Since the earliest migration of Turkic tribes, Turkic people have always been marching westward. In each and every age, people have been migrating in massive groups from the fertile lands of Transoxiana toward the West. Rumor has it that Turkic tribes began migrating west 4,000 years ago. The states established by the flow of migration were destroyed by successive migration waves led by mounted Turkic tribes. The tribes that settled to the west had been reproved for abandoning their ancestral customs and traditions by the nomadic tribes to the east. According to the Persians, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni aimed to protect his Turkic state against nomadic Turkic tribes. The greatest monuments in Persian history, such as Ferdowsi's "Shahnameh", come from that period.
When Islam reached the region of Transoxiana in the seventh century, the region, already host to a wide range of civilizations, had become the center of Islamic culture, which bred great commanders, ulema, and Sufis. Thus, the region of Transoxiana for centuries was a multinational and multi-religious center of civilization. The rich religious, scientific and artistic map of the region at that time bred the greatest scholars in the Islamic civilization.
Turkic tribes constituted the founding and ruling ethno-political elements of the succeeding Abbasid and Seljuk states to the west of Transoxania. As part of the historical move to the west, the Battle of Manzikert opened the doors of Anatolia to the Seljuk Empire. The succeeding Seljuk Empire in Anatolia continued the Turkic westward migration while at the same time prevented the march of the crusades toward the east. While the Seljuk Empire was established in Persian regions, the borders of the Anatolian Seljuk Empire, whose capital Konya was in the center of Anatolia, reached the Aegean Sea.
As a small chiefdom of the Anatolian Seljuk Empire, the Ottomans emerged as a state to its west. While the Anatolian region was devastated by the crusades and the destructive armies of Timur, the Ottoman Em[pire rose from the ashes of the Seljuks in the Western Anatolian region with a Sunni politico-religious identity and sui generis principle of justice, which aimed at launching a holy war (gaza) against heathens.
After the conquest of Constantinople, the unconquerable Christian capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire developed an imperial synthesis of the Eastern and Roman royal traditions. When it reached its greatest extent during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire covered the whole of Eastern Europe and North Africa. Thus, the Ottoman Empire was a Muslim state whose heart beat in the West. Through its "millet" system, the Ottoman Empire adopted Islamic law and culture in a just and tolerant manner, respecting and protecting the religious laws and cultures of non-Muslim groups.
In this respect, the Republic of Turkey has continued the Turkish "westwardness" through its persistent pursuit of membership in the European Union. Thus, although they have been treated as an other of European culture, Turks have always been an organic part of European civilization thanks to their historical western migrations.
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