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?”

Answer: Those who say “I’m a descendant of Ottomans” of course do not refer to the Ottoman dynasty. While we do possess some dynastic Ottoman ancestry among us by way of the daughters of the dynasty who mixed with the general population through marriage, being a descendant of the Ottomans actually means descending from the people who established and sustained the Ottoman civilization. However much some people wear themselves out to claim to the contrary, it is a fact that the Ottoman State put a firm stamp on this country for centuries and that the people of this country, especially those who can be named the (Anatolian-Rumelian) Turks are total Ottoman descendants.

Besides, the fact that the last members of the House of Osman left Turkey was not their decision or fault. They were forcibly expelled, and for a long time they were forbidden from returning. It is comical that the people who dare condemn them are mostly the sort who would rather live in Europe or America than Turkey if they could get a chance, even though they are not even forced to do so in contrast to members of the Ottoman dynasty.

Objection: “Since most Ottoman rulers’ mothers and spouses were non-Turkish, the Ottomans are not genetically Turkish; therefore, what kind of a relationship can they have with us Turks? The only purpose of an attachment to the Ottomans is Islamism, ummatism.”

Answer: Do those who say this think that they are pure-blood Central Asian Turks as they make this objection? According to all the genetic studies, Anatolian-Rumelian Turks mainly descend from the native populations of Anatolia and Rumeli (Balkans). For the most part, a ratio like 80 or 90 per cent is given by these studies. Accordingly, our Central Asian ancestors constitute only 5 to 10 per cent while we have a 5 to 10 per cent ancestry from the Iran-Afghanistan region. Even if we think of these ratios not as 5 to 10 per cent but as 20-30 per cent, there is not much that changes: The fact that Anatolian-Rumelian natives constitute the majority among our ancestors is indisputable. My fellow Turks could just look at their faces anyway: Do you rather resemble Central Asians or the populations of one or several of our neighboring countries (Greece, Balkan countries, Iran, Caucasian countries, Syria)? As you can observe, you are not very different from the House of Osman in terms of “race”, o you who practice racism against that dynasty!

Laying importance on the Ottomans and their main identity as Islamic cannot be designated as ummatism or Islamism, as this is only a case of staking a claim to the heritage of your very own country. Nevertheless, if anyone harbors animosity toward the Muslim part of Ottoman civilization, no one should expect us Muslims of Turkey to condone this enmity to us. Instead of this, such people should eliminate the Islamophobia and the grudge in their souls.

** The miniature painting is dated 1523. Borrowed from Wikimedia, in public domain.

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