The Ottoman Empire's collapse at the beginning of the twentieth century
was a defining factor that determined the state of the Islamic world for
the rest of the century, for many new countries arose from its ashes.
However, none of them ever achieved the same degree of stability and contentment
their people enjoyed during the Ottoman era.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, many problems await a solution
and many conflicts need to be resolved. The balances destroyed by the
Ottoman collapse were never properly restored, and thus hotspots and highly
sensitive areas-most of which happen to be in the Islamic world, were
created. Some of these problems were overcome by temporary measures, whereas
others continue to fuel conflict and tension until today.
Most of these conflicts directly affect lands densely populated by Muslims
(e.g., Palestine, Kashmir, and others). Furthermore, the increasing assertions
about the inevitability of a clash of civilizations, as well as aggressive
anti-Muslim propaganda, make the Islamic world a target in the eyes of
some circles. This attitude, in turn, causes unnecessary and artificial
tension and anxiety in society. Such matters trigger the question as to
which strategy the Muslims of the first twenty-first century should adopt.
To determine the correct strategy, one must have a very clear understanding
of the Islamic world's present condition and situation. At this point,
our analysis of the contemporary Islamic world is presented below.
A ceremony made in the name of Shah Abbas I of the Safavid Dynasty.
Islamic civilization, as represented by the great Ottoman, Safavid, and
Mughal empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was the dominant
power in central and southern Asia, northern Africa, and southern Europe.
The Ottomans ruled a large territory covering the Balkans, Anatolia, Mesopotamia,
and parts of Arabia and North Africa; the Safavids ruled Persia and some
neighboring territories; and the Mughals ruled much of the Indian subcontinent.
However, Islam's rule gradually shrank and weakened. First, the Mughal
Empire collapsed and thus opened a new era for South Asian Muslims. The
heir to the Safavid Empire, the Qajar dynasty, managed to survive until
the 1920s, albeit without power or influence. Gradually, these lands came
under British and Russian rule. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire, which was
being weakened by the continuing loss of land and internal turmoil, finally
collapsed in the aftermath of the First World War.
The collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the largest and most influential
state in the Islamic world, led to historical changes in Islamic geography,
particularly in the Middle East and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Throughout
the twentieth century, the nation-states formed by the invading European
powers remained the source of the region's tension and discontent. The
Islamic world, which had given rise to great civilizations, began to withdraw
into itself. Muslims in the Middle East, as well as in North Africa and
South Asia, suffered oppression under colonial rule. Most of these countries
managed to gain their independence only in the second half of the twentieth
century. The struggle for independence was very bloody in some countries,
such as in Algeria. Millions of innocent people perished, and countless
people were left crippled by torture and persecution. Even after independence
and the colonial powers' withdrawal, these lands have not found peace
and security. In short, a great part of the Islamic world spent the twentieth
century enduring warfare, conflict, destitution, and abject poverty.
However, the world of Islam was not always like this.
The history of the past fourteen centuries reveals an altogether different
picture: Humanity's most brilliant cultural and scientific advancements
were made possible by Islam. At a time when Europe was still shrouded
in darkness, Muslims founded the most amazing civilization on the planet,
and Islamic morality illuminated the world.
The map showing the borders of the Saffavids, Mughals, and Ottomans,
the three great Islamic empires.