ĐSLAM IN MĐLLĐLEŞTĐRĐLMESĐNDEN MĐLLĐYETÇĐLĐĞĐN ÖZELLEŞTĐRILMESĐNE: ĐSLAMĐYET VE TÜRK MĐLLĐ KĐMLĐĞĐ Tamer BALCI * ÖZET Bu makale Türkiye de dinin millileştirilmesi ile ilgili farklı projeleri içermektedir.

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ĐSLAM IN MĐLLĐLEŞTĐRĐLMESĐNDEN MĐLLĐYETÇĐLĐĞĐN ÖZELLEŞTĐRILMESĐNE: ĐSLAMĐYET VE TÜRK MĐLLĐ KĐMLĐĞĐ Tamer BALCI * ÖZET Bu makale Türkiye de dinin millileştirilmesi ile ilgili farklı projeleri içermektedir. Đlk önerilen projeler Đslam ve laikliğin birarada yaşayabilmesini sağlayabilecek felsefi temelden yoksun oldukları için başarılı olamamışlardır. Dinin millileştirilmesi konusunda daha önce yapılan çalışmalardan farklı olarak bu makale konuyu Soğuk Savaş dönemine taşıyarak Türk-Đslam Sentezi nin dinin millileştirilmesi çabalarının ulaştığı son aşama olduğu tezini vurgulamaktadır. TĐS in Atatürkçülük rejimini değiştirme gibi bir hedefi olmaması ve Đslam ın milliyetçilik, laiklik ve Atatürkçülük ile uyum içinde olduğu görüşlerini savunması TĐS in aranan milli din olmasa bile Đslam ve laik devlet arasında bir sistem ayarlaması yapmasını sağlamış ve Đslam ın gayr-i resmi olarak Türklük tanımına dahil olmasını sağlamıştır. Anahtar Kelimeler: Türklük, Đslam, Türk-Đslam Sentezi, Türk milliyetçiliği FROM NATIONALIZATION OF ISLAM TO PRIVATIZATION OF NATIONALISM: ISLAM AND TURKISH NATIONAL IDENTITY 1 ABSTRACT This article traces the origins of various proposals to nationalize Islam in Turkey. The initial Turkish proposals failed because none of them had a feasible philosophical base to facilitate the co-existence of Islam and secularism. Aside from the previous studies on the nationalization of Islam, this article carries the topic * Ass. Prof. Dr., The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg. E- Mail: 1 An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 49 th International Studies Association Convention, San Francisco, USA, March 26-29, 2008. From Nationalization of Islam to Privatization of Nationalism to the Cold War by arguing that the Turkish-Islamic Synthesis was the last stage on the nationalization of Islam. Since TIS had no vision to alter the official ideology, Kemalism, and it claimed the compatibility of Islam, nationalism, secularism as well as Kemalism, it fulfilled the need of a national religion the Turkish state envisioned but it created a de facto Turkish national identity that made Islam a prerequisite for Turkishness. Key Words: Turkish identity, Islam, Turkish-Islamic Synthesis, Turkish nationalism As secularism entered the Middle East, an ideological battle ensued between Islam and secular nationalism that would last throughout the twentieth century. Secular nationalism won mostly the minds of intellectuals and politicians, who then designed public education systems to win over the conservative masses. Ruling elites knew well that a constantly open confrontation against Islam would be counterproductive. Thus, neither Mustafa Kemal Atatürk s Kemalist ideology nor Michel Aflaq s Baath ideology totally rejected Islam. Instead, they aimed to harness and use the social power of Islam to further the interests of the nation state. This would not be possible unless Islam was nationalized by the state. This article aims to shed light on the multiple outcomes of the nationalization of Islam in Turkey. I present two interwoven hypotheses to explain the intricate relationship among the Turkish state, Islam and Turkish nationalism. Primarily, Turkey s unrelenting efforts to nationalize Islam during the early republican period ( ) failed but created a de facto Turkish identity tied to Islam. Despite the constructive aims of the Turkish leaders, nationalization of Islam could not be achieved because none of the reform proposals had a feasible philosophical base that could be implemented in the society. They were cosmetic, unpractical or marginal as it shall be outlined in the following pages. Nevertheless, when the early Cold War political conditions removed the political restrictions, a more liberal approach with the checks and balances system paved the road for the creation of a historical philosophy, the Turkish-Islamic Synthesis (TIS) ( ). The TIS formulated the middle way between Islam and the state and it became the nationalized Turkish Islam. Furthermore, the TIS strengthened the de facto policy that regards Islam a prerequisite for Turkishness. 84 Tamer BALCI Setting the Goals The TIS was conceptualized during the Cold War but the raw and unformulated idea predates modern Turkey. As Islam had been the dominant socio-cultural force for centuries, early sentiments of Turkish nationalism were expressed in a religious form. A secular nationalism would not be attractive in a largely conservative society. Islam and Turkish nationalism blended first in the frontiers from the Caucasus to the Balkans, where Ottomans retreated. Not surprisingly many early Turkish nationalists were from these lands. While the Young Turks were still gathering their thoughts on nationalism, the Balkan Turks declared in 1898 that Islam and nationalism had merged into a single construct. 