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Calligraphic writing on a fritware tile, depicting the names of

Until the second half of the 15th century, the empire had a Christian majority, under the rule of a Muslim minority.[168] In the late 19th century, the non-Muslim population of the empire began to fall considerably, not only due to secession, but also because of migratory movements.[203] The proportion of Muslims amounted to 60% in the 1820s, gradually increasing to 69% in the 1870s and then to 76% in the 1890s.[203] By 1914, only 19.1% of the empire's population was non-Muslim, mostly made up of Jews and Christian Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians.[203]

Turkic peoples practiced a variety of shamanism before adopting Islam. Abbasid influence in Central Asia was ensured through a process that was greatly facilitated by the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana. Many of the various Turkic tribes—including the Oghuz Turks, who were the ancestors of both the Seljuks and the Ottomans—gradually converted to Islam, and brought the religion with them to Anatolia beginning in the 11th century. Since the founding of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans followed the Maturidi creed (school of Islamic theology) and the Hanafi madhab (school of Islamic jurisprudence).[206][207][208]

Muslim sects regarded as heretical, such as the Druze, Ismailis, Alevis, and Alawites, ranked below Jews and Christians.[209] Druze have been persecuted by Ottomans,[210] and Ottomans have often relied on Ibn Taymiyya religious ruling to justify their persecution of Druze.[211] In 1514, Sultan Selim I ordered the massacre of 40,000 Anatolian Alevis (Qizilbash), whom he considered a fifth column for the rival Safavid empire. Selim was also responsible for an unprecedented and rapid expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Middle East, especially through his conquest of the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. With these conquests, Selim further solidified the Ottoman claim for being an Islamic caliphate, although Ottoman sultans had been claiming the title of caliph since the 14th century starting with Murad I (reigned 1362 to 1389).[9] The caliphate would remain held by Ottoman sultans for the rest of the office's duration, which ended with its abolition on 3 March 1924 by the Druze, Ismailis, Alevis, and Alawites, ranked below Jews and Christians.[209] Druze have been persecuted by Ottomans,[210] and Ottomans have often relied on Ibn Taymiyya religious ruling to justify their persecution of Druze.[211] In 1514, Sultan Selim I ordered the massacre of 40,000 Anatolian Alevis (Qizilbash), whom he considered a fifth column for the rival Safavid empire. Selim was also responsible for an unprecedented and rapid expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Middle East, especially through his conquest of the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. With these conquests, Selim further solidified the Ottoman claim for being an Islamic caliphate, although Ottoman sultans had been claiming the title of caliph since the 14th century starting with Murad I (reigned 1362 to 1389).[9] The caliphate would remain held by Ottoman sultans for the rest of the office's duration, which ended with its abolition on 3 March 1924 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the exile of the last caliph, Abdülmecid II, to France.

In the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with the Muslim dhimmi system, Christians were guaranteed limited freedoms (such as the right to worship). They were forbidden to carry weapons or ride on horseback; their houses could not overlook those of Muslims, in addition to various other legal limitations.[212] Many Christians and Jews converted in order to secure full status in the society. Most, however, continued to practice their old religions without restriction.[213]

Under the millet system, non-Muslim people were considered subjects of the Empire but were not subject to the Muslim faith or Muslim law. The Orthodox millet, for instance, was still officially legally subject to Justinian's Code, which had been in effect in the Byzantine Empire for 900 years. Also, as the largest group of non-Muslim subjects (or dhimmi) of the Islamic Ottoman state, the Orthodox millet was granted a number of special privileges in the fields of politics and commerce, and had to pay higher taxes than Muslim subjects.[214][215]

Similar millets were established for the Ottoman Jewish community, who were under the authority of the Haham Başı or Ottoman Chief Rabbi; the Armenian Apostolic community, who were under th

Under the millet system, non-Muslim people were considered subjects of the Empire but were not subject to the Muslim faith or Muslim law. The Orthodox millet, for instance, was still officially legally subject to Justinian's Code, which had been in effect in the Byzantine Empire for 900 years. Also, as the largest group of non-Muslim subjects (or dhimmi) of the Islamic Ottoman state, the Orthodox millet was granted a number of special privileges in the fields of politics and commerce, and had to pay higher taxes than Muslim subjects.[214][215]