For this week, I was very interested in what Gelvin had to say about secularism in chapter 9 of The Modern Middle East, where he contrasts the rise of secularism in Europe with the attempts to do the same in the Ottoman empire.
Gelvin mentions both the tanzimat period, where the Ottomans first tried osmanlilik, an attempt to unite the empire via political ties and a sense of pride in being ottoman, and the rule of Sultan Abdulhamid II, the second time osmanlilik was promoted as a sense of pride in being both ottoman and Islamic. I was interested in why that it took mixing being an ottoman and being Islamic was what made this kind of ideology feasible. I also think that the answer to this question can help with understanding the dominance of Islam in the governments and politics of the region.
Although the young turks supported a restoration of the first osmanlilik in turkey (which shows in its more secular focused society), even they ended up having to go back to the Islamic osmanlilk. But with the rest of that fall of the ottomans, the nations that came out of it followed this combination of religion and politics. And I feel like this has been a huge contribution to the current politics and governments of the region. Compared to the governments of Europe, where there is a definitive line between government and religion, many of the political forces in the Middle East are intertwined with religion.
One of the major effects these governments had in the region was the concessions and the effects of them on the industries and countries involved. For instance, the D’Arcy Concession that we read this week pretty much created the oil industry in Iran. This document was the beginning of oil in the Middle East, which we all know is a huge deal today. I am surprised that this agreement survived in some form all the way until 1951, when many other concessions from the era lasted for only a year or less. I think that this shows that not all of these agreements of this era were created equal.