In general, the region's new states tended to follow one of three paths as they consolidated power.The first usually occurred in states that European powers failed to occupy and that had a single dominant religion.In these circumstances, states usually just co-opted the religious majority's institutions and leaders in an effort to centralize their authority.In doing so, piety and nationalism were fused into an "official religion," thus weakening religious institutions, domesticating religious rhetoric, binding religious authorities to the state and facilitating the state's growth.The resulting reforms, known as Tanzimat, aimed to fundamentally reshape the Ottoman state's relationship with its subjects.Previously, the empire's citizens had never been granted rights beyond those guaranteed to Muslims by Islamic law and those that came with the protective status of the millet communities.But artificial borders are only part of the Middle East's problem.
The traditions of religious authorities became institutionalized in many places, and people widely began to defer to them.
But in the 18th and 19th centuries, the empire's military prowess began to slip relative to its neighbors, and its rulers were put on the defensive.
Gradually, it became clear that if the Ottoman Empire were to survive at all, it would have to adopt some of the strategies used by its Western rivals to organize its military and society.
Instead, they were handed down to the states that emerged in the empire's wake, creating serious obstacles to state-building and modernization efforts.
Religious elites could be either potential competitors or powerful allies, or both, to governing officials trying to assert their authority.
At some point the borders would have to be redrawn, and when they were, the process was bound to be painful.