important topic

Secularism: They say the State doesn’t interfere with religion, but the funny thing is they all do; look at Egypt or the other Arab states, Bangladesh: secular government dictating what Muslims should believe and how they should act.

Liberal societies claim to be against torture, prison etc. but they can cause social stigmatisation, which they say is more effective. We hear a lot about the far right – but what about the liberals? They talk about human rights, but if you talk about Shari’ah rights, they become intolerant. So really, it’s not free – the liberals have always been intolerant of other views.

They believe Islam can be reformed as Catholism was in the past. Here, the liberals initially tolerated Muslims thinking in time, we would reform to their way of life; when this didn’t happen, they moved to more aggressive means such as banning and branding people as hate preachers. I myself got banned at a venue where I was a panelist on a debate that Islam should be reformed. Because I defended that it shouldn’t, I was labelled an extremist; how outrageous.

They will allow us to speak about spirituality but nothing else. 

A lot of scare tactics are being used. Lots of groups being funded to re-interpret Islam and marginalise mainstream speakers and promote those who toe the line. For example, the al-Shabab video: there were some speakers who were on there like Hamza Tzortsis with no protection; but all those who toed the line were protected. So the agenda is clear because Islam will never submit to liberal values.

David Cameron recently said no public money would be given for those who aren’t tolerant. But we pay our taxes!

British values – what are they? Because Victorian Britain would probably be more in line with what Muslims believe then the current Brits.

Apparently anyone who believes mixing religion and politics is extreme. But liberals can mix their values with politics. But a Muslim, whose value is Islam isn’t allowed to.

So what do they want from us?

Demand that you reform religion, accept their values completely and forget the concept of an Ummah. Pledge allegiance to and submit to the liberal system. Demand that you spy on Muslims. To export secularism and liberalism to the Muslim world. Demand you forget the Khilafah.

If Abu Bakr (r.a.) and ‘Umar (r.a.) were around today, they would be considered extremists. If Qulilliam were around at the time of the Prophet (saw), they would have called themselves the Ibrahim foundation. Abdullah Quilliam was someone who gave Baiy’ah to the Khilafah and said it was impermissible for Muslims to fight against the Ottoman Islamic State – far, far removed from these [clowns/hypocrites] of the Quilliam foundation.

Abdullah al Andalusi is an international speaker, thinker and intellectual activist for Islam and Muslim affairs. His work involves explaining and demonstrating, by rational argument, the intellectual proofs for the Islamic belief system, and promoting the Islamic way of life and Islamic solutions for contemporary problems. On a personal note, Abdullah takes Islamic opinions from the classical Sunni schools of thought (Ahl ul Sunnah wa Jama’ah). You can visit his website here: and follow him on Facebook here: 

Amazing Miracle During ‘Eid ul-‘Adhā in the Philippines

Today after ‘Eid prayer I witnessed the Power of the Almighty – Allāhu Akbar wa lillāh il-Ḥamd!

وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا

And say, “Truth has come, and falsehood has perished. verily falsehood is by its nature bound to perish.” [17:81]

Just an hour or so ago I just an amazing sight, I saw a 7.2 earthquake sent by Allah destroy a house of shirk before my very eyes!

We gathered in the morning to pray the ‘Eid prayer and at the end of the ‘Eid Khutbah the Imam was making duʿā’ and he said ‘Allāhumma dammir ash-shirk wal-mushrikīn’ (Oh Allah, destroy shirk and the polytheists) and we all said loudly ‘Āmīn!’ When the prayer finished I went with some others to go and get something to eat nearby.

As we were walking to the restaurant some beggars were selling candles and were trying to get me to buy them. I asked those with me why they were selling candles and they told me that it was so people could make ‘offerings’. I realised then that we were in front of a church and they were calling us to give offerings to their idols.. I was disgusted at seeing this, as any Muslim is when they see shirk. As we walked further I realised how big the church was, and those with me told me that it is the church of Santo Niño which is the most famous idol that is worshiped in the Philippines. I knew about this church, as it is a symbol of the Spanish crusaders who had come to fight the Muslims and they had given this idol to the Filipinos who worship it and have big ceremonies every year in which they pray to it.

I had always been repulsed by this church ever since I read about it, especially as it is the symbol of shirk and Christianity in the Philippines, and it stands on land that was ruled by Muslims before the Crusaders fought them and drove them down to Mindanao. As I passed by it I watched the mushrikīn entering it to go pray to their idol and I prayed in my heart that I would be able to destroy their idol and the house of kufr that holds it.

We went across the road to the restaurant and the whole time I was looking at the house of kufr wishing that I was able to destroy it. As we ate I felt the ground begin to shake, at first I ignored the tremors thinking it was just my imagination, however the shaking became more intense and everyone got up and were screaming trying to rush outside at the same time. I got up slowly and instantly began saying ‘Aʿudhu billāhi min ash-shayṭān ir-rajīm’ as I realised what was happening. We were calm and got up and started to walk outside as the roof was beginning to collapse and parts of it were falling on our tables. I felt an ease in my heart that I would not imagine I would feel in such a situation.. I knew that this was from Allah, and if it were my time to die then I could not escape it, so I began to praise Allah and was ready for whatever would come, and I calmed those with me making sure that they were not worried.

As we stepped outside I saw people running around screaming, it was hard to stand up and I was losing my balance as the earth below us shook by the command of Allah. Though my limbs shook, my heart was firm and thankful to Allah, as I think about what happened I cannot begin to describe the peace that I was feeling knowing that in a moment we might return to our Lord after having prayed to Him and glorified him with the jamāʿah of the Believers.

[subhanAllah, whilst I type this right now there are aftershocks and the ground is still shaking]

As I stood there in the street seeing the chaos around me I looked up towards the church and the moment I laid my eyes upon it I saw it begin to crumble! The bell tower fell apart and smashed into the road and the building began to shake and fall to pieces. The massive stone structure was struck by the Power of Allah and was torn apart and its stone was strewn all around us. When the people saw this they began to scream more intensely, however my instant reaction was to raise my hand and extend my pointer finger and proclaim loudly “Allāhu Akbar wa lillāh il-Ḥamd! Allāhu Akbar wa lillāh il-Ḥamd!!” (Allah is the greatest and all praise belongs to Him!) The house of kufr had been destroyed by the Almighty! The mushrikīn were crying and in chaos however we stood there proudly and thanked Allah for the Blessing that he had bestowed upon us, being able to see shirk demolished before our eyes! What a beautiful Eid gift it was indeed.

We began to walk away from the church not wanting to be hit by the large falling debris, and it was amazing that we saw the people around us and they were clearly divided into 2 categories. The mushrikīn were all crying and shouting, and the Muslims were all calm and did not show any fear at all. A 7 year old Muslim boy was there and he was not at all afraid, whilst the adult men of the mushrikīn cried like babies. This is the sakīnah that Allah places in the heart of a believer, that even in such times of calamity we are strong due to our faith and conviction in Allah.

When the ground had stopped shaking we went over to the church which had fallen apart in large sections and took some photos of it, still praising Allah as we stood there before it. The people began to gather as they stood there in shock at what had happened to the house of their idol. I did not want to miss this chance to wake them up and call them away from idol worship and to come to Tawḥīd. I stood in front of the ruins and said –

“O people, this is the fate of Christianity and those who follow it! Look at how Allah has destroyed the house of this idol, this is a sign for you to worship none but Him! Where is Santo Niño now? He could not even protect his self! Do not take him as a god besides Allah!”

One of the men began shouting “And where is your God?” So I told him, “My God is Allah, and He is the most powerful and has caused your false idol to be destroyed!” Most of them stood in silence with nothing to say in response, however some of them started to shout and curse in defence of their idol. Realising that it was not the time to fight we left them knowing that the damage had been done and they were the losers, hoping that they would wake up and see this sign and leave their false idols.

As we continued walking we saw a large group of Muslims who worked in the area. They were around the corner so did not realise that the church had fallen apart from the earthquake. I greeted them and told them what had happened, and showed them the photos of the destruction. They all began to shout ‘Allahu Akbar!’, and were praising Allah upon hearing the news that the house of the idol had been struck. I stayed and gave a short talk to them about the power of Allah and how Allah will protect the believers and grant us victory so long as we worship Him with sincerity. They all began to shout again ‘Allahu Akbar!’ about 30 of them all at the same time.

The city in which this occurred was the main city that sent troops to fight the Bangsamoro Mujahidīn in Zamboanga, only weeks ago. Most of the fighters came from this city and now look at what calamity has struck them! Their most famous church, the centre of shirk in the Philippines was struck by the Power of Allah!

I am thankful to Allah for protecting us and for having guided me away from the shirk that we saw and shown me the true path that leads to His Mercy. Truly this is a sign for those who believe.

إِن يَنصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَن ذَا الَّذِي يَنصُرُكُم مِّن بَعْدِهِ ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

“If Allah should assist you, then none can defeat you. And if He forsakes you then who can assist you after Him? So let the believers put their trust in Allah.” [3:160]

*As a note for those asking, I am already out of the city. I was only visiting for Eid and am out now and safe.

The Church struck by the Might of Allah (swt)
The Church struck by the Might of Allah (swt)

The Battle of Al-Harrah: The Massacre & Pillage of Madina by Muslim Ibn ‘Uqbah

Sierra Exif JPEG

Most Muslims know about the fitnah (trial) at the time of Mu’awiyah/Ali (radi-Allahu ‘anhum), and that of Hussain (radi-Allahu ‘anhu) and Yazīd. They also know regarding the (2nd) siege of Makkah during which ‘Abdullah ibn Al-Zubair (radi-Allahu ‘anhu) was killed, but I have found in discussions about the Umayyad Caliphate that the Battle of Al-Harrah sometimes blurs into the background, and this tragic war is not as well-known.

