About Kemal “Ataturk” and his secularism

About Kemal “Ataturk” and his secularism

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On the third of March  1924 ,   the Turkish National Council, “Parliament” issued , under the guidance of  Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk”   the formerPresident of the Republic of Turkey ,  law No. 431, which includes the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate, in preparation for the application of its intellectual  system, which  a secular was one of it. At the annual anniversary of the abolition, we highlight briefly on the biography of Mustafa Kemal “Ataurk” and secularism enshrined in the Turkish state and society, and who is the Turkish secular from his perspective?

Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk” the founder of modern Turkey and its national hero in the eyes of his followers, and the enemy of Islam  and the crusher  of caliphate in the eyes of his opponents, he was able in a few years  to emerge  as a military leader and  then as a political leader   who abolished the Ottoman Caliphate and   founded the  contemporary Turkey to replace it, which has become as a secular state and Western character , laws and fancy.

Mustafa Ali Reza was born in 1881  the Greek city of Thessaloniki, which was subject at the time to the Ottoman Empire and his father was a simple employee, engaged in a start in a traditional religious school and then entered the modern school and then joined to the high military school  in 1893  when he was a young boy, and  there  ,  one of his teachers  called him by the name Kemal  due to   his   genius in school  and   his name has become  Mustafa Kemal.

He graduated with a rank captain in 1905, and then fought the several wars  within the Ottoman army in Albania and Tripoli, before the Ottoman involved in the First World War as well as the Axis powers which emerged  a star of the officer Mustafa Kemal as a military leader of high weight to be promoted  to the rank of general in 1916 when he was  35-year-old only.

Before these events for  years after  his graduating from military school ,   Mustafa Kemal had directly established during his service in Damascus a secret cell called the homeland and freedom against what was  described by his   admirers (the tyranny of the Ottoman Sultan), and although  this organization was  not known  as an  active political one like the Union and Progress Association noting that  the two organizations  are stemmed up  from one  principle , even  it was said  that Mustafa Kemal  was joined actually to the last Assembly after the   disclosure  of his organization  to the authorities.

Regardless of the political source for the  rising  officer strongly, the name of Mustafa Kemal   was known in Istanbul and became famous after what he had achieved with the troops in Palestine, Aleppo and Antioch during the war, but the importance of Gen. Mustafa Kemal was prevailed after these events, when the First World War ended with the defeat of his country and  large parts of it were occupied by  the Allied armies,  then it became possible for this officer to play the role of the liberator , who was considered as  a national hero in the whole of the Ottoman Empire, which was still attracts  many emotions of Muslims.

Mustafa Kemal  led  the so-called war of independence for the Liberation of occupied Anatolia , and  the charisma of the man clearly appeared  when he rejected the sultan orders to abandon duty and return to the  occupied Istanbul by Britain, then he resigned from the army and  organized  since  May 1919 liberation forces that fought the Greeks and the British, French and Italians  under his leadership , enabling even before the end of the summer of 1922 to expel the occupying forces from his country.

These victories gave  Gen. Mustafa Kemal fame that filled the  the Muslim world , who consider him a hero, especially as he used the religious symbols and religious scholars in mobilizing people to fight with him, and was showered with messages of congratulations from Islamic countries, and  the west took notice of him  and  wrote about him in the media  that gave him  more famous and influential.

During the battles for liberation, particularly in the spring of 1920 ,  Mustafa Kemal founded  Great National Council in Ankara which constitutes of  representatives of the popular forces to participate in the liberation war to turn into a parallel government to the authority of the Caliph of the Ottoman in Istanbul, and in 1921 the Council issued what he called the Basic Law, which coincided its issuance  with the announcement of victory and liberation of Turkish territory in the summer of 1922 and  Mustafa Kemal announced the abolition of the Sultanate .

In July of 1923 the Government of Mustafa Kemal signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which  his leadership has devoted to Turkey, international recognition, and announced in the October 29  of the same year, the birth of the Turkish republic and abolished the caliphate, and he was announced the president and Ankara was taken  the capital of the new state instead of Istanbul and he took a series of measures that continued a few years, but from which he has changed  the entire face of Turkey.

