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Sultan vs. Caliph

Reader comment on item: Erdo─čan's Turkish Delight
in response to reader comment: Sultan Erdogan

Submitted by Robert (United States), Dec 19, 2021 at 11:46

I think you misunderstood me on the title issue. As you know very well, until World War One, the Ottoman Empire was, arguably, the most important Muslim power in the world; for one think, it was known as the "sik man of Europe. Accordingly, the title of its ruler was paramount. And it turns out that there were 2 titles (which Ataturk eliminated: CALIPH and SULTAN.

So when discussing Turkey's Erdogan, I was alluding to the history of this title as it evolved beginning with the Seljuk Turks. It's true that the roots of this term Sultan is Arabic; however it had a long non-Arab history among the Turkic people, and the distinction between Sultan and Caliph emerged among the non-Arabic final rulers of the successor Ottoman Empire. My aim was to get to focus on the history of Turkey, and how that history plays out in the conduct of Erdogan as Sultan rather than a Caliph.


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