The Battle of Harrah occurred in the 64th year of Hijrah or around 683 CE. After Yazīd had assumed the Caliphate, he was met with insurrection as is well known from several quarters, including Abdullah ibn Al-Zubair (r.a.) and Hussain (r.a.). The latter was murdered at Karbalah, but the former continued his opposition from Makkah. The people of Madina did not initially join him, but after disenfranchisement from Umayyad rule (i.e. the rule of Yazīd) they sent a delegation to Yazīd. The delegation returned, having witnessed first-hand his lifestyle and methods of ruling. Following a conference with the nobles of Madina, including some of the Sahabah of the Rasūl ﷺ who were still alive and many prominent Tabi’īn, it was decided to join opposition to Umayyad rule and to expel the 1000 or so members of the Banu Umayyah living in Madina. They were thus expelled, and other sources say besieged. The Banu Umayyah wrote to Yazeed requesting their help.

Yazīd was angered and appointed a man called Muslim Ibn ‘Uqbah Al Marri – known as one of the greatest criminals in the history of this Ummah for what he did – to lead a force of 12,000. Yazīd told him not to attack if the people of Madina were willing to pledge allegiance once more. After camping at Harrah close to Madina and after they refused to give Yazīd their allegiance, Al Marri ordered that fighting begin. The people of Madina did not have a standing army. The 12,000 force was naturally ascendant, and the “fight” descended into an orgy of murder and looting. Al Marri’s forces killed and massacred for three days and nights. During this time, the wealth of Madina was looted, and many of the nobles of Madina were ordered killed. They would be brought to Al Marri and he would either execute them himself or order their execution in the field.

The great Scholar Imam Ibn Kathīr rahimahullah wrote that the amount of Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) killed was so large that it is useless trying to recall and list how many died, but it included men such as Abdullah ibn Hanzalah radi-Allahu ‘anhu. He also mentions that Al Marri had “sexual intercourse with so many women that he impregnated a thousand women in those days outside marriage”. I don’t know if that is even possible, but it is mentioned, nonetheless.

One of the worst incidents was the treatment of Sa’īd ibn Al Musayyab – one of the greatest Scholars of the Ummah and a Tabi’i, who was about to be executed by Al Marri until someone intervened saying he was insane. On account of these various ignominious deeds, the Salaf used to call Al Marri “Musrif ibn ‘Uqbah” instead of his real name Muslim ibn ‘Uqbah. “Musrif” being the one who traverses all bounds.

Madina “fell” and the people were forced to give allegiance to Yazīd once more. It is said that thousands upon thousands died; some sources say 10,000+. Madinah was looted of its wealth and many of its greatest men killed.

Historically and discursively speaking, this incident is one of the reasons for which many (Sunni) scholars permitted the cursing of Yazīd, on account of the Hadith of Rasūlullah ﷺ where he said, “Whoever causes the Ansar (of Madinah) to fear them will be caused to fear what lies between these two.” (indicating himself). This is mentioned by Imam Daraqutni as being the opinion of Abu Ya’la, Sa’īd ibn Abdul Hamīd, etc.

This was another tragic incident amidst other turbulent incidents, which is often not described or well known. There are many lessons in it with regards to the Caliphate and how matters are to be dealt with. History is not a source, but it does provide many lessons.

May Allah have mercy on those martyred and deal with the murderer Muslim ibn ‘Uqbah as He sees fit, whom the ‘Ulema have constantly rained curses on since that day.

Abū Bakr (R.A), the Rabbi & the Revelation of Qur-ān 3:181

By Musa Cerantonio


Abū Bakr Aṣ-Ṣiddīq, Radi Allahu ‘Anhu once entered a Jewish place of study and found a group of Jews gathered around one of their men named Finḥāṣ, who was one of their scholars and their Rabbis. Abū Bakr said to Finḥāṣ: “Woe to you O Finḥāṣ, fear Allah and embrace Islam, for by Allah you know that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah who has brought the truth to you from Allah. He is mentioned in your Torah.”

Finḥāṣ responded: “What do we need from a poor God? Verily He is poor unto us. We do not ask Him to loan us anything yet He asks from us. Verily we are rich compared to Him, and He is not rich unto us. If He were rich compared to us then He would not ask us to lend Him our wealth.”

Abū Bakr became angry and punched the face of Finḥāṣ with a mighty blow. He then said to him: “By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if it were not for the treaty between us, O enemy of Allah, I would have killed you.”

Finḥāṣ went to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and said: “O Muḥammad! Look at what your companion has done to me.”

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ asked Abū Bakr: “What has driven you to do what you did?”

He said: “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, this enemy of Allah has said something very serious. He claimed that Allah is poor and they are rich. When he said that I became angry for the sake of Allah and hit his face.”

Finḥāṣ denied it and said “I did not say that.” And so Allah revealed the verse responding to the lie of Finḥāṣ and confirming the words of Abū Bakr:

لَّقَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَقِيرٌ وَنَحْنُ أَغْنِيَاءُ ۘ سَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَالُوا وَقَتْلَهُمُ الْأَنبِيَاءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ وَنَقُولُ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ

Indeed, Allah has heard the statement of those (Jews) who said: “Verily, Allah is poor and we are rich!” We shall record what they have said as well as their unjust killing of the Prophets, and We shall say: “Taste the punishment of the Burning Fire.” [3:181]

(Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr 434)

Some points to ponder upon:

– Abū Bakr (r.a.) was a strong and mighty man, whoever wishes to portray him as being weak has lied against him. Verily he was always ready to stand up against the enemies of Allah and to fight them. Indeed he was a noble man who did not tolerate disbelief and strove hard to establish the Religion of Allah.

– The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not believe the words of Finḥāṣ as he did not rebuke Abū Bakr despite Finḥāṣ denying having said those words. Rather he waited for divine revelation to prove that Abū Bakr was the honest one of the two.

– The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not rebuke Abū Bakr for punching the enemy of Allah as what Finḥāṣ had said was utter disbelief and cannot be tolerated by a believer. This shows that whilst we must call the people to Islam, it does not mean that we let them abuse us or insult our Religion.

About the author: Musa Cerantonio is an active Islamic activist, who reverted to Islam at the age of 17. He is well-known for his appearance on international Islamic TV Shows, such as ‘Iqra TV’ & ‘Ask the Sheikh’.

You can follow him on Facebook here:

Angels & Drones

by Waseem Magico

America uses things that fly and attack. They are called drones. But little do they know we Muslims also have things that fly and attack.


They are Angels.

If Allah had willed he would send them to every battle, because any human, jinn or anything else in the universe is no match for an Angel. The key point to note however is, that if Angels were sent to every battle, the human fighters would be deprived from the greatest honour they seek: martyrdom on the battlefield.

If Angels were sent to every battle, there would not be any struggle and conflict, no balance battle between good and evil. Because they would wipe out all evil. The Sunnah of history is there will always be a struggle between good and evil. There will always be war, even if there is a temporary peace. That is one of the tests of life, choosing a side.

But when Angels do join in the battle, it is an Imaan booster. When Imaan is low amongst the Mujahideen, miracles increase so that the fighters’ Imaan and morale increase. I have written so much about incidents where angels joined in the battles in the past and in modern times.

So if these enemies of Islam are disappointed that they don’t get to witness the Angels in battle, they definitely will meet one angel for sure… and that is Malak al-Maut..

May Allah send us Angels against those who fight Islam. Ameen.

The Media Propaganda War for Syria

By Mohamed Ibn Albarā, residing on the ground in Rural Latakia/Rural Idlib, Syria


The worldwide media propaganda against Islam is working hard as always to distort the truth and destroy the morale of the Muslims awaiting good news from Bilad Ash-Sham. Here are some essential points you should know:

Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera are at war with Islam, and despise anything to do with Islamists, as a result there are a few things they do:

1) They only convey attacks led by FSA/SNC secularists, even though the attacks were conducted by, for example 5 Islamist groups, and 1 FSA group, they will say “FSA forces took control of such and such”… This is intentional, why? Because when they used to speak of Jabhat al Nusrah and the other Mujahideen, they brought attention to them and made the Muslims love them. This proved a disaster for the kuffar, as a result they will now never post an operation done by any Mujahideen groups in Syria.

2) They now only convey losses faced by the “FSA”, making these losses seem overly significant and a deal breaker for the Mujahideen: two examples of this are Al-Qusayr and now Qara. These two towns were made out to be the hearts of the revolution, so that when they fell, so too would the morale of the fighters in Syria. In truth, Al-Qusayr did not affect Syria the way the media portrayed it at all.

3) They convey lies against Islam, from sources known to be liars, an example of this is the ‘Sex jihad’ claims that were spread from a corrupt politician in Tunisia. This article was spread firstly on SANA, the regime run news channel, followed by RT, the Russian news channel, and then Al-Hebriya.

Another issue is the interviewing of large battalion leaders in Syria, like Jaish al-Islam, wherein they will deliberately ask him about ISIS, JAN, and the likes, where he is most certainly unprepared to answer such a question in such haste, as a result, he blurts something out which could cause a storm between the brigades. This is immediately spread like wildfire.

One of the most important issues to look at when you watch the news about the Middle East, or the North African states, is to analyze what their editorials speak about in terms of Islamist movements and the likes. Chances are, if they backbite, insult or spread hatred against the large Islamic movements, all their articles will be warped and chewed to paint a horrible picture of Islam and “Islamists”.

About the author: Mohamed Ibn Albarā left Sydney, Australia in 2013 to migrate permanently to Syria, & is currently living in Rural Latakia/Rural Idlib. He is engaged in various charity initiatives, from providing to the poor & needy families of those afflicted by the brutal Assad regime, & orphans, & helping in establishing schools with a strict Islamic syllabus & moral guidelines.

You can follow & contact him personally through his Facebook page:

Rūm (Rome) in the Aḥādīth of the Last Days (Part 1)

Which nation does Rūm (Rome) in the Aḥādīth of the Last Days refer to? (Part 1)

One of the blessings that we as an Ummah have is that not only do we know about the stories of our past, but that we have also been given an insight into certain parts of our future by Allah. Just as the Qur’ān and the teachings of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ teach us about the stories of previous nations and what became of them, so too we are told about what will happen to our nation in the days ahead of us, all the way up until the Last Day. This is a blessing that helps us to prepare for what will soon occur, however it also requires that we be diligent in understanding the correct meanings and implications of these forewarnings and prophesies.

