The Republic of Turkey


After the collapse of the multiethnic, religion-based Ottoman State and the Turkish National War, Turkey became a compact, secular, and largely Turkish nation-state. The principles of republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism, secularism, and revolution (meaning continuing change in the state and society) were “officially” accepted as the essential principles to guide the new Turkey.

The founders of the republic asserted that Islam and Sufism had made the Ottoman State stagnant and backward. They imposed their own style of Europeanization by abolishing the Sultanate and Caliphate, closing religious schools and religious courts, and outlawing traditional male headgear and Sufi brotherhoods. They replaced the Islamic legal code with a mixture of Swiss civil, Italian penal, and German commercial codes; increased women’s emancipation; outlawed polygamy; made marriage and divorce civil affairs; and replaced the Arabic-based Ottoman alphabet with a Latin-based one. They also stipulated that the Turks should take family surnames, thereby abandoning the traditional system, and allowed women to vote for parliamentary members and hold parliamentary seats.

To further weaken Islam’s hold, the new republic also abolished the office of the Shaykh al-Islam, converted many mosques to secular uses, forbade calling the people to prayer in Arabic, and discouraged all public manifestations of religion.