Secularism in the most sense is the separation of religion and state, and so as not to make the mistake which most of the intellectuals of the Islamists and secularists made it, I would like to point out that the subject of the struggle for identity in Turkey is not between Islam and the secular in the Western sense, it is between Islam and forced westernization  or ( hostility to Islam), and this was expressed by the former President of Turkey Abdullah Gul, when he was Vice President of development and justice Party, in an article in the  Turkish newspaper Milliyet  published in / February 2000 9, said “the Turkish Muslim people wanted freedom of rituals and worships  and does not want to politicize religion,  it is considered that the  the best system  in the world is a Western democracy specifically, not in authoritarian regimes, even if the slogan of Islam  is raised , in this sense we can start  to explain the concept of Mustafa Kemal of secularism, which through its practical  application , it can be described later.

  secular appearance was  not  began in Turkey  in the era of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, but was preceded by the Sultan Mahmud II, which  secular ideas  were entered to Turkey  in his reign by Turkish students who have studied in the West, particularly in France.

Mansour Abdul Hakim says in his book (Turkey from caliphate to  modernity – from Ataturk to Erdogan): ” the secular ideas were  known in Turkey  in the  beginning as the westernization that appeared in the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, who took power in the eighteenth century, where he established a new army similar to the style of European armies and replaced with new laws and administrative laws similar to European laws also passed laws on dress and forced employees and military personnel to wear a fez and shave the beard. “

Turkish people opposed the expatriate Western manifestations strongly, and  resisted to theattempts by the Sultan to move towards the west –  secularism, which the Westernization  is  the early stages of a secular support for the separation of state and religion and the affairs of life, and the people   called    the Sultan Mahmud II at that time  the title  “infidel  Sultan.”

Although  the Sultan Mahmud   has efforts in the movement of reconstruction, facilities and reconstruction of the famous mosques, but his main concern  has  focused  to simulate the West, and hopefully to be limited to this in modern science industries, but he has  also imported  the habits that was an introduction to the secularization of the country, including that introduced   European  dress and forced the government  civil employees and military personnel to wear it  in the workplace.

In the nineteenth century, secular figures were emerged  opposed the Ottoman conditions   aimed  to  the secularization of Turkey, like  “Namik Kemal” and “Ziya Gökalp Bash,” and  the  young  affected by  French culture as a result of receiving the education in it  founded a youth Ottoman Assembly in 1865.

These young people and politicians have prepared a new constitution , and called for the opening of Parliament and the granting of sovereignty  of the rule   to the Turkish people as the western, they formed  the base of the secular regime in Turkey after a continuous  work  inside and outside Turkey, in secret and in public, and build a ground for the new political system. These youth movements are fertile ground in which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has established his secular system  after he  took  the rule of the Turkish state.

There is no doubt that Mustafa Kemal tried during the war of liberation stage and even the beginnings of a republic on 29 October  1923, the exploitation of religious emotion by showing himself  as a strong  believer in the faith of Islam; it has distributed throughout Turkey photos of him with a number of religious scholars and  is crying out enthusiastically doing  rituals of Islam, and  in a speech at a mosque in the city of “a  Bali kseer” In February 7th 1923, saying: “The mosques are not to see each other in order to kneel  but it is  for the  obedience and worship, and to talk togather together in matters of religion and the world, and we are consulting with each other to what we need). On another occasion he said that 🙁 sermon received from the preacher of mosques must speak to the soul and mind, and thus move the Muslims and occupy their minds and stimulate  and encourage them, and the  Khatib(preacher) must be  a master of the science of religion, and   well educated  of the  science of age  also ).

And his opinion of  secularism can be summarized as the following: “Secularism does not mean isolating life topics from religion topics, it means complete freedom of conscience for our citizens , we do not have the monasticism , because there is equality among all and  everyone needs to learn his religion.”
Not only did this, but he presented on another occasion a wonderful concept  of secularism that he was the first to skip it when he said: “secularism does not mean non – religious, but on the contrary, they were given the wide range of the believers to their religion the right  worship and to close the door to scammers on religion , and sorcerers, and those who linked the concept of secularism to the non- religion , those who agree with the enemy with their hearts and their consciences.”