When we look at the signs of the coming of the Last Day we should realise that understanding exactly what is being referred to can sometimes be clear whereas at other times it is almost impossible to properly comprehend until the foretold events occur. An example of a clearly understood prediction which is mentioned in the Qur’ān, in the first few verses of Sūrat Ar-Rūm:

غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ فِي أَدْنَى الْأَرْضِ وَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ غَلَبِهِمْ سَيَغْلِبُونَ فِي بِضْعِ سِنِينَ
The Romans have been defeated in the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will be victorious within three to nine years. [30:2-4]

The verse is very clear in stating what will happen and when. The Romans who had been defeated by the Persians would soon overcome the mighty Persian Empire and return their defeat. The time period in which it is said that it will occur is specified with the Arabic term [fī biḍʿi sinīn] meaning within 3-9 years. This event was foretold and later occurred, within the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ and is thus seen as one of the many miracles of the Qur’ān. In the instance of this prophesy there was no doubt as to what was expected to occur and when it would occur, thus there could be no misunderstanding as to what the verses meant, so this is a prophesy that we can consider to have been very clear and precise to those who read it and heard it. An example however of an unclear prophesy that has come to pass is the following prophecy that was foretold by the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ in the well-known ‘ḥadīth of Jibrīl’ that one of the signs of the Last Day would be:

“That the shepherds of camels will compete with one another in the construction of tall buildings and will boast about them.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 50]

This ḥadīth can be said almost with no doubt to refer to the ongoing phenomenon that began in the last decade in which the people of the Arabian Peninsula have been competing with one another to build the world’s largest tower. In the last 3 years the 2 tallest buildings in the world have been built in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and a third tower also in Saudi Arabia is set to be built which will become the new tallest building in the world once it is completed, stretching an enormous 1km into the sky. What is amazing about these buildings is that due to the rapid growth of the Arabian nations in the last half a century, many of those involved in the construction of the towers came from poor bedouin families who became overnight billionaires. I met one of the construction managers for the Burj Khalīfah in the UAE in 2010 and he told me that he came from a bedouin family and that one of his earliest memories was playing as a barefooted child in the desert while his family looked after their camels and goats. So we see that the exact words of the prophecy were true and have indeed appeared before our eyes in these days, however due to the fact that the prophecy did not contain specific details such as a precise location or a specified period of time in which it would occur, it would have been impossible for someone in the past to have looked at the ḥadīth and to have been able to understand that it would occur in the places or in these specific years in which they came to be in. This difference in the specific details of prophecies of future events means that sometimes matters will be very clear within their words, and that sometimes they will not at all be clear until the events come to pass, and yet a third category can be defined as being those prophecies which are specific about some matters but unclear in all of the matters mentioned within them. Those which fall into this third category may specify names and places but may be unclear as to who the names specifically refer to, or may mention place names that are somewhat vague such as ‘the East’, which may refer to any area from ‘Iraq all the way to Japan or even further to the New World (the Americas), and so whilst it is clear that ‘East’ means a land to the east of Arabia, it would not be clear exactly which eastern land is being referred to. This type of category is one that contains some information that can help us prepare for future events, but requires analysis of the prophecy which may not be clear to all who read it due to unfamiliarity with portents of the prophecy, and may not be understood at all until the event itself occurs. With this understanding of the different types of prophecies, let us begin to look at and analyse the Aḥādīth of the Last Days which make mention of Rūm.

To begin it should be made clear that the only Aḥādīth attributed to the Prophet ﷺ that we accept are those that are authentically narrated from him [Ṣaḥīḥ], if a ḥadīth is not proven to be authentic then it cannot be used as an evidence in Islam nor can we attribute it to the Prophet ﷺ as being one of his sayings. Therefore only authentic narrations regarding Rūm and the Last Days will be discussed, as any narration that is not authentic cannot be used as evidence in Islam and must be disregarded by the Believers due to its inauthenticity. Much of the confusion about future events that people have is due to the proliferation of inauthentic and fabricated sayings falsely attributed to the Prophet ﷺ. Once we know that a ḥadīth we have heard is not authentic then we must not narrate it to others claiming that it is authentic nor giving the impression that it is authentic, to do so is an error and a sin that we seek to avoid.

Rūm [الرومِ] when mentioned in the Qur’ān and the events contemporary to the lifetime of the Prophet refer to what is called in our days the ‘Byzantine Empire’. This name is taken from the ancient name of their capital city which was ‘Byzántion’ and later came to be known as Constantinople. The Byzantines however did not ever call themselves by this name, rather they called their empire the ‘Roman Empire’ [Basileia Rhōmaiōn] as they were by all means the continuation of the Roman Empire which began as a kingdom in the city of Rome in 753 BC, located in the Italian peninsula. The Roman Empire which was based in Rome expanded throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and due to its large size was split into 2 administrative regions, the Western Empire which was based in Rome and was Latin speaking, and the Eastern Empire which was based in Constantinople and was Greek speaking. The Western Empire ended in 476 AD when it was defeated by Germans who had invaded their land, and so the Eastern Empire was what remained of the Roman Empire, and it continued to call itself the Roman Empire despite the fact that city of Rome itself was no longer part of it. Historians later began calling this the Eastern Roman Empire to differentiate it from the earlier Roman Empire which comprised both the Latin West and the Greek East, over time to clarify it even further the name ‘Byzantine Empire’ was applied to the Eastern Empire even though this name was never used by the Romans themselves. In Arabic the Empire was simply called Rūm. A ḥadīth narrated by Ibn ʿAbbās clarifies the fact that Rūm in Arabic undoubtedly referred to the (Eastern) Roman Empire based in Constantinople, in which the details of a letter sent by the Prophet ﷺ to the leader of Rūm are mentioned, the opening part of the letter states:

إِلَى هِرَقْلَ عَظِيمِ الرُّومِ
“To Heraclius the leader of Rūm” [Tirmidhī 2717]

It is understood from this letter therefore that Rūm at the time of the Prophet ﷺ was the Empire which was based in Constantinople and had Heraclius as its leader. History records that Heraclius (Flavius Heraclius Augustus) was the ruler of the Roman Empire from 610-641 which corresponds to the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ, and so we can be sure that Rūm specifically referred to the Roman Empire based in Constantinople. The clarification must be made that Rome was not always part of the Byzantine Empire yet the Arabs continuously referred to it still as Rūm (the city of Rome itself was reconquered by the Byzantines and remained in their power intermittently throughout their rule) and thus Rūm does not refer to the city of Rome but rather to the Empire based in Constantinople which inherited the title of the Roman Empire upon the fall of Rome to the Germans. All of the lands which were under the control of the Roman Empire were referred to as Rūm by the Muslims, for example the island of Rhodes which is in the Mediterranean Sea was mentioned in a ḥadīth in which some of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ narrated:

كُنَّا مَعَ فَضَالَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدٍ بِرُودِسَ مِنْ أَرْضِ الرُّومِ
“We were with Faḍālah bin ʿUbayr at Rhodes which is in the land of Rūm” [Abū Dāwūd 3219]

The island of Rhodes which is currently located in Greece was at the time part of the Roman Empire, and therefore was mentioned as being part of Rūm. All of the lands that were part of the Roman Empire were called Rūm, and if they were to be lost then they would no longer be considered to be part of Rūm. The concept of what Rūm was according to the early Muslims is not then to be understood as a purely geographical description, as it neither referred to the city of Rome from which it took its name nor did it permanently apply to any specific lands throughout all times, rather if a land belonged to the Roman Empire then it was called Rūm, and if it were lost by the Empire it would no longer be called Rūm. Therefore the entity of Rūm was understood to be the land that was controlled by the Roman Empire at the time, meaning that
if a land was conquered by the Roman Empire it would become part of Rūm and if it were lost then it would no longer be a part of Rūm. The description of which lands belonged to Rūm was therefore an entirely political description, it was any land which Rūm controlled.

And so the question now arises – If Rūm referred only to the Roman Empire, then who should Rūm be understood to refer to in prophecies concerning our times and the Last Days? The remnants of the Roman Empire eventually fell to the hands of the Muslims when Muḥammad Al-Fātiḥ conquered the city in 1453, destroying the Roman Empire which had lasted for many centuries. If it were not for the mention of Rūm in the prophecies of the Last Days one would normally would assume that Rūm effectively ended with the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Empire in 1453, however the fact that the Prophet ﷺ mentioned Rūm in future events means that without doubt Rūm will exist in the Last Days and in fact never ceased to exist but rather was continued by another entity. Just as the Western Roman Empire was destroyed and thus the Byzantine Empire inherited the title of Rūm, so too with the fall of the Byzantines Rūm was inherited by another entity and would continue to exist until the Last Days. Who then inherited the title of Rūm, who is Rūm today and will they be the same Rūm mentioned in the prophecies of the Prophet ﷺ?

I am surely not the first to ask these questions nor the first to discuss this matter, in fact I can safely assume that many of you reading this will have asked yourself this question in the past and may have even heard various opinions as to whom Rūm refers to from others. I am familiar with the various opinions and understandings as to who Rūm refers to in the prophecies, and I am aware that there is much differing on this subject and no agreed conclusion to the question about the identity of Rūm. This is due to the nature of the prophecies being as I described above clear in some areas yet unclear in other areas. The identity of Rūm is never specifically tied to any group or location and due to this many of the classical scholars assumed that Rūm would refer to the same Roman Empire that they knew in their times, and this would be the most obvious conclusion to draw so long as one expected the Roman Empire to last until the time of the prophecies, however once the Roman Empire fell and ceased to exist, the identity of Rūm thus became unclear which is why there are no agreed upon understandings of who Rūm will be and how we are to know who they are in our times. Before analysing the various opinions as to who Rūm is I will first let you know that I do have a very strong opinion on whom Rūm is and after looking at the opinions of others I will explain why I hold this opinion and leave you to decide for yourself if you agree or disagree. What must be understood however is that I am not claiming without doubt that I am right and others are wrong as the nature of the prophecies is unclear and thus we can only make conclusions based upon our understandings, and we should not insist that our conclusions are correct as the matters are yet to occur and we should be cautious about claiming to know what will happen in the future, this is why I will state that I have an opinion about which I strongly support based upon the evidences which I will present, but in no way do I claim that what I support is going to be correct beyond doubt, we always say about such matters of the future ‘Allāhu Aʿlam’ (Allah alone knows best). With that said, here are some of the most common opinions regarding the identity of Rūm, I will save my own opinion for later on in the piece after these opinions are discussed.

