Secularism Emancipated As Muslims

Ladies in Turkish Armed Forces, emancipated

Ladies in Turkish Armed Forces, emancipated

The secular state of Muslims Republic of Turkey founded by modernist Mustafa Kemal Attaturk took almost a century to realise the emancipation of the  rights of Muslims do not impede the national interest, even in tightly regulated military.

BCC story:

Turkey reverses female army officers’ headscarf ban

5 hours ago
From the section Europe

A ban on female army officers in Turkey wearing the Muslim headscarf has been lifted by the government.
The military is the last Turkish institution to see the ban removed. It has long been seen as the guardian of Turkey’s secular constitution.
Wearing headscarves in public institutions was banned in the 1980s.
But Turkey’s Islamist-leaning President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, argues that the ban is an illiberal vestige of the past.
The issue has been controversial in Turkey for many years.
Secularists regard the headscarf as a symbol of religious conservatism and have accused President Erdogan of pushing an Islamist agenda, converting many public schools into religious ones as part of his pledge to raise “a pious generation”.
Pious versus secular in modern Turkey
Over the past decade the ban has been removed for schools, universities, the civil service and in August for the police.
The BBC’s Mark Lowen, in Istanbul, says the secular side of Turkey now feels largely ostracised, accusing Mr Erdogan of governing just for his conservative, religious support base.

Islamic groups have lobbied hard for wider acceptance of headscarves
Rows of policewomen in uniform including baseball caps, at a mass funeral in Ankara for a policeman who died in Turkey’s failed coup. 18 July 2016.Image copyrightAP
Image caption
Women in Turkey’s police and security forces are now able to wear headscarves
The conservatives respond that they were long seen as second-class citizens and the headscarf is an expression of individual liberties.
Our correspondent says that Turkey’s religious-secular divide is as old as the republic itself, but is now arguably deeper than ever.

Media captionHala Hindawi explains why she likes to wear a hijab. Sometimes
The fall and rise of the headscarf
In 2010, Turkey’s universities abandoned an official ban on Muslim headscarves
Three years later, women were allowed to wear headscarves in state institutions – with the exception of the judiciary, military and police. That year, four MPs wore headscarves in parliament
A ban on policewomen wearing the Islamic headscarf was lifted in 2016
Witness: Turkey’s headscarf row
Watch: Indonesian women talk about fashion and the hijab
The new rules apply to regular women military officers, non-commissioned officers and female cadets. They will be allowed to wear a headscarf under their caps or berets as long as they are the same colour as their uniforms and are not patterned, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
The military’s opposition to the government’s move has been weakened after President Erdogan’s supporters increased their authority over the armed forces following the failed 15 July coup last year.
The changes will come into effect once they are published in the official gazette.
Turkey has had a secular constitution with no state religion since 1920.
Most people in Turkey are Sunni Muslims.


This is a landmark progress achieved by Conservative Democrat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the dogmatic military, despite ascended to power sixteen years ago as the Turkish Prime Minister.

The Turkish Military, modelled by former career officer Kemal Attaturk after the fall of the Ottoman Empire post World War I and nationalists taking over the country and turn it into a republic in 1923, has been the custodian of the secularism ideology introduced by Attaturk.

The secularism ideology has been jealously upheld by the Turkish Military, which is the fundamental philosophy and principle of modern Turkey introduced by Kemal Attarturk in 1923.

Islam and Secularism in Turkish Politics

Mustafa Kemal established the Turkish Republic in 1923 and was later given the name “Atatürk” meaning “Father of the Turks”. His intention was to create a society where there is a separation that allows private life and political life to exist independently. Politics and private life are thus free from religion or free from the tsendency of Islam to seek an all-encompassing role in society. This is in stark contrast to the Ottoman Empire that did, in fact, intertwine religion with society, politics, judicial and military affairs.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk wanted a modern, secular Turkish Republic to replace the failed, theocratic Ottoman Empire. Although most Turks are Sunni Muslims, he believed that the achievement of a modern Turkey required that the conservative restraints of the Ottoman Caliphate and Islamic law be abolished, the role of religion in the state be limited, and ?anachronistic? religious practices ended. Secularism was one of his fundamental principles and is a constitutionally-defined characteristic of the Republic. The institutionalization of secularism has produced tensions between Kemalists and conservative Sunni Muslims, often called Islamists, that continue to resonate in Turkish politics today. The secularists accuse the Islamists of seeking to resurrect a state governed by Islamic law. The Islamists deny the charge, claiming they only want a state based on moral principles. They have formed political parties to advance their ideas, but most have been banned. As Ataturk’s heirs, the Turkish military is the constitutionally-mandated guarantor of the state and it has energetically defended the secular character of the state in recent years.