2 Initially, the Young Turk entity, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), did not take the Islamic blended Turkish nationalism of the local CUP branches seriously but conditions necessitated the CUP to reconsider this approach. Nationalist movements in the Balkans, such as the Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian nationalism, went along with Orthodox Christianity. Would the CUP embrace an Islamic blended Turkish nationalism? Within ten years the CUP not only recognized Turkism but also exploited it. Turkism, Ottomanism and pan- Islamism were all at the service of the CUP to reach its political objectives. 3 The CUP did not have a common voice about Turkish nationalism but the positivist ideology of the leading Young Turks created a tendency toward a secular model. Whether or not Islam and nationalism would coexist was the question of the time. From positivist Abdullah Cevdet ( ) and pan-turkist Ahmed Ağaoğlu ( ) to Ziya Gökalp ( ) and Yusuf Akçura ( ) many Turkish intellectuals believed in compatibility of Islam and nationalism. Furthermore, they suggested that nationalism would strengthen the power of Islam and that Islam should be used to promote the interests of the state. The ruling elite of the new Turkish Republic turned the Young Turk ideas into the ideology of the new republic, Kemalism. Gökalp s ideas shaped the early cultural policies of the Turkish republic, especially on Islam, secularism and nationalism. Gökalp derived his ideas and concepts from Emile Durkheim ( M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, The Young Turks in Opposition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, , (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 296. From Nationalization of Islam to Privatization of Nationalism ) and altered them to fit Turkey. Gökalp s views in regard to religion were largely inspired by Durkheim s last major work of, the Elementary Forms of Religious Life. This work was an outcome of Durkheim s research on the primitive religions of Australian native tribes. Based on this study, Durkheim drew general conclusions about the interaction of religion and society. He concentrated on understanding religion as a social reality regardless of its origins. He criticized positivist scholars for totally rejecting religions because some religions might have artificial origins. Durkheim argued that fundamentally, then, there are no religions that are false. All are true after their own fashion. 4 Furthermore, he pointed out similarities of all religions, saying that [t]here is no religion that is not both a cosmology and speculation about the divine. 5 Durkheim concluded in his work that nearly all the great social institutions were born in religion If religion gave birth to all that is essential in society, that is so because the idea of society is the soul of religion. Thus religious forces are human forces, moral forces. 6 Religion, according to Durkheim, was an irreplaceable part of society. Durkheim regarded religion as a source of morality, consciousness and identity formation. He acknowledged the role of religion as a motivational source to unite people and emphasized the significance of social cohesion religion provides. That social cohesion, according to Durkheim, was almost impossible to achieve through individualism. In that regard Durkheim believed in the strength of social action rather than individualism. His reliance on society as opposed to individualism was his common ground with Karl Marx but as opposed to Marx, Durkheim made it clear that his approach to religion was sociological not political. Durkheim developed general ideas about religion and society. Since he believed that his findings would apply to all societies, he used a general term society, without referring to a specific group. His Turkish counterpart, Gökalp took Durkheim s general concept of society and narrowed it down to nation. Then, Gökalp defined what would constitute a nation. For him, millet, nation, was a community of people united by the same language, religion, morality and aesthetics. Hence he suggested that Turks should embrace the concept that they 2. 4 Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, (New York: Free Press, 1995), 5 Ibid., 8. 6 Ibid., 421. 86 Tamer BALCI are from the Turkish nation, Islamic faith and the Western civilization. 7 Similar to Durkheim s approach, Gökalp regarded religion as a corner-stone of society. Thus, according to Gökalp, Islam was the corner-stone of Turkish nation and the source of ethics and morality. Gökalp argued that it was possible to mix Turkish history and culture with Islam to create a Turkish-Islamic Historical Philosophy. 8 He believed that modern science and philosophy could be interpreted based on Turkish and Islamic traditions and a modern Turkish-Islamic Civilization 9 would evolve out of it. What would be the role of religion in this civilization? Gökalp advocated secularization of the justice system. The laws of the state, he suggested, should not be determined by religious rules but by the conditions of the society. 