A Different Islam
Let’s assume that the Ottomans really did manage to conquer Europe by 1800: but the Islam that they stood for was far different than the Islam we know today, as
- Infidels and unbelievers, even pagans and nature-worshipers, are permitted to live so long as they don’t volently challenge their Muslim rulers.
- Tied to this, the Rule of Law – of life, liberty, and property – is extended to all men, and not only Muslims.
- It is permissible to leave Islam, or enter Islam, as a man pleases. But to gain Noble authority/a high government position, you must be a Muslim.
- The masses within conquered nations such as Egypt, Byzantium, India and Persia are permitted to retain their old beliefs without discrimination.
- The obligation for jihad remains… but it’s all about gaining more power and wealth to Muslim rulers, and has zero concern regarding the beliefs of the conquered.
Fundamentally, this flavour of Islam is shifted from a strongly egalitarian/tribal religion to an elitist/gnostic religion. It becomes a bit like Zen Buddhism, a ‘prestige religion’ for men of the sword and for the rulers and masters of nations, “a way of discipline and strength not meant for the common folk.”
As an elitist religion, it is far less concerned with preserving the old ways than today’s Islam is, and far more concerned with expanding the power, wealth, and prestige of the Muslim power-brokers. Humiliating and breaking the unbeliever is out; exalting and enriching the Muslim ruling class is in.
A Different Ziru Sirka
Even with a less oppressive, less obscurantist Islam, European technological advancement will be hindered by Ottoman rule… so let’s push things forward by the discovery of an Ottoman-dominated Earth by the Ziru Sirka in the early-mid 1900s.
This planet has Spain, Portugal, the British Isles, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, northern Germany, and Northern & Central Russia still outside of Ottoman control: but the rest of Europe is under Islamic rule. (A rule bolstered by a stronger Islamic grip on India.) The Americas are still dominated by Christians, as is Australasia.
(The Ottomans are interested in controlling known sources of wealth — Europe, India, and hopefully China — not in creating new nations, new societies, and new centers of wealth.)
Starfaring Vilani emissaries arrive at the capitals of the Chinese and Ottoman Empires, and offer their military, economic, and scientific support in return for submission. After a demonstration of the power of the Vilani Grand Fleet – just a squadron of ships in the area, really, but still more than enough to make the point – both ‘planetary superpowers’ kneel.
(Also see: “Terra Conquered”, in GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars, page 235-6)
Vilani rule focuses on cultural conformity and corporate integration: but these policies don’t go over well in their new territory. Chinese and Arab businesses are based on family and personal contact, while the Vilani are more impersonal and corporate. Most critically, the Vilani long ago got rid of the ‘difficult-to-control’ money economy, so they could not determine what was profitable, while the Chinese could.
The Arabs, with access to European inventions such as double-bookkeeping and insurance, could do even better at building wealth than the Chinese or the Vilani. Arab Muslim rulers did not care to serve the Vilani much, and so saw no reason to leave their domains on Terra: but their European & Arab Christian subjects certainly did, spreading across nearby Vilani space in service to both Vilani and Arab interests, and demographically pushing the Vilani into minority status within three centuries.
Only after these Terran emigrant populations have dug deep roots in their new worlds, did the Vilani decide to transplant some of their “traditional Arab and Chinese masters” to rule them. The amount of actual authority these Terran nobles have varies, from quite influential to merely ceremonial. As they were late to the party, none of them have the truly autocratic power they had back on Terra.
The Fall of Vland
By AD 2500, the Vilani economy was undergoing a great deal of turmoil, with strong corporate growth (and semi-secretly, technological innovation) in the increasingly Terran-population rimward regions – dominated by the merchant-oriented Sharurshid bureaux – while the coreward regions (ruled by the noble/militaristic Makhidkarun bureaux) were breaking up into Vargr pirate-fiefdoms, regardless of the official maps and boundaries.
Things came to a head in 2528, when Vland herself was captured by an innovative — and surprisingly massive and well-organized (!!) — Vargr invasion. Huge but eminently predictable Vilani counterstrikes were expertly and efficiently defeated by the Vargr admirals, who had somehow struck a balance between their usual independence and a completely new and totally unexpected ability to co-operate.
(Later, it was revealed that the Vargr conquerors of Vland had assimilated quite a bit of Vilani culture into their way of thinking… and had brought in many conquered & kidnapped Vilani humans into their packs and populations.)
With the toughest and most militaristic of Vilani giving way to the Vargr, the Vilani merchants of Sharurshid panicked before this unprecedented, unpredictable, and unforeseen disaster. This turmoil gave weight to the opinion of the Vilani/Terran masses of Kushuggi and Amkarim sectors (“Solomani Rim” and “Alpha Crucis”), who turned to their traditional Ottoman and Chinese dynasts for leadership.
A New Imperial Dynasty
After several decades of struggle, a branch of the Ottoman dynasty has emerged to lead the Sharurshid bureaux/megacorporation… and eventually persuades Naasirka (the other surviving bureaux) to recognize them as the new Shadow-Emperor in 2584.
The switchover isn’t going so well: the new Ottoman-dynast has only a poor understanding of Vilani traditions, and is barely better at understanding the new Terran interstellar cultures. He’s really only at home on Terra, in the Ottoman Empire – and it shows.
Still, he’s the ruler for now. How long he remains on the throne, and what happens when he goes (and exactly how he leaves the throne) remains in the air. Even the survival of the Ziru Sirka is in doubt…