Our humanity obliges us to reject the Turks’ early servitude of the Arabs

Talal al-Torifi
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In this final article of our response to Kurşun, we must be aware that we are facing the general reality of some historians who indulge in the abuse of history to serve political interests or achieve ideological or ethnic objectives. This explains why some historians are quite vocal, attempting to convince us that they are the sole and ultimate source of truth. They use different methods, such as manipulating words, citing texts that support them, and attempting to convince others through repetition and inculcation.

This method of inculcation and affirmation is often used for ideas that are not easily believable. Some strategies resort to this to give the recipient the chance to feel, one way or another, the need to reconsider and convince themselves of the plausibility of the argument.

We mentioned in the previous articles some of the ideas Kurşun attempts to inculcate, such as anti-Ottomanism, convincing his readers of the Ottomans' service to the Two Holy Mosques, and that their rule over Hejaz was a positive one. All of this is the result of the historical conflict between the Saudis and the Ottomans, in which the Saudis brought an end to the epic Turkish fairytale in the Arab world.

Therefore, the Turks have always resorted to outdated ideas to garner sympathy during their historical siege through suggesting the idea of creating a Caliphate and protecting the Islamic world, and arguing that the Ottoman state was an Islamic one and not an invader. This in fact stems from the Turks' hidden feeling that the opposite is true, as well as from their implicit admission of their crimes and their awareness of the blemishes in their history.

King Abdulaziz

In an open and sincere conversation between the late founder King Abdulaziz and Ahmed Vahideddin, the grandson of the Ottoman Sultan and one of his guests attending a banquet held in honour of the Hajj delegations in 1349 AH/1931 AD in his palace in Mecca, we find the greatest proof of the Ottoman reality in the Arab Peninsula. King Abdulaziz said, "In our endeavor to spread the message of Islam, we faced great harm and bore the tolls of many fierce battles, yet patient and steadfast we remained. The greatest of those whom we fought against are the ancestors of this man (meaning the grandson of the Ottoman Sultan). They only fought us because we refused to tell the Sultan that we were 'the servants of the Leader of the Believers'. No, no, no. We serve none but God Almighty, as He said, 'They begrudged them only because they believed in God the Almighty, the Praiseworthy.'"

King Abdulaziz wanted to remind Muslims of what had happened to draw from these lessons, especially the wars waged by the invading Ottoman Empire against the first Saudi State; the destruction of its capital, Diriyah, and many cities in the centre, south, and east of the country; and dubbing the Saudi State and Saudis as "Wahhabi" to alienate Muslims from them and mar the image of their principles and message, which are based on the true religion. This was documented in Umm al-Qura Newspaper, which is an official newspaper, in its 333rd issue dated Dhu al-Hajjah 13th, 1349 AH corresponding to May 1st, 1931. It was shared by King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research & Archives on its Twitter account.

King of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Ibn Saud on Feb. 2, 1930. (File Photo: AP)
King of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Ibn Saud on Feb. 2, 1930. (File Photo: AP)

Kurşun, on the other hand, rewrites history as he pleases to serve his ideology and objectives, disregarding logic as a basis for his argument. He proposes that the options Turks have regarding Saudi Arabia are first, regional proximity and second, the idea of rotating the administration of Hajj. He points out that it was King Abdulaziz's own idea to manage Hajj through a joint Islamic administration. Before tackling this issue, he briefly reviews the Saudi-Turkish relations during the era of King Abdulaziz, and the stages of unification of the Arabian Peninsula. He also mentions a booklet written in that period about the history of Saudis in Turkey.

Everything he says in this regard is not even remotely relevant to his claim regarding the joint Islamic administration. Kurşun uses the Muslim Congress, which King Abdulaziz called for the creation of after his annexation of Hejaz. King Abdulaziz stated that one of the most important objectives of this Congress was to form a Hajj administration in line with what the countries of the Islamic world propose.

The first meeting of the World Muslim Congress was held in 1346 AH/1926 AD, and Turkey, in whose name Kurşun speaks, did not participate in it. In fact, there was no mention of any kind of joint administration; Islamic countries were only asked to present their views, proposals, and demands regarding the Hajj season.

Indeed, King Abdulaziz affirmed his Government's assumption of the Holy Mosque's service and the care for its pilgrims. "We welcome and rejoice at the arrival of pilgrims from all Muslims countries in this Hajj season of 1343 AH. We undertake to ensure their comfort, safeguard all their rights, and facilitate their travel to Mecca from the ports they arrive at," he said after the annexation of Hejaz.

