The Importance of Islam
Islam fit these peoples because it has no priesthood. The all-seeing God could travel with the nomads and five times a day the believer would clear his mind, wash his hands and call on God in prayer. For someone who doesn’t know where he will be from one moment to the next, it provides a powerful touchstone and its rules are firm. There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet. The five daily prayers must be said. Alms must be given. The main principle for its strength however, is that the believer must tirelessly combat unbelief, but do so peaceably unless provoked. For them the Koran is not scripture but the law dropped from God.
The Ottoman Empire was perfect for this religion because it was forged on the frontier. The high-level followers of Osman declared themselves sultans and had sway over the Muslim peasants, who must be done as they are told. These people were flock, reaya, whom the horsemen were born to manage.
The word of Islam was spread by caravan through the cities of the Middle East and by the sword. The Muslim conquerors called themselves ghazi, warriors of faith carrying the Abode of Peace.
It was challenged by Christian crusades, Norman—Viking—warriors, and threatened by a Moorish Spain who embraced Christianity. It faced a controversy with the Shi’ite who believed that the descendants of Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, are the senior line; and that was challenged by the Sunnis who says the grace descends through Fatima, his daughter.
The extraordinary movement of the pilgrimage, the Haj, ordered every believer to cross the desert annually to attend to the cities of Mecca (Makkah), Medina (Madinah) and Jerusalem—that the Ottomans were destined to control.