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Guru Nanak’s Visit To Ottoman Empire-background

Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Jan 3, 2010

The Ottoman also known as the Turkish Empire,Ottoman Turkey [1][2] or Turkey, was an empire founded in 1299 by Oghus Turks under Osman Iin northwestern Anatolia. [3]After conquest in the Balkans by Murad I between 1362 and 1389, the Ottoman sultanate was transformed into a transcontinental empire and claimant to the caliphate. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror [4][5][6] and the state grew into a mighty empire. The Empire reached its apex under Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century when it stretched from the Persian Gulf in the east to Hungaryin the northwest; and from Egypt in the south to the Caucasusin the north. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was a multinational, multilingual empire controlling much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus’s North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.[7]

The wordOttomanis a historical Anglicization of the name of Osman I, the founder of the Empire and of the ruling House of Osman(also known as the Ottoman dynasty). Osman's name in turn was derived from the Persian form of the name Uthmanof ultimately Arabic origin. In the West, the two names "Ottoman Empire" and "Turkey" were often used interchangeably, with "Turkey" being increasingly favored both in formal and informal situations. [8]

Expansion (1453–1566)
The son of Murad II, Mehmed the Conqueror, reorganized the state and the military, and conquered Constantinople on 29 May 1453. Mehmed allowed the Orthodox Churchto maintain its autonomy and land in exchange for accepting Ottoman authority. It cemented the status of the Empire as the preeminent power in southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. After taking Constantinople, Mehmed met with the Orthodox patriarch, Gennadios and worked out an arrangement in which the Orthodox Church, in exchange for being able to maintain its autonomy and land, accepted Ottoman authority. [9][10] Because of bad relations between the states of Western Europe and the later Byzantine Empire, as epitomized by Loukas Notaras’s famous remark "Better the Sultan's turban than the Cardinal's Hat", the majority of the Orthodox population accepted Ottoman rule as preferable to Venetian rule. [9][10] Albanian resistance was a major obstacle to Ottoman expansion on the Italian peninsula. [11] Upon making Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) the new capital of the Ottoman Empire in 1453, Mehmed II assumed the title ofKaiser-i Rûm(literallyCaesar Romanus, i.e. Roman Emperor.) In order to consolidate this claim, he planned to launch a campaign to conquer Rome, the western capital of the former Roman Empire.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Ottoman Empire entered a period of expansion. The Empire prospered under the rule of a line of committed and effective Sultans. It also flourished economically due to its control of the major overland trade routes between Europe and Asia.[12] After this Ottoman expansion, a competition started between the Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire to become the dominant power in the region.[13]

The Ottomans absorbed some of the traditions, art and institutions of cultures in the regions they conquered, and added new dimensions to them. Numerous traditions and cultural traits of previous empires (in fields such as architecture, cuisine, music, leisure and government) were adopted by the Ottoman Turks, who elaborated them into new forms, which resulted in a new and distinctively Ottoman cultural identity. Despite newer added amalgamations, the Ottoman dynasty, like their predecessors in the Sultanate of Rum and the Seljuk Empire, were thoroughly Persianised in their culture, language, habits and customs, and therefore, the empire has been described as a Persianate empire. [14[15[16][17]Intercultural marriages also played their part in creating the characteristic Ottoman elite culture. When compared to the Turkish folk culture, the influence of these new cultures in creating the culture of the Ottoman elite was clear. Istanbul: In Ottoman Turkish the city was known with various names, among which were Kostantiniyye (replacing the suffix -polis with the Arabic nisba), Derssadet and Istanbul Names other than Istanbul gradually became obsolete in Turkish. Slavery was a part of Ottoman society. [18]

It is in this time of Selim I that Guru Nanak reached Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and probably Greece and Italy the area which was then under the control and influence of Ottoman Empire. Persian being the official language in the area of control and influence, Guru Nanak had no problem in communicating since he had learnt this language during his school days.

Guru Nanak (1469-1539 AD) visited beyond Mecca in second decade of sixteenth century in to the Ottoman Empire then ruled by Selim-1. The major events of the first two decades of 16th century (the period of Guru Nanak’s travels to the area) in and around the Arab world were as follows:

1501 ADBattle of Shurer-The Safawid Dynasty was founded in 1501 when Ismail I of Arabadil defeated the leader of the White Sheep dynasty at the battle of Shurer. This consolidated Shiite rule of Iran.

1501 ADLouis XII Conquers Northern Italy- 1501- Louis XII conquers Northern Italy and is declared by Pope Alexander VI King of Naples. Under the terms of the Peace of Trent the German king Maximilian I recognizes the French conquest of Northern Italy

1502 ADVasco de Gama Founded Cochin- The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama built a factory and trading post at Cochin in Southwestern India. It was the first European settlement in India.

1508 ADMuscat Captured by Portugal- Muscat in Southern Arabia was conquered by the Portuguese. They established it as their base of operation in Arabia

1509 ADBattle of Diu- The Portuguese established their predominance over the spice trade by defeating a Muslim fleet at the battle of Diu. The battle took place on February 2, 1509 in the Indian Ocean.

1514 ADBattle of Ridanya- The Ottomans led by Selim defeated Tumay Bey the Sultan of Egypt at the battle of Ridanya near Cairo. The Ottomans had previously defeated a combined Egyptian Syrian army at the battle of Marj Dabiq in Syria. The Ottomans went on to sack Cairo. The Egyptians as well as the Arabs of Arabia pledge their allegiance to the Ottomans

1514 ADWar between Ottomans and Shiites- The Ottomans, who were Sunni Muslims, attacked the Shiite Persian. The Ottoman Selim who had already massacred 40,000 Shiite subjects, defeated the Persian army at the battle of Chaldiran on August 23, 1513. Selim went on to occupy Tabriz and s

1517 ADMartin Luther Nail Thesis to Church-The Protestant Reformation was launched when Martin Luther nailed his criticism of the Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. The heart of Luthers complaints were the sale of indulgences by Catholic clergy slaughtered 80,000 of its citizens.

1519 ADFerdinand Magellan sets sail around the world- On August 10, 1519 Portuguese navigator Magellan left Seville with a fleet of five ships on a journey of exploration. He found a route around South America through the Straits that now bear his name. Magellan died in the Pacific, but his lieutenant and 18 of his men returned to Seville in 1522, after circumnavigating the globe.

1520 ADSelim the Ottoman Sultan died, he was succeeded by his son Suleiman I. Suleiman became known as Suleiman the Magnificent

Selim's expansion into the Middle Eastrepresented a sudden change in the expansion policy of the empire, which, before his reign, had mostly been within the Balkans (Southeast Europe) and Antolia(Asia Minor). [20] On the eve of his death in 1520, the Ottoman Empire spanned almost 1 billion acres (about 4 million square kilometers), having tripled in size during Selim's reign.

Born in Amasya around 1470, Selim was the youngest son of Bayezid II (1481–1512). Selim's mother was Ayse Hatun, a Turkish princess from the DulkadirState centered on Elbistan in Maras; her father was Alaüddevle Bozkurt Bey, the eleventh ruler of the Dulkadirs. [21][22][23]Some academics state that Selim's mother was a lady named Gulbah Hatun, [24]however, chronological analysis suggests that this is highly unlikely and that his biological mother was Ayse Hatun. [25]

By 1512, Sehzada Ahmet was the favorite candidate to succeed his father. Bayezid, who was really reluctant to continue his rule over the empire, announced Ahmet as heir apparentto the throne. Angered with this announcement, Selim rebelled. Although he lost the first battle against his father's forces, Selim successfully dethroned his father baized II. Selim ordered the purge of his father to a far away “sandal”, Dimetoka. Bayezid’s death followed immediately thereafter. [26] Selim put his brothers (Sehzada Ahmet and Sehzada Korkut) and nephews to death upon his accession in order to eliminate potential pretenders to the throne.This fratricidal policy was motivated by bouts of civil strife that had been sparked by the antagonism between Selim’s father Beyazid and his uncle Cem Sultan, and between Selim himself and his brother Ahmet.


1.Selim Iconquered the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, making the Turks the dominant power in the Islamic world 2. Battle of Chaldiran (1514)

Selim I was described as being tall, having very broad shoulders and a long moustache. He was skilled in politics and was said to be fond of fighting. [27]In 1494, at Trabzon, he married Aysa Hafsa Sultan, the daughter of Menli I Giray.

For Selim, one of the first challenges as Sultan was the growing tension between himself and Shah Ismail who had recently brought the Safavids to power and had switched the state religion from Sunni Islam to the adherence of the Twelver Shia Islam. By 1510, he had conquered the whole of Iran and Azerbaijan, [28]southern Dagestan(with its important city of Derbent), Mesopotamia, Armenia, Khorasan, Eastern Anatolia, and had made the Georgiankingdoms of Kartliand cachetshis vassals. [29[30] and was of a great threat to his Sunni Muslim neighbors to the west. In 1511, Ismail had supported a pro Shia/Safavid uprising in Anatolia, the Sahkulu Rebellion. In 1514, Selim I attacked Ismā'il's kingdom to stop the spread of Shiism into Ottoman dominions. Selim and Ismā'il had been exchanging a series of belligerent letters prior to the attack. Selim I defeated Ismā'il at the Battle of Chaldrian in 1514. [31] Ismā'il's army was more mobile and their soldiers were better prepared but the Ottomans prevailed due in large part to their efficient modern army, and possession of artillery, black powder and muskets. Ismā'il was wounded and almost captured in battle, and Selim I entered the Iranian capital of Tabrizin triumph on September 5, [32] but did not linger. The Battle of Chaldiran was of historical significance, in which the reluctance showed by Shah Ismail to accept the advantages of modern firearms and the importance of artillery was decisive. [33] After the battle, Selim referring to Ismail stated that his adversary was: "Always drunk to the point of losing his mind and totally neglectful of the affairs of the state. [34]

Ottoman-Mamluk War (1516-1517)

Selim then conquered the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, defeating the Mamluk Egyptians first at the Battle of Marj Dabiq, and then at the Battle of Ridanieh. This led to the Ottoman annexation of the entire sultanate, from Syriaand Persianin Sham, to Hejaz and Tihamahin the Arabian Peninsula, and ultimately Egyptitself. This permitted him to extend Ottoman power to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, hitherto under Egyptian rule. Rather than style himself theHakim ul Haremeyn, orThe Ruler of The Two Holy Shrines, he accepted the more pious titleKhadim ul Haremeyn, orThe Servant of The Two Holy Shrines. [26][35]

After the conquest of Egypt and the Holy Cities in 1517, Selim induced Al-Mutawakkil(1509–17), the last in the line of Abbasid caliphs who resided in Cairo since 1261 as nominal rulers legitimizing thede factorule of the Mamluk sultans over the Mamluk Sultanate, [36] to formally surrender the title of Caliph and its emblems, the sword and the mantle of Muhammad. [20] These are kept in the Topkapi Palace Museum at Istanbul, Turkey.

This campaign was cut short when he was overwhelmed by sickness and subsequently died in the ninth year of his reign. He was about fifty-five years of age. Officially it is said that Selim succumbed to sirpence, a skin infection which he developed during his long campaigns on horseback. Some historians, however, suggest that he died of canceror that he was poisoned by his physician. [37] Other historians, meanwhile, have noted that Selim's death coincided with a period of plague in the empire, and have added that several sources imply that Selim himself suffered from the disease. [38]

Selim assumed the titleMalik ul-Barreyn, wa Khakan ul-Bahrayn, wa Kasir ul-Jayshayn, wa Khadim ul-Haramayn- that is,King of the Two Lands (continents Europe and Asia), Khagan of the Two Seas (Mediterranean and Indian Seas), Conqueror of the Two Armies (European and Safavid armies), and Servant of the Two Holy Shrines (Mecca and Medina). This title alludes to his dominions in Europe and Asia (namely, Balkan, Anatolia, and much of the Fertile Crescent), his control over the Mediterranean and Black seas, his defeat of both the Mamluk and Safavid armies, and his guardianship of the shrines of Mecca and Medina.

By most accounts, Selim had a fiery temper and had very high expectations of his subordinates. Several of his viziers were executed for various reasons. A famous anecdote relates how another vizier playfully asked the Sultan for some preliminary notice of his doom so that he might have time to put his affairs in order. The Sultan laughed and replied that indeed he had been thinking of having the vizier killed, but had no one fit to take his place, otherwise he would gladly oblige. Lord Kinross, in his history of the Ottomans, reports that life at Sultan Selim's court was full of opportunities, and there were always plenty of applicants to the highest offices, regardless of the risks. Despite this, a popular Ottoman curse was, "May you be a vizier of Selim's," as a reference to the number of viziers he had executed. [39]

Selim was also a distinguished poet who wrote both Turkish and Persian verse under the nickname Mahlas Selimi; collections of his Persian poetry are extant today. [40]

Selim was one of the Empire's most successful and respected rulers, being energetic and hardworking. During his short eight years of ruling, he accomplished momentous success. Despite the length of his reign, many historians agree that Selim prepared the Ottoman Empire to reach its zenith under the reign of his son and successor, Suleiman the Magnificent. [40]

Relations with the Shah Ismail
While marching into Persia in 1514, Selim's troops suffered from the scorched-earth tactics of Shah Ismail. The Sultan hoped to lure Ismail into an open battle before his troops starved to death, and began writing insulting letters to the Shah, accusing him of cowardice:

They, who by perjuries seize scepters ought not to skulk from danger, but their breast ought, like the shield, to be held out to encounter peril; they ought, like the helm, to affront the foeman's blow.

Ismail responded to Selim's third message, quoted above, by having an envoy deliver a letter accompanied by a box of opium. The Shah's letter insultingly implied that Selim's prose was the work of an unqualified writer on drugs. Selim was enraged by the Shah's denigration of his literary talent and ordered the Persian envoy to be torn to pieces. [41]

Relations with Babur
Babur’s early relations with the Ottomans were initially troubled because the Ottoman Sultan Selim I provided Babur's arch rival Ubaydullah Khan with powerful matchlocks and cannonsto counter the influence of the Safvids. In the year 1507, when ordered to accept Selim I as his Caliph and suzerain, Babur refused. In the year 1513, Ottoman Sultan Selim I reconciled with Babur, dispatched Ustad Ali Quli the artilleryman and Mustafa Rumithe matchlockmarksman and many other Ottoman Turks, in order to assist Babur in his conquests. Thenceforth this particular assistance proved to be the basis of future Mughal-Ottoman relations. [41][42]



Guru Nanak in West Asia
Since Guru Nanak’s period of travels to the west is taken as 1517-1521 AD the above history is most relevant to know the geographical, political, historical and social background. Selim I ruled 90% of the states connected with the visit of Guru Nanak hence is life sketch has been given in detail. Guru Nanak is stated to have met Selim I at Medina. Much impressed, the King of the Empire helped Guru Nanak in reaching the top political and religious leaders and did not find problem in moving from one place to another which otherwise would have been difficult in such foreign land. Guru Nanak is stated to have visited Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan It is often said that Mecca was banned for other religions hence Guru Nanak could not have visited Mecca is devoid of facts. Due to this cultural assimilation taking place at the time of Selim I who himself claimed the Caliphate of Mecca, such restrictions on other religion were never there during his time. These restrictions had come to be imposed much later. Thus Guru Nanak’s visit had no problems of religious discrimination as is being seen now.


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