The founding of Australia differs to other British settlements, as it turned into a debate, which has been discussed by people who related to the topic for many years, whether Australia was established because of transporting criminals or not. Being gaps in documentary evidences and misunderstanding of the motivation of the government in reaching a decision for a settlement in Australia caused a conflict between historians in the past.
Prof. Dr. Ahmed AKGÜNDÜZ
We are here to emphasize that this is neither a history book in chronological sense, nor by any means a book of philosophy of history, nor directly a work on history of thinking. Yet although legislative evaluations are found in its every line, this book is not a History of Ottoman Legislation, either. But this is a manual that contains the replies to those questions asked about the Ottoman History and State as regards to history, legislation, culture, civilization and economic history as well as such questions as are deliberately put by some.
This work has not abstained from deeply examining some issues to such an extent that an Ottoman historian cannot afford to overlook; it has gone into details in some legislative applications an Islamic jurist could feel interest in; it has searched for answers to such interesting questions as should interest a tradesman; it has been written in an easy language so that a student can understand it; it discusses the questions directed to history teachers by their students who are curious about them in such manner as could be used by history teachers as a manual; in short, it has endeavored to tell the true history in such a fashion that no Muslim grandchild of the Ottomans could refrain from reading it; consequently, it has elaborated so many untouched subjects that it will attract all kinds of readers who are keen on the Ottoman history. We also have included in the work the biographies of the Ottoman sultans which might be considered a bit too much by some; however, this was both compulsory for the other questions to be comprehended and the manner of wording is so different that it will interest even those who are already informed of the issue. Our aim is that history be rectified, which as a matter of fact is the common wish of the majority of society. This work in fact is the fruit of the said wish.
Every author puts forward in their work their indispensable principles whereon they arrange their style and contents. Doubtlessly, we too have certain indispensable rules and principles in the writing of this work which have constantly referred to, several of which we wish to mention in order to prepare our dear readers:
1) In our day, certain vicious lobbies taking a stance against the Ottoman State assault the Ottoman State, the longest-lasting Islamic state, in three columns: The First Column: They are the foes of religion and history who dare not reveal their enmity towards Islam but do it under the disguise of hatred towards the Ottomans. Such are they who thus realize their enmity towards Islam in form of criticizing the Ottomans, who – with their defaults – practiced and helped practice Islam in each and every stage of their life. The Second Column: They are those credulous Muslims who do not have sound knowledge of the Ottoman history and thus are deceived with the propaganda of a country that hindered the Ottomans from spreading Islam for six centuries and has ever tried to deviate Islam from its purity. The Third Column: They are a certain faction that oppose the notion of the Ummah (the Muslim Community) and Ottoman State of the Ottomans to embrace all the Muslims and that unjustly attempt to show the Ottoman State as an enemy of Turks, in which group are found those who mercilessly criticize particularly Muhammad the Conqueror”s Kapıkulu (Janissary Guards) system and such Ottoman statesmen as Muhammad of Sokol who are of other races. One of the most significant matters used as an ace by all the above-said three lobbies is that the Ottoman sultans were extremely addicted to intoxicating drinks in disrespect of the decrees of Islam concerning the prohibition of alcoholic drinks. On the other hand, the issue of Harem is put in limelight with similar allegations. Here in this book the deliberate allegations of the mentioned groups will be illuminated one by one.
2) The Ottoman State is a great state. And it is a great task to write about the Ottoman History. Those who only see the errors in great affairs and act quick-wittedly both deceive and are deceived. The principle of quick-wittedness is to magnify a wickedness and to make it overcome all the beauties. If you look at a man with an assumption that all the odors he gives out in a year”s time occur at one time, that person turns out very unbecoming in your sight. Likewise, if one collects in such quick-wittedness all the wrongs that took place dispersed during the 600 years” reigning period of the Ottoman State over a vast land of 20 million square km and look at the Ottoman State through that black veil, then one meets a dark history. Quick-wittedness is the machinery of all sorts of weird events. In fact, in the sight of a witted lover the whole universe plays a game in love and sport; nevertheless, according to a mother who is lamenting her child”s death the whole cosmos is shedding tears in melancholy. Whereas, neither is truth.
History is the garden made up of phenomena and people. If you enter a garden for an hour”s excursion, you are likely to witness some dirty and impure things here and there, for it is only of the properties of the gardens of the paradise to be exempt from defaults and it is of the requirements of this world to make each perfection flawed. Those ones of wicked nature only busy themselves with the decayed and rotten things in that garden. In the sight of such a person that garden – incited by his imagination and groundless fear – turns out to be a filthy and messy dump as though there is naught else in that garden; he thus gets sick and vomits. Whereas, does the reason approve of such a look? Whoever sees well thinks well; whoever thinks well sees well; and whoever sees well enjoys their life.
Now that we have entered the garden of Ottoman history, we shall look not only at the decayed and spoilt objects, but also at the opened flowers and fragrant roses. Apart from Turshjuzade who issued fatwahs (verdicts) in order to hold their positions, we shall make mention of Abussuud who fearlessly cried to Sulaiman the Legislator that ”no unlawful matter becomes lawful with the Sultan”s decree”; aside from Torlak Kemal and Mithat Pasha, Molla Fenari and Ahmed Jawdat Pasha; other than the trio composed of Tal”at-Anwar-Jamal who devastated the state, Piri Muhammad Pasha and Köprülü Mehmed Pasha; apart from Kadızade who blindly opposed scientific developments, Hasan Chelebi of Lagar and Ismail Gelenbevi. We shall not slap Anwar Pasha with Antranik and Said Halim Pasha with Veniselos. We shall regard base those who do so. In short, we deem the negative acts of the Ottoman State a pot full of filthy water which – we believe – will not pollute the sea whereinto it is thrown but even will be cleansed.
