Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Original Meaning of the Word "Turkey"

Sultan Selim III exchanging eid greetings in front of the Gate Of Felicity**
An important fact that I suppose many people do not expect is this: The Ottoman administration and people never named their government or state "Turkey". The word "Turkey" (or Turchia, Türkei, etc.), which was used in European languages to mean "the land of the Ottomans", must have begun to be used in Turkish only toward the middle of the 19th century. Europeans, on the other hand, used to refer to the Ottoman dynasty, their state and the entire Muslim community under their rule as the Turks. There was also a similar usage among the Ottoman population in the Balkans. For example, if you would have asked a Muslim Albanian (or, for that matter, a Muslim Bosnian or a Balkan Turk), he would have said: "The pillars of Turkishness are five: To say the word of the testimony [i.e. the shahada, the statement that there is no other deity than Allah/God and that Muhammad (God bless him and give him peace) is His messenger], to pray the five daily prayers, to fast, ..." (These are actually "the five pillars of Islam".) Furthermore, even in our present time, oldish Muslims in the Balkans or with roots in the Balkans often form very similar sentences and understand the word Turk in this way.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Two Objections to Our Ottoman Heritage and Their Answers

1396 Battle of Nicopolis (Niğbolu)**
Below is a translation of a blog post of mine in Turkish. I feel the need to write this introductory paragraph before the actual text because it may sound odd to foreigners how come some Turks can claim to be something other than descendants of Ottomans. It is indeed strange, but it has tangible roots in in the history of the last 90 years or so on account of the fact that, since around 1925, authoritarian Westernization and secularism, coupled with a continuation of Western-style nationalism of the hard-line type widespread in the 1930s, has dominated the Turkish educational system and politics under the official jumble of Europe-inspired opinions.

Objection: “When most members of the Ottoman dynasty have gone out to Europe and the like, how can we be descendants of the Ottomans?”