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Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab was born at 'Uyayna in 1703, the son of a judge (qadi). The boy memorized the Qur'an by the time he was ten and studied the Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad. He was educated in Medina, traveled, and taught for four years in Basra. He married a wealthy woman in Baghdad and inherited her property. He wrote The Book of Unity (Kitab al-Tawhid) and preached a strict monotheism. When his father died in 1740, he replaced him as judge in Huraimala; but his preaching against debauchery provoked threats, and he fled to 'Uyayna.
Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab taught that any innovation (bid'a) beyond the Qur'an or accepted hadith was the worst sin and found support for this in the Hanbali legal doctrine. He criticized magic, sorcery, fortune-telling, invocations, amulets, talismans, and even the shrines of local saints. Others called his followers Wahhabis, but they considered themselves the true Muslims or unitarians (al-muwahhidun). He taught that the zakat (alms-tax) was mandatory rather than voluntary. He denounced greed and usury, believing that the poor are blessed. Al-Wahhab taught equality and objected to servile hand-kissing. His ethical values included keeping promises, being patient, not lying, not slandering, not gossiping, not being indiscreet, and helping the blind. He particularly condemned meanness, envy, perjury, and cowardice. Al-Wahhab was rather intolerant of Muslims who did not agree with him and considered them infidels, treating them worse than Jews or Christians. His followers destroyed the gravestones and monuments to saints, cut down sacred trees, and burned the books of their adversaries. He banned all pilgrimages except to the Ka'ba in Mecca. Wahhab forbade the use of tobacco, hashish, rosaries, music, and dancing even as practiced in devotion by the Sufis. He rejected the Hanafi doctrine of the Ottoman Sunnis and promoted Arabian nationalism against the Turks.
When he arrived at 'Uyayna, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab won over the emir Uthman ibn Hamad to spreading his unitarian doctrine by force. They demolished local shrines, and 600 armed men destroyed the gravestone of one of the prophet's companions while many pilgrims were there. He ordered a woman stoned to death for the sin of fornication. Hearing of this, al-Hasa ruler Sulayman al-Humaidi ordered Uthman to kill al-Wahhab. Uthman made him go into exile, and al-Wahhab moved to al-Diriya in 1744. There he formed an alliance with Muhammad ibn Saud and made him stop collecting taxes. Lacking even basic provisions, they began raiding neighbors with one-fifth going to Ibn Saud and equal shares to the warriors with mounted men getting double. Property thus taken from "polytheists" went to the "real Muslims." Thirty Wahhabi 'ulama went to Mecca to ask permission to participate in the pilgrimage, but the Hijazis considered their doctrines heresy.
'Uyayna emir Uthman commanded the united forces until he was killed by Wahhabis suspecting him of plotting with al-Hasa ruler Muhammad ibn Afaliq in 1750. 'Uyayna became dependent on al-Diriya and the Saudis. Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab opposed his brother's teachings and led a revolt at Huraimala; but Muhammad ibn Saud's son Abd al-Aziz took over Huraimala with 820 men, as Sulayman fled to Sudair. Al-Diriya soldiers built a fortress at Riyadh, and in the 1760s they invaded al-Hasa territory. In 1764 Bedouin tribes from Najram killed 500 of Abd al-Aziz's men and captured 200. Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab quickly negotiated their release during an armistice. The next year al-Hasa's Arayar besieged al-Diriya unsuccessfully. Muhammad ibn Saud died and was succeeded by Abd al-Aziz. In 1769 Cairo ruler Ali Bey proclaimed Egypt independent and annexed Hijaz, but he fled to Acre two years later.
By 1770 most of Qasim had joined the new religion, and in 1773 Riyadh was abandoned to the Wahhabis. By then the Wahhabis had killed about 5,000 people. The next decade was spent conquering all of Najd. Sulayman and his family were taken to al-Diriya, where he was not allowed to preach. The Wahhabis expanded in all directions to Lower Iraq, Hijaz, Yemen, Oman, and Syria. Their ally Thuwaini seized Basra and sent a delegation to Istanbul asking to make him governor; but in 1787 Baghdad's independent ruler Buyuk Sulayman attacked and defeated Thuwaini, who fled. In 1788 Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz was proclaimed the crown prince. The Wahhabis raided al-Hasa annually; but after Sulayman ibn Ufaisan raided Qatar, al-Hasan was subjugated in 1792, the year Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab died. According to The Brilliance of the Meteor he taught the people of al-Diriya how to make and use firearms. He had twenty wives and 18 children. Five of his sons and many of his grandsons became renowned 'ulama (religious scholars).
In 1791 Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz gained some 100,000 sheep and goats and thousands of camels raiding Mecca's allies Shammar and Mutair. Mecca sharif Ghalib ibn Musaid fought back in 1795, but the Wahhabis routed his force and gained twice as many livestock. Thuwaini ibn Abdallah led attacks against the Wahhabis until his black slave, a fanatical Wahhabi, murdered him in 1797. The next year Ghalib's army with Turkish, Egyptian, and Maghribi mercenaries was defeated again, and during a truce the sharif gave the Wahhabis permission to perform the hajj (pilgrimage). Ali Kahya led a force from Baghdad, but he met resistance and agreed to a truce with Saud. When Oman's Sultan ibn Ahmad attacked Bahrain in 1801, they appealed to al-Diriya. The Wahhabis defeated the Muscatis and made Bahrain a vassal state. A Wahhabi army also attacked Oman and won over the port of Ras al-Khaima. In 1802 the rulers of al-Diriya captured Karbala in Iraq, and 12,000 Wahhabis destroyed Shi'i holy places, killing about 2,000 and plundering. The Wahhabis continued to raid Iraq in the next few years but met with many defeats.
Ghalib's despotic rule in Mecca was resented, and the Wahhabis captured towns in Hijaz easily. In April 1803 the Wahhabis performed the hajj but then destroyed all the mausoleums and mosques with domes in Mecca. They appointed Ghalib's brother Abd al-Muhsin governor of Mecca and replaced the Turkish qadi with one from al-Diriya. The Baghdad pasha informed Istanbul that he was sending an army, and the Wahhabi army, suffering from disease, withdrew from Hijaz to al-Diriya, where Emir Abd al-Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud was murdered by a Kurd in the Turaif mosque during prayer. His son Saud came to al-Diriya and was acclaimed as the new ruler. The Wahhabis invaded Hijaz again with a confederation of tribes and defeated Ghalib's army of 10,000, seizing 2,500 firearms. Medina surrendered, and in November 1805 the Wahhabis entered Mecca again. The Wahhabis stopped Ottoman caravans from reaching Mecca even though they offered more money.
After Oman's Sultan ibn Ahmad was killed in a battle with the Ras al-Khaim fleet in 1804, his son Said eventually won a succession struggle with his brothers. After losing men fighting the Saudis, he agreed to pay them tribute. The Saudi fleet also imposed duties on East India Company ships sailing between Bombay and Basra; but in 1809 a British squadron defeated the Saudis' Omani allies and destroyed Ras al-Khaima. The Wahhabis sent missionaries to Yemen but had little success there. In 1810 Saud led a raid into Syria but did not reach Damascus. The Saudis collected taxes in al-Hasa, and according to Ibn Bishr about a third of them were spent on maintaining their palace, the Wahhab family, and their entourage. Saud had hundreds of male and female slaves. Burckhardt reported that of the revenues collected about a quarter was sent to the al-Diriya treasury, a quarter went to help paupers and public services, and half provided for the soldiers. While promoting jihad to conquer more territory, the Saudi rulers also settled intertribal conflicts in person by punishing offenders. The Saudis took notable hostages to al-Diriya. All men between the ages of 16 and 60 were liable for military service, but only about one in ten was in the army.
After the Karbala raid of 1802 the Wahhabis were not able to capture a fortified town in Iraq or Syria. Their cruelty stimulated determined resistance, and several campaigns had to be waged every year against rebelling tribes within their state. Despite their doctrine of helping the poor, most of the spoils of war went to the nobility in central Arabia. Ending the Ottoman pilgrimages devastated the economy in Hijaz, and in 1810 commerce with Syria and Iraq was prohibited.
Ottoman sultans Mustafa IV and Mahmud II turned to Egypt's Muhammad 'Ali to reconquer the valued Hijaz. In 1811 he sent his youngest son Tusun with a well trained army. The Egyptians quickly took Yanbu, but their army of 8,000 was defeated by a Wahhabi force more than twice as large. Money helped Tusun win over local nomads, and his reinforced army the next year was able to capture Medina; he allowed its garrison of 7,000 to depart. In January 1813 the Egyptians captured Jidda, and Abdallah ibn Saud withdrew the Wahhabi garrison from Mecca. The Turks celebrated for a week in Istanbul. Muhammad 'Ali went to Jidda, seized the custom-house assets, and arrested his ally Ghalib. This caused sharifian families and Bedouin to flee to the Wahhabis, and Egyptian troops were defeated. So Muhammad 'Ali reduced taxes, distributed money to the poor, repaired holy monuments, and patronized the 'ulama. Resuming the hajj brought money from a Syrian caravan. Saud died in 1814; his son Abdallah succeeded him, while another son Faisal commanded the army. In January 1815 the Egyptians won a major battle, and Muhammad 'Ali had hundreds of prisoners executed in Mecca. Muhammad 'Ali went back to Egypt, and the Wahhabis forced Tusun's army to withdraw from Qasim. Muhammad 'Ali sent his oldest son Ibrahim, who led the conquest of Najd. He arrived at Medina in 1816, and by the end of the next year had won over Qasim. Abdallah surrendered al-Diriya in September 1818. Muhammad 'Ali ordered the Wahhabi capital destroyed, and Abdallah was executed.
