The Islamic Empires In early modern history, there were three major Islamic empires that became prominent. The Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Empire, and the Mughals. We will discuss the Development of these empires by listing their similarities and differences, and their political, social and cultural backgrounds. Next, we will get into the three empires reign of power and also give a description of some of the great leaders of these empires and their legacy.
All of these Islamic Empires had Turkish ruling dynasties. The Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals came from nomadic, Turkish-speaking peoples of the central Asia who conquered the settled agricultural lands of Anatolia, Persia and India. All of these dynasties retained political and cultural traditions that their ancestors had adopted while leading their nomadic lives, but, they also adapted readily to the city-based agricultural societies that they conquered. All of these empires also embraced Islam and derived its cultural guidance from Islamic values. Each empire expanded its territory under authority of their great leaders, such as Mehmed the Conqueror for the Ottomans, Shah Abbas the Great for the Safavids and the reign of Aurangzeb of the Muh gal empire.
In these empires, the prestige and authority of the dynasty derived from personal piety and military aptitude of the ruler and his ancestors. The Ottoman Empire was founded by Osman Bey, founder of the dynasty that continued in unbroken succession from 1289 to 1923. the motives of Osman and his followers were to become ghazi, or Muslim religious warriors. "The Ghazi, (as the poet Ahmadi describes) is the instrument of religion of Allah, the sword of God, the protector and refuge of the believers". It was believed that if to have died for the cause of your religion, you should not believe that the person is dead, but that he will live in beatitude with Allah and he has eternal life. The Ottomans waged a holy war which enabled them to expand their territory to the Anatolian city of Bursa, which became the capital of Ottoman principality. Under the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453 and in turn lead to more Ottoman expansion.
Mehmed presented himself as a true emperor and not just a warrior. He was ruler of two lands, Europe and Asia and two seas, the Black Sea and the Medditeranian and laid down an absolute monarchy as government. Sulayman the Magnificent also expanded the Ottoman territory under his rule dramatically by conquering Baghdad and adding the Tigris and Euphrates valleys to the Ottoman domain. The Safavid empire was first ruled by Shah Ismail, a 14 year old boy. He gained control of the empire by entering Tabriz at the head of an army and laying claim to the ancient Persian imperial title of the shah. The Safavids traced their ancestry back to Safi al Din, leader of a sufi religious order in northwestern Persia.
Shah Ismail also decided for the religion of the Safavid empire to be Twelver Shiism. Twelver Shiism held that there had been twelve infallible imams (or religious leaders) after Muhammad, beginning with the prophet's cousin and son-in-law Ali. The belief was that the twelfth or "hidden" i man would one day return to take power and spread his true religion. Safavid propaganda suggested that Shah Ismail was himself the missing imam, or even the reincarnation of Allah. Shah Ismail's followers believed that he had the power to keep them safe in battle.
In the Battle of Chald iran, Ismail's forces attacked heavily the lines of the Ottoman empire and suffered devastating casualties. Shah Abbas the Great fully revived the Safavid Empire by moving the capital to a more centralized location and he encouraged trade with other lands. He also reformed the administrative and military institutions of the empire. Shah Abbas led the Safavids to numerous victories and his Campaigns brought most of northwestern Iran The Caucasus, and Mesopotamia under Safavid rule. In 1523 Zahir al-Din Muhammad, known as Babur or "the Tiger", founded the Mughal empire. Unlike the Ottomans who sought to be renowned ghazi's, or the Safavids, who acted as champions of Shiism, Babur made little pretense to be anything more than an adventurer and soldier of fortune in the manner of his illustrious ancestors.
His father had been the prince of Far ghana, and Babur's great ambition was to transform his inheritance into a glorious central Asian empire. Babur mounted invasions on India and he took Delhi in 1526, but he didn't care much about the land and customs of the land that he conquered. Babur's grandson Akbar became ruler, and proved to be a charismatic one at that. Akbar gained his power by throwing A dham Khan, and commander of the Mughal army out of a window twice to make sure of his death. He took personal control of the government and created a centralized administrative structure with ministries regulating the various provinces of the empire. Akbar was a no-nonsense ruler, he didn't tolerate challenges to his rule.
Nonetheless, he was also a thoughtful, reflective man deeply interested in religion and philosophy. He didn't know how to read so he had someone read to him daily. Instead of imposing Islam on his subjects, he encouraged the elaboration of syncretic religion called the "devine faith" that focused attention on the emperor as a ruler common to all the religious, ethnic and social groups of India. The Mughal empire reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb.
During his long reign from 1659 to 1707, he waged a relentless campaign to push Mughal authority deep into southern India. Mughal came to rule the entire subcontinent except for a small region at the southern tip. These are descriptions of the major empires that became prominent, the Ottoman Empire, the Safavids and the Mughals. We have gone over some of the similarities and differences of the three empires and also discussed the development of these empires and their social and political backgrounds. We have seen a glimpse of the great leaders that ruled these empires such as Mehmed the Conqueror, Shah Ismail and Shah Abbas for the Safavids, and Babur and Akbar for the Mughals. These empires created the boundary for Islamic institution through the 1500's and beyond.
They should be recognized as a stepping stone in the Islamic voyage which has definitely laid an impact on the society and societies before ours.