[BLANK_AUDIO] We're now moving into the discussion on the structure of society in the Middle East at the beginning of the 19th century. What is important to recognize when we talk about the Middle East eh, in comparison to Europe, is the emphasis in the Middle East on the structure of society by groups. Groups as the components of society, rather than societies made up of individuals. The British historian Malcolm Yapp described Middle Eastern society in the following terms. He said that Middle Eastern society was composed of various groups whose relationship to each other was like that of pieces in a mosaic. Governments recognized the existence of these groups and dealt with them in different ways. There was no assumption that society was composed of numbers individuals who should be treated in a uniform fashion. Rather different groups had different rights and interests and required to be governed in different ways. Indeed, the different groups in Middle Eastern society were based on birth, family, the extended family, and tribe. And most importantly, by religious division. People in the Middle East defined themselves first and foremost by their religious association. In 1800, the great majority of the Middle Eastern population or Muslims, they were minorities, Orthodox Christians, Jews. In Egypt, there was a Christian Coptic population. In the European parts of the empire, the Christian majority was one of two to one over the Muslims, who, in the European part of the Ottoman Empire, were a minority. They were and are in the Middle East, minorities that are referred to in the professional literature as compact minorities. What are compact minorities? Compact minorities are minorities that are located in one single particular territory. Like the Maronite Christians in Mount Lebanon, or the Alawis in northwestern Syria, or the Druze in the Druze mountain area, which is in southern Syria and partly in Lebanon. Compact minorities, located in a specific territory, had a tendency to develop a very strong communal identity. Whereas Christians, who were spread out throughout the Ottoman Empire... The Orthodox Christians, for example, who are not a compact minority, had a much greater tendency to support Arab nationalism far more than the Maronite Christians of Lebanon, for example. So, there is a difference in the political affiliations of the minorities, whether they're compact minorities or other minorities who are spread out throughout the empire. The Ottomans governed these minorities through their own autonomous institutions. This was known as the Millet system. The minorities were known as millets, that is autonomous peoples, so to speak. The minorities were governed by a law of their own. Not all peoples of the Ottoman Empire were under the same legal authority. Non-Muslims paid taxes that Muslims did not pay. This was known as the jizyah, a poll tax. Although the Ottomans weren't very strict about it. Only about one-third of the non-Muslims actually paid the tax. But in theory, Muslims follow their law, and Christians and Jews follow theirs. The non-Muslim religious communities were not only about religion. Non-Muslim, communities also provided courts of law and schools of education for their particular communities. The Muslim community was not uniform either. Divided between the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. What is the difference between Sunnis and Shias? Not really about dogma, much more about politics. The division between Sunnis and Shias goes back to the 7th century in a political struggle over who was to be the caliph after the passing of the Prophet. The first caliph was supposed to be, in the eyes of his supporters, Ali the son-in-law of the Prophet. His supporters were known as the Ali faction, Shi'at Ali. Shi'at is a faction. And it is from their support of Ali that the name Shia derives. It is a political struggle about who was supposed to be the caliph, not so much about religious dogma. Other minorities, like the Alawis and the Druze, are sects that broke away from the Shia in the 10th and 11th centuries. Official establishment Islam was represented by the chief of the religious establishment in the Ottoman Empire, the Sheikh al-Islam. The chief religious authority appointed by the Sultan, who was the chief religious authority for the Muslims in the empire. But there was also popular Islam, not only establishment Islam. The Sufi mystical orders, to which large portions of the Muslim population belonged. If we look at the social hierarchy in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century... At the top of this hierarchy, we have the government composed, of course, of the military and the bureaucracy, staffed in the main by far by Muslims. It was not very customary for Jews and Christians to be part of either the military or the bureaucracy, although in the bureaucracy, there were some Jews and some Christians, particularly translators. But government and bureaucracy and the military were very much the domain of Muslims. Second to government was the religious establishment and the religious functionaries. The judges, those who interpreted also religious law for the general population. Then those who are outside government. The merchants, the peasants, the tribesmen, the townsmen, the members of the professional guilds, the notables in the provincial parts of the empire, the notables who in the provincial parts of the empire were bridges between the rulers and the ruled. And they were very often the tax collectors. And as tax collectors and as landowners, there were deep divisions between town and village. Town is the center of government, the center of commerce, the center of education, the bureaucracy. Peasants, in the eyes of the townsmen, were regarded as illiterate, uncultured, and ignorant of the outside world. There was a great deal of tension between landowners in the towns and the peasantry. And these tensions between landowners and the peasantry were to be part and parcel of revolutionary politics, as we will see later on, in the Middle East of the 20th century. In the 19th century, Middle Eastern society did undergo major transformation. Government became more centralized, and thus, more powerful. Landowners grew even stronger, and the tensions between them and the peasantry grew even greater. A new education system that was introduced into the empire under the impact of European influence engendered a new group of educated secular people. And this educated secular class, a new class of people in the modernizing empire, weakened the status of the religious establishment. But association with religious community, tribe and family, remained the core organizing principle of society. The issue of new ideas led to the even increased importance of the religious minorities. Because of their knowledge of languages, because of their relative openness to Europe, and therefore, because of their improved status, as a result of the reforms that were introduced in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century.