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The Arabs of the Ottoman Empire, 1516 1918

The Ottomans ruled much of the Arab World for four centuries. Bruce Masters's work surveys this period, emphasizing the cultural and social changes that occurred against the backdrop of the political realities that Arabs experienced as subjects of the Ottoman sultans. The persistence of Ottoman rule over a vast area for several centuries required that some Arabs collaborate in the imperial enterprise. Masters highlights the role of two social classes that made the empire successful: the Sunni Muslim religious scholars, the ulama, and the urban notables, the acyan. Both groups identified with the Ottoman sultanate and were its firmest backers, although for different reasons. The ulama legitimated the Ottoman state as a righteous Muslim sultanate, while the acyan emerged as the dominant political and economic class in most Arab cities due to their connections to the regime. Together, the two helped to maintain the empire.
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Table of Contents

1. The establishment and survival of Ottoman rule in the Arab lands, 1516-1798; 2. Institutions of Ottoman rule; 3. Economy and society in the early modern era; 4. A world of scholars and saints: intellectual life in the Ottoman Arab lands; 5. The empire at war: Napoleon, the Wahhabis, and Mehmed Ali; 6. The Tanzimat and the time of re-Ottomanization; 7. The end of the relationship.

About the Author

Bruce Masters is John Andrus Professor of History at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism (Cambridge, 2001) as well as numerous articles and scholarly contributions.


'... an excellent analysis of the Arabs in the Ottoman Empire ... Masters demonstrates a tremendous depth and breadth of knowledge in this field and, as a result, this text is an excellent addition to scholarship.' David Mason, Middle East Media and Book Reviews (

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