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The Islamic Empires

October 1, 2012

Watercolor of an Ottoman Turk smoking a pipe in the mid 1700s.

Below please find two web questions on the Islamic Empires from your classmate, Omar Algamoos. Remember to respond to one or both of these questions in a response of at least one paragraph.


  • What is one major similarity between the development of Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal societies?


  • Why did tobacco and coffee houses spark controversy in the Ottoman Empire?
20 Comments leave one →
  1. Shayna Wolf permalink
    October 2, 2012 9:26 pm

    The first similarity between the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal societies is that each “came from nomadic, Turkish-speaking peoples of central Asia” (pg 753 textbook 4th ed.). These three societies each start off as strong empires during the early 16th and 17th centuries. They were wealthy and successful through expansion, which supplied new resources and wealth. These societies were also devoted to their traditions, which helped organize their government. The people were mostly Muslims and for the most part tolerated other religions, though some religious wars did arise. Authorities tended to try to minimize European influences. Another aspect of these three societies is that all had beautiful architecture, including mosques and cities. However, towards the 18th century, the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal societies collapsed

  2. Shayna Wolf permalink
    October 2, 2012 9:39 pm

    Tobacco and coffee houses became popular in the Ottoman empire through the Columbian exchange, which brought products to from different countries to places all over the world. Businessmen saw how popular tobacco and coffee became and opened coffee houses where people can have both at the same time. the problem was that people complained that these houses distracted people from religious duties. people also complained about the smell of tobacco, the mess the ashes made, and the possibility that tobacco houses could catch fire easily. I think another problem was that in the 1600’s the ottomans were looking for men to be in armies to help expand the empire. Being busy with relaxing in coffee houses made people lazy and they would gossip about the government and problems they had with it. this could lead to people no going wholeheartedly into war. To have people sit around idle and talk is in general not good for government and authorities.

  3. aaron ahdut permalink
    October 4, 2012 8:47 pm

    1.Some of the main similarities between the Ottoman , Safavid and Mughal empires are, the way the emperors controlled their society . They all came from Turkish civilizations , and they all shared similar religious beliefs . All of these empires also really relied on their military power to conquer land for expansion of their empire. Also all of these empires had a problem with family conflict over power when the emperor died.
    2.The reason the Ottoman empire had such a big problem with tobacco and coffee is ,because moralists were worried that it caused a distraction from religious responsibilities .They also thought that it would attract large crowds of loungers causing bad odors and messy areas around the market place . Another big concern with tobacco and coffee shops were the big chances of creating a fire that can wipe out towns at a time . These are some of the reasons why Sultan Marud IV went so far as to even outlaw tobacco and coffee in the Ottoman empire .

  4. Jotty T. Francois Fils permalink
    October 4, 2012 10:22 pm

    Coming from the steppe tradition of Turkish and Mongol peoples, all the three Islamic empires, the Ottoman,Safavid and Mughal had many similarities between their development. However, the major one is that all relied on bureaucracies and gave a big importance in the pursuit of maintaining harmonization in societies that included different religious and ethnic groups.
    Around 1600, Tobacco made his introduction in the Ottoman empire by English Merchants declaring that it is good for medical reason. Since when, the use of tobacco became popular throughout the empire.The increasing popularity of tobacco in the Ottoman empire provoked protest from Moralist who worried about religious duties that could be neglected by people habitues. The also repined about the odor, messy ashes and the danger that smoking could causes such as fire. They also fought to banish this practice because it made people lazy which is not good for the advancement of the Ottoman empire.

  5. Norbert Fital permalink
    October 7, 2012 1:03 am

    There are several similarities in the development of the Mughal, Ottoman, and Safavid empires. A major similarity in the development of these empires is that these empires developed from Turkish speaking people who believed in variations of the Islamic religions. These empires gained wealth and border expansion through the use of military conquest. Another major similarity was that the leader of the empire had dysfunctional families that caused inter-family murders as the family members would attempt to gain the rights as ruler for themselves. The use of tobacco and coffee was controversial in the Ottoman Empire because they are substances that alter the human mind as any drug does. Since a person’s mind is altered, the Islamic people believed that a connection with god and the human is lost or tampered with. This would act as a distraction from religious responsibilities. The opening of tobacco and coffee houses would lead people to sit around, do drugs, and people would get lazy. The Ottoman’s wanted to reject western influences and coffee and tobacco houses are similar to that of a tavern or bar. People believed that they are susceptible to fires since tobacco houses were believed to catch fire. Eventually these lounges get outlawed.

