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was absolute in the sense that his orders must be obeyed, and that he could not be called to account for any act by any constitutional authority. The Sultans have in fact at all times exercised arbitrary power, and have put to death without trial such persons as they chose, when they could find instruments to execute their will. In the administration of the government, however, the theory is not arbitrary power but divine law as declared in the Koran. All questions in courts of justice are to be determined by the law declared by the Prophet, when such can be found, and in cases where the Koran furnishes no rule, the precedents established by the Prophet and the early Caliphs are of great authority.
The feudal system, which was already declining in western Europe in the time of Osman, never gained much hold in the territory included in the Turkish empire. As a result of the Crusades it was established and maintained at Jerusalem during the dominion of the Franks, but expired after they were driven out. The spirit of the Koran, following that of the new testament in this respect, is one of equality, and no order of nobility existed in the empire. Equality however referred only to free males. Slavery was recognized, and women were regarded as inferiors. Polygamy has always been allowed, but in fact is only practiced by a very small number of the people. The teachings of the Koran constantly magnify the value of the future life and the future joys of the true believers who are saved and the frightful torments of the damned. The heaven offered is a sensual one, fitted to the low instincts of the Arabs of his time. Mohammed taught his followers to despise the things of this world, and while he made comparatively little effort to perfect a governmental system, what he did in that line was enjoined as a religious duty and became at once binding as a civil and religious duty. Herein lies a marked contrast between the teachings of Jesus and those of Mohammed. Jesus announced the moral law and the necessity for its observance in order to gain future happiness, but made no attempt to promulgate a code of civil law. Throughout the whole history of the Turkish empire the religious influence has been of prime importance in mould
ing public sentiment and private character. At the time of Suleyman's reign Turkey was at least one of the most advanced nations in agriculture, manufactures, internal commerce and in its schools and administration of the laws. Its theory of government and code of laws were however unprogressive, and while the government of today may not be distinctly worse than that under Suleyman, it appears to be so by comparison with the Christian nations.
From the reign of Suleyman the fortunes of the Turks began to wane. His son and successor Selim II was a weak debauchee, the first of the line who shrank from the dangers of war and preferred the pleasures of the palace. Murad III who succeeded him had all the vices and weaknesses of his father, and the administration fell into the hands of corrupt favorites. The Janissaries, to whom as the first regular standing army of Europe was due much of the credit of the victories under preceding reigns, manifested a disposition similar to that of the old Praetorian guard of the Romans. They mutinied on several occasions and compelled compliance with their demands. Here followed a succession of weaklings and in 1622 Osman, who sought to free himself from the Janissaries, was deposed and soon after murdered by his vizier whom he had deposed.
Murad IV, who ascended the throne in 1623, had the old time vigor of the Osmanlis. He caused the leaders of the mutinous Janissaries to be beheaded, and proceeded to purge the administration of its corrupt elements by causing all such as he deemed necessary to be put to death. He was a reformer, who carried out his reforms by the methods of the despot. His successor Ibrahim again exhibited the weakness and folly of a princely debauchee. After his time there were examples of vigorous administration by able grand viziers, but the Sultans were generally weak. Mahumed II-18081839-exhibited more vigor and in 1828 destroyed the rebellious Janissaries, who had so often disturbed the peace of the capital and dictated terms to the Sultan and his ministers. With the growth of the power of Russia that of Turkey has correspondingly waned. The evils of its despotic system and
the blighting influence of its narrow fanaticism have prevented that development and progress which has been so general in Europe, and instead of its position as the first power in the time of Suleyman, it is now looked upon as one of the weakest and worst governed nations of Europe. Nevertheless modern ideas are permeating the empire. In 1876 a liberal constitution was promulgated, but not given effect. On July 24, 1908, after a bloodless revolution the constitution of 1876 was restored. Turkey's European possessions have been repeatedly curtailed and in 1912 Italy had forcibly taken a part of her African possessions, and the allied Balkan states and Greece have waged successful war and inflicted crushing defeats on her, further curtailing her hold on Europe.
