Reforms for political and economic independence

Essay, 2008

4 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Reforms for political and economic independence

Abdülhamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (in office from 1876 to 1909), Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt (in office from 1805 to 1848), Mustafa Kemal (in office from 1920 to 1938), the founder of the Turkish Republic, and Reza Shah of Iran (in office from 1926-1941) were, as political heads of their countries, all challenged to modernize their states and establish a uniting state identity. The Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Turkey and Iran contained a variety of ethnic and religious groups. Also, they were experiencing during that time period outside pressures which threatened to take over certain territory or increase their influence on political and economic decisions. Furthermore, the four mentioned states faced financial and economic crises[1] and a lack of modern industry and infrastructure. Because of the similarity of the problems the different states had to deal with, a comparison of the reaction of their political leaders can be made. Therefore, a closer look will be given on the state identity, education reforms and industrial and infrastructure solutions.

In order to reform a state successfully, the citizens living in the territory need to be motivated to support the state, which can only be achieved by identification. Aware of the ethical and cultural diversity of his servants Sultan Abdülhamid II propagated and supported a Pan-Islamic movement.[2] He tried to establish the Ottoman Empire as a Muslim state with him as caliph, a religious universal leader, in order to gain power in the Arabic world, Europe, and Russia, also. Muhammad Ali, called “The father of Egypt”, on the other hand, wanted to emancipate Egypt from the Ottoman Empire as dominant power and established as a symbol of Egyptian power an Egyptian ruling dynasty.[3] While breaking free from the Ottoman Empire Turkey followed the ideas of nationalism. Mustafa Kemal, since 1934 called Atatürk, “Father of the Turks”, established a republic with him as the first president. He embraced this movement by spreading a new Turkish history that provided the idea of a Turkish nation ideologically braced in pre- Ottoman history.[4] Atatürk also reformed the language and established the Turkish language officially expressed in Latin letters to set it apart from Arabic. To illuminate the influence of religious groups, especially Muslim groups like the Ulema, he radically secularized the state, as well. Reza Shah followed this example in Iran to a certain extend by removing Arabic and Turkish words from the Persian language and emphasizing pre-Ottoman-history to set Iranian nationalism apart from the history of the Ottoman Empire.[5] He secularized the state, while the Muslim shari’ah was not illuminated but bypassed.[6] Also, he proclaimed himself as a Shah and established a monarchy that linked the young nation to historical role models.[7]


[1] While Abdülhamid II and Mohammad Ali had to fight the Great Economic Depression from 1873-96 the rulers of Turkey and Iran witnessed the Great Depression in the 1920s.

[2] Hanioglu, M. Sükrü: A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire, Princeton University Press, New Jersey 2008, p, 128.

[3] Cleveland. William L.: A History of the Modern Middle East, Ed. 3, Westview press, Oxford 2004, p. 66.

[4] Cleveland. William L.: A History, p. 128.

[5] Cleveland. William L.: A History, p. 189.

[6] Cleveland. William L.: A History, p. 187.

[7] Through a monarchy Reza Shah made sure he stayed personally in control of the political power apart from outside influence. All four rulers tried to ensure personal power for them as individuals or the family. But after the death of their charismatic leaders all four countries struggled with the political future and the new rulers.

Excerpt out of 4 pages


Reforms for political and economic independence
Muhlenberg College
The Modern Middle East
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
332 KB
modern middle east, Abdülhamid II, Ottoman Empire, Muhammad Ali, Egypt, Mustafa Kemal, Turkish Republic, Reza Shah, Iran, Turkey
Quote paper
Kati Neubauer (Author), 2008, Reforms for political and economic independence , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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