The Arab Image of the Turk from the Abbasids to Modern Egypt

Arab Image of the Turk from the Abbasids


Since the late 1960s, many Arab historians including Abdallah Leroui and Salah al-Din al-Munajjid because of their ideological point of view scolded their Arab counterparts and went ahead to blame the Turks for their problems so foolishly. Therefore, the two terms tyrant which are a Greek word for “tyrannos” and Turan, a Persian word for normal Turkish homeland use, could be justified by the two historian’s arguments (Haarmann, 175-198).

From the last two decades, Arabs and the Turkish are slowly coming to the realization that their shared feelings towards mutual hatred and lowliness originate from the past. As a result of that, there is a serious occupation with such shared history that is necessary if at all they want to live a beginning with a new resolution to foster peace amongst those communities (Haarmann, 175-198). That is, their mutual coexistence should not only focus on the political and economic pint of view but also on their roles regarding the history of them as Arabs. Because of the past perception towards the Arabs history, Turkish tend to become principally sensitive to censure for the role they play in the Arab history, while on the other hand, some of the Arab literati consistently refuse to acknowledge various elements of prejudice and overemphasis in their traditional insolences towards their Turkish counterparts (Fuess, 95-117).

The Turks have for centuries developed among the Arab communities which as a result have affected their image since then regarding their people’s self-image even to the recent times. As the author of this article Ulrich W. Haarmann put it, the Turkish community has played both precise and surprisingly a consistent role for the Arabs for centuries. He continued to argue that, typecasts relates to these people’s symbols of their history with Arabs. Stereotypes assist as justifications of the fundamentals and the interethnic bias. That those stereotypes are derived from the specific cultural conditions and political backgrounds.

When such conditions become static over an extended period of time, the perception one group forms towards another community under particular circumstances could necessarily achieve self-rule thus being accorded the mirrors of historical truth by the other society. As time passes by plus their inherent apathy, such images would easily survive the potential dismiss of such factors that from the beginning conditioned and sustained them (Perho, 135-146). The contemporary European history could better explain examples of such destructive and striking ethnic and racial hypocrisy. These people after achieving autonomy continue to generate dynamicity to themselves which may surpass to the limits of pure ideologies again.

Regarding the Arab attitudes towards the Turk, many have argued that there existed an intensely conservative picture of the uncivilized and violent. They are so brave and upright Turkish barbarian changes for the past centuries into an evil Turk who is one-sided into a fierce and tyrannical power hungry who since of his central characters is denied any cultural modification. In the end, those Arabs started to downgrade third true nature of their relationship with the Turk into a universal unconscious and covered it with a distastefulness (Haarmann, 175-198).  Those such consequences later led to the replacement of the two terms Turan and tyrant. However, until then as Bernard Lewis a historian describe it that Turkish continued to rule Arabs. He argued through a formula that in the central lands of Islam and for over a millennium, the authority would mean an alien rule and that the strange in this case is the Turkish power (Perho, 135-146).


In the Arab perception, the Turks also were known as the al-Turk by the Arabs coexisted as constant and similar ethnic group for centuries, regardless of any different role and names that may have appeared on their land. However, the Turk and the Turkish seem to have suggested similar associations among the Arabs since the middle ages and early modern period (James, 277)

Work Cited

Fuess, Albrecht. “Mamluk Politics.” Ubi sumus? Quo vademus (2013): 95-117.

Haarmann, Ulrich W. “Ideology and History, Identity and Alterity: the Arab Image of the turk from the Abbasids to Modern Egypt.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 20.02 (1988): 175-196.

James, Boris. “Mamluk and Mongol Peripheral Politics: Asserting Sovereignty in the Middle East’s ‘Kurdish Zone’.” The Mongols’ Middle East: Continuity and Transformation in Ilkhanid Iran (2016): 277.

Perho, Irmeli. “Ibn Taghrībirdī’s Voice.” Studia Orientalia Electronica 114 (2015): 135-146.

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