Ibrahim rejected an offer of assistance from George Sadlier and ejected the British from Jidda in 1819. The Egyptian soldiers destroyed fortresses and defenses, drove off livestock, cut down palm trees, and devastated fields. Ibrahim left, and Muhammad 'Ali's nephew Ahmad Shukri became governor of Arabia. Tribal anarchy broke out, and Ibn Muammar was put in charge of Najd. He tried to rebuild al-Diriya but was driven out in 1820 by Abdallah's son Turki, who moved on to Riyadh. Muhammad 'Ali sent Husain Bey, and he captured the Riyadh garrison. As the Egyptians were treacherously killing the prisoners, Turki escaped. The next year Husain Bey offered land to al-Diriya citizens and then had his soldiers slaughter the 230 people gathered. Turki returned and raised enough forces in 1824 to besiege Riyadh and force the Egyptians to retreat to Hijaz. Turki governed the Saudi kingdom until he was assassinated in 1834. He told his soldiers he would punish them if they took things from the people, and he presided over an Islamic state emphasizing personal responsibility for oneself and to the community. He required that all agreements be respected even those with dhimmis (Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians). Turki was succeeded by his son Faisal, whose soldiers captured and executed his father's assassin Mishari.
In 1835 Muhammad 'Ali sent more Egyptian troops to try to conquer resistant Asir, but they were defeated too. Cairo's former police chief Ismail Bey led out more troops; Faisal offered to provide 5,000 camels to prevent an invasion, but the Egyptians wanted 15,000. Ismail Bey entered Riyadh with Khalid ibn Saud, a brother of the late Abdullah. When the people of Najd realized that their submission had not stopped the violence and plunder, they rebelled. Ismail's force of 7,000 was defeated at al-Hilwa in July 1837. Faisal besieged Riyadh for two months. In 1838 the Egyptians agreed to recognize Faisal's control over eastern Arabia; but Khurshid Pasha arrived and recognized Jabal Shammar ruler Abdallah ibn Rashid. Khurshid with 4,000 soldiers besieged Dilam and captured Faisal, who was sent to Egypt. Egyptian advances toward Asir and Yemen caused the British to seize Aden in 1839. Finally the next year British power persuaded Muhammad 'Ali to withdraw Egyptian forces from Arabia.
After Khurshid's forces departed, Emir Khalil was able to govern for only a year, because he was hated as an Egyptian puppet. In 1841 Ibn Thunayyan seized Riyadh, and the last Egyptian garrison left. Ibn Thunayyan executed many adversaries and was unpopular. In 1843 Faisal escaped from Egypt and gradually won over Najd, taking Riyadh that summer; Ibn Thunayyan was arrested and died in jail. Najdi forces took over Bahrain in 1844, and it continued to pay Riyadhi tribute even after it became a British protectorate in 1861. Faisal declared his son Abdallah his heir, and by the time he was 70 in 1865 Faisal had gone blind and could no longer govern. Bedouin rebellions continued during this era, especially in Qasim.
After Faisal ibn Turki died in 1865, Abdallah was supported by his brother Muhammad but challenged by his brother Saud. In 1870 Saud appealed to the Al Khalifa family in Bahrain for an attack on Qatar. By allying with Ajman and Al Murra tribes, Saud ibn Faisal was able to conquer al-Hasa. Abdallah sent Muhammad ibn Faisal; but he was captured when the Subai nomads deserted to Saud. In 1871 Saud marched on Riyadh and defeated Abdallah; yet his Bedouin troops aroused tremendous resentment. Turks sent their navy and conquered al-Hasa, declaring that Najd was now an Ottoman possession. Abdallah fled from the Turks when he learned they were going to take him to Baghdad. He returned to Riyadh during a terrible famine and could not forge an alliance with his brother Saud against the Turks. However, the Turks gave up al-Hasa in 1874 as too expensive to govern. Saud was unable to control the tribes; he was wounded in battle but died of smallpox or was poisoned in January 1875. His brother Abd al-Rahman ibn Faisal became the ruler at Riyadh but only for one year until he was overthrown by Saud's sons. Meanwhile the state of Jabal Shammar was gaining strength.
In 1730 after executing the grand vizier, the Janissaries brought Mahmud I (r. 1730-54) from the Cage and put the abdicated Ahmed III in that restricted area. Ibrahim Muteferrika continued to promote military reform and European science. In his 1731 book Rational Bases for the Polities of Nations he asked why the Europeans were surpassing the Muslim nations. He described the three forms of government as monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. He argued that the antiquated Turkish military organization placed the Ottoman empire in peril. He criticized the tolerance of laziness and the indifference toward corruption. In the second part of the book he emphasized the importance of acquiring geographical knowledge, and in the third part he described the new methods and techniques of western military science he believed the Turks should adopt.
French ambassador Marquis de Villeneuve negotiated the remission of duties on French merchandise, and the new grand vizier Topal Osman favored French religious privileges. In a 1732 treaty the Turks ceded Tabriz and other territory to Kerman but retained Shirvan, Daghistan, and Georgia. Two years later the Russians invaded the Crimea and captured Azov. In 1737 the Habsburgs demanded that Moldavia and Wallachia be independent and that Bosnia and Serbia be ceded to them. Bosnia governor-general Hekimoglu Ali Pasha repelled the attack. When the Austrians recaptured the Serbian fortress at Nish, the Ottomans went to war for their empire by marching on Belgrade. The Austrians agreed to demolish their new fortifications and leave the original Turkish walls. In the 1739 treaty of Belgrade the Austrians gave up their claims to Serbia, Bosnia, and Wallachia. French mediation also persuaded Russia to restore their conquests in the Crimea, Moldavia, and Bessarabia while they gained a little territory in the Ukraine. Russian ships were not permitted to use the Black Sea. In 1740 the Ottomans renewed their friendship treaty with France and signed one with Sweden. In 1743 the Ottoman empire agreed to a treaty with Persia's Nadir Shah that returned to the borders of the 1639 Kasrisirin treaty. In 1742 the printing press that had printed only twenty books in Turkish was shut down for the next forty years.
Osman III succeeded his brother Mahmud in 1754 but was limited by his having been in the Cage, and he reigned for only three years. The capable grand vizier Raghib Mehmed took over governing in 1757 and implemented western improvements in harmony with existing institutions. He signed a treaty with Prussia in 1761 and modernized the army and navy. Mustafa III (r. 1757-74) did not really begin ruling until Raghib died in 1763. Russia under Empress Catherine II began fortifying a neutral zone between the Bug River and the Ukraine, and the Russian army burned down Balta near the Bessarabia frontier, killing Poles and Turks. Sultan Mustafa replaced the grand vizier with Hamza Pasha, who gave the Russian envoy Obreskov an ultimatum to withdraw from Poland. Obreskov refused and was imprisoned as the Ottomans declared war on Russia. This announcement gave Catherine time to mobilize five armies. Mehmed Emin was appointed grand vizier, but he was a man of the pen and did not understand military strategy. In 1769 the Turkish army crossed the Danube into Moldavia but suffered setbacks and retreated. The Russians moved into Moldavia and Wallachia, resisted only by the Tatars. The next year the Russian navy with English help went around Europe and invaded Greece, defeating the Ottoman fleet in the straits of Chios. The Russian siege of the Lemnos fortress was raised by the heroic efforts of the corsair Hassan from Algiers, who had collected four thousand volunteers from Istanbul.
In 1771 the Russians invaded both sides of the Crimea. By the end of the year Russia and the Turks agreed to an armistice, but the 'ulama in Istanbul opposed giving up the Crimea and threatened an insurrection. Baron de Tort instructed Ottoman forces in artillery and naval warfare. In 1773 the Turks fought back in Bulgaria, but the Russians defeated them the next year. The Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji recognized the independence of the Tatars in the Crimea and Bessarabia though with the sultan as caliph, and it gave the Russians access to the Black Sea. The Russians agreed to withdraw their fleet from Greece, and Ottoman sovereignty over Georgia and Mingrelia in Asia and over Wallachia and Moldavia in Europe was restored. However, Christians were granted freedom of religion, and the Russians the right of protecting them. After these defeats by the Russians, the Ottoman diplomat Ahmed Resmi Efendi (1700-83) suggested that a declining empire should be content with its borders and pursue negotiation and peace instead of holy war.
Mustafa's brother Abdul Hamid (r. 1774-89) had been in the Cage 43 years when he ascended the throne. War had depleted the treasury, and he had no donative to offer the Janissaries. For the next thirteen years he ruled in peace, resisting the temptation to intervene when Russians overthrew the Tatar khan Devlet Ghitrai in 1779. Their puppet khan allowed Catherine to annex the Crimea in 1783. The khan was imprisoned and then released to the Turks, who beheaded him. Noble Tatars fought for their independence, but General Paul Potemkin's Russian army massacred 30,000 of them, while tens of thousands fled into exile. A few years later Empress Catherine and Potemkin toured this region with Habsburg emperor Joseph II, instigating revolts in the Ottoman empire. Istanbul declared war in 1787, because Austrians had tried to surprise the fortress at Belgrade. Admiral Hassan was recalled from Cairo to attack the Kinburn fortress, but Russians led by General Alexander Suvarov defeated his invading force and the Ottoman fleet. A large Ottoman army crossed the Danube, and Emperor Joseph misled his large army that accidentally killed thousands of their own troops; on the retreat tens of thousands died of disease. Yet in 1789 the Austrians joined with the Russian army of Suvarov and invaded Bosnia and Serbia, killing 25,000 civilians at Oczakov. This news made Abdul Hamid ill, and he died in May 1789.
When young Selim III (r. 1789-1807) became sultan, he sent Hassan to lead the army; but again he was defeated by Suvarov, and Selim had Hassan executed to appease the panic in Istanbul. Joseph died in 1790, and his brother Leopold II, opposed to the war, signed a treaty restoring the territory the Austrians had conquered. Russia continued the war against the Ottoman empire; but a change in policy in England created an alliance with Prussia and Holland to preserve the Ottoman empire. The Turks wanted peace, and in 1791 Catherine agreed to relinquish the conquests west of the Dniester River.