As for what was stated in the first World Muslim Congress, had Kurşun’s claim been true, it would have been mentioned in the recommendations made the Congress, which made no reference to this either in its agenda no its recommendations. King Abdulazaiz said in his opening statement, "You may see with your eyes and hear with your ears from those who preceded you to these lands for Hajj and visits; the security in all areas of Hijaz and between the Two Holy Mosques is perfect and unmatched for many centuries. It is rather unrivaled even by the most orderly and powerful countries of the world, praise and gratitude be to God." This affirms the affirmation of King Abdulaziz that the Two Holy Mosques are part of the Saudi homeland, and that the service carried out by his government is considered a duty that everyone should take pride in. His sons also subsequently followed in his footsteps by serving Muslims during Hajj.

A picture taken on July 29, 2020 shows pilgrims while social distancing as a coronavirus preventative measure while circumambulating around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, at the start of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)
A picture taken on July 29, 2020 shows pilgrims while social distancing as a coronavirus preventative measure while circumambulating around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, at the start of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)

What Kurşun says is nothing but deceitful, as usual, and a manipulation and misuse of words to serve his purpose. Turkey gave no importance to Hajj and the Two Holy Mosques at the start of the reign of its Republic with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Therefore, the Turks and their government now cannot possibly have an untarnished idea of what the Kingdom has done since its establishment. They see the Kingdom only as a rival that took from them that from which they derived legitimacy. The obsession of the Turks, and the Ottomans before them, about being custodians of the Two Holy Mosques was only for the legitimacy it granted to their ascension as rulers of the Islamic world.

Saudi Arabia, with everything it has achieved, has never given any importance to the limited Turkish point of view. Rather, serving the Two Holy Mosques for Saudi Arabia is a right and a duty of the Saudi government, and every Saudi is honoured to serve the House of God.

Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca on August 29, 2017. (Reuters)
Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca on August 29, 2017. (Reuters)

Turkish Racism

In conclusion, Kurşun wanted, in a very clearly racist way, to demean Arabs and Arab tribes by pointing out that Arabs are extremely disbelieving and hypocritical based on the Holy Verse, "The Arabs are the most steeped in disbelief and hypocrisy, and the most likely to ignore the limits that God revealed to His Messenger. God is Knowing and Wise." (Surat At-Tawbah: Verse 97) Kurşun here refers to the Holy Verse in absolute terms to describe the Bedouins, while he is not well aware of the meanings of the Verse, and what the concepts of Arabs or Bedouins mean. He forgets that in the same Surah (At-Tawbah: Verse 99), Allah says, "Yet among the Arabs are those who believe in God and the Last Day, and consider their contribution to be a means towards God, and the prayers of the Messenger. Surely it will draw them closer, and God will admit them into His mercy." The Verse here sets an exception to what preceded it, and it is not in the absolute sense that Kurşun intended when he cited it, but is rather limited to its own reasons and its general concepts.

An elderly man reads verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book, in the old city of Sanaa, Yemen, July 10, 2013. (AP)
An elderly man reads verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book, in the old city of Sanaa, Yemen, July 10, 2013. (AP)

Kurşun also affirmed his racism, saying: "These tribes today that say the same thing and attack the Ottoman Empire through social media to gain the support of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, they must know that the deeds of their tribes and the signature and seal of their ancestors are still preserved in the Ottoman archives in the section ‘Arab Moneybags’." This statement is intended to demean all Arab tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. However, what Kurşun does not know is that this is not shameful. In return for these bags, the Ottoman state maintained the roads as the tribes were charged for protection. Moreover, the if Ottomans's authority could only be imposed with money, then they had no real authority.

Kurşun says that ‘Arab Moneybags’ are in their archives. However, we must remind him of the ancient historical details that are long forgotten now regarding the ancient and barbaric slavery practices that coincided with their arrival to the Islamic world.

