15.3 Europe and the Muslim World

In 1800, the Muslim world extended from North Africa to Southeast Asia. Much of this world was ruled by three giant Muslim empires—the Ottomans in the Middle East, the Mughals in India, and the Safavids (sah FAH vidz) in Persia. By this time, however, all three empires were in decline.

Illustration of a battle where one side is holding the French flag, with a pyramid in the background.

During the Battle of the Pyramids in 1798, Napoleon and his army captured the Egyptian city of Cairo.


  • Explain how internal and external pressures shaped the Muslim world.
  • Identify the challenges facing the Ottoman empire and Persia.
  • Describe the ways Egypt tried to modernize, including the opening of the Suez Canal.

Key Terms

  • Muhammad Ahmad
  • Mahdi
  • pasha
  • sultan
  • genocide
  • Muhammad Ali
  • concession

Unrest in Muslim Regions

Napoleon Bonaparte's 1798 invasion of Egypt opened a new era in European contact with the Muslim world. It focused attention on the fading power of the Ottoman empire. By the early 1800s, European countries were nibbling at the fringes of the Muslim world. Before long, they would strike at its heartland.

Declining Empires

The decay of these once-mighty empires had many causes. Central governments had lost control over powerful groups such as landowning nobles, military elites, and urban craft guilds. Corruption was widespread. In some places, Muslim scholars and religious leaders were allied with the state. In other areas, they helped to stir discontent against governments.

Muslim Reform Efforts

In the 1700s and 1800s, reform movements sprang up across the Muslim world. Reformers in parts of Africa and Asia generally stressed religious piety and strict rules of behavior. Efforts to reform the practice of Islam touched off revolts and demands for political change.

End ofPage 605

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments