WESTERNISATION OF TURKEY
Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, had transported his country from
Middle Ages to the threshold of a modern state in a period of a decade and a
half. Kemal Ataturk had sought to build a new Turkey. He had, in a short
time, uprooted the traditions of centuries and tried to evolve a new culture in
their place. To
the women, Kemal declaimed �win for us the battle of education and you will do
more for your country than we have been able to do. It is to you that I
To the men, he said: If henceforward the women do not share in the social life
of the nation, we shall remain immediately backward, incapable of treating on
equal terms with the civilization of the west. Remain yourselves but learn how
to have from the west what is indispensable to an involved people. Admit science
and new ideals into your lives. If you do not they will devour you. The
President of the Republic himself renounced the titles of Gazi and Pasha.
For himself he chose a name which displayed pride in his Turkish origins. He
became Ataturk, or Father Turk, dropped the Arab name of Mustafa and signed
himself as Kemal Ataturk. His attempt, in short, was to mould a new type of
Turk, filling him with education and example to rank with the people of Europe. He
aimed at realizing the Turk from a dead past and to seek a place for him in
contemporary western civilization. To attain his objectives, the Italian Penal
Code, the German Commercial Code and the Swiss Civil Code were introduced.
After his death in 1938, he was rightly described by an English writer as
of the Near East�.
The various steps that he took in this direction are briefly outlined
below. This is based on Patrick Kinross's study: Alturk:
Rebirth of a Nation.
in 1935, he introduced two last measures of Westernisation. The old Turkish
calendar which was based on Christian months and on Islamic year was replaced
with a complete Gregorian calendar of the Christian era. Along with this, the
Muslim Friday was abolished. Instead, the Christian Sunday was declared as the
day of rest.
the Turks, like the Arabs, had not used family names. Ahmed son of Mehmed, for
example, was the normal designation. This had caused confusion because of its
multiplication. Kermal himself conferred suitable patronymics on his friends.
old titles of Pasha,
Effendi, Bey and Harim
(Lady) following the names were abolished. They were replaced by plain Bay and
Bayan (Mr. and Mrs) preceding it.
becomes a secular state
First Act of the third Grand National Assembly was to round off the religious
reforms by deleting from the Constitution the Formula that �the
religion of the Turkish State is Islam�.
Turkey thus became legally and constitutionally a secular state in line with
those of the West. Religion became a matter of individual conscience.
of the Alphabet
remained, however, one tie with the East and Islam - the Arabic
in which Turkish had been written. The alphabet was that of Islam as used by the
Arabs and Persians. It, however, did not suit the sounds of the Turkish
language. Kemal decreed: The
change will happen in three months or it will not happen at all.
In November 1928 the new script became a law. The use of Arabic was prohibited
from the end of the year onwards. A few days later civil servants throughout the
country took a test for proficiency in the script. A School of the Nation was
also founded whose chief instructor was His Excellency, the President of the
Republic Ghazi Mustafa Kemal. 'Our rich and harmonious language (in Latin
script) will now be able to display itself with new Turkish letters. We must
free ourselves from those incomprehensible signs that for centuries have held
our minds in an iron vice', observed Kemal Ataturk.
of Kemal Ataturk
1926, in the Sarayburnu
Park, in defiance of Muslim taboos against the portrayal of the human figure, a
statue of the Gazi was unveiled.
of the Sultanate
Allies took a maladroit step in 1923 when they sent invitations to the Lausanne
Conference both to the Government of the Sultan at Constantinople and the Grand
National Assembly headed by Kemal at Angora. Kemal reacted strongly by asserting
that it was a breach of the Mudanya Convention signed earlier which had
recognized the sovereignty of the Grand National Assembly. Kemal declared that
the Sultanate would be separated from the Caliphate. Accordingly, the former,
representing the temporal power was abolished. With this, the breakdown of the
Ottoman Empire was announced, and also the birth of the new Turkish State whose
sovereign rights belonged constitutionally to the people. The opposition had,
however, declared that the institutions of the Sultan and the Caliph were
inseparable. Kemal countered the opposition charge and asserted that the
opposition leaders had reacted on
the well known fallacies and absurdities.
the Assembly Kemal observed: Sovereignty and Sultanate are taken by strength, by
power and by force. It was by force that the sons of Osman seized
the sovereignty and Sultanate of the Turkish nation; they have
maintained this usurpation for six centuries. Now the Turkish
has rebutted and put a stop to these usurpers.
draft law comprised only two articles: The first declared that the form of
Government in Constantinople resting on the sovereignty of the individual had
ceased on 16th
March, 1920 the day the British occupied the city. The second declared that the
Caliph belonged to the Ottoman empire and the Assembly would choose the Caliph.
For the first time, in the history of Islam there was a legal separation of the
temporal and spiritual powers. Shortly thereafter the Sultan was deposed and
Abdul Majid was made the Caliph.
of the Caliphate
declared fanaticism a poisonous dagger which is directed at the heart of his
people. He declared that the Friday sermons in the mosques should be in harmony
with the truths of science and knowledge. The preachers should follow closely
the political and social conditions of the civilized world. The sermons must be
delivered in Turkish and not in an ancient dead language. The moral treasure of
the Caliphate must finally go. Was
it not both a symbol and a rallying point for those dark forces of religious
India, the Aga Khan and Ameer Ali wrote to Ismet Pasha asking the Turkish
government to place
on a basis which would
command the confidence and esteem of the Moslim natives.