10 Thus, secular laws and schools should replace religious laws and schools. As well as many of his contemporaries Gökalp suggested that Turks should nationalize Islam. He proposed that the sermons and prayers should be in the Turkish language. 11 In his understanding, Islam could be a cultural component to promote Turkish national culture and Turkish interests, making nationalism a modern manifestation of Islam. In that case, the interests of the nation were above the interests of Islam. Islam could be used for national goals or become a national religion. The Ottoman sultans called themselves the servants of Islam. For Gökalp it was now time to have Islam serve the nation. Nationalization of Islam Durkheim s books were translated into Turkish as early as Atatürk read them in French. Gökalp s influence on the ideological development of Kemalism was limited as he died in 1924 before major Kemalist revolutions were introduced. Nevertheless, in regard to his approach to Islam, Atatürk followed Gökalp. How Atatürk dealt with Islam in real life is different from what he thought about Islam. No matter how strong the convictions of a leader are, what a leader can implement in a real politics is limited by the social forces of that society. Considering the strong social power of Islam, Atatürk often acted as a political leader not as an idealist intellectual Ziya Gökalp, Türkçülüğün Esasları, (Istanbul: MEB, 1990), Ziya Gökalp, Türkleşmek Đslamlaşmak Muasırlaşmak, (Istanbul: Toker Yayınları, 1992), 9 Ibid., Gökalp, Türkçülüğün Esasları, Ibid., From Nationalization of Islam to Privatization of Nationalism His secularist reforms came along with a nationalization program, which promoted nationalism as an alternative to Islam by creating a national religion. Perhaps his most radical step was the abolishment of the centuries old Caliphate title. The day the Caliphate was abolished on March 3, 1924, the Directory of Religious Affairs (DRA) was founded and a state monopoly was established over all Islamic and educational institutions. The abolishment of the Caliphate was certainly the biggest political step toward secularization but the law by itself did not initiate secularism because the abolishment law stated that the meaning and the concept of Caliphate are embedded in the government and the republic. 12 Indeed, in 1924 the official religion of the new Turkish republic was Islam and the judicial system was largely based on Islamic laws. By 1928, the Latin alphabet replaced the Arabic alphabet, secularism replaced the religion article in the constitution and the Western laws replaced Islamic laws. Although Sufi orders were prohibited, the practice of Islam or any other religion was not officially prohibited. In regard to religious affairs modern Turkey inherited a Sunni Islamic structure from the Ottoman Empire. In order to protect the Sunni Islamic texture of its subjects, the Ottomans solidified the office of Grand Mufti, Seyhulislam, and a Sunni Islamic religious structure under the Shia Safevid threat in the sixteenth century. As the Ottoman Empire collapsed its religious structure was reshaped to fit the Turkish republic. Because the 1924 education monopoly law allowed only the state employees to teach, preach and interpret Islam, no private teaching or preaching of Islam has been allowed. Based on current regulations of the DRA, no pupil can be registered for summer Qur an courses to learn basic Islamic instruction before they finish the 5 th grade, when pupils are around 12 year old. 13 State monopoly over all Islamic institutions was an overly ambitious goal that was difficult to achieve. The logistical and financial needs of the new republic limited its abilities to reach that goal. Thus, despite the law, many Islamic groups have provided with religious education without the state inspection. As much as Atatürk wished to nationalize Islam, he was careful not to destroy the main components of Islam. He discouraged political Islam but kept Islam as a cultural component. Moving on Gökalp s path, Atatürk ordered that the call to prayer, ezan, had to be called in Turkish instead of Arabic. Imams 12 Reşat Genç, Türkiye yi Laikleştiren Yasalar, (Ankara: Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi Yayınları, 1998), Diyanet Đşleri Başkanlığı Kur an Kursları Đle Öğrenci Yurt ve Pansiyonları Yönetmeliği, asp?id=2204. 88 Tamer BALCI were ordered to preach in Turkish. The Qur an was translated into Turkish and printed in the Latin alphabet. Still, the Kemalist criterion to create a Turkish nation state in Anatolia was not based on secular nationalist principles; Islam remained as a defining factor for Turkishness in the 1920s. For the Turkish state, the ideal Turk was a Muslim Turk. 14 Atatürk needed a nationalized religion, an altered Turkish Islam, to protect secularism. Before he took a big step, Cemalettin Efendi, a Turkish imam in Istanbul, initiated the discussion by leading a prayer in Turkish rather than in Arabic in While a group of columnists in the Turkish press, including Ahmed Ağaoğlu, supported the imam for his reformist act, the president of the DRA, Rıfat Börekçi declared that prayer has to be performed in Arabic. 