Prior to the revolution of 1908 the governmental system of Turkey was a theocratic despotism, hereditary in the family of Osman. The Sultan is still the spiritual head of the Moslem world, but under the new constitution his temporal power is that of a constitutional monarch. A ministry responsible to the Turkish parliament, instead of to the Sultan, has been established. The grand vizier, named by the Sultan, presides over the council of ministers, which is made up of the Sheik-ul Islam and the ministers of home and foreign affairs, war, finance, marine, commerce and public works, justice, public instruction, evkof, grand master of ordnance and president of the council of state. The Sheik-ul Islam is the head of the Ulema and representative of the Moslem Hierarchy, being nominated by the Sultan with the approval of the Ulema, the general body of doctors of Mohammedan law. The importance of the religious establishment is disclosed by the vast possessions of the mosques and the fact that all the Moslem schools are connected with the mosques, and the government through the minister of public instruction and board of censors exercises a censorship over all the books used and branches taught in the schools. This censorship has at times also been extended to the Christian schools in Armenia and elsewhere, and the use of books inculcating doctrines deemed dangerous has been suppressed. The minister of evkof is at the head of the department having charge of
property held by the mosques either for religious uses or in trust in whole or in part for uses declared by the donors. It is estimated that between one-third and one-half of all the property in the empire is held by the mosques. The administration of the mosque revenues and the execution of the various trusts on which much of the property is held render the department of evkof one of the most important of the government. For administrative purposes the empire is divided into vilayets (provinces), over which a vali (governor), is appointed. These are divided into sanjaks or mutessariks, which are subdivided into kazas, which are again subdivided into nahies. The chief officers under the valis are styled respectively mutessarifliks, kaimakams and mudirs. The valis and mutessarifs bear the title of pasha, and all but the mudirs are appointed from Constantinople. These are named by the valis. All these officers exercise both judicial and executive functions and, except the mudirs, are mostly chosen from a place other than that where they rule. Each of them has a council, composed of members of the different communities, with whom he advises as to matters of detail. The character of the local administration is directly dependent on the character and capacity of the vali, who is a local autocrat. The collection of the revenue is farmed out to the highest bidder, a system always productive of oppression and dishonesty. The authority of the different officials is without definite limitations and naturally is irregularly and oppressively exercised. No efficient system of checking the accounts of officials who handle the public revenue exists, and the Turkish officials are generally rated as corrupt and avaricious. The Moslem population is of course wholly subject to the official system above outlined, but foreigners settled in the country are by treaty stipulations exempted from the jurisdiction of the local courts, and cases between themselves are heard before the consuls of their respective governments. Cases between a Turk and a forigner are heard before a mixed court. Before the revolution military service was compulsory only on Moslems. It is now compulsory on all Ottomans. There are many schools maintained in the Christian communities of the Greeks, Armenians and Syrians, some of which afford a good range of studies when not restricted by the censorship, which the fanatical Moslems at times exercise.
Under the early caliphs the schools were not merely for the purpose of propagating a knowledge of the Koran, but there was an unrestrained desire for improvement in the knowledge and use of language and of the sciences. Much was borrowed from Greeks and Romans, and while the superiority of the Koran over all other theological teachings was maintained, the search after truth outside its covers was stimulated rather than suppressed, but from the tenth century the orthodox Sunnites, who still maintain their ascendency in Turkey, have most successfully inculcated profound reverence for the established faith and stifled all tendencies to freedom of thought and original investigation. The principal school of Turkey is the University of Constantinople. Most of the students are said to come from the poorer classes, and enter this school after having received primary instruction in the local schools sufficient to enable them to read, write, count, and repeat the Koran. They are first taught classical Arabic grammar and then the dogmas of Islam. The Koran, traditions of the Prophet and the Sunna are expounded by the teachers, and the pupil is given some instruction in the principles of government as administered in the courts. On conclusion of his course the scholar goes out with his certificate to find a place as a teacher, preacher, cadi or mufti or in some other governmental post. The great corporation of the Ulema, of which he has become a part, is usually able to find him a place without difficulty, for there are not nearly enough graduates to fill all the positions. The purely religious offices of imam or khatib are not given exclusively to students and do not confer a place in the hierarchy or special social status, but the cadi, local judge, receives his appointment from the government and is a person of importance. In every place of any importance there is at least one cadi, who tries and decides all causes. From his decision an appeal lies to the mufti, who reviews the questions of law only. These officers are to some extent independent of the central authority, and the spirit of