1. Italy – This opinion relies on the fact that Italy is where the Roman Empire was founded and its capital city is Rome. In an example of synecdoche ‘Rome’ in political parlance is understood to refer to the Italian Republic, just as ‘Washington’ refers to the government of the USA and thus the entire nation. Therefore Rūm should be understood to mean Italy as Rome in our times refers to Italy.

Why this opinion is weak – As mentioned above, the city of Rome has nothing to do with defining Rūm. The Byzantine Empire was known as Rūm even when it did not control the city of Rome, and culturally Rūm had very little in common with the city Rome. The fact is that the title of Rūm was inherited by the Byzantines and at no point did it revert back to the city of Rome or to any entity in the Italian peninsula.

2. Russia – This opinion relies on the conclusion that since the majority of Russians belong to the Orthodox church which was the official denomination of Rūm upon the time of its fall that Russia having the largest Orthodox population on Earth are therefore the inheritors of the title of Rūm. Further to this, upon the fall of the Roman Empire many Russians began to refer to Moscow as the ‘Third Rome’, implying that it was the successor of the Roman empires based in Rome and Constantinople (which is called by them the ‘second Rome’).

Why this opinion is weak – The definition of Rūm had never been understood to be a religious definition. In fact the Roman Empire was originally pagan and worshiped the Greek and Roman gods. Further to this, the religious denomination of Rūm at the time of the Prophet ﷺ cannot be described as belonging to the Orthodox Church as the schism between the Western Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Christians did not occur until 1054. During the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ, Rūm was still under the patronage of the Pope based in Rome. After the schism it is true that Constantinople became the head of the Orthodox Church which was the state religion of the Roman Empire, however the seat of the Orthodox Church until today remains in Istanbul (the modern name for Constantinople), never was the authority of the Church transferred to Russia. Another point worth noting is that Russia was never part of the Roman Empire nor did they inherit anything from the Roman Empire in any way, and as has been proven already the title of Rūm is inherited by those who control the Roman Empire and not merely by professing the same religion.

3. The Orthodox Christian Nations – The reasoning for this is the same as point number 2, except expanded to include all Orthodox Christian peoples.

Why this opinion is weak – Similar to the opinion on Russia above, it relies on the notion that having a shared religion with the Roman Empire at the time of its fall implies that they inherit the status of Rūm. Like with Russia, this definition is incorrect, and if Rūm were to have been defined by a people belonging to its the state religion then all Orthodox nations would have been called Rūm by the Muslims throughout time but this was never the case. The Orthodox Christian people outside of the Roman Empire were never referred to as being part of Rūm and thus this opinion is not correct.

4. Europe/EU – This opinion relies on the suggestion that Europe as a whole is the cultural successor of the Roman Empire. The predecessor of the EU which was called the EEC was founded in the city of Rome with the Treaty of Rome which is still used by the EU today. Also, the Germanic nations formed an alliance which called itself the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ in 962 which was seen as being the cultural successor of the Western Roman Empire.

Why this opinion is weak – Whilst it is true that the Western Roman Empire was the foundation for much of European culture, we must remember that Rūm was not at all a European empire, in fact most of its land was outside of Europe, divided between the Middle East and North Africa. The culture of Rūm was very different to that of Europe today and the 2 have very little in common. In no way did Europe inherit the title of Rūm nor does the EU even attempt to claim this. At the time of the Prophet the majority of Europe was not part of Rūm and thus Europe has very little do with Rūm except in the minds of those trying to create a European unity based on the myth of a shared culture founded primarily upon the influence of the Western Roman Empire. The Germanic-dominated ‘Holy Roman Empire’ existed at the same time as Rūm and therefore could not be an inheritor of the title of Rūm. Further to this, there was nothing Roman at all about the empire, it was simply a case of Germans appropriating the name ‘Roman’ trying to seek legitimacy with the Catholic Church against the Eastern Roman Empire. The reality as described by the European writer Voltaire was that the Holy Roman Empire was “Neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”

5. The USA & the Western nations – This opinion is similar to number 4, in that it is suggested that ‘Roman culture’ did not just influence Europe but also the USA which was founded by Europeans and therefore the USA and the European-influenced Western nations in general are the cultural successors of Rome. The USA often builds its government buildings in Roman styles and uses the Latin language for its national and state mottoes.

Why this opinion is weak – Western culture has very little to do with Rūm which was primarily an Eastern and not Western entity. Even though the USA has some parts of its culture that are taken from the Western Roman Empire, most of its modern culture has nothing to do with the Eastern nor Western Roman Empires. Neither the USA nor any Western nation ever claimed to be the successors of Rome, nor did they inherit anything from Rūm in any way.

6. Christianity – This opinion suggests that since Christianity was the religion of Rūm that the Christian world in general should be seen as the successors of Rūm in our days.

Why this opinion is weak – As has been established already, the definition of Rūm was not a religious definition but was rather defined as being the nation which inherited the power from the Roman Empire. The Prophet ﷺ never referred to the Christians that he interacted with as being Romans, nor did he refer to Christianity in any way to have anything to do with Rūm, so to therefore claim that every Christian belongs to Rūm would be an error. If we were to claim that Roman meant ‘Christian’ then the companion of the Prophet ﷺ Ṣuhayb Al-Rūmī (Suhayb the Roman) would surely not have continued to refer to himself by this name as it would have implied that he were a Christian! Rather the definition of Rūmī in his name is that he came from the lands controlled by Rūm. During the time of the Crusades in which the Christians invaded Palestine and its surrounding areas, Rūm still existed and the European Crusaders were actually opposed to the Eastern Roman Empire and attacked the city of Constantinople, this shows that the European Christians were in fact enemies of Rūm and had little in common with them and did not consider themselves to be Romans in any way despite their shared religion. In addition to this, the Muslims never referred to the Crusaders as being Romans, rather they called them ‘farānj’ (Franks).

7. Romania – This opinion suggests that since the name of Romania is derived from the name ‘Rome’ that it qualifies to be called Rūm. The country was traditionally known as Rumania, meaning the land of the people of Rum.

Why this opinion is weak – As has been shown above, there is no evidence to suggest that simply having the name Rome implies that a nation has inherited the title of Rūm. If this were the case then any country could rename itself ‘Rome’ and claim to be Rūm but this is not at all how the inheritance of the name of Rūm works, as explained above.

These are the seven main opinions that are common in our times and represent the many different reasonings for why some believe that each qualifies to be Rūm in our times. There may be other opinions present however they are not often discussed nor well-known and thus there is no reason to mention them especially as each of them uses a reasoning similar to one of the seven above which all fall short in correctly identifying Rūm. An example of this would be to suggest that the Gypsies are Rūm because the name which they use for themselves is ‘Roma’ which sounds like Rome. Such reasoning is not correct and is dismissed as weak and baseless.

What should be clear is that the definition of Rūm and which nation may inherit its name is that Rūm at the time of the Prophet ﷺ earned the name as it was the political successor of the Roman Empire founded in the city of Rome, therefore political succession of the original Roman Empire is what defines a nation as being Rūm. The first major succession occurred when the Roman Empire transferred its capital to ‘New Rome’ which was the city of Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire was formed. As soon as the Western Empire fell and ceased to exist then the Eastern Empire became Rūm as they were the political successors of Rome and the holders of the remnants of the land of the Roman Empire. It should be made clear also that a nation does not need to be Christian to be called Rūm as it has been established that Ṣuhayb, the Muslim companion of the Prophet ﷺ was named Rūmī despite being a Muslim. So with the understanding that Rūm is defined by political succession and acquisition of the remaining land of the Roman Empire the answer to who the successor of the Byzantine Empire was is very clear – The successor to the Byzantine Empire and thus the inheritor of the title Rūm was the Ottoman Empire.

With the Muslim conquest of Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire successfully defeated Rūm and wiped the Byzantine Empire from the world maps. The entity which held the name Rūm since the time of the Prophet ﷺ had been defeated and ceased to exist, not controlling any land nor having any power. The last piece of land which Rūm held had been conquered by the Ottomans, as the rest of their land had been in the decades previous to the fall of Constantinople. Upon the defeat of the Romans the Muslim ruler Muḥammad Al-Fātiḥ began to refer to himself as the Caesar of Rome [Qayṣar Al-Rūm] and openly acknowledged that his nation was the ‘new Rome’ and inherited the title from the Byzantines. The land which we refer to as Anatolia (which makes up most of modern-day Turkey) continued to be called Rūm by the Muslims for many centuries. Even before the fall of Constantinople, the areas which the Muslims conquered in Anatolia which used to be part of Rūm were still referred to as Rūm. An example of this is the Saljuq Sultanate of Rūm which covered most of Anatolia (but not Constantinople) and eventually fell to the Ottomans who went on to fully defeat the Roman Empire. The Muslim inhabitants of the newly-conquered Constantinople and Anatolia called themselves Rūmī and there are numerous examples of famous Islamic figures who carried this name.

It should therefore be very clear that the Ottoman Empire became Rūm upon the fall of the Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans were the political successors of the Byzantines, taking over their capital city and conquering all of the land which they controlled. The Ottomans openly considered themselves to be the successors of Rūm, their leader called himself the ruler of Rūm and the Ottoman people living in Constantinople and Anatolia called themselves Rūmī (Romans). This shows that the Ottomans fulfil the criteria as the successors and inheritors of Rūm and no other nation or people can claim what the Ottomans did.