Influenced by the French revolution, Sultan Selim promulgated a "New Order" (Nizam-i-Jedid). In 1791 he sent out instructions asking for memorials from top officials. The Naval Engineering School that had been founded in 1775 was reformed, and in 1795 a new Military Engineering School opened. Most of the instructors were French officers, and students were required to learn the French language. A large library of European books included Diderot's Encyclopédie. The Ottoman empire began sending resident ambassadors to major capitals-first to London in 1793 and then in 1797 to Paris, Vienna, and Berlin. Their secretaries learned the language and studied the customs. The New Order aimed to reform the military and government administration. Local governors had terms limited to three years so that they would be more responsive to the people. Tax farms were abolished as the imperial government began collecting taxes directly. Land reform affected the timars and zeamets (large fiefs), and the incomes from vacant estates returned to the imperial treasury. The government controlled the grain trade. The grand vizier was required to consult the Divan (Council). A minister of the Divan administered a special treasury for paying infantry, and new taxes were put on alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and other commodities. A Turk named Omar Agha had been captured in the Russian war, and he persuaded the grand vizier to let him train a special corps by European methods. Their skills impressed the Sultan, but an attempt to reform the Janissaries caused a mutiny and had to be cancelled.
After Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, Selim III signed alliance agreements in January 1799 with Russia, England, and the Two Sicilies. Frenchmen in Turkey were imprisoned. For the first time the Russian fleet was allowed to pass through the straits into the Mediterranean Sea, and the Austrian navy helped them expel the French from the Ionian islands. Napoleon's army invaded Syria; but their siege of Acre failed, and they had to retreat back to Egypt with heavy losses. The French withdrew from Egypt, and in the 1802 treaty of Amiens the British also relinquished Egypt to the Turks. That year the East India Company excluded the French from Oman and established permanent residency at Baghdad, and the British opened a mail line via Aleppo to connect London with India. Istanbul liberated French prisoners and restored their property. Janissaries in Belgrade murdered the Ottoman governor and took over the lands of the Turkish cavalry (sipahi) in Serbia. Oppressed Christians sent mayors to Istanbul, and Sultan Selim sent the Bosnian army to support the Serbian insurrection against the Janissaries, whose four leaders were beheaded. The Serbians now wanted independence; they elected George Petrovic (Kara George) and appealed to the Russians as fellow Christians. Czar Alexander was still allied with the Turks and advised the Serbians to appeal to Istanbul; but the Divan and the Sultan rejected their demands, imprisoned the delegates, and sent three armies into Serbia. However, Kara George defeated them and expelled the Turkish garrisons from Belgrade and other fortresses.
In 1805 Selim III recognized Napoleon as Emperor, prompting Czar Alexander to ask to be recognized as the protector of Christians. Instead, Selim deposed the Phanariot hospodars from Wallachia and Moldavia, because he believed they were Russian agents. When the Russian army marched into Moldavia and Wallachia in 1806, the Ottomans declared war on Russia. In 1807 Admiral Duckworth sailed British ships into the Dardanelles and demanded that the Ottoman fleet surrender. Negotiations gave the Turks time to mount artillery and strengthen their fortifications with advice from French general Sebastiani. Duckworth retreated, and Selim, using French artillerymen, was now allied with France. He levied new troops for the war against Russia, but Janissaries at Adrianople and in the Danubian theater of war resisted the redeployment. Selim suspended the reforms and appointed a Janissary leader grand vizier; but Janissaries mutinied against the new uniforms and equipment, gathering in the Hippodrome. The new chief Mufti presided over trials of the reformers, and seventeen were beheaded. Selim tried to abolish the New Order but was deposed and went to the Cage, whence his cousin Mustafa IV emerged as the new sultan in May 1807.
A truce with the Russians enabled Bayrakdar Mustafa to lead his Bosnian and Albanian troops from the Danube to Istanbul. When they demanded to see Selim, Sultan Mustafa ordered Selim and his brother Mahmud strangled. Selim was executed, but Mahmud hid. The Albanians found him, deposed Mustafa, and enthroned Mahmud II in July 1808. Bayrakdar became grand vizier, executed the assassins and supporters of Mustafa IV, and revived the reforms that Selim had initiated. The responsibilities of local governors were more clearly defined, and the Janissaries were suppressed. After Bayrakdar sent home his Albanian and Bosnian armies, in November 1808 the Janissaries attacked his palace and burned him to death. The reforms once again were cancelled. In 1809 the Russians crossed the Danube from Wallachia and attacked the Turks' camp at Shumla; despite resistance by the Bosnian army, they captured Rustchuk. In May 1812 the Russians signed a treaty at Bucharest restoring Moldavia and Wallachia to the Ottoman empire while retaining Bessarabia and access to the mouth of the Danube. The Turks occupied Belgrade in October 1813 and made Serbia a vassal state, as thousands fled to Austria.
Many Greeks avoided the authority of the Ottoman empire and became bandits (klepts). The Turks armed Christian armatoli to restrain them; but they often joined the Greeks. They also were pirates at sea, and the British taking of the Ionian Islands from France in 1814 inspired revolt. A secret Society of Friends (Hetaireia ton Philikon) had been founded in 1770 when the Greeks first revolted against the Turks. The poet Rhigas Pheraios promoted Greek nationalism with translations; but in 1797 while the French were trying to liberate the Ionian Islands, he was captured at Trieste with twelve chests of proclamations. Rhigas was convicted in Vienna and executed by the pasha of Belgrade. Adamantios Koraés (1748-1833) designed a modern Greek language and began publishing a patriotic periodical in 1811 from Vienna. The Hetaireia was revived at Odessa in 1814.
Elite Greek families lived in the Phanar district of Istanbul. Alexander Ypsilantis was from a Phanariot Greek family that had been hospodars (governors) of Moldavia and Wallachia. He served the Czar in the Russian army and in 1820 was elected commissioner of the Hetaireia after Corfiote count John Capodistria declined the presidency. Ypsilantis crossed the Pruth and began a revolt that was supported by the hospodar of Moldavia, but he found that Romanians in Wallachia were not inspired by a Greek cause. The Czar dismissed Ypsilantis, and the Sultan had the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicate him, sending an army to Bucharest. Ypsilantis fled to Austria, where that emperor imprisoned him. His brother Dimitri Ypsilantis led the revolt in the Peloponnese which was proclaimed on March 25, 1821 while Sultan Mahmud was trying to subjugate his vassal Ali Pasha in Epirus. This "Lion of Janina" had been recognized by Napoleon and in 1819 had taken over the Adriatic port at Parga. Ali's enemy Ismail had fled to Istanbul, and Ali sent two assassins after him, provoking the Sultan's response. Ali held out against the Ottoman attempt to suppress him for nearly two years before he and his three sons were beheaded in 1822.
Greeks began taking over Morea fortresses, and Greek privateers captured ports. Greeks attacked Muslims and massacred the town of Livadia, and more than eight thousand Turks were slaughtered at Tripolitsa. Athens was fortified by the Turks and held out for a year. Mesolonghi and Macedonia rebelled, as the monks of Mount Athos took up the cause. On Crete the Janissaries and Muslims slaughtered Christians, including six bishops at Candia. Phanariots at Istanbul were executed, and the Greek patriarch Gregory V was hanged on Easter Sunday. The Turkish navy took revenge for the loss of a flagship by destroying the island of Chios, enslaving and driving off its hundred thousand Christians. The Ottomans crushed the revolt north of the Gulf of Corinth; but Greeks in the Morea convened local assemblies. Dimitri Ypsilantis convened a national assembly near Epidaurus and proclaimed a constitution on the first day of 1822. Its main author Alexander Mavrokordatos, a Phanariot from Mesolonghi, was made president. Greek rebels led by Kolokotrones captured Nauplia; but he refused to recognize a national assembly and kidnapped four of its members; they withdrew and elected the Albanian Hydriot Koundouriotis president. The European powers met at Verona in 1822 but refused to receive Greek delegates they considered revolutionaries.
The English poet Lord Byron arrived at Cephalonia in 1823 with a large loan from a Greek committee in London, but the next year at Mesolonghi he observed the Greeks fighting each other. He had been instructed to give the money to Koundouriotis, but he gave Kolokotrones a share for surrendering Nauplia. A few months later the civil war continued, and Kolokotrones was captured. Mavrokordatos retired in disgust, and Byron died of malaria. In 1825 Sultan Mahmud appealed to Muhammad 'Ali of Egypt, offering control over Crete and the Peloponnese. Muhammad 'Ali sent his son Ibrahim with a disciplined force that reconquered most of the Peloponnese for the Ottoman empire. Kolokotrones was released, but Ibrahim defeated him twice. The next year the Egyptians helped the Turks besieging Mesolonghi, and the government of Koundouriotis soon fell. Two British officers he had recruited insisted that the two factions reconcile. The National Assembly made a new constitution and elected Capodistria president, but Athens fell to the Turks in June 1827.
Meanwhile in 1826 Britain and Russia had agreed on a compromise to let the Greeks manage their own internal affairs as long as they paid tribute to the Ottoman empire; France signed on at London in July 1827. The Greeks accepted this, but the Sultan rejected it. The armistice was to be enforced by the three European navies. After a blockade they sailed into the bay of Navarino to make Egypt's Ibrahim accept the armistice. When an Egyptian ship fired on an open boat of delegates on October 20, the French flagship retaliated. In the ensuing battle the Ottoman and Egyptian fleets were destroyed. The English persuaded Muhammad 'Ali to withdraw the Egyptian troops; a French force made them go and stayed for five years, because the Sultan would not agree to the armistice. After touring Europe, Capodistria returned to Nauplia in 1828 and appointed a governing Panhellenion under his control.
