Islamic reform movement in Turkey

Islamic reform movement in Turkey

 The Islamic reform movement in Turkey began in the early nineteenth century. The pioneer of this reform movement was Sultan Mahmud II. Sultan Mahmud II was known as a sultan who did not want to be bound by the royal traditions adopted by his predecessors. The reform movement of Sultan Mahmud II began with an effort to remove the barriers between the rulers and the people. He set an example for the rulers in Turkey by associating and appearing in certain events where he could meet the people face-to-face. The oversized clothes he was wearing were replaced with simpler clothes. Organizational reform was carried out by Sultan Mahmud II to support reforms in the political field. He began to limit the power traditionally held by the Turkish rulers. Sadrazam as the sole implementing agency of the sultan's policies began to be abolished. Instead, Sultan Mahmud II appointed a prime minister to coordinate a number of implementing ministers. 

Judicial power which was originally in the hands of Sadrazam was transferred to Shaykh al-Islam. In this new state organization, Sultan Mahmud II implemented sharia law and secular law. Secular law is submitted to the Council of Draft Law. Sultan Mahmud II separated religion and world affairs. Religious affairs are regulated by sharia law. World affairs are governed by laws that are not sharia.
After carrying out reforms in the field of state politics, Sultan Mahmud II continued his efforts by reforming the field of education. At that time the only educational institutions that existed were madrasas. In madrasas only knowledge about religion is taught, while general knowledge is not taught at all. Sultan Mahmud II realized that the curriculum in madrasas was no longer in accordance with the demands of the times. 

Therefore, Sultan Mahmud II established two schools in addition to continuing to run the madrasa. Two schools were founded by Sultan Mahmud II, namely Maktabi Ma'arif (school of general knowledge) and Maktabi Ulumu Adabiy (school of literature). The two schools are expected to be able to support the development of science in Turkey. Apart from establishing schools, a step taken by Sultan Mahmud II to support his reform ideas was to send students to study abroad. The translation of the works of Western scientists into Turkish was also carried out to develop ideas in the field of science (education). Through these two channels, Western ideas entered Turkey.
Sultan Mahmud II's efforts to reform the education sector were not without challenges. 

Traditional Islamic circles oppose the efforts of Sultan Mahmud II who are considered pro-Western. Government officials and the military did not approve of this new policy because it removed much of the power they had previously held. The reforms carried out through the Tanzimat movement which felt Western in nature and abolished the implementation of the Shari'a by replacing the general law also invited protests among the ulama. The protest from the clergy received support from the Janissary troops, namely the troops who had guarded the Ottoman dynasty from its inception. The close relationship between the Janissary troops and the clergy, especially the Bekhtasi order, made their strength respected by Sultan Mahmud II. However, this power can be broken by Sultan Mahmud II. 

The reforms spearheaded by Sultan Mahmud II became the basis for subsequent thought and reform efforts in Turkey. Subsequently, further reform movements emerged, namely the Tanzimat Movement, Young Ottomans, Young Turks, and the efforts of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Another figure in the reform effort in Turkey is Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Mustafa Kemal is one of the reformers in the political field. Mustafa Kemal began to know the world of politics when he was still studying through a friend named Ali Fethi. Ali encouraged Mustafa to study French so that he could read books by the French. It was through the books he read that Mustafa Kemal became acquainted with Western ideas. In his work in the political field, Mustafa Kemal and his friends formed the Grand National Assembly in 1920. In its first session, Mustafa Kemal was elected chairman. 

Some of the decisions taken at the trial are as follows.

1. Supreme power in the hands of the people. 

2. The Supreme National Assembly is the representative of the people. 

3. The Supreme National Assembly serves as the legislative and executive body. 

4. The State Assembly whose members are elected from the Grand National Assembly shall carry out the duties of government. 

5. The chairman of the Supreme National Assembly concurrently serves as the chairman of the State Assembly.


In 1921 Mustafa Kemal through the Grand National Assembly made amendments to the country's constitution and transformed Turkey from a sultanate into a republic. The idea of   renewal promoted by Mustafa Kemal was not only influenced by the ideas of the Turkish nationalist group. Westernization, secularization, and nationalism became the basis for the reform thought that was echoed by Mustafa Kemal. The first reform carried out by Mustafa Kemal was the state system. According to Mustafa Kemal, there must be a secularization of the state. Religion and government must be separated. Mustafa Kemal did not want to remove Islam from the souls of the Turkish people. 

For him Islam is a rational religion and is needed by humans, including the Turkish people. However, according to him, Islam has been corrupted by human hands. Therefore, he sees the need for reform in the field of religion. Traditions that deviate from Islamic teachings must be removed. Mustafa Kemal has been influenced by Western ideas, that sovereignty rests with the people. Turkey has been established as a republic with the president Mustafa Kemal. However, the position of caliph held by Abdul Majid still caused chaos. Finally, Mustafa Kemal argued that the caliphate should be abolished. 

The secularization efforts carried out by Mustafa Kemal did not run smoothly. Challenges emerged from Islamic groups and the public who considered Mustafa Kemal's reform efforts to have exceeded the limit and were excessive. The religious feeling of the Turkish people was not erased by the secularization pioneered by Mustafa Kemal. Thus the explanation that we can convey about the Development of Modern Age Islamic Reform in Turkey. Hopefully this post is useful for readers and can be used as a source of literature to do assignments.


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