  6. Syed permalink
    October 8, 2012 1:02 pm

    The major similarities are that they all from central Asia and they all specked the same Turkish language. All three Islamic empire kept their political and cultural traditions of their root. All three empire established use of gunpowder weapon. Islam was accepted by all three empire. The Colombian exchange introduced coffee and tobacco to the Islamic empires. coffee and tobacco was hugely popular in those empire. Coffee shops were established to meet the increasing popularity of the coffee and tobacco coffee houses sparked controversy because it distracted people from their religious practices religious leader also claimed that coffee has a illegal substance that divert and unbalanced people from their religious duty.

  7. Fuad Hamid permalink
    October 9, 2012 10:45 pm

    One major similarity between these three empires is that they were all Islamic empires founded and conquered by nomadic Turkish speaking groups. These empires were considered “personal properties” of their rulers, who enforced a strong sense of Islam throughout these empires. Islamic emperors attempted to forcefully spread the islamic faith into new lands in many ways For example, the Ottomans sent out the ghazi to fight against infidels and to make Islam the dominant religion. Shah Ismail of the Safavid empire forced Islam on his own subjects (specifically the shiite religion). The Mughal Empire under Akbar was had religious tolerance, however, when Aurangzeb came to power he attempted to eliminate the Hindu religion by destroying their temples and replacing them with mosques.

  8. Sundes Ambreen permalink
    October 12, 2012 12:00 pm

    All three dynasties kept the political and cultural traditions from their ancestors at the same time leading nomadic lives on the steppes. They also brought Islam with them wherever they went. Another similarity that comes to mind is how each struggled for power and wanted to be the best kingdom in the land.
    Tobacco and coffee were believed to distract people from their religion. Tobacco has a foul odour and has a bad effect on the smoker and the people around him. Coffee was believed to bring about laziness and idle talk.

  9. Andrew Laperuta permalink
    October 16, 2012 6:57 pm

    The Mughals ruled India in the sixteenth too the eighteenth century. They had an increasing conflict between the Hinduus and Muslims and an enlightened reign of Akbar. The Ottoman empire was more powerful and its reign of peak was during Suleyman the magnificent. Safavid became the center for Shiism. Under Shah Abbas’ reign the Safavid empire got to its peak.

  10. Karina Casco permalink
    October 16, 2012 7:58 pm

    Coffee and tobacco houses sparked controversy because it was believed to be distracting from religion and promoted a way of life that consisted of being lazy. I also believe that many religious leaders believed it would change a person into a non-natural state, much like alcohol changes a person’s personality or actions.

  11. Ebru Oktayer permalink
    December 1, 2012 3:18 pm

    Tobacco and coffee houses were considered controversial because they were in opposition to the morals that Muslims were supposed to value. They provided interference to daily life and religious duties as well as attracting an unsavory gathering of idlers. There was also complaint regarding the stench and overall disorder associated with tobacco use in terms of ash and potential fires. This moral ideal did not do anything to detract from the appeal of tobacco use and the gathering at the coffee house, in fact both of these past times caught on and became an essential aspect of Ottoman society.

  12. Omar Algamoos permalink
    December 10, 2012 3:12 am

    The reason why Tabaco and coffee houses sparked lots of controversy in the Ottoman Empire, which the textbook didn’t really explain, is because coffee houses contained more than just coffee. Coffee houses were a place for drug use, lady dancers and gambling which were all sins that weakened ones faith and led people away from worshiping god. The use of Tabaco was also considered to be a sin because it was harmful, addictive and time consuming which led people to miss prayer.

  13. Rahman Muzaffar permalink
    December 11, 2012 11:47 pm

    There are many similarities between the Mughal, Ottoman, and Safavid empires but a few main similarities are that they were descended from Turkish society and had the same religious beliefs. The three empires used military expansion to gain wealth.
    Tobacco and coffee houses caused controversy in the empire because it led its people to become more ‘lazy’ and forget about their religious responsibilities. People would miss prayers, sit around just talking, smell really bad, and eventually get addicted to it. Tobacco houses were considered to fires and coffee was thought of as an illegal beverage.

