An Address to the Parliament60
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Prayer is obligatory for believers at fixed hours.
O members of Parliament, you will be resurrected for a mighty day. O soldiers of Islam. O supreme advisory council of the nation. Please listen to the advice of this humble person on a matter [of the highest importance]. The advice is offered in ten sections.
FIRST: The extraordinary Divine blessing contained in this victory requires thanksgiving so that it may last. If a blessing is not returned with thanksgiving, it disappears. Now that you have saved the Qur’an from the enemy’s attacks, with God’s help, obey its clearest, most decisive injunctions, such as the prescribed prayer, so that its blessings may come to you constantly.
SECOND: You have given joy to the Muslim world and won its love and favorable inclination. Nevertheless, this can endure only if you fulfill Islam’s commandments, which demonstrate that Turkey is Muslim. Muslims love you because of your being Muslims.
THIRD: You have commanded the soldiers of Islam, who have been martyred or survived, and who may be regarded as saints. Thus, you are expected to obey the Qur’an so that you may be in the company of those illustrious persons in the other world. Otherwise, although you hold a position of authority here, you will have to beg an ordinary soldier for light in the other. For all of its fame and honor, this base world is not so worthwhile that it can suffice you and be an end for you.
FOURTH: Even if they themselves are not observant, Muslims still want their leaders to be pious. The first question the people in southeastern Turkey ask their officials is whether they pray. If they do, the people trust them. If they do not, the people condemn them, even if they are eminent officials. Once the tribes of Bayt al-Shabab rebelled against their officials. When I asked them why they did so, they answered: “Our governor does not pray and drinks alcohol. How can we obey such an irreligious person?” These people admitted that they did not pray. Moreover, they were robbers.
FIFTH: Most Prophets appeared in the East, while most philosophers emerged in the West. This is a sign of Destiny showing that the main impulse for progress in the East is religion and the “heart,” not reason and philosophy. You have awakened the East. Now, direct it in its proper and suitable course so that your efforts will not be in vain or of temporary, superficial use only.
SIXTH: The Western powers, which are hostile to you and to Islam, have used—and are still using—your neglect and indifference to religion. Others who likewise exploit your neglect of religion harm you and Islam as much as your enemies do. For the sake of Islam’s well-being and the nation’s security and prosperity, renounce this neglect and resume your religious duties. Do you not see that, despite their extraordinary resolution and steadfastness and causing some degree of awakening among Muslims, the followers of the Union and Progress Party were despised and hated by the people because they appeared indifferent to and careless in practicing Islam? If Muslims living in other countries showed them respect, they did so because they did not witness this neglect.
SEVENTH: The world of unbelief has been fighting the Muslim world for centuries with all its power. Its technological facilities, civilization, philosophy, sciences, and missionary organizations finally established material and military superiority over the Muslim world. However, it has not triumphed over Islam. All deviant religious groups within the state have long been despised and remained negligible factions. Islam has preserved its firmness and fortitude through the adherence [of the many] to the way of the Prophet, and this has preserved our internal cohesion and unity. Given this, an irreligious movement originating from the corrupt elements of European civilization cannot be allowed to arise and grow through heedlessness. Revolutionary, important accomplishments in the Muslim world are possible only if the pillars of Islam are obeyed. Even if some achievements have been witnessed, they are not lasting.
EIGHTH: The corrupt elements of European civilization, which have caused indifference to religion, are on the verge of decline. A new Qur’anic civilization is about to appear. At such a time, it is not possible to achieve what is good by ignoring Islam. As to realizing negative, destructive trends, the world of Islam has suffered so much damage that it does not need them.
NINTH: Those who appreciate your services and the victory you won in this national war, who love you from the bottom of their hearts, are the believing majority of this country. In particular, the common people are strong Muslims who sincerely love and support you, appreciate your sacrifices, and feel indebted to you. They present you a vast, very great power that has been awakened. For the benefit of Islam, you must build a connection with them and rely on them by obeying the Qur’an. Otherwise, since it runs against the well-being of Islam and Muslims to prefer a fortunate, deviant minority that wholeheartedly imitates the West over the Muslim masses, the Muslim world will turn away from you and seek help from others.
TENTH: Only one who is tired of living tries to follow a way that is 90 percent certain to lead to perdition. There is a 99 percent chance of salvation in the prescribed prayers, an indispensable obligation of Islam that takes only an hour to perform. There can come, at most, 1 percent of worldly harm from praying, whereas there is a 99 percent chance of harm in not obeying Islam. I wonder what excuse can be given for neglecting or ignoring the Islamic obligations, for doing so is certain to harm one both in this world and the next. How do religious and national zeal allow it?
People imitate this group of Muslim soldiers, the members of Parliament, in their acts. People either imitate or criticize their leaders’ defects and shortcomings. Whichever they do, it causes harm. This means that the rights of God on the leaders also contain the rights of people on them. Some follow the suggestions of their carnal selves and whims and fancies whispered by Satan. They do not listen to a clear message on which the whole Muslim community always has agreed, and do not heed the countless proofs for its truth, beneficial nature, and warnings about neglecting it. Such people cannot be expected to realize good, significant accomplishments.
This mighty revolution should be based on sound foundations. By virtue of the power it enjoys, the collective person of this honored Parliament has assumed the meaning and function of the governing body. It should not fail to assume the function of the Office of Religious Affairs by fulfilling and making the people fulfill those principles of Islam that show whether a country is Muslim or not. This Parliament should satisfy the religious need of the people who, while needing four things for life, feel the need for religion at least five times a day. They have not been debased by modern civilization’s seductive pleasures, and have not forgotten their spiritual need. They will accept your appointment to the Office of Religious Affairs and give wholehearted support. Any support and power that do not originate in and depend on the Parliament will cause internal discord and rift, which is contrary to the Qur’anic commandment: Hold fast, all together, to the rope of God (3:103).
This is the time to be a united community and establish a collective consciousness. The collective personality originating in the community is firm and better able to enforce the Shari‘a’s commandments. One who assumes the burden of conducting religious affairs can fulfill its requirements only by depending on the collective person [represented in the Parliament for the people]. If this collective person is upright, the services provided will be much better and more extensive than those of a single individual. But if it is corrupt, the corruption will be greater and more extensive.
Whatever good or bad one person does is generally limited [in its effects], whereas a community’s good or bad is boundless. By causing evil and corruption within the country, do not destroy the good and merit you obtained by fighting the external enemy. You well know that your external enemies and adversaries wish to destroy Islam’s main pillars. Therefore, you are obliged to restore and preserve them so that you will not be unconsciously abetting the enemy’s conscious will. Neglect and apathy in practicing Islam’s main commandments demonstrate the nation’s weakness, and that weakness does not stop the nation’s enemies from attacking; rather, it encourages them.
God is sufficient for us and how good a Protector He is. What a good Lord and what a good Helper.
60 This address was made to the Turkish Parliament on January 19, 1923, just following Turkish National War.