History

How the historical Islamic Caliphate dealt with foreign intervention from the West

562790_556045831128134_1435935947_nLETTER FROM THE OTTOMAN GRAND VIZIER TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT (circa 1792)

The Grand Signior wars for himself, and for himself makes peace. He can trust his own slaves, servants, and subjects. He knows their faith, has experienced their virtue, and can rely upon their fidelity — a virtue long since banished your corner of Europe. If all other Christians tell truth, no reliance is to be had on England; she buys and sells all mankind. The Ottomans have no connexion with your King nor your country; we never sought for your advice, your interference, or your friendship; we have no minister, no agency, no correspondence with you; for what reason offer you then to mediate for us with Russia? Why seek ye to serve an empire of Infidels, as ye call us Musselmen? We want not your friendship, aid, or mediation.

Your Vizier, of whom you speak so highly, must have some project of deception in view, some oppressive scheme to amuse your nation, who, we are told, are credulous, servile, and adorers only of money. Avarice, if we are well informed, is your chief characteristic; you sell and buy your God — money is your deity; and all things is commerce with your ministry, with your nation — come ye, then, to sell us to Russia? No, let us bargain for ourselves. When fate has spun out the thread of our good fortune we must yield; what has been decreed by God and the Prophet of men must and will come to pass. The Ottomans know no finesse; duplicity and cunning are your Christian morals.

We are not ashamed to be honest, downright, plain and faithful in our state maxims. If we fall in war, we submit to the will of heaven, decreed from the beginning. We have long lived in splendour, the first power on earth, and we glory in having triumphed for ages over Christian infidelity and depravity, mixed with all sorts of vice and hypocrisy. We adore the God of nature and believe in Mahomet. You neither believe in the God you pretend to worship, nor in his Son, whom you call both your God and your Prophet.

What reliance can there be upon so sacrilegious a race? Truth you banish, as you do virtue, from all your conduct and actions with each other. Read the catalogue of complaints, manifestoes, declarations, and remonstrances of all the Christian Kings, Monarchs, and Emperors, who have lived and warred with each other. You find them all equally blasphemous, equally perfidious, equally cruel, equally unjust, and faithless to their engagements.

Did the Turk ever forfeit his promise, word, or honour? Never! Did ever a Christian power keep an engagement but while it suited his own avarice or ambition? No! How, then, do you think we are to trust you, a nation at this moment, if the truth be told, ruled by a perfidious administration without one grain of virtue to guide the machine of State. The Grand Seignior has no public intercourse with your Court — he wants none — he wishes for none. If you wish to remain here as a spy, or, as you term yourself, an ambassador for your Court, you may live with those of other Christian nations, while you demean yourself with propriety, but we want neither your aid by sea or land, nor your council or mediation.

I have no order to thank you for your offer, because it is by the Divan deemed officious, nor have I any command to thank you for the offer of your naval assistance, because it is what the Porte never dreamed of admitting into our sea. What you have to do with Russia we neither know nor care; our concerns with that Court we mean to finish as suits ourselves and the maxims of our laws and State policy. If you are not the most profligate Christian nation, as you are charged to be, you are undoubtedly the boldest in presumption and effrontery, in offering to bring such a power as Russia to terms. Such as you and some other trivial Christians united fancy yourselves equal to command; we know better, and therefore this effrontery of yours amounts rather to audacity, and to an imbecile dictation, which must render your councils at home mean and contemptible, and your advice abroad unworthy of wisdom or attention from any power, much less the regard of the Porte, which on all occasions wherein its ministers have listened to you have experienced evil either in your designs or in your ignorance.

His sublime Highness cannot be too much upon his guard against the attempts and presumption of a nation so perfidious to the interests of its subjects (or colonists), but it is the usual way of Christian Princes to sell and cede over their subjects to each other for money. Every peace made amongst you, as we are well informed, is made favourable to the King that best bribes. The Ottoman Ministry have too long and too often given ear to European councils, and as often as they did so they either were betrayed, sold, or deceived. Away, then, with your interference for the Porte with Russia, It has been your aim to embroil all mankind, and thereafter profit by your perfidy. We ask not, want not, nor desire your commerce, because our merchants have been sacrificed to your double dealings. You have no religion but gain; avarice is your only God, and the Christian faith you profess but as a mask for your hypocrisy. We will hear no more from you, therefore you are commanded to make no reply.

Sources

History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons, J. Almon, 1792, Page: 316.

The New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository, 1792, Page: 519

An Apology for Mohammed and the Koran, John Davenport, London 1869, Page: 117

2 replies »

  1. Of course you are always eager to judge the countries of liberal democracy by the worst of their behavior, or by anything that can be conceived as bad, whilst denying that Islam or even the culture associated with Islam can be meaningfully held responsible for anything negative done by Muslims. With this double standard, Islam can hardly come off badly, can it?

    Only today; Channel 4 News
    Gunmen open fire on ‘non-Muslims’ in Nairobi shopping mall, Kenya – at least 15 people killed when attackers stormed the Westgate shopping mall on Saturday afternoon, with reports of grenades being thrown and gunfire still being heard.

    I believe the MDI denigrates the United States as wicked because the USA has bombed Al-Shabaab in Somalia; the drone strikes are used as evidence of the essential moral inadequacy (to put it lightly) of the American system of government. And yet the murder of civilians by the movement known as Al-Shabaab is never accepted by the MDI as proof of the moral inadequacy of a sharia-based government, or as evidence of the prejudice and hate within the Muslim world.

    Returning to the Ottomans, you may sympathize with their attack upon the UK, but the real thing that stands out here is their amazing hypocrisy and arrogance, giving “commands” to foreign governments, characterizing others in a simplistically negative fashion, while they themselves had a system of government in which the Sultan’s brothers were all systematically strangled upon his coronation, and in which their army of faithful slaves simply refused to fight, upon their war of aggression turning sour. Needless to say, you are arrogant and hypocritical as well.

  2. Muslims are quick to condemn other countries for their own failings. The proof is in the pudding. Muslim countries are a failure. Not only economically, but morally also. The West is going to go the same way, if something radical isn’t done quickly.

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