In 1826 the Russians had imposed the Convention of Ackerman on the Turks, claiming privileges for Moldavians and Wallachians, rights for Serbians, and former Turkish fortresses in Asia. The Sultan declared war on Russia the next year, and Czar Nicholas led the invasion across the Danube; but Turkish defenses caused heavy Russian casualties. The next year a larger Russian force led by Marshal Diebitsch besieged Silistria and routed a larger Turkish army outside of Shumla. Leaving that fortress behind, Diebitsch led the Russians over the Balkan mountains to surprise Edirne (Adrianople), which surrendered. He continued the march toward Istanbul, and in September 1829 the Sultan agreed to the Treaty of Adrianople. Russia gave back most of its conquests but gained part of Moldavia and the mouth of the Danube. Moldavia and Wallachia, though still under Ottoman sovereignty, gained self-government and the removal of most Muslims. Serbia was independent except for the fortresses at Belgrade and Orsova. The Russians had also won victories in Asia and annexed Georgia and part of the Caucasus. The Sultan finally agreed to the Treaty of London granting Greek autonomy, though Crete, Thessaly, and Albania remained Ottoman provinces. Capodristia rejected the appointment of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg as the Sovereign Prince of Greece; but his autocratic methods were resented, and Capodristia was assassinated by Maniots in 1831. Prince Otho of Bavaria was crowned king of Greece and reigned for a generation.
The success of the modern Egyptian army in Greece made the Turks evaluate their own incompetence. Janissaries had even burned houses in Istanbul to show they did not want to fight the Russians. In 1826 Ottoman sultan Mahmud II initiated reforms he had discussed with Selim III while they had been in the Cage for a year two decades earlier. He aimed to centralize his government over all provinces except Egypt and to remove the obstructive power of the Janissaries. With the support of the Chief Mufti and the 'ulama he ordered the Janissaries to provide 150 men for a new corps using modern methods. When they protested at the Hippodrome as expected and then stormed government buildings, a fatwa authorized killing rebel leaders. About 3,000 students and thousands of people gathered at the palace and forced the Janissaries to return to their barracks, where they refused to surrender and were bombarded by Mahmud's loyal artillery troops; 4,000 mutineers were killed. Thus on June 15, 1826 the Sultan abolished the Janissaries, and two days later he outlawed the Bektashi order of dervishes who supported them. He appointed a Serasker, who was both commander-in-chief and minister of war. New regulations called for 12,000 troops in the capital and others in the provinces serving for twelve years. Centralization gave Istanbul control over the provincial armies.
The grand mufti was given new judicial power. The 'ulama became part of the state bureaucracy, as did the vakf, the pious foundation of Muslim charities. The grand vizier became prime minister, and his functions were divided into the ministries of Foreign and Civic Affairs; the treasurer (defterdar) became the minister of Finance. The ministries of Education, Commerce, Agriculture, and Industry were combined into the Board of Useful Affairs. A land survey registered all landholdings in order to reform the tax system, as the last vestiges of feudalism were abolished. A council devised new public laws with penalties for malfeasance, bribery, and corruption. Government officials were given salaries so that they could not collect fees (bahshish), which were hard to distinguish from bribes, for their services. In 1824 Mahmud II had made primary education compulsory, though it still was under the clerics. Secondary schools were developed by the state, and starting in 1827 groups of students were sent to Paris. That year a state medical school was established to train doctors for the army, and a college of military science began in 1834. The first newspaper in Turkish was published at Istanbul in 1831; the Translation Office was opened in 1833; and the postal service began in 1834. European customs were adopted by the Sultan and his government. Offices were furnished with chairs, tables, and desks. Soldiers wore tunics, pants, and boots. The red felt fez, popular in North Africa, was adopted; having no brim, the Muslims could still touch their foreheads to the ground in prayer.
Ibrahim led an Egyptian invasion of Syria and Anatolia that took over Gaza, Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, Aleppo, and Konya in 1832, and he was ready to march on Istanbul. Sultan Mahmud II appealed to Russia for help, which spurred the British and French to persuade Muhammad 'Ali to withdraw the Egyptian army. In the 1833 agreement he was to retain control over Egypt, Crete, Syria, Damascus, Tripoli, Aleppo, and Adana during his lifetime. The Russians promised to assist Mahmud and gained a secret agreement to use the Straits for the next eight years. In 1838 Muhammad 'Ali refused to pay tribute to Istanbul, provoking Sultan Mahmud to declare war and invade Syria. The Ottoman navy defected to Egypt, and Ibrahim again defeated the Turks in Syria. Britain, Russia, and Austria met and advised Muhammad 'Ali to withdraw his forces from Syria and return the Ottoman navy to Istanbul. When he refused, the British fleet bombarded and destroyed the forts of Beirut and Acre. The British troops were supported by Syrians revolting against Egyptian domination, causing Muhammad 'Ali to withdraw the troops from Syria and agree to the terms that recognized him as hereditary pasha of Egypt; Syria and Crete were restored to the Ottoman empire, and the Egyptian military was to be limited. Mahmud II had died in July 1839 and was succeeded by his 16-year-old son Abdul Mejid.
Young Abdul Mejid (r. 1839-61) developed a close relationship with British ambassador Stratford Canning. Foreign minister Mustafa Reshid returned from London and helped the new Sultan modernize his government along European lines. On November 3, 1839 in the Chamber of Roses in the Grand Seraglio, Abdul Mejid announced the Tanzimat or Reorganization, guaranteeing freedom and security of life, honor, and property; regular methods of taxation instead of tax farms; regular recruiting for military service with limited duration; and fair public trials according to law and no punishments without a legal sentence. The Council of Justice was organized in 1840; they could freely give their opinions, although they were all appointed by the Sultan. Distinctions between Muslims and others were to be eliminated. This meant Christians serving in the army as well as the navy, where they already served. Many Muslims disliked the new laws; clerics called the new commercial code blasphemy, because it went beyond Islamic law. So the Sultan suspended the code and dismissed Reshid, demoting him to his former job as ambassador in Paris. The reactionary Riza Pasha became Serasker, and the anti-western Izzet Mehmed became grand vizier. Riza did reform the military, recruiting troops for five years active duty, followed by seven years in the reserves. Christians were not recruited, and the force reached 250,000; non-Muslims paid an exemption tax. For five years the Gulhane (Rose Chamber) reforms were thought of as the Gulhan (Dust Hole).
The reaction to granting those of other religions equal rights in the Ottoman empire caused some persecution of Jews. In Damascus when the Christian monk Tomaso disappeared in 1840, several Jews were accused of murder and tortured; four were even beheaded. On Rhodes a ten-year-old boy hanged himself, and Christians charged Jews with murder. Persecution of Jews in Syria spread, and a synagogue near Damascus was pillaged and destroyed. Adolf Crémieux in France came to the defense of the Jews, and a tribunal in Rhodes acquitted the accused Jews. Money was raised to find the murderer of Tomaso. Nine European consuls petitioned, and Egyptian viceroy Muhammad 'Ali released the nine prisoners at Damascus. During their decade of occupation the Egyptians had tried to disarm Syria, collect new taxes, and monopolize silk, cotton, tobacco, and coal. After the Egyptians withdrew, in 1841 the Ottomans secularized the judicial system with equality for non-Muslims.
Bashir II in Lebanon had defeated the Druzes in 1825 and cooperated with the Egyptian invasion of 1831; but in 1840 the British and France intervened to evict the Egyptians from Syria and removed Bashir. Conflicts between the Druzes and the Maronite Christians caused several wars between 1838 and 1845, though Ottoman authority established a new government for Lebanon in 1843 with a Druze governor in the south and a Maronite governor in the north. The Maronites rebelled in 1858, and then the Druzes and Muslims attacked the Maronites. European powers intervened again, and in 1861 the Ottomans promulgated new regulations with a Christian as the head of the government. The Maronites benefited from European education, which their clergy got at Rome. French Jesuits had established a school as early as 1728 at Aintura, and Maronite colleges were founded at Zigharta in 1735 and Ayn Warqa in 1789. After 1839 new schools were established at Zahleh, Damascus, and Aleppo. The American University of Beirut was founded in 1866 and the French University of Joseph in 1875. Many joined the Society of Arts and Sciences that started in 1847 and the Syrian Scientific Society that was founded ten years later to promote Arabic literature.
Stratford Canning defended the rights of Christians, protesting when a young Greek and a young Armenian were executed for having reverted to Christianity after converting to Islam. Canning learned that Riza and the Finance minister were involved in peculation with two Christian capitalists, and in 1845 the Sultan dismissed Riza. Reshid became grand vizier again and renewed the reforms. An Ottoman state university was planned, but the buildings were never completed. Local councils were elected to advise governors; but the majority Muslim Turks tended to be reactionary. Canning did persuade Abdul Mejid to ban the slave traffic by Turkish ships. In 1847 mixed civil and criminal courts with an equal number of Ottoman and European judges were established, and the revised penal code was promulgated in 1851. A year earlier the new commercial code went into effect, and trade began to increase. The population of major cities multiplied in one generation with many foreigners. An Ottoman bank had been instituted in 1840, and four years later the currency was safeguarded. The expenses of the Crimean War opened up foreign loans, and the Ottoman economy became dependent on the capitalist enterprises of Europeans. However, Canning's efforts to reform prisons, improve roads, eliminate corruption, or improve imperial finances were not implemented. Abdul Mejid had a lavish new palace constructed with European elegance, increasing his debt, and he became preoccupied with rococo entertainment with European artists and musicians. In 1852 ambassador Canning returned to England.
In 1850 the new French president Louis Napoleon began insisting that the 1740 treaty on the Latin Church's grants in the holy land be enforced. Russian pilgrims and money had made the Greek Orthodox Church dominant there. A new anti-Russian grand vizier gave the French concessions. In 1852 Czar Nicholas refused to recognize Napoleon III as emperor, and he sent the combative prince Menshikov as ambassador to Istanbul. He wanted a guarantee that Russia could protect all Orthodox subjects in the Ottoman empire. France sent a fleet to Salamis, and England sent Canning (now called Lord Stratford de Redcliffe) back to Istanbul. The Turks offered to settle the dispute between the Greeks and the Latins by paying for the repair of the churches in the holy land themselves under the supervision of the Greek patriarch. Menshikov insisted that foreign minister Mehmed Fuad Pasha be removed, hoping Reshid would be better. Menshikov asked for a direct alliance between Russia and the Ottomans, but Reshid rejected the protectorate. Stratford persuaded the Austrians to try to intervene; but Menshikov rejected this and left in May 1853.