15 After the complaints of the mosque regulars, the imam was relocated from the DRA to the Ministry of Education where he served as a teacher of religion. 16 Soon Atatürk initiated intellectual discussions to formulate a Turkish Islam. He asked Rûşeni Barkur, a deputy from Samsun, to write a book on nationalization of Islam. Barkur titled his book, Din Yok Millet Var, There is No Religion but Nation. Atatürk read the book and inscribed Bravo, applauds on the margin of a paragraph where Barkur wrote Our holy book is our nationalism, which protects knowledge, carries creatures, embraces happiness, glorifies Turkishness and unites all Turks. Therefore, in our philosophy the exact equivalent of religion is nationalism. 17 Barkur s book boosted up nationalism over Islam but did not introduce any feasible proposal to bridge them together so that the state could benefit. Atatürk assigned another book project to Reşit Galip, who shortly served as the minister of education in The book, Türkün Milli Dini: Müslümanlık, National Religion of the Turk: Islam, claimed that Islam was originally a Turkish religion and Prophet Abraham and Prophet Muhammad had Turkish origins. 18 Atatürk apparently found this argument marginal. Galip s off the chart historical arguments were not included in Kemalist history textbooks ( ). 14 Soner Çağaptay, Islam, Secularism, and Nationalism in Modern Turkey: Who is A Turk?, (New York: Routledge, 2006), Başak Ocak Gez, Fikirden Eyleme Türkçe Namaz Meselesi: 1920 lerin Cesur Bir Hocası, Toplumsal Tarih, Vol. 47 (1997): Cemal Şener, Anadilde Đbadet: Türkçe Đbadet, (Istanbul: Ant Yayınları, 1998), Gürbüz D. Tüfekçi, Atatürk'ün Okuduğu Kitaplar-Eski ve Yeni Yazılı Türkçe Kitaplar, (Ankara: Türkiye Đş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 1983), Şener, Anadilde Đbadet, From Nationalization of Islam to Privatization of Nationalism A middle way had to be found for the coexistence of Islam and secularism. Atatürk set some boundaries for his reforms in Islam. Whenever the boundaries were crossed he stepped in. In one case he ordered the collection and destruction of a translated book because he found the book to be extremely offensive to Islam. 19 Another book written by A. Ibrahim faced the same destiny because it was prohibited by the Turkish government. 20 The whole book is inaccessible and its name was not recorded in the printed book catalogs of Turkey either 21 ; only a few pages of this book were translated into English by Lootfy Levonian. 22 In his book A. Ibrahim suggested that Turks should abandon Islam and create a national religion. He regarded Islam as the religion of the Arabs. Furthermore, he wrote that [w]e must seek the religion of the Turk, the God of the Turk, in the self-consciousness of the Turk. 23 A similar proposal was left without an owner. On June 22, 1928 Turkish newspaper, Vakit, published a reform project, allegedly prepared by a committee of professors from Istanbul University. The proposal embraced nationalization of all social institutions including religion. The authors suggested that religious life had to be reformed based on scientific ideas and methods so that religion could match other institutions. The last section listed proposals: desks should be placed in the mosques and people should be encouraged to enter mosques with shoes; the language of prayer should be Turkish; Turkish versions of verses, prayers and sermons should be used. Moreover, the proposal suggested that musical instruments should be placed in mosques and imams and preachers should be trained in the faculty of divinity of Istanbul University. At the end the authors assured that they would write books and articles, organize courses and conferences on this subject. 24 As soon as it appeared in the press, the government disowned the proposal. 19 Ahmet Gürtaş, Atatürk ve Din Eğitimi, (Ankara: Diyanet Đşleri Başkanlığı Yayınları, 1999), Dücane Cündioğlu, Bir Siyasi Proje Olarak Türkçe Đbadet I [Turkish Prayer as a Political Project I], (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 1999), Turgut Akpınar, Đslamiyet Yerine Milli Türk Dini. Tarih ve Toplum, 69 (1989): A. Ibrahim, A Book on the Sentiment of National Religion and Genuine Religion of the Turk, in Lootfy Levonian. The Turkish Press: , (Beirut: The American Press, 1937), Ibid., For modern Turkish translation of the reform proposal see Đsmail Kara, Türkiye de Đslamcılık Düşüncesi, II, (Istanbul: Risale Yayınları, 1987), 90 Tamer BALCI In a later interview, Yusuf Ziya Yörükan, who was one of the alleged authors of the proposal, claimed that there was no suc
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