Now then the question arises, since the Ottomans were the successors and inheritors of Rūm, who then is Rūm in our day? The answer is simple – Who are the successors and inheritors of the Ottoman Empire? The answer should be very clear, the successor of the Ottoman Empire is the Republic of Turkey.

Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) was a commander in the Ottoman Army in the period in which the empire became weakened and was ready to fall to the European powers. He successfully defended the Ottoman lands in Anatolia and its surrounding areas ensuring that the lands would not be lost entirely. It was in this period that the Ottoman Empire came to an end at the hands of the Turkish Nationalists who overthrew the empire and established the Republic of Turkey in its place. The Sultanate was abolished and Mustafa Kemal became the leader of the new republic. Turkey as a new nation succeeded the Ottoman Empire and took control of the former Ottoman lands, including its capital city Istanbul. Despite being a secular state which was opposed to the Islamic Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic adopted many of the symbols of the Ottomans such as the national flag which was red with a white crescent moon and star. This symbol in itself predates Ottoman usage and was used by the Eastern Roman Empire as the flag of the city of Constantinople, it was adopted by the Ottomans when they conquered Rūm and ever since it became associated with the Ottoman Empire and consequently its successor state – Turkey. It is worth noting as well that genetically, the inhabitants of Turkey are more closely related to the Roman/Byzantine inhabitants of Rūm than to the Turks of Central Asia from whence their name came. The Turkish people are essentially the descendants of the Byzantines and are more closely related to Europeans, Circassians and Caucasians than to the Mongols or Turks.

Since the Turkish acquisition of the title of Rūm from the Ottomans, no nation has completely defeated the Turkish nation nor been able to acquire their political power or land. Therefore Rūm in our times continues to be the Republic of Turkey and will have been the only nation of Rūm that most of us have ever known (except for the very few who lived in Ottoman times). It is not foreseeable in the near future that Turkey should fall to any of the European powers who for the time being are favourable towards Turkey and some wish to see it join the EU. Rather the only current threat to Turkey is on its southern borders, and this is where the relevance of Turkey being Rūm in the Last Days becomes clear. Up until this point I have only provided evidence that analyses why Turkey is Rūm according to inheritance of the title and land from the Byzantine Empire. However, to properly understand why Turkey is Rūm we now must look at the relevant Aḥādīth concerning Rūm in the last days to see how Turkey fits in to our current situation.

One of the first confusions that one may find in looking at the Prophetic Aḥādīth is that there are many mentions of ‘Turks’ and some become confused and incorrectly associate these Aḥādīth with the Republic of Turkey. In order to understand why these Aḥādīth are not relevant to the discussion of Rūm this must be explained lest there remain any misconceptions as to who the Turks are that were mentioned by the Prophet.

دَعُوا الْحَبَشَةَ مَا وَدَعُوكُمْ وَاتْرُكُوا التُّرْكَ مَا تَرَكُوكُمْ
Leave the Abyssinians alone as long as they leave you alone, and leave the Turks alone as long as they leave you alone. [Abū Dāwūd 4302]

In this Ḥādīth the word ‘Turk’ is used to identify a specific group, and the general identity of this group was known at the time of the Prophet just as the identity of the Abyssinians was known. The ‘Turks’ were a people located to the east of Persia, and to the west of China. They extended all the way up into Northern Siberia and covered most of Central Asia. The early Muslims referred to the area which they inhabited as Mā Warā’ An-Nahr [ما وراء النهر ] which means ‘The land beyond the river’, in this case referring to the Oxus river which is located along the border of modern-day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The people who lived in this land spoke the Turkic language, the oldest known examples of which are found written around Eastern Mongolia as well as East Turkestan which is located in present-day China.

The first Turkic empire was the Göktürk Empire which spoke the Turkic language and this was the empire that existed during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and was known to the Arabs as the Turks. During the lifetime of the Prophet this empire stretched all the way from Northern Persia to Eastern Mongolia. It must be noted however that at no point did the Turks reach the area of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) nor did they reach ant of the areas close to it. The Turk empire covered almost all of Central Asia and Mongolia as well as large parts of South-Eastern Russia and Northern China. In the year 1206 the Mongol Empire was founded and the Mongols (who were not Turks but spoke a closely related language) quickly conquered the Turks and began to invade the Muslim lands. As the Mongol Empire spread eastwards towards the Muslims the bulk of their soldiers were the Turks who they had recently conquered, and the eventual clash between the Mongol led Turks and the Muslims was described in the prophecy of the Prophet:

لاَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ حَتَّى يُقَاتِلَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ التُّرْكَ قَوْمًا وُجُوهُهُمْ كَالْمَجَانِّ الْمُطْرَقَةِ يَلْبَسُونَ الشَّعَرَ وَيَمْشُونَ فِي الشَّعَرِ
The Last Hour would not come until the Muslims fight with the Turks, a people whose faces would be like hammered shields wearing clothes of hair and walking with shoes made of hair. [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2912]

This Ḥadīth undoubtedly refers to the Mongol-Turkic army that the Muslims fought and defeated in what was the largest assault ever witnessed upon the Muslim lands until today. The Ḥādīth is amazing in that it even specifies the specific type of shoes that the Mongols would wear, something that is amazing since the Mongol invasion occurred 6 centuries after the life of the Prophet, yet he mentioned even down to the finest details how this army would be. The ‘Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire’ (Atwood, 2004) mentions that the traditional footwear of the Mongols and their people at the time of the Mongol Empire was made out of the hair of cows, and on some occasions sources mention that also the hair of camels would be used.

So we see that the prophecies of the Turks referred to the Mongols and Turks of Central Asia and therefore are irrelevant to the discussion about Rūm, as the Republic of Turkey has nothing to do with the Turks mentioned in the Aḥādīth of the Prophet. The reason that the Turkish nation adopted this name is that when the Turkic culture of Central Asia spread along with the Mongol invasion, the Western Turkic languages became spread all the way to Anatolia, and eventually became the primary language of the area. The inhabitants of Anatolia however as discussed previously are not genetically related to the Turks, except for small traces found in some of the eastern villages of Turkey. The majority of the population of Turkey today are more closely related to the Eastern Europeans, the Kurds and the inhabitants of Syria than the Turks. The similarity in name is only due to a loose linguistic relation and was rarely used even during Ottoman times, when the term ‘Turk’ referred to villagers, primarily in Eastern Anatolia and was seen as a degrading term. Mustafa Kemal however embraced this term and used it for the Turkish Republic in order to distance the nation from Europe to their east and the Arabs to their south, and tried to promote a ‘Turkic identity’ through the shared linguistic relationship with the Turks of Central Asia.

(To be continued – The second part will focus on the Aḥādīth about Rūm in the Last Days, and how they relate very clearly to the Republic of Turkey, and how we should therefore prepare ourselves for what will eventually happen. If for any reason you are still unsure about the possibility of Turkey being Rūm, the next part inshā’Allah will make things easier to understand)

About the author: Musa Cerantonio is an active Islamic activist, who reverted to Islam at the age of 17. He is well-known for his appearance on international Islamic TV Shows, such as ‘Iqra TV’ & ‘Ask the Sheikh’.

You can follow him on Facebook here:

Note: Views expressed in the piece do not necessarily represent those of Proposition Revival.

Rise of Arab & Turkish Nationalist Movements in the ‘Uthmani [Ottoman] Khilafah

A look at the origins and currents of nationalism which were developing and flowing through the Arab and Turkish regions of the ‘Uthmani [Ottoman] Khilafah in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

By Tarek ‘Abdur-Rahmān

The Ottoman Empire[1] began in a modest fashion through the beylik[2] of Osman Ghazi centred around the town of Söğüt in north-western Anatolia in 1299CE. Historians herald the beginning of the Empire as Osman’s territories expanded rapidly in the early years and decades of the 1300s.  The Ottomans themselves called their state “Devlet-i Osmaniyye”, Turkish for “The State of Osman”, with a strong Islamic character from its very inception.[3] From then on, the Ottomans began to consolidate their State and expand prodigiously under a succession of energetic and remarkable rulers, replacing the Byzantines as the major power in the Eastern Mediterranean and crossing into the straits of Europe.

By the beginning of the fifteenth century, almost the whole of Anatolia had fallen to the Ottomans.  The subsequent conquest of Constantinople in 1453 (renamed to ‘Istanbul’ – city of Islam) by Mehmed II heralded a golden age for the Ottomans. The crushing victories over the Shah of Safavid Persia, as well as the conquests of modern-day Egypt, Syria and Hejaz[4] between 1515-18 under Selim I, marked the formal transfer of the Caliphate from the weak ‘Abbasids to the Ottomans. The Caliphate consequently reached its apex under Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66), a great patron of culture, overseeing a brilliant civilization excelling in the various arts, sciences and intellectual endeavours. It was an economic, military and political powerhouse, the like the world had hardly witnessed previously.[5]

islamottomanempire It was a universal Empire in its cultural scope, holding together in a single framework of order and administration, regions of the Balkans, Asia Minor, Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, various ethnic groups – Greeks, Serbs, Bulgars, Rumanians, Turks, Arabs, Kurds and Armenians; different religious communities – Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, Maronite and other Christians, and Jews of more than one kind; and different social orders – peoples of the cities, peasants of the plains and river-valleys, villagers of the mountains (Albania, Eastern Anatolia, Kurdistan and Lebanon), nomads of the steppe and desert.[6] The multifarious peoples were incorporated into the Ottoman system politically, militarily, agriculturally, fiscally, commercially, socially, and artistically through administrative, educational and architectural structures.[7]  This remarkable diversity and cultural synthesis was a source of strength for the Empire in the first few centuries as the different groups of people collectively contributed to the cultural, military and intellectual fabric of the Empire, each in their own unique capacity.