Russian troops crossed the Pruth and occupied Moldavia and Wallachia. The Sultan and Stratford sent a note to the four powers (Britain, France, Austria, and Prussia) meeting in Vienna, but they rejected this and sent their own note to Russia. In September 1853 demonstrations erupted into riots in Istanbul, and the 'ulama called for a holy war. Eventually the British told Stratford to order the British fleet into the Straits, and the Ottomans on October 4 gave the Russians a fortnight to withdraw from the Danube principalities. The Anglo-French squadron sailed into the Dardanelles on October 20, and three days later the Turkish forces crossed the Danube. Czar Nicholas announced Russia would remain on the defensive; but in the Black Sea six Russian ships appeared in the Turkish harbor of Sinope in November and demanded a Turkish flotilla and two transport ships surrender. The Turks refused and fired the first shot; but the Russians bombarded the ships, killing 3,000. The British and French immediately loaned the Ottoman empire two million pounds.
In early 1854 the allied ships sailed into the Black Sea. Britain and France demanded Russia withdraw its troops from Moldavia and Wallachia but got no reply. In the spring the Russian army crossed the Danube and besieged Silistria for five weeks. The Turks fought well and forced the Russians to withdraw to Bucharest, evacuating Moldavia and Wallachia as Austrian troops took their place. The Ottomans had won the Danube War, but the Crimean War began as Britain and France attacked the Russian stronghold at Sebastopol. The Turks played a minor role of support by defending Balaclava, Eupatoria, and Kars in Asia Minor. After the French captured Fort Malakhov in September 1855, Sebastopol fell. The treaty the next year made few territorial changes. Protection of the Rumanian principalities and the Orthodox Christians was transferred from Russia to the western powers, and the Black Sea was declared neutral and free of naval forces and arsenals.
During the Crimean War ambassador Stratford prepared a charter of reform for the Ottoman empire to extend the Tanzimat reforms, and this was incorporated into the 1856 treaty at Paris. Equal rights regardless of race, religion, or language were applied specifically to taxation, education, justice, property, public offices, and administration. However, France refused to allow enforcement of these rights into the treaty. The Reform Edict called for annual budgets, banks, employing European capital, codifying penal and commercial law, reforming the prison system, mixed courts for cases involving non-Muslims, and improving commerce, agriculture, roads, and canals. Stratford left Istanbul in 1858, succeeded by Henry Bulwer. By then the Ottoman treasury was empty; military pay was in arrears; inflation was increasing the cost of living; and the national debt was escalating. In 1859 more than forty conspirators were arrested and interrogated in the Kuleli barracks for attempting to overthrow the government; they were sent to prison or exile in the provinces, and the death sentences were commuted. 'Ali Pasha was replaced as grand vizier by the conservative Kibrisli Mehmed Emin Pasha. In 1860 thousands of Christians were killed in Lebanon by Druzes and in Damascus by Muslims. Ottoman imperial forces effectively pacified these provinces as the French landed troops in Lebanon to defend the Maronites. The next year the Porte at Istanbul agreed with the European governments to appoint a Christian governor for Lebanon.
Educational reforms took time to affect society. A plan for comprehensive state education had been formulated in 1846, and middle schools opened the next year. Schools for females began in 1858, and the year after that a school of political science helped to prepare civil servants. By 1867 the Ottoman empire of about forty million people had 11,008 primary schools with 242,017 boys and 126,454 girls; 108 rushdiye's (middle schools) were educating 7,830 students; but only 225 were studying in specialized civil schools. The non-Muslim millets operated another 2,495 schools (mostly primary) with 125,404 students. The plan for free and compulsory primary schooling was not devised until 1869. Because of the need for teachers, these would take generations to reach large numbers of people.
Abdul Mejid died in 1861 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who would rule until 1876. He pensioned off his brother's concubines but had even more himself, employing 3,000 eunuchs. In 1864 the provinces were organized into vilayets, and these were further subdivided into sancaks, kazas, kariye's, and nahiye's, which were groups of rural hamlets. The millets for non-Muslims were reorganized, and in 1865 the Jewish community approved a constitution; those in Istanbul elected a grand rabbi, but they had no clerical hierarchy like the Armenian and Greek millets. In 1867 moderates in Bulgaria asked for self-government under dual monarchy. Crete was rebelling; there was unrest in Montenegro and Syria; and the Turks withdrew their last garrisons from Serbia, where Prince Michael was trying to unite the Balkans against Ottoman rule. The urging of France, Britain, and Austria enabled the progressive ministers Mehmet 'Ali Pasha and Mehmed Fuad Pasha to reorganize the High Council to improve justice and education. In 1868 Midhat Pasha, who had governed Bulgaria, Iraq, and the Danube province well, was appointed president of a Council of State that included Christians to prepare a budget and promote reforms. Husain Awni Pasha worked on education in order to improve the army. Nonetheless Abdul Aziz was reactionary and autocratic.
Whereas the Tanzimat had aimed at justice, now the young Turks wanted liberty and constitutional government. The first political party in Turkish history called the Patriotic Alliance or Young Ottoman Society was formed in 1865 as a secret society based on the Carbonari in Italy. Reshid Pasha had died in 1858, but two of his protégés led the movement. Ibrahim Shinasi had been a student at Paris during the revolution of 1848; he edited a newspaper in Istanbul and wrote poems and plays. Ziya Pasha went to Paris, London, and Geneva in 1867, and he advocated a constitution and national parliament.
Namik Kemal (1840-88) came from a family of Ottoman officials, and in 1857 he began working for the Institute of Translation. After Shinasi left for Paris in 1864, he edited the newspaper. When Egyptian prince Mustafa Fazil wrote an open letter to the Sultan in French demanding a constitution, Namik Kemal translated it into Turkish and published it in the paper. Exiled to the provinces, Kemal went to London and then to Paris with Ziya Pasha and seven others. In 1867 Abdul Aziz was the first sultan to visit Paris and London, where he came across the young radicals who were being financed by Fazil. In June 1868 Kemal and Ziya Pasha began publishing their Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, which means freedom.
Kemal translated French works into Turkish, and he wrote a series of "Letters on Constitutional Regime" to expound his liberal philosophy. He believed in the political sovereignty of the people and that the rights of individuals should be based on justice. He argued that Islam is compatible with republican government, and he proposed a council of state to draft bills and administer the laws, a national assembly to legislate and control the budget, and a senate to moderate the legislative body and the executive power by protecting the liberties of the people. Kemal argued that the superiority of modern civilization could no longer be doubted, and he urged Muslims to have faith in liberty and progress. He was the first Turkish writer to point out how the West had penetrated their economy, and he criticized the current financial, administrative, and educational conditions. Although he wanted to apply Western science, technology, economy, press, and education, he criticized the Tanzimat legal reforms for undermining the Muslim community. He argued that adopting the separation of state from religion was a serious error that opened the way for European interference. He became a patriotic romantic and urged an Islamic constitution.
Kemal's patriotic drama Vatan (Fatherland) portrayed the heroic defense of Silistria and was performed at Istanbul in 1873. The audience was so moved by the play that the first three performances were followed by shouting and public demonstrations, causing Sultan Abdul Aziz to close the play, ban Kemal's newspaper, and deport him to Cyprus for three years. There he wrote his most famous play Akif Bey about the sacrifice of a Turkish marine officer. His romantic tragedy The Miserable Child advocated marriage by free choice and prohibiting of forced marriages. In 1875 his romantic comedy Gulnihal portrayed a tyrannical governor whose jealousy fails to keep two lovers apart.
The modern Turkish theater was suddenly coming alive. In 1860 the first published play was the one-act farce A Poet's Marriage by Ibrahim Shinasi that satirized the custom of arranged marriages. In 1873 Mehmet Rifat's tragicomedy The Tradition portrayed an elaborate circumcision ceremony. Following Kemal's Fatherland, Ottoman victories were glorified in Mehmet Rifat's Either a Veteran or a Martyr and Mehmet Sadettin's The Danube or Victory. Also in 1874 Nuri's Dandies of Our Time satirized Turkish imitation of European manners. In 1875 Ahmet Mithat Efendi, who had also been exiled with Kemal, exposed the bigotry of Muslim clerics in The Uncovered Head, feudal oppression in The Taking of Revenge or The Old Civilization of Europe, and showed that nobility comes from character, not from birth, in his The Command of the Heart. Akhondov (1812-78) in Azerbaijan wrote several comedies satirizing social abuses and conservatism.
Mehmed Fuad died in 1869, and after the death of Mehmet 'Ali in 1871 Sultan Abdul Aziz felt he was free from the reformers and could pursue his absolutist tendencies. He made his ministers directly responsible to him instead of to the grand vizier. He made the ambitious Mahmud Nelim grand vizier, and he dismissed ministers and rotated others. Abdul Aziz removed Nelim in 1872 and had six grand viziers in the next three years. He emulated the European luxuries he had observed and spent money building ironclad warships and railroads. In twenty years the Ottoman debt had risen from 4,000,000 pounds to 200,000,000. More than half of the empire's revenues were now going to pay its charges. In 1873 drought in Anatolia led to famine, and many taxes could no longer be collected. Tax farming, which had been declared abolished in the reforms of 1839 and 1856, was once again banned. A bad harvest and extortions for taxes erupted into insurrection in Herzegovina in June 1875 and spread to Bosnia, causing civil war between Muslims and Christians. Uprisings in Bulgaria were becoming stronger, and the latest in September 1875 at Stara Zagora was crushed. In October the government announced that creditors would only receive half the interest due. Minister Midhat Pasha was also deposed in 1875. This disorder would lead to a coup d'état and the acceptance of a constitution in 1876.
The Ottoman empire was in a very weakened and difficult situation. Their multi-ethnic empire had long been stretched to the limit of its military capacity, and now it was suffering from the competition of economic imperialism. Most of their merchants were Europeans or Ottoman Christians. The capitulations the Ottoman empire gave the Europeans prevented them from imposing comparable tariffs to protect their industries. Thus cloth manufacturing, for example, in the Ottoman empire had decreased to about a third of what it had been a generation earlier because of European mercantilism. The diverse ethnic groups with different languages called millets were greatly affected by the growing nationalism of the 19th century, and these groups often received military assistance from the western powers, as the Greeks had. Missionaries funded private universities such as Robert College in 1863, the Syrian Protestant College in 1866, and the Université Saint-Joseph in 1874. In the early 1870s the French also influenced the development of the civil code.
