When benevolent Ottoman Sultan offered more aid than Queen Victoria to famine-hit Ireland

During the Great Famine popularly known as Irish Potato Famine, which hit Ireland, 160 years ago, the Ottoman Empire Sultan Abdul Majeed personally offered 10000 pounds to Ireland as a donation. He was only 23 years old then. This was a gesture that earned the Ottomans a worldwide reputation for generosity. However, British diplomats advised him that it would be offensive for anyone to offer more than Queen Victoria. It was suggested that he should donate half of that amount. So he gave one thousand pounds. Ireland was part of the UK at the time. However, Sultan Abdul Majeed found other ways to help. Drogheda in Ireland includes a crescent and a star, both of which are symbols of Islam, in its coat of arms. It is believed that the symbols were adopted after the Ottoman Empire secretly sent five ships loaded with food to the town in May 1847. Evidence that backs these claims include newspaper articles from the period and a letter from Irish notable explicitly thanking the sultan for his help.

An English religious journal published an article titled, ‘A Benevolent Sultan’, in which the author wrote, “for the first time a Mohammedan sovereign, representing multitudinous Islamic populations, manifest spontaneously a warm sympathy with Christian nation.’

The letter of appreciation from the Irish nobility and people to the Ottoman Sultan is in the archive of Topkapı Palace today.