The letter was released to the press even before it had reached Ankara. Kemal
did not like the contention that the Caliphate was a link with the past and with
called a session of Parliament and the Parliament gave the go ahead: Cut
out this turmour of the Middle Ages-the Caliphate.
He went on to tell the Grand National Assembly that it had now become a plainly
evident truth that it is necessary to liberate and to elevate the Islamic
religion from its position of being a tool of politics, in the way that has been
traditional for centuries.
Caliph was deposed and his office abolished. The members of his dynasty were
forever forbidden to reside within the frontiers of the Turkish Republic; the
Ministry of Religious Affairs was disbanded, the historic office of Sheikh
ceased to exist, the revenues of the Pious Foundations were confiscated and
all religious schools
were transferred to the secular arm.
The religious courts of the Sheriat
were closed and a civil code based on the Swiss
model was put in operation. The Caliph was packed off to Switzerland. However,
he was held upon the frontier on the ground that polygamists were not allowed
into Switzerland. On the following Friday, for the first time, the prayer at Santa
no mention was made of the Caliph.
Kurdish revolt of early 1920's had been inspired by Sheikh Said who belonged to
Nakeshbendi Order and who had declared that Islam was not Islam without a
people restore the Holy Law and destroy the government.
Kemal had already swept away The Caliphate, the religious
and the Holy
Now he decided to sweep away all the Dervish Orders. In
August, 1925 he pronounced their doom. He also declared that henceforth no fortune
tellers, magicians, witch doctors, writers of amulets
would be allowed to function in Turkey. At the same time, all sacred tombs as
places of worship were closed.
though a century old as a form of Moslem headgear, had become a symbol of
Ottoman and Islamic orthodoxy. Kemal ordered that Fez be replaced with that of a
hat. In this context, he asked a gathering: Is
our dress national? (cries of no!). Is it civilized and international?
(cries of no, no!). Kemal, thereafter, declared: A
civilized, international dress is worthy and appropriate for our nation, and we
will wear it. Boots or shoes on our feet, trousers on our legs, shirt and tie,
jacket and waistcoat and to complete these, a cover with a brim on our heads. I
want to make this clear.
This head covering is called hat. Accordingly, a new bill was passed by the
Assembly which obliged all men to wear hats and made the wearing of Fez a
women's position in Turkey had changed little since the days of the Prophet. She
still lived subject to the letter of the laws of Islam, in seclusion, which
amounted at its worst to personal slavery. In short, it had become a collective
as well as a personal duty to supervise her behavior. Kemal had said: Is it
possible that, while one half of a community stays chained to the ground, the
other half can rise to the sky? There is no question, the steps of progress must
be taken by the two sexes together, as friends, and together they must
accomplish the various stages of the journey into the land of progress
renovation. The religious courts, Sheriat were abolished and in their place a
new civil code based on the Swiss model was introduced. Repudiation of wife by a
husband was abolished, with polygamy, and was replaced by civil marriage and
divorce, with equal rights for both parties .
: COUNTRY PROFILE
Republic was a state member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
constituted in 1929. Geographically, it is bounded in the north by Kirghistan,
in the south by Afghanistan, in the west lies Uzbekistan and in the east of the
country lies Chinese Turkistan. It is a mountainous country. It has an area of
55250 square miles. The total population is estimated at over 7 million. Of this
nearly a million reside in the capital, Dushanbe. About half of country's
population is under 14 years of age. More than 80 of the population is Sunni.
The Tajiks are closely mixed with their Muslim co-religionists the Uzbeks. The
Soviet partition of the area in 1924 had failed to segregate completely the two
nationalities. As of now, Uzbeks constitute roughly 25 percent of the
population. One third of the population lives in rural areas. After the breakup
of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became an independent republic. Of the five
Central Asian Republics, it is the poorest.
is one of the major producers of long-staple cotton. The country is rich in
mineral deposits. However, agriculture and allied sectors are equally important.
Tajikistan is classified as an industrial-agrarian state. Its per capita income
is about U.S. $ 700. Exports are mainly minerals and their products. Remittances
from Tajiks working abroad contribute nearly 50 percent of GDP.
after it became independent, the country was faced with a civil war. The five
year civil war has been carried on by Islamist-led opposition. It ended in 1997.
Some 50 thousand people had been killed and over one-tenth of the population is
reported to have fled the country. The country has still not fully recovered
from the ravages of the civil war.
FOR MODERNISING THE COUNTRY
of the damage done to the economic and social fabric of the country by the
radical Islamists, the President, Emomali Rakhmon has initiated a number of
steps to transform the country. These among others include: (a) Unregistered
masjids would be closed and new one would become difficult to register. The idea
being that they appear to function as breeding ground for radical
fundamentalism, (b) The state has ordered the return of students who had gone
abroad to study Islam. Furthermore, they would not be provided with any
alternative occupation after they return home. Perhaps the state does not want
to encourage the state funding of religious studies. As it is, Tajikistan is the
poorest states compared to the other four Central Asian Republics, (c) Use of
religious symbols like the growing of beards is being discouraged, (d) Children
and teen agers would be banned from attending prayers. In order to make this
effective, a bill on parental responsibility is envisaged to be passed.
is too early to comment or write about the final shape of things to come.
However, the leadership of the country appears to be keen to bring about
economic development along with necessary improvements in the social laws
governing the people.