Primary Documents - Ottoman Issuance of Fetva, November 1914

Sultan Mehmed V Reproduced below is the text of the Fetva - a holy commandment directed to Muslims worldwide - issued by the Ottoman government (in the name of Sultan Mehmed V), which ordered its Muslim readers to rise up in arms against those nations currently engaged in war against the Ottoman Empire, chiefly Britain, France and Russia.

The Allies had long feared the issuance of a Fetva, worried that it might indeed be acted upon by Muslims throughout the world (notably in India and Egypt); in the event however it passed largely without action.

The Fetva, which took the form of a question and answer document, was issued by Essad Effendi, Sheik-ul-Islam.

Issuance of Ottoman Fetva by Essad Effendi, Sheik-Ul-Islam


If several enemies unite against Islam, if the countries of Islam are sacked, if the Moslem populations are massacred or made captive; and if in this case the Padishah in conformity with the sacred words of the Koran proclaims the Holy War, is participation in this war a duty for all Moslems, old and young, cavalry and infantry?  Must the Mohammedans of all countries of Islam hasten with their bodies and possessions to the Djat? [Note: Jihad, Holy War.]

Answer: "Yes."

The Moslem subjects of Russia, of France, of England and of all the countries that side with them in their land and sea attacks dealt against the Caliphate for the purpose of annihilating Islam, must these subjects, too, take part in the holy War against the respective governments from which they depend?

Answer : "Yes."

Those who at a time when all Moslems are summoned to fight, avoid the struggle and refuse to join in the Holy War, are they exposed to the wrath of God, to great misfortunes, and to the deserved punishment?

Answer : "Yes."

If the Moslem subjects of the said countries should take up arms against the government of Islam, would they commit an unpardonable sin, even if they had been driven to the war by threats of extermination uttered against themselves and their families?

Answer : "Yes."

The Moslems who in the present war are under England, France, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro and those who give aid to these countries by waging war against Germany and Austria, allies of Turkey, do they deserve to be punished by the wrath of God as being the cause of harm and damage to the Caliphate and to Islam?

Answer: "Yes."

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

"ANZAC" was coined in 1915 from the initials of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

- Did you know?

Primary Docs