The question here,  was Mustafa Kemal  honest in his  Islamic call? Prior to offer evidences  that show the falsity of his claim, through decisions and laws that have been taken during the period of his reign (1923 -1938 m), let  Western researcher, non-Muslim says his opinion on this matter  obiviously, a researcher Philip Rubens,  he says, ” Ataturk task was not to instill only pride  to theTurkish identity; but to undermine Islam as a force in the context of politics and society in the new Turkish Republic, he has worked to achieve this task with determination and activity, and attacked the Islamic spirit of three aspects:  first: gag institutions and organizations that have to enhance the control of Islam on various aspects Life. To  achieve this purpose,  Islamic schools were closed  and  religious associations were abolished , Second:  signs  and  formalist symbols  of Islam  of   Eastern nature  were replaced by signs and symbols of Christianity of European nature, noting that he  transferred   the weekend from holy Friday  to Muslims to Sunday, Christian, and   the Islamic  lunar calndar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar, Third: the Islamic Turkish legal system was changed  to Swiss civil system. “

With regard to the secular laws and decisions related to the Islamic religion, we can say that Mustafa Kemal follow the method gradually in its application, which is as follows: abolished the caliphate, and the Ministry of Law and Religious Endowments and canceled the religious schools, the dissolve  of the Islamic Courts, and the expulsion of all the Ottoman family members from the state to the outside after removal of the Sultan Abdul Majid, the last Sultan of the Ottoman, then the  dissolve   the post of  (Sheikh al-Islam) and all associated bodies, whether legitimate or judicial and  religious schools were dissolved , and  all schools  were  linked to the civilian ministry, as endowment institution was linked with all its accessories, buildings and money –non transferred  to the Department directly linked with Prime Minister and that all religious courts were shut down and stop working with religious judiciary . And  a secular education was adopted  in 1924, banning the fez and the veil and any religious dress, and the imposition of the hat and the European dress, closed the Hospices  and religious ways that have had a significant role in the national liberation war, and to prevent the establishment of religious associations, and described the founders and subscribers  of it with high treason in 1925.

With the beginning of 1926, Turkey began working  with Gregorian calendar, used in the West and formally abolished the working  with Islamic calendar  AH, and the adoption of the Swiss Civil Code, which claimed to proclaim gender equality (equality in inheritance, civil marriage, freedom of choice of religion, and the abolition of polygamy), and in the end  of That year , Ataturk imposed  adornments on women and ban them wearing robes and obliged them to wear dresses, otherwise  their husbands and relatives  are introduced to the trial. And c articles of the constitution relating to the Islamic religion are canceled  in 1928, and abolished the use of the Arabic letters and  numerals and decided to use  the Latin alphabet and numbers instead in 1928.

Since the beginning of 1932 , they began to read the Koran in the whole of Turkey in the Turkish language, especially in Istanbul, and in the 1933 the call to prayer was made  in Turkish  language before returning in Arabic in the era of former Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes (1950-1960) and to prevent the pilgrimage to Mecca till 1947, and the Italian criminal law and the German commercial law were applied in stead of Islamic law in 1933, and in the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic ,   he has made clear  the extent of  his religious commitment! Where he collected the Koran and religious books and put on the backs of camels to  be  led by a man dressed in Arab clothing, heading out towards the Arabian Peninsula and hung on the necks  the sign that says, “it came from the desert and returned to the desert and came from the Arabs and then to be returned to the Arabs”  as if  Islam was the prerogative of the Arab nation and in line with its national feelings and not with the national feelings of the Turks.

And in 1934 , the historic mosque – Hagia Sophia was closed  in the face of the congregation, to become just a museum, and in 1934 law titles  was enacted , and  Mustafa Kemal has called   himself “Ataturk: ​​Father of the Turks” in 1935, and the weekly holiday on Friday was replaced that  has its sanctity in the Islamic religion, to  work  with  European week end vacation , from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning, and  Ataturk  has completed his “revolution” in 1937 before his death  to  repeal article which states that Islam is the state religion in the constitution. Whereas Article II of the 1924 Constitution affirms that Islam is the official religion of the state, it has become under the third amendment to the 1937 Article II as follows: Turkey is a popular, Mlah , statist ,secular revolutionary republic , its official language Turkish language and the headquarter is  Ankara. Thus, the impact of  Article was abolished .

