In the last period of the Ottoman Empire, Arab intellectual and politician Amir Shakib Arslan made a speech to Arabs who wanted to separate from the Ottomans. The Ottoman Empire had successfully established a sociopolitical environment of religious tolerance as Ottoman Turks and members of various religious sects lived together across a vast geographic area for hundreds of years. Thousands of Muslims of various ethnicities - namely Africans, Albanians, Arabs, Caucasians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Egyptians and Persians - lived together peacefully. Turks never prioritized against other races, and Muslims were not distinguished from members of other religions within definite laws.
The Ottoman Empire ruled over a Catholic and Orthodox populace on the basis of Islamic teachings that emphasize the importance of accepting members of other Abrahamic religions. The Ottoman Empire established a unique judicial system in the world, freeing Christians and Jews to conduct their internal affairs in accordance with family law. Provincial Muslim judges in the Ottoman Empire were in charge of matters regarding the rule of public law. Despite being ruled under the principles of Islamic law, none of the Christians felt persecuted or compelled to leave Ottoman lands nor did they migrate to other countries. On the contrary, Christians escaping persecution in their own countries chose to take refuge in the Ottoman Empire.
A Muslim family living in Jerusalem where Muslims, Christians and Jews live together peacefully holds the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a sacred place in the holy city. A previous Israeli president said to a Turkish Republic president who visited him: ''The Ottomans ruled Jerusalem with a sergeant but we cannot rule it with a huge army.'' Further, the Turkish president replied humorously: ''We have lots of sergeants, let us send one to solve the problem.''
Today in Lebanon, the political equation established by the Ottomans is still in effect. Having a Christian president, a Sunni prime minister and a Shiite chairperson in parliament are all part of the political equation of the Ottomans. This formula has not changed and continues to carry political bodies through many difficulties.
Today, there are almost 50 small or big states and communities living in the previous Ottoman lands. While all of these lands were occupied by the colonial empire in World War I, there was not even a single piece of independent land a few years after the end of the war, aside from Turkey and Afghanistan.
Lands that were formerly occupied by the West are relatively free lands today. However, wars continue in these lands just as they did in the period before World War I. Even if these wars are deemed to be wars between Muslims at first glance, in fact, they are wars resulting from the disturbances disseminated by the colonial empire. First, Afghanistan was occupied by the U.S., the whole country was left in war and chaos and order could not be established. The U.S. occupied Iraq, 1 million people were killed, and the chaos still goes on. Libya was occupied after the Arab Spring and left in separation and terror. A terror group was created in Nigeria, and it is still active. A military coup was staged in Egypt and was blessed by the Europeans. There is a civil war in Yemen and the matter has turned into a sectarian war. Finally, the situation in Syria remains very complicated. Fortunately, peace has at last begun to be mentioned as a result of the recent efforts of Turkey and Russia.
A group called Daesh was created and became the last straw on the camel's back. There have been ideas to establish an Islamic State among Muslim youth since Muhammad Abduh and Jemaleddin Afghani, who lived in the Ottoman era. The Western states exploded that idea in the minds of Muslims with the Daesh phenomenon they created.
When we look at the Islamic world, we see that religious fanaticism is trying to trigger a war. The Shiite Iranian state and the Wahhabi Saudi Arabian state feed this dissension with fanatic religious rhetoric; accordingly, playing into the hands of the colonial empire.
The antidote for these radical separative suggestions put forth today is the Ottoman model in which all religions and sects are dealt with in the context of one law. In the context of today's world order, the Ottoman tradition of tolerance must be reestablished. The Ottoman model in which Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in peace together should be taken as a model today - not only by members of other religions but also by Muslims who strive to live together peacefully. Otherwise, radical Shiite and Wahhabi ideologies will drag the Islamic world into chaos.
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