Nadir Quli Beg dethroned the drunken Tahmasp and proclaimed his infant son 'Abbas III in 1732. The next year Nadir besieged Baghdad but was defeated by the Turks at Kirkuk, though greater numbers helped the Persians to route the Ottoman army at Topal Osman. In 1735 Nadir with 80,000 Persians won a big victory at Baghavand, gaining Tiflis, Ganja, and Erivan in the treaty of Baghdad. In 1736 he deposed 'Abbas and named himself Nadir Shah Afshar. Nadir transferred his capital to Mashhad in his Khurasan homeland. He disestablished the Shi'i institutions but aimed at reconciliation by adding the Shi'i Ja'fari as the fifth school of law, equal to the four Sunni schools. His attempted compromise did not satisfy either the Sunnis of the Ottoman empire nor the Shi'is in Persia. He did gain Persian pilgrims equal status at Mecca, and Sunnis could no longer hold Persians in slavery for not being orthodox.
The ambitious Nadir Shah emulated Timur in his quest to conquer other lands. In 1737 his army of 80,000 besieged Qandahar, which gave in a year later. Nadir left Qandahar abandoned, founded a new city called Nadirabad, and moved on to Ghazna and Kabul to invade the Mughal empire of Muhammad Shah, using the pretext that he had given refuge to fugitive Afghanis. In December 1738 Nadir learned that Lezgis in the Caucasus had assassinated his brother. He appointed Riza Quli his viceroy in Persia and headed for Lahore, where the governor gave Nadir gold and was allowed to keep his position. Muhammad Shah came to visit Nadir, who had his army surround the Mughal army outside of Delhi. Sa'adat Khan attacked the pillaging Kurds; but he was defeated and captured by Nadir's main army. Nadir claimed that 20,000 enemies were killed and even more made prisoners. Nadir and the Mughal emperor entered Delhi together in March 1739, and Nadir had coins minted in his name. Gifts and taxes brought Nadir fifteen crores of gold, and he married Emperor Aurangzeb's great granddaughter. This treasure enabled Nadir to exempt Iran from taxes for the next three years. By December Nadir was back in Kabul, where he recruited 40,000 Afghanis for his army.
At Herat in 1740 Nadir visited his nephew 'Ali Quli and his grandson Shahrukh, and he publicly criticized Riza Quli for putting to death Shah Tamasp and his two sons. The Qajar chief Muhammad Husain Khan had persuaded Riza Quli and carried out the murders. Huwala Arabs were revolting, and they killed Nadir's admiral Mir 'Ali Khan. Nadir built up his navy using Indian shipbuilders and timber from the north. In October 1740 Nadir defeated Abu 'l-Faiz Khan of Bukhara but reinstated him as governor as he annexed Charju and added about 25,000 Uzbeks to his army. Khiva had been using Persian slave labor, and its ruler Ilbars Khan had invaded Khurasan and helped Bukhara's resistance. After Nadir crossed Khwarazm, Khiva surrendered; but Nadir had Ilbar and twenty of his commanders executed, releasing the Iranian and Russian captives.
After briefly visiting Mashhad, Nadir marched toward Azerbaijan. In the Mandaran forests an attempted assassination wounded Nadir, who suspected his son Riza Quli and had his eyes put out. In the summer of 1741 Nadir's army of 150,000 invaded Daghistan. By 1743 the Ottoman envoys had made it clear that the Ja'fari sect would not be recognized by the Sultan. So that August with a force of 300,000 Nadir attacked Kirkuk and then besieged Mosul; but he had to give it up after a month and could never take Baghdad. After sending out forces to quell revolts, in July 1744 Nadir continued his war against the Turks by besieging Qars. Nadir put his son Imam Quli in charge of Khurasan and his nephew Ibrahim Khan over Iraq (central Iran). Finally in August 1745 the Turks were defeated, as Yegen Muhammad died. Nadir released the wounded and weak but transferred four thousand prisoners to Tehran and Tabriz. A peace treaty in 1747 ended this Persian-Ottoman war and protected Iranian travelers through Ottoman lands, because the Shi'i custom of cursing the first three caliphs had been outlawed in Iran.
The treasure taken from Delhi seems to have made Nadir Shah a miser, and he demanded heavy taxes for his war expenses, provoking revolts throughout his own empire. All jewels were seized on suspicion that they had been stolen from his Delhi treasure. Persian officers resented his favoring the Afghans and Uzbeks. Traveling from Isfahan to Khurasan, he left towers of skulls to commemorate the uprisings he crushed. After returning to Mashhad, Nadir sent tax collectors to the 140,000 Kurds, who dispersed from Khabushan. Nadir marched toward Khabushan, but in the middle of 1747 he was murdered in his tent by orders from his nephew 'Ali Quli Khan, who was proclaimed 'Adil Shah two weeks later. He had Nadir's sons murdered too but only imprisoned his 13-year-old grandson Shahrukh. After sending his brother Ibrahim Khan to Isfahan, 'Adil Shah sent the Georgian Suhrab to poison him. Ibrahim learned of the plot and had Suhrab executed. He gathered forces on his way to Mashhad, capturing Kirmanshah. 'Adil Shah fled, was captured, and blinded, having ruled less than a year. Nadir's widow had him put to death in revenge for her sons.
Young Shahrukh was enthroned at Mashhad in October 1748 by Khurasan nobles and Kurdish, Turkmen, and Bayat chiefs. Two months later Ibrahim proclaimed himself shah; but he was defeated and fled. Sayyid Muhammad refused to admit him to the shrine city of Qum. Sayyid Muhammad's mother was the daughter of Safavid shah Sulaiman, and so in 1750 he was enthroned by 'Alam Khan 'Arab Khuzaima and some Kurdish and Jalariyid chiefs as Sulaiman II. Shahrukh was blinded but was restored to the throne after only a few months, as Sulaiman II was removed and blinded. Shahrukh's infirmity was concealed, and Yusuf 'Ali Khan Jalayir helped him govern. Shahrukh was supported by Afghani ruler Ahmad Shah Durrani (r. 1747-73), who had founded his own kingdom at Qandahar after Nasir's death and helped protect Khurasan against incursions from central Iran. After Mughal emperor 'Alamgir II recaptured Lahore, Ahmad Shah Durrani pillaged Delhi in 1756. He was succeeded in Afghanistan by his son Timur Shah (r. 1773-93) and grandson Zaman Shah (r. 1793-1800); but the latter was too occupied with India and Kashmir to help prevent the demise of Shahrukh by the Qajars in 1796.
At Isfahan a Bakhtiyar leader named 'Ali Mardan Khan got Abu'l-Fath Khan to surrender and crowned a young Safavid as Shah Isma'il III in 1750. 'Ali Mardan Khan ruled as Vakil al-daula (viceroy of the state) and sent out the Kurdish leader Karim Khan Zand to subjugate the country. 'Ali Mardan extorted taxes and gifts, and he deposed and killed Abu'l-Fath Khan, replacing him with his own uncle. He lost support and went out to pillage Kazarun. In 1751 Karim Khan returned with the army and routed the Bakhtiyari. 'Ali Mardan fled to Khuzistan, and Karim Khan began his rule as viceroy. The new Zand dynasty of Karim was soon challenged by the Qajar leader Muhammad Hasan Khan from Astarabad. While Karim's army was besieging Kirmanshah, 'Ali Mardan raised an army in Luristan; he was joined by Azad Khan, a Ghilzai Afghan from Kabul. After several defeats, 'Ali Mardan began negotiating a return to the Zands, but Zand commander Muhammad Khan killed him with his own dagger.
In a three-way struggle for power, Karim Khan lost a battle to the Qajars but then attacked Azad, who found safety at Qazvin. Karim retreated past Isfahan to Shiraz, which turned him away also. Azad captured Zand generals Muhammad Khan and Shaik 'Ali with a trick; but they escaped and raised Zand morale. Eventually the Zands defeated the Afghans led by Azar, and Karim established his rule at Shiraz by 1757. He was able to win over Qajar officers with bribes and because Muhammad Hasan Khan quarreled with other Qajar leaders. Karim imprisoned the last Safavid Isma'il, who died in 1773. After promoting building and commerce in Shiraz, Karim returned to Isfahan in 1764 and ruled western Iran until he died in 1779. Preceded, surrounded, and followed by cruel warlords, Karim Khan was renowned for ruling peacefully and justly in a violent era.
Piracy caused conflicts between Oman and Iran in the Persian Gulf. Dutch baron Kniphausen had been imprisoned, fined, and deported from Basra by the Ottoman governor in 1753; but he got three ships from Batavia and occupied the island of Kharg. Mir Muhanna killed both his parents and took over Bandar Rig in 1755. Ten years later Karim demanded tribute from him and Kharg; both refused, and Mir Muhanna's fleet defeated the Dutch ships, taking over Kharg. However, Mir Muhanna had to flee a revolt in 1769, and the Zands took over the island. Karim worked with the British, who established trade at the Shiraz port of Bushahr (Bushire). In 1770 the British moved on to Basra. In 1774 Karim went to war with the Turks over the Shatt al-'Arab waterway and the Kurdish provinces of Baban and Zuhab. In 1775 he sent Sadiq Khan with 30,000 men to besiege Basra, which was plundered and depopulated by plague, losing its value as a port.