Prior to the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire was a dominant presence in northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and western Asia that held Islam at its roots. The Empire spread Islamic culture and influence across the eastern hemisphere that still exists today. After the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire began to faulter against the European military and captive nations seeking to regain lost independence. They attempted to modernize their military, but to no avail, and many in the Ottoman empire resisted this attempt at modernizations. Following the disasterous participation of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, Turkish nationalist were brought together by Mustafa Kemal, a member of the nationalist reform organization known as the Young Turks, who created the Republic of Turkey and abolished the temporal and religious ruling institutions of the old Ottoman empire.

In 1922 the new nationalist regime abolished the Ottoman sultanate. The sultan once acted in political, military, judicial, social, and religious capacities, under a variety of titles. He was theoretically responsible only to God and God’s law. In 1924, the regime abolished the caliphate, the religious office that Ottoman sultans had held for four centuries. Thus, for the first time in Islamic history, no ruler claimed spiritual leadership of Islam. Religion had been separated not only from politics, but from public life as well. The withdrawal of Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire, as the presumptive leader of the world Muslim community was symbolic of the change in the government’s relationship to Islam. Indeed, secularism became one of the “Six Arrows” (republicanism, populism, secularism, reformism, nationalism, statism) of Atatürk’s program for remaking Turkey. Whereas Islam had formed the identity of Muslims within the Ottoman Empire, secularism was seen as molding the new Turkish nation and its citizens.

Atatürk and his associates not only abolished certain religious practices and institutions but also questioned the value of religion, preferring to place their trust in science. They regarded organized religion as an anachronism and contrasted it unfavorably with “civilization,” which to them meant a rationalist, secular culture. Establishment of secularism in Turkey was not, as it had been in the West, a gradual process of separation of church and state. In the Ottoman Empire, all spheres of life, at least theoretically, had been subject to religious law, and Sunni religious organizations had been part of the state structure. When the reformers of the early 1920s opted for a secular state, they removed religion from the sphere of public policy and restricted it exclusively to that of personal morals, behavior, and faith. Although private observance of religious rituals could continue, religion and religious organization were excluded from public life.

The policies directly affecting religion were numerous and sweeping. In addition to the abolition of the caliphate, new laws mandated abolition of the office of seyhülislam (the ultimate judicial power of Turkey); abolition of the religious hierarchy; the closing and confiscation of Sufi lodges (a spiritual meeting palce), meeting places, and monasteries and the outlawing of their rituals and meetings; establishment of government control over the evkaf (the Muslim institution that regulates religious activity for Turkish Cypriots),which had been inalienable under seriat (Islamic law); replacement of seriat with adapted European legal codes; the closing of religious schools; abandonment of the Islamic calendar in favor of the Gregorian calendar used in the West; restrictions on public attire that had religious associations, with the fez outlawed for men and the veil discouraged for women; and the outlawing of the traditional garb of local religious leaders.

Atatürk and his colleagues also attempted to Turkify Islam through official encouragement of such practices as using Turkish rather than Arabic at devotions, substituting the Turkish word Tanri for the Arabic word Allah, and introducing Turkish for the daily calls to prayer. These changes in devotional practices deeply disturbed faithful Muslims and caused widespread resentment, which led in 1933 to a return to the Arabic version of the call to prayer. Of longer-lasting effect were the regime’s measures prohibiting religious education, restricting the building of new mosques, and transferring existing mosques to secular purposes. Most notably, the Hagia Sophia (Justinian’s sixth-century Christian basilica, which had been converted into a mosque by Mehmet II) was made a museum in 1935. The effect of these changes was to make religion, or more correctly Sunni Islam, subject to the control of a hostile state. Muftis and imams (prayer leaders) were appointed by the government, and religious instruction was taken over by the Ministry of National Education.

