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When Abdul took over power, the European countries had already influenced the Ottoman Empire with secularization taking place in many sectors of the territory including politics and culture of the people. However, he immediately abolished the western culture by advocating for all Muslims and even for non-Muslims to join them into one Islamic state.
He had ambitious objectives by uniting the Muslims because he had planned to them and the religion to enable him gain political powers especially over the European powers such as Russia. For instance, Abdul emphasized on counteraction of Russia’s efforts to influence the Balkans to free themselves from the Ottoman empire and join Christianity. However, his efforts failed as many Balkans were lost to the Europeans.
He detested the Europeans and their Christianity such that he gave the Muslim leaders more powers so that they can be able to claim the Muslim population from the Europeans. Under the influence of Abdul, the unconverted Muslims became more reluctant to join Christianity but rather supported Abdul in his political activities. The presence of the European nations in the empire became a driving force for Pan-Islamism making it difficult for the Europeans to secularize the territory.
However, the sultan later took over the position of Caliph as he was so determined to counter the secularization process in his empire. This gave him the opportunity to regain the powers of the Muslim leaders that had been lost due to the reforms that had taken place before he took over power. It is clear that sultan Abdul detested secularism n that is why he mobilized all Muslims against it not only to regain their culture but also to gain popularity politically especially in the European nations.
Relations between Abdul and the European powers
The relations between the Ottoman Empire and most European nations was not so easy but rather strained especially between France, Russia and UK. In his own opinion, Abdul demanded that his empire be treated as having equal powers with these European nations especially due to its high numbers of Muslims compared to Christians. Even though the sultan viewed his empire as modern, the Europeans always saw the empire as being uncivilized.
However, Abdul had a different opinion of the Germans as he viewed them as possible allies to his empire. Abdul therefore developed a good relationship with the Germans as his empire hosted a number of German political leaders several times and some Germans were employed to help in reorganization of the empire as well with most of them being assigned to reorganize the finance sector of the empire.
This made him to distrust his very own ministers and other political leaders as on the other hand, he promoted German’s friends especially with the construction of railways to allow accessibility of the empire and giving loans to the Germans to start operating in the Ottoman Empire. As this friendship continued and intensified, Abdul went to the extremes of giving Germans the Baghdad railway which they had always desired.
The result of Abdul’s actions towards Germans was the occurrence of World War I which was facilitated by the accessibility of the railway in question. Despite the fact that the empire had allied with German during the war, they were defeated and this became the cause of the empire’s fall during which time it dismantled (Chouinard, 2009, p. 1).
Abdul’s conflicts with the Armenians
Ever since sultan Abdul took over power, he always had low opinions of the Armenians as he described them as being from a lesser province which had been accused of many wrong doings.
Under Abdul’s rule, the Armenians were not able to exercise their rights like the other Ottoman civilians and this drove some Armenians especially those who were living in Europe and Russia to form association meant to fight for the right of their brothers back at home. Abdul even hired a military to deal with the Armenians in whatever way they wanted to including killing them.
He also used his officials to oppress the Armenians especially in taxation rates. However, the Armenians were successful in their fight against the sultan’s regime which saw Abdul required to sign an agreement meant to terminate the oppression towards the Armenians. Despite all these efforts by the Armenians, the signed agreement was, however, never implemented and this made the Armenians gather to request for its implementation but sultan Abdul could not allow them so he sent Ottoman police to disperse the crowd.
Soon after this, the Armenian killings occurred where a large number of Armenians were killed. As the empire’s sultan, Abdul II did not put efforts to try and stop the massacre and this failure to take action towards such humanity as well as his opinion towards the Armenians made him a primary suspect in ordering the killings although there was no prove that he did. This made Abdul appear as a dangerous assassin to the Europeans as well as a bloody sultan to the Armenians.
Changes in the Ottoman Empire during Abdul’s rule
Despite the fact that secularization by the European had already occurred when Abdul took over power as the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, he was able to get back the powers that the Muslim leaders had before the modernization.
However, through his reforms, he destroyed the empires financial status leaving no public finances in the treasury something that the Europeans had improved for the better. As a result, national debts increased drastically and this forced him to seek assistance from foreigners in order to settle the debts. With time, the empire’s financial accounts were given over to the foreigners who had large bond shares in the empire’s revenue.
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Abdul could be said to be selfish because during his succession as the sultan, he got to a point where he reduced the powers of his ministers to low levels such as secretary positions and took the administration of the Ottoman Empire all to himself so that he could control the every aspect of the empire. As a result, general disagreements within the empire increased especially with the Armenians and Greeks who lived in the Empire not satisfied with Abdul’s rule and decisions.
Due to his desire to have authority over the empire and to bring in a new constitution made him loose trust in the supporters of reforms on the Ottoman navy and he ended up locking the largest fleet in the Ottoman empire something which made his territory lose its territories overseas not only during his time as the sultan but even afterwards. Basically, the economy as well as the social life of the Ottoman people was destroyed during Abdul II’s rule as the sultan of the empire (Ahmed, 2010, p. 1).
Ahmed, N. (2010). Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Retrieved from https://historyofislam.com/contents/resistance-and-reform/sultan-abdul-hamid-ii/
Chouinard, A. (2009). A response to Tanzimat: Sultan Abdul Hamid II and Pan-Islamism. Retrieved from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/252/a-response-to-tanzimat-sultan-abdul-hamid-ii-and-pan-islamism