In my previous article, I wrote about the famous Muslim sultan Saladin and the nature of the Fatimids who ruled Egypt for more than two centuries. I wrote that piece in response to the shocking statements made by Egyptian novelist Youssef Ziedan.
It was a quick contemplation as there is always a lot to say and discuss about controversial historical figures.
I will discuss other figures and stances in my next articles but today I will talk about Abdul Hamid II, a sultan of the Ottoman empire. To Islamists – all of them – he is a respectable and inspiring character. To others he is an obvious enemy. To others, including myself, he is a man who tried to oppose the path of history and governed upon outdated concepts.
Abdul Hamid II governed from 1876 until he was dethroned in 1909. He thus ruled for 33 years, which is more than a quarter of a century. I will not discuss how he based his entire policy on sanctifying the concept of the caliphate as I would have to engage in several other topics. I will only address Abdul Hamid’s stance from the Saudi state.
To Islamists Abdul Hamid II, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire, is a respectable and inspiring character. To others he is an obvious enemy. To myself, he is a man who tried to oppose the path of history and governed upon outdated conceptsMashari Althayidi
The Ottoman archives
In his book ‘Imam Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, his biography and history,’ late Saudi historian Abdul Rahman bin Suleiman Al-Ruwaished said: “References and documents in the Ottoman archive showed the Ottomans’ determination to topple the second Saudi state. One of the sources that back this up is an Ottoman report, about Saudi Arabia, which was submitted to Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1891”.
“The Ottomans did not announce these intentions when they seized Ahsa in the name of Imam Abdullah bin Faisal as they feared they would harm their schemes that expose their desire to rule the region.” (pages 82-83).
When Abdulaziz entered Riyadh and announced the third Saudi state, Abdul Hamid was upset. Ruwaished said: “When King Abdulaziz regained Riyadh, Faydi, the commander of the Sixth Ottoman Army stationed in Baghdad, sent a secret message to the commander of Ottoman armies in February 1902 telling him news from Ahsa said Abdulaziz restored Riyadh which location is viewed as an important center in Nejd. Faydi requested increasing the number of Ottoman troops in Ahsa. Sultan Abdul Hamid paid attention to these developments himself and he wrote a letter to the commander of the sixth army asking him for his evaluation of the situation.”
These insights are only for contemplation.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.
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