Ottoman Empire and Its Contribution to the Decline of Islam

OttomanEmpire and Its Contribution to the Decline of Islam

Untilthe 16thcentury, Islamic civilization and empires enjoyed military social andpolitical advantage controlling vast tracts of territories. TheOttoman Empire, which reigned from 1300-1922 enjoyed relativestability. In addition to military strength, the Empire administeredjustice fairly, tolerated nonbelievers and embraced artistic work inarchitecture and literature. It had an efficient tax regime andeffective provisional administrative system compared to Europe(Adler, &amp Pouwels, 2016). With its centralized system ofgovernment, the empire reached its peak in the 16thcentury and begun to decline. The decline of Ottoman Empire coincidedwith the decline of Islamic civilization.

OttomanEmpire and Decline of Islam

Startingin the 17thcentury, the Ottoman Empire failed to understand and grasp howwestern science and technology were altering. The Ottomans foundthemselves unprepared when faced with tests of power. By ignoring theunpleasant realities, the Ottoman failed to abandon their outdatedways when circumstances demanded change. The fall of the Islamiccivilization started almost at the same time with the emergence ofmodern Europe. The scientific revolution and the European Renaissancechanged the balance of power in favor of Europe (Adler, &ampPouwels, 2016). The financial and military power of the Westoverwhelmed the Ottomans whenever they clashed.

Europeanfleets attacked the Indian Ocean and convincingly defeated troops ofthe Ottomans. Then the Europeans settled on the most strategiccommercial centers from Macao to Mozambique. The Spanish allies,together with the Habsburgs and Venice, took control of theMediterranean after defeating Ottomans at Lepanto. Similarly, Russianarmies drove the Ottomans out of their territory around the Black andCaspian seas.

Beginningin the 18thcentury, Islamic states and people became defensive as European ideasand imperialism penetrated the interior. The invasion of Muslim landsled to European colonization. Islamic civilization began to declinedue to stagnation in the scientific and intellectual pursuits thatcalled for greater stability (Adler, &amp Pouwels, 2016). Change ofgovernment ushered in intolerant rulers who banned intellectualpursuits and limited learning to the Islamic fields. By so doing, theArab world was frozen of the intellectual realm and placed inintellectual quarantine.

TheOttoman Empire`s insularity had the devious effect on other regionsof the Arab world as well owing to the empire`s fearful contours. TheOttoman Empire extended from the North African Mediterranean regionall the way to the south-eastern part of Europe and thus served as ahuge filter between the Muslim world and Western Europe (Jafat,2015). This resulted in a severe connection between Islamic andEuropean civilizations fairly pervasive that the Renaissance wasignored in the Islamic lands. By the time Ottomans wake up toreality, it was quite too late to compete with Europe.

Asimperialist and colonizers, the Europeans set up colonies in Africaand Asia, and their great empires swallowed the Islamic civilization.Even the Islamic elite came to accept the superiority of Europeancivilization.

Muslimstried to modernize their world, but their efforts failed to gathermomentum due to lack of supportive political traction andintellectual content (Jafat, 2015). Those efforts were nothing but aform of westernization via official decrees. Muslim reformists triedto bring reforms and change with little success. On the other hand,the Muslim revivalists expressed frustration and anger for failing toachieve imperial supremacy. However, the moderate Muslim becameinvolved only in spreading Islam. As a result, Muslim societiesbecame more divided than ever before. By the start of the 20thcentury, the European imperialism had subdued its rival andestablished its rule. Even today, many Muslim societies are verydivided and fighting among themselves (Jafat, 2016).

Afterthe World War, the West encouraged orthodox religiosity to countercommunism. However, this reversion to orthodox religiosity andmilitant religiosity occurred before Muslim societies would overcomelong clashes between the reformists and revivalists (Jafat, 2015).The worst part was that the resurgent militancy found a good reasonto pursue religious militancy. Feeling empowered, the religiousmilitant Islam started a jihad and won praise. What is beingwitnessed in Syrian and the rest of the Muslim world started here.


Thispaper has examined the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire and itscontribution to the decline of Islam. The decline in intellectualpursuits in the Muslim world due to failure to understand scientificand industrial revolution occurring in the West allowed Europe tofill the vacuum.


Adler,P. J. &amp Pouwels, R. L. (2016). Worldcivilizations vol ii sin.S.l.: CENGAGE Jafat, I. (2015, Jum 19). Origins of Islam`s crisis.TheFriday Times