  14. Peter Fiorentino permalink
    December 12, 2012 10:17 am

    The main thing that the Mughal, Safavid and Ottoman empires had in common was that they were all originally of nomadic tribes. They were also common in another way. All empires are built off power which comes directly from money. There are many ways to go about getting money but these empires used the idea of military expansion in order to get their wealth. With Muslim being the major religion tobacco and coffee houses were very controversial because they both went against the types of morals that Muslims were supposed to have.

  15. Joseph DeAngelo permalink
    December 18, 2012 9:51 am

    Seemingly, the tobacco and coffee house were the new “trend” in the ottoman empire, yet it sparked controversy throughout. Firstly, coffee was a drink that was incorporated with relaxing; consequently, this had a connotation of lethargy. When the ottomans would relax in coffee houses this would bring problems that stretched to social issues: 1) the relaxation brought question to the ottoman’s character and what else they should be doing; and 2) conversation within the houses would normally end in debate over the government’s actions (evidently, leading to argument). Moreover, the tobacco and coffee houses were seen as a hinderance to religious duties–thus becoming a matter or religion and morality. In a predominantly Islamic empire, any diversion from religion was not good, to say the least, so controversy uprose in the society. Notably, people believed that like drugs (e.g. alcohol) it would change the person’s state of soberness, which was not moral in the face of religious beliefs. With an increase in popularity throughout the empire, other things were being incorporated with the houses, such as drugs. Therefore, as much as people could “relax” and enjoy the houses, their negative overtone reigned supreme throughout social views.

  16. Richard Cabral permalink
    December 18, 2012 1:08 pm

    The three empires have the several things in common such as waging wars to expand their empires, two of which used religion as an reason . Tobacco and coffee created problems because moralist believed that distracted peoples from their religious duties. Pechevi complained about the odor, the ashes and the risk of fires it presented. Religious leader claimed that coffee was an illegal beverage and that it was worst to visit a coffee house than a tavern.

  17. Khansa Mansoor permalink
    December 18, 2012 10:30 pm

    One major similarity between the development of Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal societies was that they were all Muslim Turks. Tobacco and coffee houses sparked controversy in the Ottoman Empire because it was believed that tobacco can cause fires and even change the state of one’s mind. The fact that it can change one’s mind made it morally wrong. This went against their religious beliefs. Tobacco and coffee also caused addiction to the people and that caused them to sit around at the tobacco and coffee shops and miss prayer. Because of this, the tobacco and coffee houses were outlawed so.

  18. Caryn Rosario permalink
    December 19, 2012 11:38 pm

    Tobacco and coffee houses sparked controversy in the Ottoman Empire because it was believed that they took away from the moral beliefs of the Muslim religion. They believed this distracted them from their religious duties and attracted idlers and riffraff. There were also complains about the odor of tobacco, the mess left behind from ashes, and the danger that the smoking could cause fires. Religious leaders claimed coffee as an illegal beverage and they would prefer a tavern than a coffeehouse. Coffee and tobacco was outlawed and those who continued to partake would be executed. This was a losing battle and did not last long.

  19. Xiarra-Diamond Nimrod permalink
    December 20, 2012 1:29 am

    The Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires all shared a similarity that they helped bridge the gap from medieval times to modern times within Islamic history, and they all shared the same religious beliefs.Tobacco and coffee houses sparked some controversy within the Ottoman empire because they believed it influenced peoples decisions and had harmful effects on those the citizens. Though many people were for it , many protests came about which cause laws to be enforced shortly after.

  20. Stephanie Tsoi permalink
    December 20, 2012 3:10 am

    English merchants introduced tobacco to the Ottoman empire around the 1600’s. In the beginning tobacco were being used for the medicinal purposes only but within a few decades smoking tobacco through a pipe became really popular. To compliment smoking was to drink coffee. They soon opened up places where you can relax, smoke and drink coffee at the same time. The tobacco and coffee houses sparked controversy in the Ottoman empire because moralists say that it would distract them from their religious duties. They thought that having these habits would not let them be in a clear mental state of mind, which might lead them into doing bad things.

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