NIHCR Webinar on Medieval Muslim History and Historiography during Ottoman period-II

Islamabad, October 10, 2021 (PPI-OT): The Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 and rather quickly expanded and consolidated power in the 15th century, especially after the conquest of Constantinople, modern day Istanbul, replied Prof Emeritus Aslam Syed to a question during a Webinar on Medieval Muslim History and Historiography during Ottoman period here on Sunday.

This was second part of the series of Medieval Muslim History and Historiography during the Ottoman period. Responding to a question, Prof Syed said that the Ottoman Empire reached its greatest size in the late 17th century but lasted until 1922. It was one of the largest and most long-lasting empires in world history. At its greatest extent, the empire extended to three continents – stretching from the Balkans in south-eastern Europe across Anatolia, Central Asia, Arabia, and North Africa, he said.

The guest speaker Prof Emeritus Aslam Syed has been serving the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr Universität, Bochum, Germany. He remained Chairman, Department of History, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and also served the NIHCR as its Director. The Webinar was arranged online by the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (NIHCR), Centre of Excellence, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, attended by over 1000 participants ranging from students, teachers and researchers to have greater insights into the valuable views of the guest speaker.

Narrating history of Ottomans, Prof Syed said that the tribe known as the Ottomans arose from one of the smaller emirates established in north-western Anatolia after 1071. The dynasty was named after Osman Gazi (1259-1326), who began to expand his kingdom into the Byzantine Empire in Asia Minor, moving his capital to Bursa in 1326. The Ottoman Empire was centered in present-day Turkey, he said.

During the discourse, the NIHCR Director Dr Sajid Mahmood Awan was of the view that Osman’s early followers consisted both of Turkish tribal groups and Byzantine renegades, with many but not all converts to Islam. Supplementing Dr Awan’s observation, Prof Syed said that Osman extended the control of his principality by conquering Byzantine towns. A Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Bapheus in 1302 contributed to Osman’s rise as well.

Responding to a question, Prof Syed said that after ruling for more than 600 years, the Ottoman Turks are often remembered for their powerful military, ethnic diversity, artistic ventures, religious tolerance and architectural marvels. Dr Awan observed that the Turkish-speaking Ottoman royal family, the administration it created, and the educational and cultural institutions it eventually favoured. While a tremendous amount of scholarly material is available on the history of the Ottomans, surprisingly little of a general nature has been written on the history of Islam in the Ottoman Empire, he said.

Prof Syed viewed that the Ottoman historical works composed in Persian occupy an important place in the corpus of court-oriented Ottoman historical writings. Although the predominant literary language of the Ottoman realm was Turkish, Persian, as a language of prestige and the preferred vehicle for the projection of an imperial image, provided an alternative linguistic medium for historical composition.

Despite the smaller volume of historical works produced in Persian – approximately one-sixth of the total number of Ottoman histories from the beginning of the 9th/15th to the end of the 10th/16th century – the esteem accorded Persian compositions, as well as the influence of Persian works on subsequent Ottoman historical writing, is immeasurable, he said.

The NIHCR Director Dr Sajid Mahmood Awan conducted the Webinar by triggering a dialogue with Dr Syed for substantiating this discourse. This inclusive activity has been taken up every week for the benefit of students in general and capacity-building of the teachers and researchers in particular, he said.

For more information, contact:
National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (NIHCR)
Quaid-e-Azam University, New Campus, Shadara Road,
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92-51-2896153-54/102
Fax: +92-51-2896152