Here is the maximum extent of the Ottoman Empire (circa 1590):

Ottoman Empire, circa 1590

Here is the propagation of Arabic culture, prior to the modern era:

Diffusion of Arabic culture

As you can see there is quite an overlap.

However, while these territories were considered Arabic during the time of the Caliphates and are generally considered Arabic in the modern post-Ottoman era - for the Ottoman Empire they were not considered Arabic territories or a singular Arab empire; despite retaining the same religion, language and culture of the earlier Caliphate era.

So why was the Ottoman empire not seen as an Arabic empire?

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    I don't see what is unclear with the question. It seems a valid question to me. The answer may be simple and quite obvious, but that doesn't make the question unclear. Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 6:46
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    Please note that what you mentions as "countries" are actually cities nowadays. Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 12:54
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    What evidence is there that the Ottoman empire was not considered an Arabic empire?
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 17:01
  • @MarkC.Wallace Wikipedia and other sources , even the answer below says that ottoman is not arab
    – moudiz
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 18:56
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    The map indicated as showing Arab populations is actually showing far more Moors, Spaniards, Berbers, Turks, Kurds, Uzbeks, Iranians, Afghans, Hindus and others than Arabs; by area and even more predominantly by population. Less than half the area indicated as the Ottoman Empire is populated by Arabic-speaking peoples. Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 2:00

2 Answers 2


The leading people of the Ottoman empire were not Arabs, but from Turkish tribes. They speak a variety of the Turkish languages (Ottoman Turkish). Turkish is its own language family, Arabic belongs to the Afro-Asiatic/Semitic language family.

Big areas of the empire were Arab, but there where also big non-Arab areas and peoples (Greece, Albania, the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, parts of the Ukraine...)

You say it was sharing the same religion, culture and language; that's not correct. The Ottoman empire was an empire with many peoples and religions. See for example the 1906 Ottoman census

  • I edit my questiong
    – moudiz
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 16:37
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    This seems to be the perfect (and obvious) answer to the question. The Ottoman empire is not considered an Arab empire because its rulers were not Arabs, with Arab defined (as it usually and most helpfully is) as someone whose maternal language is Arabic.
    – Olivier
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 19:10
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    It is also not correct to refer to Turkish and Arabic peoples as sharing the same culture. Through Islam they share many cultural attributes, but there was just as much, or perhaps even more, not shared. Wahhabi interpretations of Islam are distinctly Arabic in origin, and not at all common in areas populated by Turks. Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 3:59
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    Also worth noting, which might perhaps be confusing to some, is that Arabic was the official language of the empire because it was incidental to their being Muslims. That of course doesn't mean they were an empire run by Arabic peoples; which itself doesn't automatically equate to them speaking Arabic.
    – user17846
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 9:07

The Ottoman Empire was governed and administered by Turkish speaking peoples who originated from Central Asia, specifically, the region of Turkestan, which is located in the Chinese frontier near Uzbekistan. Ottoman Turks were and are Islamic in their religious identity, though they were and are not ethnically or linguistically Semitic. The Ottoman Empire conquered many Arab Muslim lands and peoples, though one must also remember that they conquered many non-Arab, Christian lands in Western Asia and the Balkans/Southeast Europe.

The Arabs were and are, a Semitic peoples, who descend from the line of Ibrahim/Abraham whereas the Ottoman Turks had no ancestral connection to the Semitic peoples of the Middle East.

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    How does this add content not part of the already existing answer? Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 23:00
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    Although it is short answer, it does highlight where the ethnic Turks originated and makes a clear distinction between ethnic Turks and ethnic Semitic Arabs-(referring to the second paragraph).
    – user49540
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 23:04

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