After the first conquests of Turkish lands, the Umayyads and the Abbasids after them worked to stabilize their power in Central Asia. The spread of Islam continued in that region until the Turks began to serve the Islamic State. The Abbasid state recruited many of them for its service, especially during the era of Caliph Al-Mu'tasim Billah, whose military force became mainly comprised of Turks. They became the pillars of his state and his men, so much that it was said that Al-Mu'tasim Billah alone had about 20,000 Mamluk Turks as his servants. (For more please see: Mohammed Al-Amrani (died: 580 AH/1184 AD), Al-Enba' fi Tarikh Al-Khulafa', Revised by: Qasim Samurai (Cairo: Dar Al-Afaq Al-Arabiya, 2001), 104-110; Mohammed Al-Thahabi (died: 748 AH/1347 AD), Tarikh Al Islam wa Wafiyyat Al-Mashahir wal-A'lam, Revised by: Omar al-Tadmari, 2nd issue (Beirut: Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi, 1993), 17:379; Ismail bin Kathir (died: 774 AH/1372 AD), Al-Bidaya wal-Nehaya, Revised by: Ali Sheri (Beirut: Dar Ehya' Al-Turath Al-Arabi, 1988), 10:325).

The Turks' interaction with the Islamic State increased in Iraq and the Levant; they frequently visited the cities of the Islamic world, Muslims' homes became filled with them, they became leaders of the army, and they took over the affairs of the state. However, this activity, which became obvious after the reign of Al-Mu'tasim Billah, represented the activity of individuals and families, not large tribes and groups, as most of them were slaves who used to serve the state. (Shakib Arslan, History of the Ottoman State, Revised and Collected by: Hassan Swedan (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 2001), 26).

Although they were slave-soldiers, they obtained enough power to be able to isolate and kill Caliphs and control State funds after taking over the highest positions therein. The year in which Bagher the Turk dared to kill Caliph Al-Mutawakkil Ala Allah in 247 AH/861 AD in his palace and amongst his council, along with his minister Al-Fath bin Khaqan, all because the Caliph wanted to confiscate the property of his father Wasif, was in fact the beginning of the actual control of Turkish Mamluks over the Islamic State after Al-Mu'tasim Billah; no one could match them in power and authority as they constituted the only group in the battlefield. (Saeed Berjawi, Ottoman Empire: Political and Military History (Beirut: Al-Ahliya for Publishing and Distribution, 1993), 13; Mohmud Maqdish, An Excursion of Sights into the Wonders of Histories and News, Revised by: Ali Zouari and Mohamed Mahfouz (Beirut: Dar Al Gharb Al Islami, 1988), 1: 256).

As the Turks gained power, control, and influence, they did not seek to include the Turkish tribes with their organizations and forces. They were rather keen to attract individuals and military groups representing mercenaries, most of whom came through purchase and possession as slaves. This might be because the Turkish tribes were to be gradually integrated into other civilizations. Therefore, the Islamic State, like other civilizations, set a boundary and a dividing line between itself and the large Turkish groups to defend its lands from their barbarity and savagery during their migration, as it was believed at the time. So the Abbasids were keen to draw the line between their eastern state and the Turkish tribes by settling some nomadic groups on the path between the Abbasids and the Turkish tribes. These tribes were preventing their own people from breaking through to Abbasid lands, especially if they came as large groups and tribes. (Stanford Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 2-3)

This, however, did not last long; the influx of Turks increased. Over time, the groups entering became extremely large until the Seljuks, who started as mercenary guards, came to protect the Caliph against any threats. Their influence in the Abbasid state increased for being leaders among nomadic Turkmen tribes, and their role was split between protection and state administration on the one hand, and being leaders of Turkmen on the other. This all happened as the Abbasids became nominal Caliphs representing a spiritual leadership with no real authority. (ibid. 4-5).

So it is no wonder Kurşun became desperate in his arguments, loose with his information, and deceitful in his references; picking and choosing from history to support his ideas as he sees fit. Thus, I believe that his baseless argument warrants no further response.

To conclude, we expected Kurşun in his series of articles to resort to sound academic discourse; after all, he is a professor with a level of education that should not allow him to be superficial. However, it turned out that he is guided by a fluctuating political compass.

As such, the history he discussed seems weak, relying on conjecture, and the condescending attitude Turks have towards others. Therefore, this direction, voiced by Kurşun in the name of his state, has cast him into a thorny abyss. History will not be kind to him, nor will the cheering of his supporters do him any good.

History is clear, its sources readily available, its learning accessible to all. Whoever wants to know a truth must simply study its sources and logically examine and analyze its different aspects, shunning ethnic and political interests.

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