Inevitably however, as occurs to all civilizations and empires, after its golden heyday the ‘Uthmani Khilafah began weakening on a slow but steady path of decline.[8]  This happened due to a range of reasons – including a disastrous new succession policy instituted by Sultan Ahmed I (reigned 1603-17), which dictated that the next Sultan would be confined to the Palace till his ascension. This meant he would be deprived of valuable experience in governance, policy and skills of military. Thus the 300 year-old tradition of the resourceful, dynamic and able leaders of the Ottoman State was over, leading to incompetent and inexperienced Sultans. This resulted in a long period of abject administrative instability. Value was no longer placed in skill, and bribery and favouritism plagued the government.[9] There was also economic decline due to inflation as European nations brought massive quantities of gold and especially silver – which the Ottoman economy was based on – from their conquests of the New World, which devalued the Ottoman currency according to the economic laws of supply and demand.[10]

The Wahhabi threat and the regional hegemony of Mehmed Ali in Egypt, disastrous 1768-74 Russo-Turkish war and Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt in 1798 highlighted the Ottoman government’s weakening military strength and lack of control over its territories. A seemingly endless string of defeats in battle with the Habsburgs & Russia, led Selim III to believe by 1792 something was seriously wrong with the Ottoman military make-up.[11] This signalled the era of European style reforms, which beginning with military reforms slowly encompassed other areas of life, ushering in the Tanzimat reforms of the 1800s. This was a complete reorganization of the Ottoman government: a series of laws that modernized it according to European contours. The old system based on Shar’iah – Islamic laws and norms – which had brought it so much success was now gone, replaced by a new framework of centralised administration and secular law.[12] All these factors contributed to the eventual downfall of the Khilafah.

The focus of this piece however will be the role another chief factor played; that of nationalism, which began to manifest itself in its various quarters and provinces. Its origins can be traced to Europe, as revolutions broke out across the continent based on the notion of establishing nation-states,[13]  and began to exhibit itself through intellectual changes produced by new schools, coming of the printing press and newspapers and translation of books from English or French. The idea caught on with officials, teachers and merchants: a nationalism explicitly secular but having a concealed religious element. It caught on first with the Serbs and Greeks, then Rumanians and Bulgarians created their own nation-states, then the idea spread to Armenians, then the Turks themselves, and to the Arabs, Albanians and Kurds.[14]             


The origins of the Arab national movement can be traced to political activities, immediately following Ibrahim Pasha’s withdrawal from Greater Syria (Ash-Sham). American missionaries aimed to revive the Arab spirit, which they considered to be in a slumber for many centuries under Turkish rule. The first step was a supply of Arabic textbooks and school manuals, created by Eli Smith[15] and his colleagues. [16] The avidity with which these books were seized upon showed that minds were awakening to the ideas disseminated. Meanwhile missionaries were rapidly opening schools in various parts of Syria. Their first foundations being in Beirut, Jerusalem and Lebanon. By 1860 they had established thirty-three schools attended by approximately one thousand students, of whom nearly one-fifth were girls.[17] The crowning establishment however was the founding of the “Syrian Protestant College”[18] in Beirut which provided high school education and eventually attained university status, which was to become an institution that played a leading role in defining the country’s future – in particular its Arab national identity.  Two key figures in the establishment of these educational institutions and the Arab nationalist cause, were Nasif Al-Yaziji and Butrus Bustani.


Nasif Al-Yaziji was born in 1800 in Lebanon to a Christian family, hailed for his diligence and prodigious memory. His exploration of libraries took him into the heart of the lost world of classical Arabic literature, kindling the Arab in him and a desire to revive the past. He was known for his purist attempts to emulate the classical Arab writers and wrote books of grammar, logic and prosody which governed the teaching of the science of Arabic long after his death.[19]

The other figure Butrus Bustani, was also a Christian Arab from Lebanon, born in 1819.   He was a multi-linguist, proficient in over six languages and had an outstanding ability in assimilating knowledge and worked closely with the American Protestant Mission until his death. He began to publically express the need for an Arab identity and called for a revival of literature and scholarly works in Arabic. Following the religious tensions and hatred pouring forth from the Maronite/Druze civil war of Mount Lebanon in 1860, Bustani published a small weekly journal called the “Clarion of Syria”[20] where he voiced his vision of a Syrian fatherland. Three years later in pursuance of the same objective he established the “National School”[21] to provide boys of all faiths, education based on religious tolerance and patriotic ideals. Nasif Al-Yaziji served as principal teacher of Arabic. The school achieved fame swiftly and attracted pupils from all corners of Syria.

Bustani, one of the early pioneers of Arab nationalism
Bustani, one of the early pioneers of Arab nationalism

In 1870, he began Al-Jenan, a fortnightly political and literary review whose motto he gave, “Patriotism is an article of faith” which was published with fair regularity during the rest of his lifetime. He compiled a compendious dictionary of the Arabic language in 1870 appearing in two volumes, and also an Arabic encyclopaedia, “Al-Muhit al-Muhit” – “the Ocean of Oceans” – of six elaborate volumes.[22] It was at this time he came to be known famously as the Master and Father of the Arabic Renaissance. He made large strides in forging a nationalism for Arabs by adopting and contextualizing European political and social values and education while maintaining a distinct nationalism, patriotism and Arab identity. All of this was to the advancement and continuation of the Arab cultural and literary renaissance at large that moved from Syria to Egypt and Lebanon.  Education, for Bustani, was the main vehicle to achieve an Arab identity and nationalism and it was only by the mass production of literature and its speedy circuit throughout the Middle East, that such an identity could be formed. He took a non-sectarian approach and worked to bring together both Christians and Muslims into the greater agenda of the revolution of Arab identity and culture. His prolific output and ground-breaking work led the creation of modern Arabic expository prose. Educated by westerners, he was a fierce secularist, playing a decisive role in formulating the principles of Syrian nationalism.

In 1847 Bustani, Al-Yaziji and Mikhail Mishaga under the auspices of the American Mission established the first literary society in the Arab world, “The Syrian Association for the Sciences and Arts” with only Christian members, which tackled and published its deliberations on themes such as women’s rights, history and their fight against superstition.  It was dissolved in 1852 but its inner circle went on to establish the “Syrian Scientific Association a few years later in 1857, which was much bigger in scope, featuring a multi-sectarian society of intellectuals who pushed for Arab independence from the Ottomans. [24]  For the first time probably in the 350 years of Ottoman domination, a common ideal had brought the warring creeds together; an interest in the progress of the country as a national unit, a pride in the Arab inheritance their bond.

It was at a secret gathering of certain members of the society that the Arab national movement may be said to have uttered its first cry. Ibrahim Yazeji, son of the influential Nasif, composed an ode to patriotism, which sang of the achievements of the Arab race and the glories of Arabic literature and called upon Syrians to band together and shake off the Turkish yoke. It spread precipitously in a hushed manner due to its treasonable message. It appealed especially to students, stamping their minds with racial pride. The poem was instrumental in fostering the national movement in its infancy. With its utterance the movement for political emancipation sang its first song.[25]


The currents of Arab nationalism were also apparent in the writings of Muhammad Abduh and his best-known disciple, Muhammad Rashid Rida. In their vision of following the Salafiyya,[26] drops of the intellectual burgeoning of Arab nationalism were found under the guise of Islam. Abduh dated the decline of Islam to when the ‘Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu-tasim used Turkish and Dailamite mercenaries as Pretorian guards. Under the influence of these “barbarians” according to Abduh, the intellectual civilization of Islam withered and wilted, for they “wore Islam on their bodies, but nothing of it penetrated their soul.”[27]

Rida similarly postulated in his periodical Al-Manar, that “most of the lands which the Turks conquered were a burden on Islam… and are still a warning of clear catastrophe… that the greatest glory in the Muslim conquests goes to the Arabs, and that religion grew, and became great through them”.  Thus implicit in the argument is a glorification of Arab Islam and a depreciation of Ottoman Islam, which saw the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the glorious dawn, the Umayyad period, the promise of forenoon, and the ‘Abbasid period, the splendour of noon. All stages that followed signalled the sad decline and shades of night slowly closing in.[28]


These ideas were further strengthened in a more resounding manner by Abd al-Rahman Al-Kawakibi who belonged to Rida’s circle. Kawakibi often used to say, “If I had an army, I would have overthrown the government of Abdul Hamid in twenty-four hours.”[29] In his book “Umm al-Qura” he mentions the Muslims are a dead people, whose stagnation is a result of tyranny, and of the absence of racial and linguistic bonds among Muslims, and partly for this reason the Ottoman Caliphate is not fit to preserve Islam. He also provided a list of twenty-six reasons to prove the superiority of the Arabs and why the Caliphate should devolve to them. Some consider him as the first true intellectual precursor of modern secular Pan-Arabism; there were no reticences or half-tones in his claim that the Arabs were better than the Turks. Also with his idea of a merely spiritual caliphate, he took the first step towards a purely secular politics. He was fully of the opinion that religion should be separated from state and there should be a symbolic Pope-like figure of a Caliph. Such an idea was an essential prerequisite of nationalism.[30]

A Syrian author, was one of the most prominent intellectuals of his time.
Al-Kawakibi was one of the most prominent intellectuals of his time

The ideas of Al-Kawakibi, a few years later were given even more precision by a Christian, Negib Azoury, who seems to be a shady character who may have been a French agent. At any rate it is certain he approached French sources for money for his seditious activities.[31] In 1905 published in Paris a book titled, Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe dans l’Asie Turque which further expounds Al-Kawakibi’s idea of a spiritual Arab Caliphate. He also envisioned an Arab empire whose “natural frontiers” would be the valley of the Euphrates and the Tigris, the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. The throne of this empire would be taken by a prince of the Khedivial family, he explained.[32] This was a landmark aspiration, as it constituted the first open demand for the secession of the Arab lands from the Ottoman Caliphate. It should be marked the demand was made by a Christian, for Muslims were generally wary of any move that might disrupt the Ottoman Caliphate, the only great Muslim power in the world.[33]


This was one spectrum of the nationalist sentiments which was brewing in the ‘Uthmani Khilafah. The other movement was just as dangerous, if not more to the survival of the Khilafah: the foment of Turkish nationalism, which had no real inter-connexion between the Arab movement apart from both of their derision for Sultan Abdul-Hamid II and his rule.

