Othman Ghazi's dream and the foundation of the Ottoman Empire

Asikpashazade, an Ottoman historian who lived in the 15th century, narrates the foundation of the Ottoman state in his historical account...

Othman Ghazi's dream and the foundation of the Ottoman Empire

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ertugrul Ghazi, one of the Seljucki commanders in Anatolia, rode his tribes to western Anatolia, where they settled near the lake of Nicosea at the borders of the Byzantine Empire. According to the documents, Ertugrul Ghazi had three sons and following his death, Othman succedeed him to rule the tribe.

Othman Ghazi was in continous clashes with the neighboring princedoms and the Byzantine forces, surrounding his people from the western and northern borders. Byzantine forces struggled to finish off continous raids, a tactical maneouvre of the irregular warfare carried out by Othman Ghazi’s cavlaryman. In the early Ottoman records, these skirmishes were often described as a ‘‘holy war against the kuffar (infidels)’’, which was seemingly the driving inspiration for Othman Ghazi’s statecraft. Paul Wittek, a foremost historian of the early Ottoman Empire, unhesitatingly called this pattern ‘‘Ghaza ideology’’ which he considered as the defining characteristics behind the success of Ottoman forces at the expense of others.

Asikpashazade, an Ottoman historian who lived in the 15th century, narrates the foundation of the Ottoman state in his historical account:

‘‘....Now these people decided that they wanted to perform the Friday congregational prayer, also that they wanted to have a Magistrate (Qadi). There was a holy man named Dursun Fakih who used to act as prayer-leader for those people. They explained their wish to him. He in turn came and spoke with ‘Othman Ghazi’s stepfather Edebali about it.

While they were talking, ‘Othman Ghazi came over and inquired into the matter. When he learned what they wanted, he said, “Do whatever seems correct to you.” ....They gave the offices of Magistrate and Preacher (Khatib) to Dursun Fakih. The Friday sermon (khutba) was first read in Karaja Hisar. The festival sermon (bayram khutba) was read in Eskishehir, and they performed the festival prayer there. The first sermon given in the name of ‘Othman took place in 1290/689’’

Othman Ghazi was quick to establish his rule and strenghtened the position of the Magistrate so that the rule of law prevailed in his lands. At a time when the rule of the Seljucks was tearing apart and chaos was spreading in Anatolia, this step was of fundemental importance to solidfy social cohesion in his state. He was however still in a delicate position politically as the Ottoman State was located in between the Byzantine Empire and hostile princendoms who often joined their forces against the Ottomans. Othman Ghazi kept running his forces against the Byzantine forces while he tried to consolidate his relationship with some of the princendoms in the West through familial relationships and military operations.

Added to all these, what seems appealing was the strength of religious motives fostering his legitimacy; Othman Ghazi recieved the backing of the leading spiritual figures of the time, which gave him a prestigeous standing as the carrier of a holy mission. The dream he reportedly saw was the most striking example reflecting this conviction; early historian Asikpashazade narrates:

‘‘As ‘Othman Ghazi slept, he saw in his dream that a moon arose out of this holy man’s breast and entered ‘Othman Ghazi’s breast. Then a tree sprouted out of ‘Osman Ghazi’s navel, and the shadow of the tree covered the entire world. In its shadow, there were mountains, with streams issuing from the foot of each mountain. And from these flowing streams some people drank, and some watered gardens, and some caused fountains to flow.

When he awoke, he came to the Shaykh and told him the dream. The Shaykh said, “‘Othman, my son! Sovereignty has been granted to you and your descendants. And my daughter Malkhun is to be your wife.” He immediately gave his daughter to ‘Othman Ghazi and married them 

This Shaykh, Edebali, who interpreted ‘Othman Ghazi’s dream and gave tidings of sovereignty for himself and his descendants, had a disciple with him whose name was Kumral Dede, son of Dervish Durdi. That dervish now spoke, “O ‘Othman! Since sovereignty has been given to you, it is proper for you to give us some token of gratitude.” ‘Othman replied, “At whatever time I become king, I will give you a city.” The dervish said, “This little village is sufficient for us: we have renounced the city.” ‘Othman Ghazi accepted this. The dervish said, “Give us a document to that effect.” ‘Othman Ghazi replied, “Do you think that I write documents, that you want a document from me? Here is my sword. It was left to me by my father and my grandfather. I will give it to you. And I will also give you a goblet. Let them remain together in your hands, and let them preserve this stamp. And if God accepts me for this service, my descendants will recognize this sign, and will accept your claim.” Now that sword is still in the hands of Kumral Dede’s descendants. And whenever any of ‘Othman Ghazi’s descendants saw that sword, they bestowed favors upon those dervishes and they renewed the sword’s scabbard. Every one of the House of ‘Othman who has become king has made a pilgrimage to that sword. . . .’’

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Ocak 2014, 18:05