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Islam and Ottoman Culture

            When discussing the history of the Ottoman Empire and its impact on the world, Islam is a significant component of that history. From twelve ninety-nine AD and the days of Osman I to its fall in nineteen eighteen AD, Islam was the single leading guide of political, social, and cultural identities of the Ottoman Empire. Islam itself was more than just a religion, but a way of life. The Quran, the Islamic religious holy text, was a guide for all aspects of daily life, both holy and secular. The sultan of the Ottoman Empire was more than just a political figure, but was instead the protector of the Muslim people. In the Ottoman Empire, Islam dictated how a Muslim was to treat a non-Muslim; the bridge that spanned the gap between the state and the people.
             From the days of the prophet Mohammed to present day, the Quran has guided the followers of Islam on how to live their daily lives. Everything, including how to conduct business, run a family, and even how to dictate public policy, is included in the teachings of the Quran. In the Ottoman Empire, this was no different. To the modern political scientist, the Quran served as the Constitution for not only politics, but social issues as well. One example of Islamic impact on Ottoman policy was the practice of Devshirme. During the reign of Murad I in thirteen eighty-three AD, the practice of conscription of Christian boys began as method of developing a political and military hierarchy within the Ottoman Empire. From a very young age, boys would be converted to Islam and then trained in the Palace schools. The children would be tested and placed in a special school to develop their individual skills and strengths to serve in multiple positions in the Ottoman government. The smartest would be given jobs dealing with the affairs of the state. The strongest of the boys would serve as an elite corps of soldiers known as the Janissaries. This method would last for hundreds of years until the eighteenth century when it was outlawed under the rule of Ahmet III.

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