Leap in history: There is more to Ottomans than ‘Mera Sultan’

Polish historian clears misconceptions of Ottoman Empire.

Maha Mussadaq November 10, 2014

ISLAMABAD: With increased interest in the Ottoman history in Pakistan due to popular dubbed TV series on Suleiman the Magnificent, the Turkish embassy organised a lecture on multiple identities of the Ottoman sultan on Sunday evening.

Polish historian Dr Dariusz Kolodziejczyk, a professor at the University of Warsaw, gave an extensive lecture on “Khan, Caliph, Tsar and Imperator: Multiple Identities of the Ottoman Sultan”, tracing history and connecting dots to various civilisations. The lecture was organised in collaboration with the Embassy of Poland.

The professor, while taking questions from the audience, cleared several preconceived notions and assumptions regarding the Ottomans.

Kolodziejczyk said some journalists in the West had earlier blamed the Ottoman Empire for what’s happening in the Middle East today, which he said was not fair. He explained that while it was easy to play the blame-game, it was also important to trace and learn from history. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Kolodziejczyk said the European Union has different languages, religions and cultures, but it was important to look into inspirations and trace back to empires established hundreds of years ago.

The professor said the Ottoman Empire lasted for 600 years which was long but not long enough to conquer territories. Kolodziejczyk, who has been comparing empires for years, said Ottomans could also be compared with the Mughals of India.

Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babur Girgin said that 2014 is being celebrated as the year of Pak-Turkey cultural cooperation, adding that the year also celebrates 600 years of Turkish-Polish diplomatic relations.

The lecture was part of a series of events scheduled to take place in connection with the year’s celebrations. “What people learn from TV soaps is the entertainment part. Such lectures add academic knowledge to what we see on our screens,” said the ambassador.

During his stay in Islamabad, Kolodziejczyk will visit Taxila and also deliver a lecture at the Quaid-e-Azam University.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2014.


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