Sultan Selim I (9th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)

Selim I (also known as Selim the Grim or Selim the Resolute) was born on 10th October 1470 CE in Amasya, Turkey. He was the son of Sultan Bayezid II and Gulbahar Hatun. He married Valide Sultan (1520) and Hafsa Hatun Sultan (Turkish: Ayse Hafsa Sultan), who died in 1534, mother of Suleiman I. He became 9th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire on 24th April 1512 CE at the age of 42. He is famous about the expansion of the Empire. Sultan Selim I was a man of principals and with hard personality. The Father of Sultan Selim I, Sultan Bayezid was a polite and peaceful person because of which army, viziers, judges, and other ministers were not doing their duties with complete devotion. The effect of Selim’s personality was that all these errors were diminished which were enough to debase an empire. Because of this step, the public was happy and supporting him. But the European historians entitled Sultan Selim I as cruel. As he became Sultan, the major danger was his brother. Prince Ahmed, who was the governor of Amasya, started a revolt and took over Bursa. Sultan Selim reached Bursa and defeated him. Prince Ahmed ran out of the Warfield. Sultan Selim arrested and killed his five nephews who were accompanying Prince Ahmed in this war. The eldest brother of Sultan Selim I, Kurkud, who was in Manisa, intrigued by some people and started a revolt. When Sultan came to know about this news, he got killed his eldest brother. Sultan was in much grief after killing his brother. Prince Ahmed started a revolt again but he had to face defeat one more time on 24th April 1513 CE. He was arrested and killed later.

Safavid Conquest

When Sultan Selim I got satisfied from the throne, he came back to Europe from Asia Minor. He safeguarded his western side of empire by renewing the treaties signed with different governments. Then he put concentration on the eastern side towards Persia. Shah Ismail Safavi, the founder of the Safavid Empire, was the King of Persia at that time. Shah Ismail conquered the major portion of the non-Arab areas, even that the boundaries of his empire was touching the Ottoman Empire. In such a case, it was necessary to fight against him. There were a lot of reasons to fight against him. The main cause was the religious point of view. Shah Ismail was a Shia Muslim and Sultan Selim was a Sunni Muslim. The preachers of Shah Ismail started misguiding the people against Sultan Selim in Asia Minor. Shah Ismail joined hands with the Mamluks of Egypt against the Ottoman Empire. Except this, they intrigued Prince Murad, the son of the late Prince Ahmed, and was also gathering armies to fight against Sultan Selim to took over the throne. When Sultan came to know about this he decided to attack Persia. Sultan sat on a journey to the Capital of Persia, Tabriz accompanying 140,000 warriors on 20th April 1514 CE. It was 1000 miles away. The whole way was mountainous and Sultan made the host walk continuously. When the host reached the boundary of Persia, Shah Ismail converted the areas into barren lands and himself got refuge in Tabriz. The main difficulty was the lesser quantity of food for the host. The host put their hands down and refused to move forward. Sultan Selim gave a wonderful address at that time because of which a new wave of emotions produced in their hearts. When Sultan’s host reached Chaldiran, a valley near Tabriz, Shah Isamil was compelled to come out. Both the armies indulged in the war on 24th August 1514 CE in Chaldiran. The Ottoman’s host was too much tired. This host had traveled a distance of 1200 kms in just 126 days. In the start, the opponents were dominating. But soon they realized. Safavid’s host got frightened. Shah Ismail was also injured but ran out of the war field. 25,000 Safavid warriors were killed in this war and a lot of them were injured. Sultan Selim entered Tabriz as a conqueror on 4th September 1514 CE. After Tabriz, Sultan conquered the Diyarbekir and Kurdistan provinces. At that time, it wasn’t difficult to conquer the whole Persia, but because of some reasons, Sultan returned to Europe.

Mamluk Conquest

After Persia, he put concentration on Syria and Egypt. These areas were under the rule of Mamluks from 250 years. There were a lot of reasons to conquer these states. The king of the Mamluks Empire, Kansuh al-Ghuri started supporting those emirs who betrayed Sultan Selim I. Mamluks members of the empire started using them as a tool against Sultan Selim I. They also supported the Persian King Shah Ismail. There started border conflicts in some areas of the Asia Minor between these two empires. In these areas, a  lot of tribes were living who kept on moving across the border between the empires. Sultan Selim I decided to overcome these conflicts by including them into Ottoman Empire. Except this, the cruelty of the Mamluk’s Empire was increasing in both Syria and Egypt. So in such situation, the Syrian scholars, tribal heads, and judges, with the mutual decision, wrote a letter to Sultan Selim I to take over the Mamluk’s Empire. During this Sultan  Selim I came to know that the Mamluk’s host is ready in Syria. He gathered his host and started traveling from Constantinople. Both the hosts collide in the Battle of Marj Dabiq on 24th August 1516 CE. Mamluks were defeated and their King Kansuh al-Ghuri was killed. After the war, Sultan Selim I was welcomed wholeheartedly.

After this victory, Sultan Selim moved forward and kept on conquering other cities of Syria without any resistance. Sultan built a shrine at the grave of famous Sufi Scholar Sheikh Muhayyuddin Ibn ul Arabi in Damascus. He founded an institution for helping the poor for which he devoted a lot of money and his belongings. After conquering Syria, Sultan’s next campaign was Egypt. First of all, Mamluks were defeated in the Battle of Yaunis Khan occurred near Gaza on 28th October 1516 CE. After that Egyptian had to face defeat again in the Battle of Ridaniya on 24th January 1517 CE. After this, there were some more small battles but Sultan conquered Egypt.

As the Abbasid’s Caliphate was shifted to Egypt, the mutual political power of Islam was diminished. Caliphate was just a name now. It is said that the Abbasid’s Caliph, al-Mutawakkil III resigned in the favor of Sultan Selim I himself. In this way, Sultan Selim I was called as the first Caliph of the Ottoman Empire and 88th of Islam. There isn’t any doubt that the Islamic Caliphate should be awarded to the Ottoman Empire at that time because the Ottoman Empire was the strongest of all empires, had the power to safeguard its nation, and was offering the obligation of fighting in the name of ALLAH from almost 150 years. Due to this reason when Sultan Selim’s Caliphate was announced, there wasn’t any opposition from anywhere in the world. Sacred Hejaz also became the part of the Ottoman Empire without any resistance after the victory of Egypt. Sultan Selim I was given the title of the “Khadim ul-Haramayn”, (Servant of the Two Holy Shrines (Mecca and Medina)). This noble work was shifted to his successors later for almost 400 years. All these sultans served these Holy Places in such a way that history is full of these events. After remembering those days, the Arabs, who supported the Christians in the first World War to finish their thrust for independence with Turk’s blood, are weeping the tears of blood.

Death

After his return from his Egyptian fight, Selim I began to prepare for an excursion which is believed to be against Rhodes. This operation was cut short when he was overwhelmed by sickness and consequently died in the 9th year of his reign. He was about 50 years of age. He died at Corlu, Tekirdag, Turkey on 20th September 1520 CE. He was buried in Yavuz Selim Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey.

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