The History of the Middle East Questions and Answers

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What are the similarities and differences between the reigns of Suleyman the Magnificent, Akbar, Aurangzeb, Shah Ismail and Shah Abbas and what made each of them successful?

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During the Early Modern period, there were three Muslim empires in the Middle East and South Asia known as the Gunpowder Empires.  On the foundations of the Byzantine Empire rose the Ottoman Empire, with great leaders like Suleyman the Magnificent.  Centered on the old Persian Empire grew the Safavid Empire, with strong leaders like Shah Ismail and Shah Abbas the Great.  Finally, in South Asia, we see the Mughal Empire conquering in India and bringing Islam into the subcontinent.

Suleyman the Magnificent was the leader, or Sultan, of the Ottoman Empire from 1520-1566, and during that time he built the Suleymaniye mosque in Constantinople.  Like the sultans who came after him, Suleyman wanted to contribute to the beauty and power of the Ottomans and demonstrate the contributions of Ottoman power to Islamic and human civilization. 

In Safavid Iran and Iraq, a Sufi mystic named Ismail led his band of red heads (Safavid followers named for their red headwear) and conquered the city of...

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The Ottoman Empire has reached its culmination under Suleiman the Magnificent. Ottomans became the most important naval force once the Suleiman received the naval fleet of the Mamluks of Egypt and captured the pirate fleet when attacking the Spanish army.

The ruler Shah Ismail founded the Safavid Empire. Shah Ismail somehow convinced the Safavids by his divine attributes, making them loyal to him. These attributes made Safavids to believe in the invincibility of Safavid army against the Ottoman army.

The Safavid Empire was renewed during the reign of  Shah Abbas the Great who improved the institutions of empire and requested the European help against the attacks of Ottoman army.

The Mughal Empire of India knew it's peaceful period under Akbar's reign. He alleviated the tensions between Hindus and Muslims by adopting a policy of religious toleration. He motivated the development of a hybrid religion which he named the "divine faith" . This new religion considered the ruler as the axis of all religious, ethnic and social groups in India.

The ruler Aurangzeb, a devoted Muslim, was not a follower of the hybrid religion elaborated during Akbar's reign, destroying the Hindu temples and replacing them with Mosques. His attitude led to Hindus rebellions and indignation against him.