3) We shall study the Ottoman history of 600 years in such fashion that we shall see not only their positive deeds but negative ones as well. In fact, there exists no age of history with no evil acts, and vice versa. Those who observe history contrariwise will not only themselves will be mistaken but also mislead others. If such an one – Allah forbid – would live a millennium, he would excoriate even the administration of Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), for it would not fit his ideals. As result of this chimera, such a person will take a destructive rather than constructive look at history. We shall never forget that throughout the history those whose good deeds overwhelm their evil acts ever merit forgiveness and exoneration. Allah”s justice will prevail in like manner on the Day of Judgement.
Those people who formed the Ottoman State were not innocent and impeccable. As there were among them such persons as Murad I, Murad II, Muhammad the Conqueror, Selim the Excellent, Abdulhamid II, who merit the rank of ”veliyyullah” (those who are close to Allah), there might be others who committed such sins as taking alcoholic drinks and the like. It is a fact that throughout the Ottoman history all the principles of Islam were theoretically accepted and applied. However, it is also a fact that there were some others who took a stand against such principles in practice. It is impossible to deny both. As in everything the Ottoman State had both pious deeds as well as errors. Nevertheless, it is because their good acts outnumbered their impious deeds for 600 years that the Divine Destiny granted them the favor of being the standard-bearer of Islam during such a long period of time. And when their evil deeds outweighed their good deeds, that honorable title was taken from their hands again with the decree of the Divine Destiny. Millions of archive documents evince that even at their worst times the Ottomans did their best to conform to the Codes of Islam (Shari”ah) even on matters of interpretation (ijtihad) – leave aside disregarding such an overt prohibition of Islam as the taking of intoxicating drinks. As a matter of fact, an Ottoman sultan manifests his dedication to the Islamic Canonical Legislation in an Imperial Decree as follows:
“As all of us are bound to the sacred laws of shari”ah, if we strive to accord all our deeds and actions with them, there is no doubt then that Allah the Best of Helpers will bestow us with His Divine Prosperity and Aid and Victory in our Supreme State with the blessed spirit of the Exalted Prophet (peace be upon him) being pleased”.
4) Of course, we shall also criticize history. Yet, the reason that impels one to criticism is the satisfaction of one”s hatred towards the criticized person – like criticizing a foe for his wrong – or the satisfaction of the affection felt for the criticized person – like criticizing a fried for his error. Now especially in history, it is out of hatred to be inclined to accept a baseless allegation against a person on an issue – which could either be true or untrue – (like Bayezid the Lightning”s committing suicide and being addicted to alcoholic drinks), while it is out of affection to confute it. Nevertheless, it is out of affection to have tendency to credit an affair in favor of somebody (rebutting Bayezid the Lightning”s having committed suicide and drinking) while it is out of hatred to contradict it. We should here highlight that the reason that urges one to criticize is solely and merely to be adherence to the justice and the wish to reveal the verity.
Our day”s biggest malady – particularly in respect to the Ottoman History – is criticism based on quick-wittedness and arrogance. In fact, if criticism is motivated by the principle of impartiality, it reveals and clarifies the truth; however, if it is spurred by pride and quick-wittedness, it devastates and breaks history. For instance, some books published recently on the Ottoman History fall in this category. Our aim is not to ravage history but to correct and restore it. We are friends with our ancestors; accordingly, we shall criticize them not through hatred but amity for the truth to emerge.
5) For the recent century the majority of the mass media in Turkey, making use of different wording each time, have been willfully blackening the Ottoman History contrasting the good acts of Europe with our evil deeds and the excellent fruits of civilization which in fact are the accumulation of many centuries with the evil cases of some persons in the Ottoman History. They have been making every effort to reverse the essence of truth by ascribing the civilization to Christianity, although it is actually not, while attributing retrogression to Islam, in spite of the fact that Islam is an enemy to it. With this book, we shall try to correct such wrongful differentiation. While comparing the past with our time, we shall pay close attention to whether we compare similar matters. For only resembling affairs can be compared and contrasted. For example, you can compare and contrast the Ottoman sultanate with only the Kingdom in Medieval Europe; the Ottoman codification with merely the European legislation that applied separate laws to the white and the black; the Ottoman harem with only the lifestyle of the Austrian kings who erected on the palace”s walls the statues of those women who he lay with, then you can reach justified conclusions.
If you act like an illegitimate child of Europe in fierce fidelity to them through profound hatred towards the history of your own nation, you then become a lampooner who rebels against his past through destructive ill-will and deceptive quick-wit; a slanderer who calumniates his forefathers and an uncaring child who demolishes the honor of his own nation. In such authors as act in this manner ignited as well by pride and egotism are now seen the feeling of contempt against their nation in lieu of devotion which is incumbent upon them both by religion and reason; hatred for love; contempt for adoption; attributing illiteracy to their ancestors in place of showing them respect; vainglory instead of mercy; and ultimately signs of degeneracy and corruption begin to be seen. Unfortunately, such pens the examples of which could be met in the printed press every day praise a dress an unclothed woman wear at an indecent party in Paris while they deride the clothing of a revered savant or a kadi (judge) who had achieved golden feats in history.
We ought here to underline that such sycophants of Europe who assault those who are adherent to their history and religion labeling them bigoted are at least as hundred times bigoted in their professions as the devoted and patriotic authors whom they criticize. Supposing that the exaggerations they utter in the extolling of Shakespeare were rendered by those who love their history and religion about Abdulkadir Geylani or Muhammad the Conqueror, they could even be pronounced to be misbelievers by such authors. Now in the writing of this book shall we take into consideration this sort of historical fanaticism which has gone to far extremities nowadays and endeavor not to fall into the same pitfall.