A more direct manifestation of the growing reaction against secularism was the revival of the Sufi brotherhoods. Not only did suppressed Sufi lodges such as the Kadiri, Mevlevi, and Naksibend, (three of the 12 branches of the basic dervish orders of Islam) reemerge, but new orders were formed, including the Nurcular, Süleymançi, and Ticani. The Ticani became especially militant in confronting the state. For example, Ticani damaged monuments to Atatürk to symbolize their opposition to his policy of secularization. Throughout the 1950s, there were numerous trials of Ticani(a specific order of Sufi Islam) and other Sufi leaders for antistate activities. Simultaneously, however, some tarikatlar, notably the Süleymançi and Nurcular, cooperated with those politicians perceived as supportive of pro-Islamic policies. The Nurcular eventually advocated support for Turkey’s multiparty political system, and one of its offshoots, the Isikçilar, has openly supported the Motherland Party since the mid-1980s.


Turkey under Ottoman Empire Sultan Mehmet II managed to defeat the Byzantines’ ‘gateway to the East’ after the fall of Constantinople on 23 May 1453. There onwards, the Sufi Ottoman Empire started to be the master of the Balkans, North Mediterranean, Egypt, Asia Minor all the way to Persia.

It was a new phase of the spread and meteoric growth of modern trade with Europe and the Far East and India. That also provided progress in science, mathematics, technology, astronomy, navigation, arts, technology and the philosophy of religion.

Despite being powerful and more modern against other races such as Germanic, Roman, Viking, Goths, Normans, Gauls, Anglo, Saxons and Huns, Khazars and Mongolian in the east, the rights for women is very limited,

The growing demands of Muslims to be allowed in their faith practices even in official Turkish establishments such as Government, academias and now the military is progressive and getting more popular.

Turkey has been the model ‘moderate Muslims’ amongst the West and this stature earned them political clout to be part of Western Europe private club such as NATO. This is where the confidence on the Turks to uphold national interest over demands of the faith even the Muslim brotherhood is paramount.

In not so many words, Erdogan managed to get the Turkish Military to withdraw their dogmatism against basic rights of Muslims serving the Armed Forces, which is big step towards the interpretation and provisions on human rights from Muslims even in a nation which adopted secularism.

This landmark milestones for the Muslims in Turkish Government, Academia and Military is actually incomparable of what Malaysian muslims trying to achieve to strike the balance between the demand to uphold syariah and the challenges in a multiracial/multifaith country.

At the moment Islamist Opposition party PAS is attempting to introduce a private Bill in the Parliament to empower the shariah courts for higher penalties on felnies convicted against the shariah criminal law, under Enactments of each state of the Federation.

Published in: on February 22, 2017 at 23:59  Comments (3)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The fact is that Erdogan is making a well balanced in road to define Turkey as the best example of global ‘Moderate Muslim’, esp in the current crossroads of interpertation of Jihad and the ways of Allah.

    Turks have been European and always wanted to be recognised as Europeans more than anything else. Thats Attaturk’s doctrine, where he almost completely separated modern Turkish with their sunni Muslim faith, philosophy and most importantly, practices.

    Endogan managed to weakened the Military and provided more room for his supporters, who are thirsty for more reforms in the sunni muslims’ way.

    Erdogan aspire to be the global moderate Muslim leader.

    The current global diplomatic storm would provide the growth of Erdoganism, at the global arena.

    Just watch this space!

    without impairing the nation’s stature as a modern moderate Muslim sekular State.

  2. It is not a bit confounding when Iran, ISIS and secular Muslims look with suspicious eyes to the Wahhabi friendly Saudi Monarchy what more taking into consideration the politics of USA, EU, Russia and China.

    I say let there be the modern army of Malay Peacekeepers in Madinah and totally riba free mega investments retail Islam bank and a pragmatic just and fair modern Shariah Courts in the OIC.

    • Now here is the thing that put Turkey to shame: the legal illegal Israeli Jews’ settlements.

      Najib should learn to understand this weakness of the Turkey President cum Mahathir ecolyte Erdogan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: