Legitimacy is when the subject believes in the rightfulness of a sovereign or a state to issue commands under its authority. It, therefore, symbolizes the claim of a right to be in authority by the political might and its factual recognition by those over whom such power is exercisable. However, it is important to note that subjects should obey the commands of the sovereign out of their will rather than out of fear and self-interest.
The extent of the Ottoman Empires’ legitimacy was indicated by the degree of the subjects’ commitment and belief. The Ottoman Empire derived its legitimacy from several factors. First, since the Empire was a monarchy, legitimacy was claimed on the basis of divine legacy as well as heredity. Divine legacy can be said to be derived from the belief in a higher being that granted the authority to be in power. This, for instance, occurred where the dynasty was traceable to a particular spiritual or legendary person. On the other hand, a hereditary claim to legitimacy was based on the superiority of an individual’s lineage. The hereditary authority had its sources from nobility and antiquity (the particular clan has been ruling since time immemorial).
The Tanzimat reform denotes the period when the Ottoman Empire began reorganizing itself. The period was characterized by several attempts to modernize the Empire to secure itself from nationalists’ movements within and external aggressors. Another characteristic of the reforms includes the granting of more civil liberties to non-Muslims to integrate them into the Ottoman Society. Further, the rulers got rid of the millet system in the hope of being able to control directly all its subjects by the creation of a government that was more centralized. The Edict of Gulhane was adopted to serve as the supreme law although not above the Sultan.
Reform in the Ottoman Empire refers to the attempts made by the existing rulers to update various aspects of the Empire including the economy, military and administration. These reforms started as early as the 1600s and continued into the Tanzimat up to the early 20th Century and 1st World War. Contrary to the popular belief that modern reforms started during the Tanzimat era, it started after the stagnation of the Empire in the 17th Century.
The empire lived in decline during the beginning of the 18th Century. However, during the Tulip period from 1718-1730, when there was relative peace in the Empire, the Sultan attempted to reform the cultural life as well as the economy. New industries including the textile and ceramic industries were established, and domestic trade was promoted. Translators were appointed to translate foreign books, and the Turkish printing press was established. Architecture, fine arts and literature thrived this era got its name from the widespread tulips in the Empire for trade. However, this period was halted when Sultan Ahmet III was dethroned and the grand vizier murdered. Save for military reforms that were necessary for the continued security of the empire, the other reforms were halted for the rest of the 18th Century.
Another reform period was during the Nizami Cedid, loosely translated to mean new order. After the Russo-Turkish War, the new Sultan, Selim III, converged a meeting to discuss the reforms that were necessary for the Empire. He commenced a program that sought to modernize the Empire’s bureaucratic system. He also abolished the Jannissary corps and replaced them with the Nizam Cedid army. The Jannissary that was now almost operating as a militia rebelled and managed to overthrow the sultan and abolished his army. Mustafa IV, who supported them, became the new ruler but did not continue with the started reforms.
Constitutionalism in Iran took place in the form of a constitutional revolution at the turn of the 20th Century. The revolution took place between 1905-1907 and led to the setting up of the Persian (Iranian) parliament. The revolution was a catalyst for change in the various sectors in Iran ushering a new era in the country. Freedom of the press was expanded courtesy of the revolution, and new opportunities were created for the country’s future.
Many different groups, whose destiny would be shaped by the fate of the revolution, fought hard to determine its ultimate course. In fact, almost all sections of the society were affected in one way or another. Nasser-al-Din Shah Qajar, who was the leader of the old order, struggled hard to ensure that it did not take place. He ultimately died and was replaced by the new order that was heralded by the new constitution.
The demand for constitutional reforms began during the reign of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah from 1896-1907. He was a weak and extravagant ruler who relied on the chancellor to govern the decentralized state. His nonchalant approach in handling finances resulted in him signing numerous concessions with foreign countries, on the items that were considered unnecessary. The religious authorities, educated elite and noble classes began to agitate for control by the ruler. They demanded the establishment of the rule of law due to the increasing foreign influence and especially the influence of Russia. The first protests broke out in 1905 following the collection of taxes from Persian citizens to pay back the loan owed to Russia which facilitated Mozaffar ad-Din Shah’s royal tour. Bazaar Merchants and religious leaders started relentless protests dubbed the “1982 Tobacco Rebellion” and in early 1906, he caved in and fired the prime minister in addition to surrendering some of his powers to the new “house of justice”. More protests continued until the constitution was eventually enacted in 1907.
Riza Shah Pahlevi rose through the ranks as an army officer to eventually become the ruler of Iran. After his father had passed away, his mother took him to Tehran where he was enlisted in the military by the Russians. After centuries of poor leadership by former rulers and unending wars by foreign countries on its soil, the country was in tatters, particularly after the First World War. Intellectuals, religious leaders, and business merchants were outraged by the foreign powers that destroyed the country but continued to exploit it. Riza Khan took advantage of this situation and in 1921, gathered a group of 1200 young progressive men and led them in the occupation of Tehran. Among the group a young journalist became the prime minister and he appointed young Riza to head the military. He, however, was not content with the sight of inexperienced and foreign influenced individuals ruling the country. Riza sought more control over the entire military force and eventually used that control to take over the power in 1923.
Mustafa Kemal was Turkey’s first president and his rise to power has some similarities with Riza Shah in that he also utilized the army. He was a distinguished soldier and rose through the ranks and earned himself a promotion to the rank of a brigadier-general and during the First World War was sent to the battle zone in eastern Turkey. Following the signing of a punitive postwar treaty in 1920, allied forces dethroned the Ottoman Empire and asserted economic control over the country. However, Kemal had other plans. He organized an independent Army whose main goal was to end foreign dominion in Turkish-speaking areas. While in absentia, he was sentenced to face death but that did not prevent him from building a stronger army. Kemal sought and got help from Soviet Russia and he crushed all his enemies and even threatened to attack the British Army in Istanbul. Fearing that they might lose, they called him to sign a peace deal after which he was elected to be Turkey’s first president.
Iranian nationalism refers to the patriotism of the individuals residing in Iran, and national Identity is Iranian. It consists of socio-political movements and sentiments driven by the love for Iranian history and language, culture and pride in belonging to the nation. It was revived during the Pahlavi dynasty and bolstered by his government’s quest to bring prosperity to Iran.
Turkish nationalism, on the other hand, is a political ideology which encourages and glorifies Turkish individuals as the linguistic, ethnic and national group. Turkish nationalism was founded by the Young Turk Revolution that ousted Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire. The revolution ushered in Turkish Nationalism into power led by Mustafa Kemal. Once in power, he spoke positively of forging closer relations with other Turkish states in Western and Central Asia. One of the nationalistic thoughts of the Turkish people is Anatolianism. It is claimed that Anatolia is the primary source of the Turkish culture. Anatolianism is against Islamism, Turanism, and Ottomanism because these are foreign concepts. This culture opposes claims that Turkish people can trace their origins to outside Anatolia.
The main similarity in the conception of nationalism between these two countries is that their definitions were reinforced by the truly important leaders in their histories. Another important similarity is that they both focus on the uniqueness that sets them apart from other nations. The major distinction is that for Iranians, it encompasses everyone provided they exhibit allegiance to the country while Turkish citizens interpret their form of nationalism restrictively and to the exclusion of others.