Saturday, March 8, 2008

Suleyman The Magnificent

Suleyman 1, was born on November 6, 1494, in Trabzon (Trebizond), the son of Selim I. Suleyman 1 ,in his time was regarded as the most significant ruler in the world, by both Muslims and Europeans. His military empire expanded greatly both to the east and west, and he threatened to overrun the heart of Europe itself. In Constantinople, he embarked on vast cultural and architectural projects. Istanbul in the middle of the sixteenth century was architecturally the most energetic and innovative city in the world. While he was a brilliant military strategist and canny politician, he was also a cultivator of the arts. Suleyman's poetry is among the best poetry in Islam, and he sponsored an army of artists, religious thinkers, and philosophers that outshone the most educated courts of Europe.

In Islamic history, Suleyman is regarded successful Islamic ruler in history. He is asserted as embodying all the necessary characteristics of an Islamic ruler, the most important of which is justice ('adale ). The reign of Suleyman in Ottoman and Islamic history is generally regarded as the period of greatest justice and harmony in any Islamic state.

Western historians know Suleyman primarily as a conqueror, for he made Europe know fear like it had never known of any other Islamic state. Conquest, like every other aspect of the Ottoman state and culture, was a multicultural heritage, with origins as far back as Mesopotamia and Persia, and as far a field as the original Mongol and Turkish peoples in eastern and central Asia.

Suleyman had many titles; in inscriptions he calls himself: Slave of God, powerful with the power of God, obeying the commands of the Qur'an and enforcing them throughout the world, master of all lands, the shadow of God over all nations, Sultan of Sultans in all the lands of Persians and Arabs, the propagator of Sultanic laws (Nashiru kawanin al-Sultaniyye ), the tenth Sultan of the Ottoman Khans, Sultan, son of Sultan, Suleyman Khan.

In 1521, at the beginning of his reign, Süleyman captured the Hungarian city of Belgrade (now in Serbia). The following year he repelled the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, a military and religious order, from the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. In 1526 he again invaded Hungary, killing Louis II, king of Hungary, and incapacitating the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohács. He returned to Hungary in 1529 as the supporter of John I Zápolya, who had been elected king by the Hungarian nobility, but whose claim was contested by Archduke Ferdinand of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I). Ferdinand was driven back into Vienna, which Süleyman then attempted to besiege. He was unsuccessful, thus limiting the extent of his invasion into central Europe.

Süleyman next directed his arms against Iran. In 1534 he conquered the cities of Tabrīz and Baghdād. In 1535 he concluded an alliance with Francis I, king of France, against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The treaty opened the commerce of the Levant to the French flag alone, and as a result of the agreement, diplomatic relations between France and the Ottoman Empire lasted for centuries.

In 1541 Süleyman again invaded Hungary, capturing Buda and incorporating all of central Hungary in his empire. Two years later the combined French and Ottoman fleets ravaged the Italian coasts and pillaged Nice. The Ottomans were now supreme in the Mediterranean; in 1551 Tripoli fell into their hands. A second and third war with Iran, now in a state of semisubjugation, an unsuccessful siege of Malta in 1565, and still another expedition to Hungary in 1566 were the principal events of the later years of Süleyman's reign. He died besieging Szigetvár in Hungary on September 7, 1566

Suleyman was responding to an aggressively expanding Europe. Like most other non-Europeans, Suleyman fully understood the consequences of European expansion and saw Europe as the principle threat to Islam. The Islamic world was beginning to shrink under this expansion. Portugal had invaded several Muslim cities in eastern Africa in order to dominate trade with India, and Russians, which the Ottomans regarded as European, were pushing central Asians south when the Russian expansion began in the sixteenth century. So in addition to invading and destabilizing Europe, Suleyman pursued a policy of helping any Muslim country threatened by European expansion. It was this role that gave Suleyman the right, in the eyes of the Ottomans, to declare himself as Caliph of Islam. He was the one who was successfully protecting Islam from the unbelievers and, as the protector of Islam, deserved to be the ruler of Islam.


sultan Suleyman,Suleyman 1

Suleyman undertook to make Istanbul the center of Islamic civilization. He began a series of building projects, including bridges, mosques, and palaces, that rivalled the greatest building projects of the world in that century. The greatest and most brilliant architect of human history was in his employ: Sinan. The mosques built by Sinan are considered the greatest architectural triumphs of Islam and possibly the world. They are more than just awe-inspiring; they represent a unique genius in dealing with nearly insurmountable engineering problems.

Suleyman was a great cultivator of the arts and is considered one of the great poets of Islam. Under Suleyman, Istanbul became the center of visual art, music, writing, and philosophy in the Islamic world. This cultural flowering during the reign of Suleyman represents the most creative period in Ottoman history; almost all the cultural forms that we associate with the Ottomans date from this time.

Suleyman is considered the greatest of Ottoman sultans. He excelled as an administrator, earning the title Kanuni (“lawgiver”), and was an influential patron of the arts and sciences. At his death the Ottoman Empire controlled much of the Balkans, northern Africa, and the Middle East, and was the ruling power on the Mediterranean Sea.


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