The Rise of the Muslims - An Ottoman Campaign (1419 - 1920)
Part I - The Roots of the Glory
It has been a long time since the Muslim warriors, commanded by the caliph Abu Bakhr, left Arabia for the glorious task of conquering lands for the new faith: Islam. During these days it was still very young, and not even scriptures it had for spreading its message to the newer generations. Soon it would acquire preeminence among the desert peoples, as in the conquered lands. As far as the steppes of Russia, it would have devout followers; Islam in those times meant glory, and in the golden palaces of Baghdad the mighty Abbasids ruled the known world. Al-Mamun, Al-Motassim and Harun-al-Raschid, among many others, patronized the sciences and the arts of the long forgotten pagan times of Rome and Greece, and continued to improve it as brilliant minds would show in their palaces looking for a room to study and a great figure to look for their finances. Every caliph was well educated since childhood, as were the thinkers he welcomed and financed. Every science was known to them to the smallest details, as in these times, being a proud Arab meant to have a brilliant knowledge of the world.
The lands of the Arabs were naturally not only rich in knowledge, but also in gold, as Arab merchants monopolized the spice trade from the end of the world. In the distant and forgotten lands of India Muslim and non-Muslim alike cultivated the prized pepper, spices and cotton. Of their overall fertile production, only a few tons would be traded in cities like Gujarat and even fewer quantities of such precious goods would be taken to the lands of the Abbasid caliph and beyond, to the frozen lands of the Christians in the North. The merchants who were brave enough to venture themselves in the distant lands were often the wealthiest in the world. Thanks to them, not only was the Caliphate rich, but also the most glorious empire in the face of the earth, dominating lands since the distant China to Africa. But as I presently speak, these times are now past…
Once a wise politician said that every empire carried the seeds of its own destruction, and it is true that every great kingdom, dynasty or empire, even the mighty Caliphate, would meet an inglorious end. Such was with the Abbasids, as the hordes from the East came and destroyed the remains of an already weakened Empire. Glory is like happiness: beautiful, but hopelessly short. And it was nothing but Glory that corrupted the souls of the powerful and wealthy. Soon the Caliph would be distracted in his harem, while his nobles would be in the battlefield thanks to petty quarrels and the vacuum of power that was expanding. The Christians in Europe organized series of Crusades against the deeply divided Muslim kingdoms that spawned as the Caliphs gradually forgot how to rule. Yet there was still one capable man that stopped them: Saladin. He left a great legacy for the Middle East, so capable he was, and many of the common people would stand to see his body when he died, shortly after the Third Crusade. The Ayyubids in Egypt were his direct descendants, after he replaced the earlier weak rulers of Egypt.
And yet, after him, nobody would be strong enough to hold his legacy. The Ayyubids were capable rulers, but the internal strife and their reliance on mercenaries caused them to be replaced by the Mamluks, who spent their time and the resources of their kingdom fighting against each other for a gradually smaller power. Disorder was a rule, and when the hordes came from the East, nothing would be able to stop them. Baghdad was sacked, and completely ruined by the invasion; the weak armies that stood against the Mongols were wiped out easily. Then they destroyed everything on their way, killing humans and animals, sacking houses, palaces, mosques and libraries. The whole valuable collection of the library of Baghdad was thrown into a small local river to serve as a bridge for Mongol riders. Nothing remained after that, not even the Caliphate, as the last caliph, Al-Motassim, was brutally murdered during the invasion, some of his sons following the same destiny or being sent to the distant Mongol lands to serve as slaves. After the own Mongols were repulsed by the Mamluks, everything was ruined.