When Karim Khan died in 1779, the castrated Qajar hostage Agha Muhammad escaped. Zaki Khan sent 'Ali Murad Khan in pursuit, but at Isfahan he went over to Abu'l-Fath. Sadiq Khan had left Basra; but he fled when Zaki threatened to harm his family in Shiraz. Zaki Khan was so cruel on the march that his own men killed him, enabling Sadiq to occupy Shiraz. 'Ali Murad blockaded Shiraz, and in 1781 he captured it by treachery and murdered Sadiq and his sons except Ja'far. 'Ali Murad claimed Isfahan, but he died there defending it from Ja'far in the winter of 1785. Agha Muhammad drove Ja'far out of Isfahan. Ja'far retreated to Shiraz, but he was killed by a mutiny in 1789. Ja'far's son Lutf 'Ali Khan was the most respected of Karim's successors, and he was chosen to lead the defense of Shiraz from Qajar assaults. However, he was betrayed by Fars mayor Hajji Ibrahim, who took over Shiraz while Lutf 'Ali was attacking Isfahan in 1791. Deserted by much of his army, he fought to stop the Qajar advance led by Agha Muhammad toward Shiraz. When his men scattered to plunder after a raid on a Qajar camp, Lutf 'Ali fled east to Kirman, which he lost to the Qajars in 1794. Agha Muhammad blinded and tortured to death Lutf 'Ali. He ordered 20,000 men blinded as his men raped and plundered Kirman, taking 20,000 women and children as slaves; Agha also had 900 prisoners beheaded.
In 1794 Agha Muhammad Khan besieged Kirman while his nephew Fath 'Ali Khan subjugated the Kirman province. At Shiraz Agha Muhammad appointed Fath 'Ali beglerbegi of Fars, Kirman, and Yazd, and he made Hajji Ibrahim his grand vizier. After returning to Tehran in 1795, Agha Muhammad invaded Azerbaijan with 60,000 cavalry and besieged Shusha before negotiating so that he could attack Georgia, which had been claimed by Catherine II of Russia in 1783. After a bloody battle, Tiflis was sacked; the elderly, infirm, and priests were massacred, and 15,000 Georgians were deported to Iran as slaves. In 1796 Hajji Ibrahim and other Qajar chiefs persuaded Agha Muhammad to be crowned as shah before marching on Mashhad in Khurasan. Shahrukh was tortured until he revealed the location of gems, and then he died on the way to Mazandaran. Agha Muhammad ruled strictly according to Islamic law, punishing corruption and banditry. In 1797 Agha Muhammad was disturbed by quarrelling servants and ordered them put to death; but it was a Friday, and he delayed the execution. Foolishly allowing them to serve him, that night the two servants and a third accomplice murdered the first Qajar shah. Then they fled to Sadiq Khan with the Shah's jewels.
Hajji Ibrahim marched to Tehran to support Fath 'Ali Khan (r. 1797-1834); but Sadiq Khan Shaqaqi besieged Qazvin with 15,000 Kurds. Fath 'Ali with fewer men defeated them, as the Kurds dispersed; but Sadiq purchased his pardon with the crown jewels. Zaki's son Muhammad Khan tried to rule from Isfahan; but he was driven into the Bakhtiari mountains and captured by a Persian army led by Muhammad Vali, who had him blinded. This general joined a challenge by the Shah's brother Husain Quli Khan while Fath 'Ali was facing a revolt by Azerbaijan governor Sulaiman Khan Qajar. However, the brothers came to terms, and Sulaiman was allowed to remain governor of Azerbaijan. In 1798 Fath 'Ali Khan led the campaign to defeat the rebels in Khurasan. Fearing the growing power of Hajji Ibrahim, Fath 'Ali had him and all but one of his sons put to death.
When George XII ascended the throne in Georgia, Fath 'Ali demanded that he send his oldest son to Tehran as a hostage. George appealed to Russia, and General Lazareff defeated the Avars and occupied Georgia, which was annexed by Russia when George XII died in December 1800. General Sisianoff led the Russian campaign to take Erivan in 1804; but Fath 'Ali brought up reinforcements, and the Russians retreated. The Persian army got training in 1807 from French general Gardanne and seventy officers, and in 1810 the tall English artillery officer Lindsay Bethune was so impressive that the Persians made him their commander-in-chief for a while. After Russian general Sisianoff was treacherously murdered during a peace conference at Baku, the Russians won a major battle at Aslanduz in 1812, when Prince 'Abbas Mirza commanded a retreat. In the 1813 treaty of Gulistan, Iran ceded to Russia Derbent, Baku, Shirvan, Shakki, Qarabagh, and part of Talish, agreeing not to put navy ships in the Caspian Sea. The British gained a definitive treaty with Persia in 1814 to protect the route to India and promising Persians an annual subsidy.
In 1821 a Russian agent named Mazarovitch at Tehran persuaded 'Abbas Mirza to invade the Turks from Azerbaijan. The Baghdad pasha reacted by invading Persia, but he was defeated by the Shah's oldest son Muhammad 'Ali Mirza. After the Persian army suffered its first epidemic of cholera, they agreed to a treaty in 1823. When the Russians tried to claim disputed territory in 1825, the Persians defeated the Russians marching toward Shisha. Muslims in Ganja massacred the Russian garrison, and Persians reached the gates of Tiflis. However, the Russian army routed the Persians at Shamkar, and in the battle of Ganja the next year 'Abbas once again ordered a retreat. Even though General Paskievich could not take Erivan in 1827, Tabriz surrendered; in the 1828 treaty of Turkmanchai the Persians gave the Russians fertile Erivan and Nakhchivan, promising payment of three million pounds. This treaty also gave the Russians extra-territorial privileges, which were soon demanded by other European powers.
Fath 'Ali brought back reliable Amin al-Daula as prime minister in 1828 in order to ensure a peaceful succession. Concerned that he was too influenced by western culture at Tabriz, he appointed 'Abbas Mirza to govern Khurasan, where he campaigned against rebels in 1832; but the crown prince died the next year. Fath 'Ali died at Isfahan in 1834 and was succeeded by the son of 'Abbas, Muhammad Shah (r. 1834-48). His brother Husain 'Ali Mirza in Shiraz claimed the throne also and was supported by a younger brother; but Muhammad Shah sent an army led by Manuchihr Khan Mu'tamad al-Daula that captured them and took them to Tehran. Muhammad Shah campaigned against the Turkmen in 1836 and besieged Herat the following year; but the British persuaded him to abandon the siege in 1838. That year Qajar exiles in Baghdad instigated a rebellion led by Agha Khan Mahallati in Yazd and Kirman. In 1840 Aga Khan was driven out of Kirman and took the fort at Bam before fleeing to the British in Bombay. In 1843 Baghdad pasha Muhammad Najib slaughtered people in Karbala, because the city had been taken over by ruffians (lutis). British and Russian diplomats intervened to prevent another war between Persia and the Ottoman empire. After Muhammad Shah's first prime minister Abu'l-Qasim Qa'im Maqam was murdered, he depended on the Sufi Hajji Mirsa Aghasi, alienating the 'ulama. Iran continued to increase its use of European police training and weapons. However, in other respects Persia remained a medieval Muslim society. By the end of Muhammad Shah's reign the Persian treasury was empty, and the soldiers' pay was three to five years in arrears.
Muhammad Shah was succeeded by his 16-year-old son Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848-96). Nasir kept his main advisor Mirza Taqi Khan, who refused the title prime minister and was called the chief of the army (Emir Kabir). About 1840 the Persians had allowed the Russian navy to establish a base on the island of Ashurada in order to suppress Turkmen piracy in the Caspian Sea; but in 1851 Turkmen in a surprise attack killed and captured the garrison. Emir Kabir had to yield to the Russian request that the Shah's brother be dismissed from governing Mazandaran. The Shah dismissed Emir Kabir, and the efforts to reform Persian society faded with his execution in 1852. The clerics and courtiers regained their influence, as the corrupt and reactionary Mirza Agha Khan Nuri became the chief minister. Persia managed to remain neutral during the Crimean War. Emir Kabir had founded a college in 1851, and in 1855 a ministry of education was formed. Another siege of Herat led to war with the British in 1856 as they captured the island of Kharak and invaded from the Persian Gulf. In the treaty of Paris the next year Persia gave up all its claims to Herat and Afghanistan. That year Khurasan governor Sultan Murad Mirza invited eighty Turkmen leaders to a conference at Mashhad and then treacherously imprisoned them. In 1858 Nasir al-Din Shah dismissed Agha Khan Nuri and ordered the six ministers of Justice, Finance, War, Foreign Affairs, Pensions and Religious Charities, and the Interior to report directly to him. The following year the Shah appointed a council and urged the provinces to use similar advisory groups.
Mirza Husain Khan served as a Persian official in India, Tiflis, and Istanbul, where he met Malkum Khan. The latter was responsible for setting up the first telegraph line in Iran. However, his secret society was banned by the Shah in 1861, and Malkum was exiled to the Ottoman empire. Telegraph wires through Tiflis, Tabriz, and Tehran connected London to India by 1870. That year Mirza Husain Khan persuaded the Shah to visit Baghdad, where he met its reform governor Mihdat Pasha. Nasir al-Din made Mirza Husain Khan minister of Justice and of Pensions and Charities, then of War, and finally prime minister, even though it alienated clerics. He worked on reorganizing the government and eliminating corruption. During a terrible famine in 1871 he saved lives by stopping the rich from hoarding and opening the grain stores at subsidized prices. The bad harvests had been caused by shifting land from grain to opium and cotton for export. In 1872 Mirza Husain Khan persuaded the Shah to sign a sweeping concession to Julius de Reuter, a British Jew, giving him, provided he started a railroad, rights to all factories and minerals that might be developed in Iran, which so far had exploited little. Malkum and others had been bribed, and the concessions were so unpopular that the project was cancelled with Reuter losing his caution money. Nasir al-Din Shah traveled to Europe in 1871; but the extreme protection demanded by his favorite wife Anis al-Daula and other women caused problems in western society. Upon their return in 1873 prominent people demanded that Mirza Husain Khan be dismissed, though the Shah brought him back as Minister of War the next year. His attempt to establish provincial councils in 1875 was short-lived.
