Examples of The Ottoman Empire Treatment of Non-Muslims

by Adan Kadar

The Ottoman Turks were led Osman who began to unite the Ottomans into a nation and eventually into an empire that would last for 623 years.  The Ottomans were nomads and orignally they were Christians until the converted to Islam.  The adopted the Sufi form of Islam because it did not require one to memorize the Quran or to pray in a mosque.  This sect of Islam fit the Ottoman’s nomadic lifestyle perfectly.  Sufism would continue to be the primary form of Islam throughout the 623 year reign of the infamous Ottoman Empire.

The Ottomans were tolerant and compassionate with people of other faiths giving them equal protection under Ottoman law.  Non-Muslims who came under their rule were given protection in accordance with the Koranic teaching:

“If any of the Mushrikun (idolaters) ask you for protection,
give them protection until they have heard the words of Allah.
Then convey them to a place where they are safe.
That is because they are a people who do not know.”
Sura Al-Tawba 9:6

Several of the Ottoman Sultans enforced the teachings, morals, and values of the Qur’an and demanded these Koranic values be upheld throughout the empire.  Many considered themselves living examples of these values and expected everyone in the empire to emulate them and have the same values.  Many undertook the task of spreading Islam in the lands they conquered and beyond believing that if they did good work for Allah that Allah would do good for them.  This belief was based on the Koranic teaching:

“You who believe!
If you help Allah,
He will help you
and make your feet firm.”
Sura Muhammad 47:7

One Sultan issued an imperial edict setting the one for all future rulers of the empire regarding Christians.  In that edict he wrote:

“No one will be allowed to disturb or harm these people or their churches.  Let them live peacefully in my empire and let these people who are now immigrants live safely and freely.  Let them return to their homelands with the borders of my empire and live in their monasteries.

Neither a member of teh royal family nor any viziers, nor servants, nor the citizens of this empire will violate the honor of or the lives of these people.

No one is allowed to attack these people’s lives, property, or churches, or to insult them or endanger them.  And even if these people bring citizens of other countries to my country, these new people will enjoy the same rights.

I swear by Allah, the Creator, and Lord of the Heavens, and the Earth, the Messenger of Allah, our Prophet Muhammad (saas), 124,000 prophets and the sword I am wearing that none of my citizens will contravene this as long as they are loyal to me, and follow my commands.”
Sultan Mehmet I

This imperial edict set the stage for the empire regarding Christians and was very much in line with the Koranic teaching that True Muslims are to respect not only Mosques but Churches and Synagogues because in them Allah’s name is remembered and he is worshiped by the Faithful.

The world today can find an example in the Ottoman Empire of how Muslims should regard and treat non-Muslims with tolerance and fairness.  At some point Muslims must return to these things and once again be a compassionate, just, fair, intelligent, and honorable people who value all human life for all human beings no matter who or what they are or are not were created by Allah!

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