Thus, the term secularism entered the Turkish Constitution for the first time in 1937, and its decisions and laws against “Islamic identity” of the Turkish state, the westernization, in  the sense of imitation of Western appearances without application  democracy of the West ; for while the “secular” in the West was understood  in  the meanings of the separation of religion from the state, which the state to ensure religious freedom for individuals, and non-interference in the affairs of worship, and providing equality of all citizens before the law, and not to force people to walk in the approach seen by the state is the best, the “Kemalist secularism”   was understood, in addition to the separation of religion and state,  it includes anti-religion senses, and paralyze the role of scientists of religion in society, and repress them and try to remove the religious and cultural heritage of civilization of the state, forcing people to walk in the secular approach  that is  anti- religion , the state  considered it is the best .While   western secularism was mixed with  “ideas of democracy that respects human feelings and views, and allow  to find  the parties  and a Christian  democracy , the” Kemalist secularism “applied by the use of force, and the one-party dictatorship. The difference is clear between them, Western secularism is neutral secularism while secular of  Kemal Ataturk is an extremist secularism , anti-religion.

 Thus, the idea of ​​a secular of Kemalist concept prevailing in Turkey on a number of basic ideas that establish the ideology of the  most promenant axes:

· The idea of ​​the Republic as the alternative  to the monarchy and the Royal  system and Islamic caliphate.

·  National idea, namely that the primary link is between the

the Turkish people is “Mlah” or national, not religion.

·  Popular idea, in the sense of beating the influence of the Ottoman aristocracy and the feudal landlords and clergy to escalate the lower classes of society in the framework of equality among the people.

· The idea of ​​the dominance of the state and turned into a tool to impose secularism and Westernization, and  industrial and economic, political and social modernization.

·         The idea of ​​the coup, a revolution on all of the prevailing ideas and situations and institutions that are traditional and backward.

· More importantly, in all of this that the concept of secularism in Turkey is not limited to neutralize the role of religion and separated from the state as it is in the West, for example, but it goes beyond that by forcing people to the concept that sees to the practice of religion in public life but also in the performance of worship.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has made a mistake when he considered Islam an obstacle in the path of progress and advancement  forgetting that religion   is an instinct and real feelings  of life which is (a composite  of civilization) that mix (human and earth and time) as Malik bin Nabi to say , or  as Bertrand Russell saying ( the religion is a  word  has a long history , and the reality of  people is  the reason and religion and instinct).

As of the Turkish secular from the perspective of Kemal Ataturk, the vision in this regard shorten the total in one sentence  where he said: “As we all , and thanks to God, are  Turkish , and therefore we are all Muslims,  that will enable us and we have to be all of us  seculars .” So the first condition in the secular to be Turkey, and the second to be a Muslim, and by this understanding, the Christians of Turkey  such as the alormen and Greeks, Serian and Giorjeon, Gypsies, and Jews Eldonmp and the Jews of Turkey are not secular and thus not citizens because they are not Muslims. This contrasts with the principle of nationalism, which is the second principle in  its intellectual system, that (national) believes that the Turkish people constitute  one nation, stand-alone and distinguish nationality, and it means that the Turkish citizenship is for all Turkish citizens living on Turkish soil without relying on religion and race. Here, he  offers  a paradoxical sense to his secularism   which was one of the most extreme experiences .

Before Mustafa Kemal died in 1938, he announced his position on Islam and Muslims clearly and unequivocally, when he announced before the Turkish Grand National Council, “Parliament”: “Isn’t it for the Caliphate , Islam and the religious men , the Turkish villagers fought for five centuries?  Has the time come  for Turkey  to see and care for its interests, and save themselves from the leadership of the Islamic countries. “

After more than several decades on the application of secular Kemalism in Turkey  , it can be said that  it is well-established in the Turkish  state and society  especially in government institution such as the military , the judiciary, education and non-governmental organizations such as media, and since the advent of the Justice and Development Party to rule Turkey in 2002, he worked to tame secularism, to bring back the Turkish people  to its  Ottoman roots  , and  actually, many Islamic manifestations have returned  that  the dust of secularism comes  in Turkey again.

 President of the Republic Recep Tayyip Erdogan  addresses the  secular with their secularism  demanding  them to bring it back  to the Western pattern, a  democratic secular, not a  tyrannical dictatorship secular, , The West excludes religion with ideas, not with iron and fire, and religious freedom is guaranteed in Europe and the West, so why  they took some of  the idea and left the rest?


Rawabet Center for  Research and Strategic Studies