Under the Qajars the shah usually appointed governors who contributed the most money, and governors in turn got their positions by selling local tax-collecting. This left most of the people with little savings for investment. Many peasants worked by sharecropping for their landlords. The Persian army mostly depended on tribal forces that were motivated by the opportunity to plunder. The central government maintained control by dividing opposing tribes, giving pensions as bribes, and by taking hostages from prominent families. Islamic law (shari'a) was used for family issues, wills, contracts, and religious laws, while criminal cases and rebellion against the state were usually handled by magistrates. Commercial litigants could choose between religious or secular courts. Very little printing was done in Iran, though from 1851 the government published the weekly Iran Journal that became the official report of government orders and was required reading for officials.
On May 23, 1844 Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad declared in Shiraz that he was the Báb (Gate)-"the channel of grace from some great person still behind the veil of glory." Gathering eighteen disciples, he went on pilgrimage to Mecca, where his oratory and writings inspired his followers and alarmed the orthodox Muslim authorities. Shi'is believed that he referred to the hidden twelfth imam; but the Báb explained to the 'ulama that the mission of Muhammad had ended and that he had come to proclaim a new era. He opposed polygamy and ritual purity, though he advised against conversations between unmarried women and men. The clerics persuaded the governor of Fars to persecute the heretics, and the Báb was subjected to imprisonment, deportation, examination before tribunals, and torture. In 1846 he refused to accept an offer by the governor-general of Isfahan to march an army against Tehran. Finally at Tabriz the Báb was put before a firing squad on July 9, 1850. After the first round of shots by 750 Armenian Christians, the Báb and his companion were unhurt; the bullets had merely cut the ropes by which they were suspended. The Báb talked for a while with his friends in a nearby room, while the Armenians who made up the firing squad refused to fire again. However, a Muslim regiment of soldiers was ordered to fire, and his martyrdom was completed. Bábis tried to seize the city of Yazd, but they failed and fled to Kirman. A plot to assassinate the Emir Kabir was discovered, and the captured conspirators were executed. Persecutions continued with more than 20,000 people losing their lives.
Mirzá Husain Nuri, who became known as Bahá'u'lláh (Glory of God), was born about two years before the Báb on November 12, 1817 in Tehran. His father Mirza Buzurg of Nur was in the ruling class and served at the court of the Shah. At the age of seven Mirzá argued and won a case before the Shah, and he impressed people with his wisdom. He married Asiyih Khanum before his 18th birthday. He was concerned about the poor and did what he could to help them. When he was 22 and his father died, it was expected that he would take up his father's prestigious position in the government; but the young man had other ideas. His son, who was to become known as 'Abdu'l-Bahá (Servant of God), was born on the same day as the Báb's declaration in 1844. The Báb sent Mullá Husayn, his first disciple, with a letter for an unnamed person. When this envoy heard about Mirzá Husayn Nuri, he gave him the letter. The Báb renamed him Bahá'u'lláh.
After his conversion, Bahá'u'lláh went to spread the new message in Mazandaran. When the Báb was in prison in 1848, his persecuted followers met at Badasht in Khurasan. Of the eighteen only the poetess Qurrat al-'Ain had not met the Báb. She discarded her veil and appeared before the men with her face uncovered as a sign of the new day. Several men objected, but Bahá'u'lláh said that the Báb was the founder of a new dispensation. After returning to Tehran, Bahá'u'lláh met with Mulla Husayn and more than three hundred Bábis, who had taken sanctuary in the forests of Mazandaran at a shrine, where they built defenses. When troops besieged this fort of Tabarsi, Bahá'u'lláh went to be with them; but he was taken by the governor's men to Amul, where he was whipped to keep his companions from being punished. After the Báb's martyrdom in the public square of Tabriz in 1850, Bahá'u'lláh sent a young man to conceal the corpse of the Báb so that it could be buried later at Mount Carmel. The Báb had sent his seals, pen, and papers to Bahá'u'lláh.
While Bábis were being hunted down and killed, Bahá'u'lláh went to Iraq and lived there in relative safety in the wilderness for two years. On August 15, 1852 two irresponsible young Bábis shot at Nasir al-Din Shah with birdshot and were put to death without a trial. When the poetess Qurrat al-'Ain was told that she was to be executed, she said that they could kill her, but they could not stop the emancipation of women. Hearing that he was to be arrested, Bahá'u'lláh turned himself in and was taken to a dungeon in Tehran. In his book Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Bahá'u'lláh explained that he had nothing to do with the assassination attempt. For four months he was held with about 150 prisoners in a dark and smelly pit with two chains around his neck and his feet in the stocks. He led them in chanting verses such as "God is sufficient unto me." Hundreds of Bábis were tortured and died that year. Bahá'u'lláh was cleared of any wrongdoing; but his property was confiscated, and he was banished from Iran. Declining an invitation from Russia, he returned to Iraq, arriving weak at Baghdad in March 1853. There his leadership of the Bábis was challenged by his half-brother Mirzá Yahyá, who was known as Subh-i-Azal, meaning "morning of eternity." So Bahá'u'lláh withdrew into solitude in the mountains of Kurdistán. He was taken for a Sufi, and his reputation for wisdom spread.
Eventually the Bábis requested that Bahá'u'lláh come back, and he returned to Baghdad in 1856. He advised them not to resist with violence any persecution, and they began to live again with faith in their hearts. In the next few years Bahá'u'lláh wrote his best known books. The Hidden Word described the eternal truths of revealed religion, and he urged people to love God more than their own pleasures. They should not speak evil of others. He wrote The Seven Valleys to answer a learned Sufi. The valleys represent the seven stages of the spiritual path-search, love, knowledge, unity, contentment, wonderment, and finally true poverty and absolute nothingness. In the valley of searching the wayfarer rides the steed of patience and in the valley of love the steed of pain. After traversing the valley of knowledge, in the valley of unity the traveler understands abstract concepts. In the valley of wonderment the pilgrim realizes that the temple of wealth is lack itself, and in the last valley one dies from the self to live in God. In The Book of Certitude Bahá'u'lláh explained scriptures as progressive revelation. He described the attributes of God such as knowledge, power, sovereignty, dominion, mercy, wisdom, glory, bounty, and grace.
Bahá'u'lláh's teachings attracted not only Muslims but also Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. Because of his popularity and the animosity of the Muslim clerics, in April 1863 Persian diplomats requested that the Ottoman government order him transferred to Istanbul, upsetting his followers. While camping in a garden outside Baghdad for twelve days in preparation for the journey, Bahá'u'lláh announced that he was the promised one foretold by the Báb. A majority of the Bábis who accepted his mission became known as Bahá'ís. The journey to Istanbul took three months, and four months later he was moved to Adrianople. At this time it was believed that Azal tried to poison him, and Bahá'u'lláh felt its effects in his body the rest of his life. After anonymous letters accused Bahá'u'lláh of plotting with Bulgarian and European leaders to attack the capital, in August 1868 Bahá'u'lláh was sent to barracks at Acre in Palestine; Azal was banished to Cyprus, where he died in 1912. Bahá'u'lláh was under arrest in Acre until he died in 1892. For a while about seventy prisoners were given only bread and polluted water. When three died, Bahá'u'lláh sold the rug on which he slept in order to pay the wardens to bury them.
Although a prisoner of the Turkish government, in 1867 Bahá'u'lláh was allowed to send his famous proclamations to the current world leaders including Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm, Emperor Francis Joseph, Sultan 'Abdu'l-Azíz, Nasir al-Din Shah, the rulers of America, the elected representatives of the people, Pope Pius IX, and the clergy and people of various faiths. In these exhortations he pleaded for peace and the unity of mankind.
O Rulers of the earth!
Be reconciled among yourselves,
that ye may need no more armaments
save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions.
Beware lest ye disregard the counsel
of the All-Knowing, the Faithful.
Be united, O Kings of the earth,
for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you,
and your people find rest,
if ye be of them that comprehend.
Should anyone among you take up arms against another,
rise ye all against him,
for this is naught but manifest justice.1
The young messenger that took Bahá'u'lláh's letter to the Shah was tortured and killed. To the Ottoman sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz he urged undeviating justice so that none may suffer want or be pampered with luxuries. After Napoleon III scoffed at the man who claimed to be God, Bahá'u'lláh sent another tablet in 1869 prophesying the defeat Napoleon soon experienced. Wilhelm was warned that the German empire would suffer retribution for its bloodshed, and the lamentations of Berlin would be heard. Bahá'u'lláh commended Queen Victoria for forbidding the slave trade and allowing representative government; she wisely commented, "If this is of God, it will endure; if not, it can do no harm."2
In 1870 Bahá'u'lláh and his family were moved to a caravanserai in Acre. Although he counseled patience when spies of Azal aroused animosity against him, Bahá'ís killed three of those men. His son 'Abdu'l-Bahá was put in chains for one night. Bahá'u'lláh complained that captivity did not harm him, but this violence by his followers did. When a new governor offered to help Bahá'u'lláh, he advised him to repair the aqueduct outside of town. This improved the water supply and air of Acre.
Bahá'u'lláh continually taught that true religion recognizes and promotes the unity of mankind and the love of all humanity. Prejudices based on religion, race, or nationality are contrary to spirituality and divine love. He prophesied that civilization is moving toward world unity. The Earth is one, and the servant of God is dedicated to serving the entire human race. Even though his followers were persecuted, he advised peaceful nonresistance toward violence. Reconstructing the world does not require the use of weapons but rather a firm adherence to justice and faith in God. He noted that this people has had patience in their struggle for justice such that they allowed themselves to suffer and be killed rather than to kill. He explained that they can do this because of their trust in God.
Nevertheless to attain world unity and peace individual nations must not be allowed to make war on others. Therefore Bahá'u'lláh recommended a world assembly so that all the nations together could prevent aggression. He believed that this is divinely ordained and that in time people would come to recognize it. All the leaders of the Earth must participate and join together to maintain peace and justice with their collective power. Bahá'u'lláh described the political unity of states as the lesser peace, while the most great peace requires spiritual unity in addition to political and economic cooperation. Bahá'u'll'áh outlined a plan with a House of Justice to make lawful decisions. He suggested the use of a universal language and education for everyone.
1. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet to Queen Victoria from
2. Quoted in Balyuzi, Bahá'u'lláh, p. 51.
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