One of the most prominent figures trumpeting the call for westernizing reforms and nationalism on the Turkish scene was Namık Kemal, known as the apostle of two ideas in Turkey: freedom and fatherland. In a long series of articles, essays, novels, plays and poems, he brought to the Turkish Muslim reader these two key ideas of the French revolution, adapted to Muslim traditions and attitudes.[34] His writing had far-reaching, revolutionary impacts which reverberated through to the next generation, including influencing Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.[35] He was profoundly impressed by the achievements of European civilization and thought all the best elements of European civilization could be paralleled in Islamic civilization. His political theories were derived from Montesquieu and Rousseau, which he attempted to merge with the principles of the Shari’ah, and his ideas on the practice of government were taken from the parliaments of London and Paris.[36]

One of the most instrumental figures in propagating Turkish nationalism
Namik Kemalwas instrumental in propagating Turkish nationalism


The first attempt to organize a revolutionary group was in June, 1865 where a group of six, Namık Kemal being one of them, held a meeting to establish their secret society in Paris. Little is known of its original programme and its headquarters became the Paris residence of Prince Mustafa Fazil. Many new and significant ideas first found Turkish expression in their writings, and their influence on the thoughts and actions of the generations followed were extensive.[37] The society grew rapidly, and claimed 245 members at a later date.[38]

In February, 1867 they named themselves the “Young Ottomans” – later popularly known as the “Young Turks” – and a year later produced their own first paper from London, the Hürriyet (Freedom) which Kemal and Ziya Paşa were closely associated with. The first issue contained a leading article entitled, “Love of One’s Country is Part of the Faith”[39], speaking of an Ottoman patriotism similar to the European countries. Meanwhile another figure, Ali Suavi, published a journal called Ulum (Science) from Paris, where he expressed a distinct Turkish loyalty, clearly differentiated from an Islamic or Ottoman loyalty. The publication which reached Turkey through various channels, aroused some interest.

Another figure was Mehmed Bey, who was a member of the palace and governing circle and was one of the founding members of the Young Ottomans. Yet espousing more radical views he parted with them and published a paper called Ittihad (Union) in Turkish, Greek, Arabic and Armenian. He then moved to Geneva and published a journal called Inkilab (Revolution), which introduced a new portentous word in the Turkish political vernacular [that of ‘revolution’].[40]


One of the most ground-breaking strides in ushering in sentiments of patriotism was Namık Kemal’s melodramatic play Vatan yahut Silistre (Fatherland or Silistre). First produced in 1873, it was immensely popular with students in the military schools, who smuggled copies back and forth under the noses of their instructors.[41] The four acts of the drama deal with an episode in the defence of the Turkish fortress of Silistria against the Russians in 1854. The play burns with fervent patriotic sentiment and is full of rousing appeals to the Ottomans to love their country and defend it against its enemies. In it the ideas formulated in Kemal’s leading articles in Hürriyet and Ibret find dramatic expression. This aroused such dangerous enthusiasms that Kemal was imprisoned in Cyprus for over three years as a result.[42]


With increasing severity in censorship from 1890-1 onwards, the Young Turks were the source of the most significant productions of Turkish journalism through newspapers and periodicals published in growing numbers by Young Turk exiles in France, Switzerland, England, Egypt and elsewhere.  Even with censorship, three of their daily newspapers had about 12,000 – 15,000 circulations which reached and influenced the members of the small educated elite.[43] It was in the schools and the nurseries of the civil and military elite that the seeds of revolution were sown. Many Turkish writers have described the atmosphere of discontent and revolutionary ferment in the Hamidian schools, especially in the provincial centres, less subject to the immediate control of the palace.

Teachers and students alike read the forbidden writings of Namık Kemal and Ziya Paşa, talking and dreaming of freedom and fatherland. Niyazi Bey, the hero of the revolution of July 1908 how a teacher introduced poems by Kemal, under whose influence “an intoxicating patriotism prepared… my innocent heart for revolutions”.[44]  A further nucleus of the Young Turks formed in 1889 called the “Committee of Union and Progress” (C.U.P.). Its founders were four medical students and grew rapidly, winning adherents among the cadets in the civil, military, naval, medical and other high schools in Istanbul. Ahmet Rıza, one of the most fearless of the Young Turks was among them who began to publish a fortnightly journal, the Mesveret which smuggled through the foreign post offices and other channels and began to circulate in Istanbul, helping to increase the numbers of the society and was instrumental in keeping the spark of the Young Turk movement alive.[45]


In 1896, conspirators from the secret group prepared a coup d’état to depose the Sultan. The plot was discovered, leading to the swift arrest of those involved. [46] A development which led to much excitement amongst revolutionaries a couple of years later was the Sultan’s brother-in-law Prince Sabahattin, fleeing to Europe due to the lack of freedom he felt in the Empire. This made the headlines in Europe and revived party activity. In 1902 Prince Sabahattin and his brother convened the inaugural “Young Turk Congress” in Paris. Forty delegates from various regions in the Empire discussed their concerns regarding its status. The Prince and his supporters agreed on military intervention and the governor of Tripoli, Recep Pasha, agreed to give them troops to forcibly depose Abdülhamid. Pasha changed his mind however and the plan was abandoned.[47]

Meanwhile in 1905 Kemal Atatürk graduated from the Turkish War Academy as a staff captain and was posted to Ottoman Fifth Army Headquarters in Damascus. He came into contact with a secret society, Vatan (Motherland) which he soon became head of, changing its name to Vatan ve Hürriyet (Motherland and Freedom) and establishing a branch in his hometown, Salonika. Here also patriotic sentiment and resentment led to another more effective revolutionary organization being established: the Ottoman Freedom Association (Osmanli Hürriyet Cemiyeti) by nine members, both civilians and military officers.  In 1907 they joined with the C.U.P. under their name.

In the same year, the Second Young Turk Congress convened in Paris, attended by Prince Sabahattin and Ahmet Rıza – being the dominant figure, now the most influential figure representing Turkish nationalism[48] – and his supporters and Armenian representatives. They listed the aspects they were dissatisfied with the Abdülhamid administration and finally agreed to the use of armed force to achieve revolution.[49]

In July 1908, the world heard in shock, that the Turkish Third Army Corps, stationed in Macedonia had revolted against Abdülhamid and forced him to reinstate the Constitution of 1876. News began to trickle out that the bloodless revolution had been carried out by the C.U.P.[50] Wild rejoicing brought people into the streets, the C.U.P. motto, “Liberty, Justice, Equality, Fraternity” appeared everywhere. The Sultan ironically, only improved his popularity with the developments. Patriotic sentiments ran high as three plays were performed, including Kemal’s arousing Vatan.

Hopes for a new era were subjected to two rude shocks however. On October 5, the vassal state of Bulgaria proclaimed its independence, and the next day Austria-Hungary annexed outright the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which she had occupied since 1878. The only means of Ottoman pressure was a trade boycott, which was fairly effective.[51]

There was a counter revolution on April 13, 1909, by the religious factions of common soldiers and theological students deeming the new regime irreligious, violating the Shari’ah. Soldiers invaded the Chamber of Deputies and ousted the C.U.P.-installed government and took control of the capital. There was however no real vision and political strength of the movement, as troops loyal to the C.U.P. marched on Istanbul from Salonika and put down the rising and restored their regime. They hastened to make judicial and financial amends for the events. In light of the counter-revolution the C.U.P. decided to get rid of Abdülhamid once and for all with a Fatwa[52] from the Shaykh ul-Islam. In 1876 Sultan Abdülhamid had come to power through a coup led by political figures and army officers, and 33 years later left his position in a similar manner. His younger brother Mehmed V was installed in his place.[53]


In conclusion, by 1918 when the C.U.P. government era ended in the chaos of defeat of World War I, they had not lived up to their claims of constitutional freedom and democratic ideals and proved to be autocratic. By 1914, the government was effectively run by a triumvirate: Enver as war minister, Talat as interior minister, and Jemal as navy minister. They nonetheless contributed to the institutional, ideological and social development that was to underlay the emergence of the modern Turkish nation and republic.[54] Turkish nationalism came increasingly to the fore, leaving aside Ottomanism and Islamism, yet was to find its truly crystallizing form under the leadership of Kemal Atatürk.

The Balkan War of 1912 was disastrous to the Empire and within a few months had to cede to Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro almost all its European territory. Westernization and secularization increased, and women made a modest advance in public life.

The defining blow to the Caliphate and Empire came however with the Great War, and especially the developments of Arab nationalism which had taken the form of a rebellion led by the Sharif Husayn of Makkah, backed by the British, who sought an independent Arab Empire.[55] This allowed the British to easily procure Iraq, Palestine and Syria from the Ottoman Empire. After the war, the Empire essentially ceased to exist, as the ultra-nationlist Atatürk ceased power and declared a purely Turkish state in modern-day Turkey.

It is perhaps then indicative, that the convergence of the two nationalist movements, simultaneously brewing in the Arab and Turkish regions led to the ultimate destruction of the ‘Uthmani Khilafah. The British did not keep their promise to Sharif Husayn and divided the Arab world between themselves and France. Arbitrary lines split the Arab world into new nations called Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Zionist Jews were encouraged to settle in Palestine, creating a new Jewish state – Israel. Egypt continued under British domination to become its own nation, separate from the rest of the Arab world.[56]

Thus what had once been the great flourishing Ottoman Empire, Sultanate, and then Khilafah was no more: the forces of nationalism had dealt it a deathly blow, tearing right through the fabric of their strength; the diverse array of people, backgrounds and religions which were previously an asset – was now replaced by numerous competing nationalistic states at the mercy of foreign powers.[57]

About the author: Tarek ‘Abdur-Rahmān is currently in his second year of Bachelor Arts/Education at the University of New South Wales, Majoring in History. He is a keen Islamic activist & student of Islamic knowledge. You can follow him on Facebook here:

[1] The Latinized version of the original Osmanli or ‘Uthmani as it was otherwise popularly known [Osman is usually regarded as the Turkish form of the Arabic ‘Uthman].

[2] A beylik was a small independent state led by a Ghazi (a warrior who fought for the defence of Islam) – initially developed from a small loyal militia – who would lead his soldiers to war, moving throughout the Anatolian countryside

[3] Alkhateeb, F. 2012. The Birth of the Ottoman Empire. [online] Available at:

[4] The narrow vertical Western-strip of current-day Saudi Arabia, consisting of Jedda and the Holy Cities of Makkah and Medina. It is a region of much historical importance.

[5] “Ottoman Empire”, Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

[6] Albert Hourani, The Emergence of the Modern Middle East (California: University of California Press, 1981), 9.

[7] Jane Hathaway and Karl K. Barbir, The Arab Lands Under Ottoman Rule, 1516-1800 (Harlow, England: Pearson Longman, 2008), 7.

[8]  Ibn Khaldun, in his brilliant book on historiography, The Muqaddimah, states that “dynasties have a natural life span like individuals” and that “it [a dynasty] grows up and passes into an age of stagnation and then into retrogression.” The insightful words of Ibn Khaldun in 1337 hold true for the history of the last great Muslim empire – the Ottoman Empire.

[9] Alkhateeb, F. 2012. The Decline of the Ottoman Empire: Part 1 Politics and Economics. [online] Available at:

[10] Ibid.

[11] Hathaway and Barbir, Arab Lands Under Ottoman Rule, 220.

[12] Alkhateeb, F. 2012. The Decline of the Ottoman Empire: Part 2 Islamic Decline. [online] Available at:

[14] Hourani, The Emergence of the Modern Middle East, 16.

[15] A prominent American Protestant Missionary and Scholar

[16] “The Arab Awakening”, George Antonius (Hamish Hamilton, London, 90 Great Russell Street, 1945), p. 41.

[17] Ibid., 42.

[18] The number one ranked University in Lebanon today, known as the “American University of Beirut”

[19] “The Arab Awakening”, George Antonius, p. 4..

[20] Original name in Arabic: “Nafir Suriya”

[21] Al-Madrasa al-wataniya

[22] Antonius, Arab Awakening, 49.

[24] Johnson, Michael (2001). All Honourable Men: The Social Origins of War in LebanonI.B.Tauris. p. 138.

[25] Antonius, Arab Awakening, 53-55.

[26] The original initial generations of Islam, who were the bastions of Islam in its most pristine form.

[27] Sylvia G. Haim, Arab Nationalism: An Anthology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962), 22.

[28] Ibid. p. 22-3

[29] Ibrahim Salim al-Najjar, quoted in Sami al-Dahhan, Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (Cairo, 1955), 37.

[30] Haim, Arab Nationalism, 26-27.

[31] E. Jung, La revolte Arabe (1906-24) (2 vols.; Paris, 1924), gives details of Azoury’s activites; the author was his collaborator.

[32] Negib Azoury, Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe dans l’Asie Turque, p. i-iii, 245-8.

[33] Haim, Arab Nationalism, 30.

[34] Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 141.

[35] Sina Aksin, Turkey: From Empire to Revolutionary Republic, The Emergence of the Turkish Nation from 1789 to the Present  (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 34.

[36] Ibid., p. 142.

[37] Ibid., p. 173.

[38] Ibid., p. 152

[39] Hubb al-Watan min al-Iman

[40] Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), 154-6.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid., p. 173.

[43] Ibid., p.  194.

[44] Ibid., p.  195-6.

[45] Ernest E. Ramsaur, JR., The Young Turks: Prelude to the Revolution of 1908, (New York: Russell and Russell, 1970), 89.

[46] Lewis, Emergence of Modern Turkey, 197-8.

[47] Aksin, Turkey: From Empire to Revolutionary Republic, 48-9.

[48] Ramsaur, The Young Turks, 93.

[49] Ibid., 50.

[50] Ibid., 94.

[51] Roderic H. Davison, Turkey, a Short History (England: The Eothen Press, 1968), 106.

[52] Religious ruling.

[53] Davison, Turkey, a Short History, 107-8.

[54] Ibid., p. 109.

[55] Ibid., p. 117.


Aksin, Sina, Turkey: From Empire to Revolutionary Republic, The Emergence of the Turkish Nation from 1789 to the Present,  New York: New York University Press, 2007.

Albert Hourani, The Emergence of the Modern Middle East, California: University of California Press, 1981.

Antonius, George, The Arab Awakening, London, 90 Great Russell Street: Hamish Hamilton, 1945.

Alkhateeb, Firas. 2012. The Decline of the Ottoman Empire: Part 1 Politics and Economics. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Oct 2013].

Alkhateeb, Firas. 2012. The Decline of the Ottoman Empire: Part 2 Islamic Decline. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Oct 2013].

Alkhateeb, Firas. 2013. The Decline of the Ottoman Empire: Part 3 Nationalism. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Oct 2013].

Azoury, Azoury Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe dans l’Asie Turque.

Davison, Roderic H., Turkey, a Short History, England: The Eothen Press, 1968.

Haim, Sylvia G., Arab Nationalism: An Anthology, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962.

Hathaway, Jane and Barbir, Karl K., The Arab Lands Under Ottoman Rule, 1516-1800, Harlow, England: Pearson Longman, 2008.

Johnson, Michael, All Honourable Men: The Social Origins of War in Lebanon, 2001.

Jung, E. La revolte Arabe (1906-24), 2 volumes, Paris, 1924.

Lewis, Bernard, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

“Ottoman Empire”, Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

Ramsaur, Ernest E. JR., The Young Turks: Prelude to the Revolution of 1908, New York: Russell and Russell, 1970.

The Sacrifices of the Noble Scholars of India: the Revolution That Wasn’t

In the year 1857, one of the most important uprisings in world history took place. One of the most important because it was against the British and in their biggest and most important colony – India. If successful, it could have emboldened colonised people everywhere and inspired them to revolt against the then burgeoning and colossal British Empire.

As it is, it has gone down in history as one of the most important and spectacular FAILED uprisings.

Tired of British colonial rule and oppression, the people of various parts of India rose up against the colonialists. The rebellion started when sepoys (soldiers) employed by the British East India Company revolted after continued discrimination, including forcing acts upon them that contradicted their religious beliefs. This was the case for both Muslim and Hindu sepoys. However the rebellion quickly spread to other people, including civilians and some Nawabs (British approved local rulers) who revolted along with their subjects. The spiritual leadership of the revolt was with the final Mughal Emperor – Shah Alam – who was deposed following the revolt by the British, with the Mughal Empire officially disbanded and the last emperor deported to Burma to die in obscurity a few years later.

One of the most important element of society that it spread to, though, were the Muslim scholars – the ‘Ulema. These numbered in their tens of thousands. Islamic scholarship was strong despite the general decline in learning during the era of the Nawabs that followed the decline of the Mughal rulers. This was because of the strength of traditional Islamic learning in India, particularly the Hanafi Madhab. Most scholars were united by a movement/organisation called Jamiatul ‘Ulema, which consisted of tens if not hundreds of thousands of people (scholars and students of knowledge). These scholars urged the people to rebel, especially the Muslims. In Masjids, sermons were given exhorting people to rise up against the kafir colonialists.

Interestingly, despite their issues, Muslims and Hindus in many many cases worked and fought together. In the case of many rebelling Hindu elements they recognised the leadership of Shah Alam as the guide of the revolt. The Mughal authority was by 1857 mainly confined to Delhi and its surroundings, which is where Shah Alam coordinated and advised others from.

While Hindus revolted with the Muslims in many places – and were independent of Muslims in others – for the large part the revolt is seen as a Muslim revolt. It was Muslims who had the greatest motivation in revolting, to regain lost power and prestige, and possessed most of the power until the British East India Company invaded.

The rebellion turned into mini wars and conflicts in various parts of India between the rebels and the forces of the British as well as the many British agents, especially the Nawabs. They used “loyal” employees (i.e. Indian sell outs, both “Muslims” and Hindus) – both the British themselves as well as the Nawabs – to try to quash the various uprisings. In certain places it was confined to protests and demonstrations.

Battles ensued in various parts of India, some going for months, before they were eventually defeated. One after one the centers of rebellion were neutralised by the British and their agents.

What followed was what is known in Arabic and Urdu as qatl ‘aam – general killing. It was bloodshed, massacre and revenge by the British on a massive scale, in which the blood of the rebels and their supporters flowed in rivers. They didn’t do all the killing themselves. Rather, they would use their client Nawabs to do so. The Nawabs would in turn have the relevant people and rebels executed by their subjects, thus meaning that it was Indian forced to kill Indian (as the picture below depicts), and often (sell-out) “Muslim” forced to kill rebel Muslim. The revenge was brutal. People were killed en masse, with the preferred mode of killing being public hanging, in order to teach people a lesson never to try something similar again.


The class of people that suffered the most were the ‘Ulema/scholars and their students and supporters. They were rounded up and made an example of. They were butchered in their tens of thousands, if not more. They were seen as the spiritual inspiration behind much of the rebellion in several centers, and thus “held to account”.

A most common report and articulation of the extent of the massacre is the following: it is said that for the 180 kilometres between Delhi and the city of Moradabad, the road was such that there were trees on either immediate side of the road, forming a canopy and tunnel of sorts for the vast extent of this road. It is said that there was not one tree on this road on both sides of the road except that a corpse of a Muslim scholar/member of Jamiatul Ulema was hanging from it. Subhan Allah – a massacre of gargantuan proportions.

The uprising was defeated, and the revolution that could have been was lost. Muslims were massacred as were other people, but the ones that lost the most were the Scholarly class. And through them of course the general people.

For at least a generation or two the Muslims lost almost any willingness to resist, and when the will returned, it did so in other forms and never with the same gusto.

The failed 1857 mutiny is probably the single greatest disaster in the history of the Muslims of Hind. We are still feeling the impacts of this today.

However, it also shows the exemplary courage of the ‘Ulema who stood for the truth and paid with their lives.

May Allah have immense Mercy on them and raise them as martyrs on the last day. Ameen!

May Allah return the glory the Muslims of Hind have lost and forgive them for their shortcomings and mistakes. Ameen.