Rise and Fall of Islamic Empires BY 35 The Ottoman and Safavid Empires both gained followers due to their extremist religious motives. The Ottomans wanted to become ghazi, holy warriors of Islam (754), while the Safavids used Twelver Shiism, sometimes forcefully, sometimes dishonestly, to gain popularity with neighboring tribes (758). Both Ottoman Sultans and Safavid Shahs claimed leadership over all Islam. The Ottomans were able to remain a dominant force due to the ease in which they were able to transition to the new gunpowder technology. With the use of gunpowder arms they were able to defeat the
Safavids at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514 (759) and take Constantinople in 1453 (755). The Mughals also embraced gunpowder weapons which aided them greatly during the siege of Delhi in 1526 (759). The Mughals, however, did not use religion to gain fame. Zahir al-Din Muhammad cared more for establishing an empire in his name than establishing one in the name of Allah (759), though his grandson and subsequent leaders put more emphasis on religion in an effort to expand their empire. The Safavids, did not agree with the Ottoman and Mughal Empires and their use of gunpowder weapons.
They saw the use of this new technology as cowardly, and the guns themselves unreliable, until Shah Abbas the Great (1588-1629) increased their use in the Safavid army (759). The Safavids constantly changed their religious beliefs to better suit certain potential converts, and lied about tales of how they came to power. Both the Ottomans and the Safavids used non-Turkish officials in their administrative systems. The Ottomans, under Mehmed the Conqueror, kept those already in Constantinople’s bureaucratic positions where they were. The Safavids not only relied on Persians in the government, but the Shah adopted many Persian customs in court.
The Safavids also strongly encouraged trade with foreign lands, and were among the first to pass consumer protection laws. Though Akbar disagreed with imposing religion onto others, in 1579 he claimed authority in religious matters and encouraged his own religion which glorified himself along with Islam (762). Similarly, some Safavid forces believed that Shah Ismail was indeed the twelfth imam, though others considered this blasphemous. Both the Ottoman and Safavid armies rewarded new land and estates to its warrior classes in return for services rendered. All three empires slowly deteriorated due to the declining quality of those in power.
In the 17th Century the Ottoman Sultans rarely left their palaces, and the princes were given little, if any experience on how to rule. The Safavids had trouble dealing with corruption within the state, and nobles who demanded more power. The Safavid policy of imposing Twelver Shiism caused nomadic groups in Afghanistan to revolt. That, along with rebellion coming from within the state, allowed the Safavid Empire to crumble away. The Mughal Empire went on a rapid decline after Aurangzeb’s rule when he ordered non-Muslims to pay additional taxes, and the estruction of important Hindu temples.
In 1742 the printing press was banned from the Ottoman Empire by conservative Muslims who felt it was unethical and took away from the art in calligraphy. Ibn Khaldun felt strongly about the differences between people within an empire and people not In an emplre. 10 nlm tne noma01c trlDes were savage yet tougn people. The nomads were greatly feared across the land and for good reason. Living in the desert made them aggressive and conditioned them to endure the harshest scenarios. City dwellers on the other hand were weak and spoiled.
They relied too eavily on what a life of luxury and ease, and over time became even weaker and unable to defend themselves. Khaldun most likely considered the nomadic peoples to be a source of strength because it was from them that great empires were built. In his studies he became familiar with a multitude of empires and dynasties, and saw that empires fell largely due to the cowardice and incompetence of newer generations. The nomadic tribes were able to defend themselves and provide for themselves, and if they were not able, they would be conquered by another tribe and grow to become apart of their empire.
Khaldun felt that the city dwellers had lost the admirable traits of the nomadic tribes, and instead adopted a policy of hiring foreign peoples. Relying heavily on foreign aid and becoming too dependent on the luxury and ease of being apart of an empire greatly undermined later generations’ ability to rule. Just as what happened with the early Chinese empires, foreign aid could see that empires calling for help were in a state of weakness. If a threat were to arise, Khaldun understood that an empire in its later years would be unable to face it. The overall mentality that gripped city dwellers became their ultimate downfall.
People became too used to living in a society of comfort and bliss, caring more for aesthetics than necessity. City dwellers had lost the unifying force, the group feeling that had built their empire. To a degree the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires did follow Khaldun’s theory of empires. Both the Mughals and the Safavids roughly lasted Khaldun’s estimate of 120 years, while the Ottomans stood out with over 600 years of uninterrupted rule. The Ottomans and Safavids both built themselves up from nomadic groups of Turks into cultures with rich thriving cities, though few could compare to Istanbul.
Yet all three empires lost base with their founding roots. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb acted directly against his predecessors and worsened the relationship between Muslims and Hindus by destroying Hindu temples and replacing them with mosques. The Safavids discontinued Ismail’s extreme ideology and adopted a more general form of Shiism. The Mughals followed Khaldun’s decline almost to the letter. After having difficulty maintaining security within its own borders, the Mughals succumbed to constant raids by Persian and Afghani forces, and was eventually put under control of the British East India Company in 1764.