The Ottoman Empire
The Abbasid caliphate was brought down in a violent confrontation with invaders from the East. Following the devastation, the Muslim state began to piece itself back together, but it never fully regained the splendor and glory of its Golden Age.
In the thirteenth century, the Muslim state began to succumb to invaders from central Asia, the Mongols. Known as fierce nomadic fighters, the Mongols invaded Baghdad and virtually destroyed the city. They continued through the region, plundering and pillaging all the way to Egypt. Mongol forces killed the last of the Abbasid caliphs in 1258
As the Muslim empire began to splinter, various local governors attempted to retain control of their own area. On the border between the Byzantine and Islamic empires, one group proved successful: the family of the Ottomans.
It is reported that the Mongols deliberately destroyed Baghdad's extensive canal system and agricultural areas. The rich cultural heritage — contained in libraries, universities, and medical schools — was destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, and it is said that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers ran red with the people's blood.
Rise of the Ottomans
The Ottomans had proven to be very successful in uniting the territory within their reach. By the late fourteenth century
Suleiman the Magnificent
As a leader and statesman, Suleiman the Magnificent has the distinction of being one of the enduring figures of Ottoman history. He stayed in power for nearly fifty years, dying in 1566
Suleiman was known as a balanced lawgiver who supervised some of the most beautiful Islamic construction projects. Several large monuments in Turkey were built during his reign, including the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. Under Suleiman's leadership, Ottoman territories nearly doubled in size. A just ruler, Suleiman ensured that all Ottoman lands respected freedom of worship, and all races and religions lived freely. His government created elaborate social welfare programs and increased commerce opportunities.
The Fall of the Ottoman Empire
During the rule of Suleiman, the Ottoman Empire was in the center of the world. Perfectly poised between Africa, Asia, and Europe, the empire served as a bridge between the East and the West. However, the peak of Ottoman civilization could not be sustained. Later rulers lacked Suleiman's ability and competence.
The traditional symbol of Islam, the crescent moon and star, actually predates Islam by several thousand years. It was featured on the flag of Byzantium even before the birth of Christ, perhaps in honor of the Roman goddess Diana. When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453
The early decline of the Ottoman Empire was brought about primarily through internal decay. Inefficiency and corruption started to become commonplace, and the rulers became more isolated and out of touch. The empire began to lose territory due to internal revolt, a process that later accelerated during aggressive European expansion and colonization.
The final fall of the Ottoman Empire came about in the aftermath of World War I. The Ottomans had formed an alliance with Germany, which turned out to be the losing side. The Arab revolt (dramatized in the film Lawrence of Arabia) aided the Allied victory against the Germans and Turks. Britain and France then set about dividing what remained of the Ottoman Empire between the allied victors.