The Tanzimat Reforms were a series of edicts between 1839 and 1876 intended to preserve the weakening Ottoman Empire. These included the 1839 Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane (“Noble Edict of the Rose Chamber”) which guaranteed life and property rights, instituted tax regulations, outlawed execution without trial, and other liberal reforms which recalled the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789); and the 1856 Hatt-ı Hümayun (“Imperial Edict”). Both edicts asserted the equality of Muslim and non-Muslim Ottoman subjects.
The Tanzimat reforms were directed at Europe to suggest that the Ottoman Empire belonged among the European nations as well as a commitment to transform the Empire based on European models. The reforms also marked initial changes that would define an Ottoman subject, as opposed to a Muslim, Christian, or Jewish subject of the Empire, and abolished the dhimmi status accorded to non-Muslim subjects. As such, the period of Tanzimat Reform reflects the first movement towards secularism in the Ottoman Empire, and was strongly opposed by religious scholars (ulema) as well as non-Muslim religious leaders who perceived the reforms as a threat to their authority.
M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).
Murat C. Menguujj, "Young Ottomans," Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, ed. Richard C. Martin (New York: Thomson Gale, 2004), p. 737-739.