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‘Rebirth’ was the result of the near death experience of Islamic civilization during the Mongolian invasion in the 13th century. This ‘great catastrophe’ was the culmination of a long series of foreign and domestic attacks resulting in millions of deaths, demolition of Muslim urban centers, destruction of irrigation systems crucial for agriculture, burning of libraries and the ancient cultural heritage of Mesopotamia and Persia, and most importantly the failure of Islamic unity, the cornerstone of the Muslim project. In light of this tragic upheaval, we can understand the urgency felt by Muslims to try to understand what went wrong and how to rebuild. Two drastically different responses to this tragedy emerged; a radically conservative reaction championed by the Ibn-Taymiyya, calling for a return to the religious ways of Mohammed and his companions and a progressive and novel approach built upon the fusion of Sufism and Turkish nomadic traditions. Out of the latter a new world empire will unfold, namely the Ottoman Empire.
In this week’s writing assignment, you will trace the origins of these two reformist movements, compare their approaches to return to Islam’s original mission of perfecting the Umma, and examine the reasons for the success of the Ottoman empire as a mighty force that will conquer and manage diverse and complex territories in three different continents.
Based on your reading of the first part of chapter ten (p159-183) and your viewing of the third part of the documentary “Islam, Empire of Faith”, explore some or all of the following questions. In your final writing submission, you should include at least four out of the seven answers to the questions below. Failure to do so would affect your grade points as explained in details in the rubric.
Anxiety in Muslim societies was felt as early as the 11th century. This anxiety, born out of a sense of instability, was fueled by the relative failure of Islamic unity, the struggle against the crusaders conquest of the holy lands, the ferocious and destructive invasions of the Mongols, and the Assassins’ terrorism. How did these different events spark a crisis for Muslim theology? Elaborate on the conservative response to this “identity crisis”…
—One of the more popular and progressive responses to this crisis was the development of Sufism. How did this spiritual movement end up in Asia Minor (Anatolia) along with Turkish nomads from central Asia and how did their fusion lead to a major political and military conquering force?
—Who is Rumi and who are the Mevlevi Dervishes?
— Othman, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty was a recent descendant of the Turks, a nomadic tribe originating from Central Asia. How did these tribes end up in Asia minor and how did Othman manage to turn these foreigners into a major force to reckon with and that will eventually evolve into a mighty conquering empire?
—-“The Ottomans profited from the single most crucial bit of luck that makes the difference between success and failure for a family dynasty: it had a series of long-lived rulers…” (Ansary 173) List major Ottoman sultans and evaluate their contributions (Effective policies and conquests) to the success of the Ottoman Empire ?
—What made Constantinople such an important city to conquer for the Ottoman? Summarize its conquest by the young Sultan Mehmet and explain how its fall signaled the real birth of an Islamic world empire?
—-At the apogee of its reign in the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was arguably the world greatest power. One of the reasons of its success is the vibrancy inherent to the complexity and diversity of its society. Describe the Ottoman society and elaborate on its effective and yet fragile mechanisms of checks and balances managing its diverse and complex centers of power.