Such sermons occur regularly, as prescribed by the teachings of all legal schools. The Islamic tradition can be formally observed at the dhuhr noon congregation prayer on Friday. In addition, similar sermons are called for on the two festival days and after Solar and Lunar Eclipse prayer. Religious narration including sermons may be pronounced in a variety of settings and at various times. The khutbah , however, refers to khutbat al-jum'a , usually meaning the address delivered in the mosque at weekly usually Friday and annual rituals.

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This article analyzes one of the reforms of the Kemalist state which imposed the recitation of the Turkish translation of the call to prayer and banned its original Arabic version between and This reform reflected the nationalist urge to create an Islam unaffected by the Arabic language and Arab cultural traditions.

The ban on the call to prayer in Arabic was part of a wider nationalist program which aimed to Turkify all cultural fields including religion and to promote a local vernacular Islam.

This intervention was in line with official secularism, because the latter did not mean the total exclusion of Islam from the public sphere, but its control and even its endorsement as long as it remained loyal to the modernist state.

The Kemalist regime not only wanted to control religion, but also promoted a national and Sunni Islam rendered compatible with the modern nation-state. In this respect, Kemalists were heirs to the Ottoman Young Turks' instrumentalist and reformist approach to Islam. They adopted their predecessors' dream of a pure, Turkish Islam, which was redefined as a matter of individual conscience vicdan and hence made congruous with the westernization project Davison, ; Parla and Davison, As in other Muslim-majority nations of the Middle East, Kemalists accommodated Islam into their nationalist ideology instead of replacing it Bozarslan, ; Asad, What appeared to be a secular bias was in fact the redefinition and instrumentalization of religion by secular nationalism.

Kemalist secularism attempted to reconstruct Islam as a national, rational and individual religion. Or during a speech he made in İzmir in January In order for a religion to be natural, it should conform to reason, technology, science, and logic. Our religion is totally compatible with these ibid: However, in the s and s, the Kemalist regime in Turkey was committed to end this tradition. The recitation of the call to prayer was in Turkish until June 16, when the National Assembly amended the law which banned its performance in Arabic.

With this amendment, the Turkish call to prayer ezan ceased to be compulsory and the original Arabic one was no longer subject to legal penalty. In other words, rather than the content of the reform, its ending has been emblematic for Kemalists as the beginning of secularism's period of decay and its retreat from the Kemalist principles.

It is regarded as the first concession to the anti-secularist counter-revolutionary forces. The following pages explore the historical roots and the ideological package behind the ban on the Arabic call to prayer, and shed light on the significance of this reform for Kemalist secularism. There was no parallel in Islamic countries to the reformation movements in Europe which led to the replacement of Latin by vernacular languages.

Among Turks who mostly adopted the Sunni school of thought the original Arabic text of the Koran has been used during ritual worship. The first translation of the Koran was made in the first half of the eleventh century in Western Turkistan İnan, 8.

As Islam began to be seen as a mobilizing ideology, the language used during worship gained a special significance. The demands for using Turkish in worship began to be expressed already in the 19 th century with the gradual spread of printing presses.

He stated that the Koran and prayers dua during every worship and ceremony had to be in Turkish so that the nation could understand the real essence of its religion and could get a greater spiritual pleasure and relief. A country where a Turkish call to prayer is recited in its mosques, And peasants understand the meaning of the prayer… A country where the Turkish Koran is recited in its schools, And everybody knows the orders of the Lord… O Turk!

That is your fatherland! The debate had been deadlocked from the beginning, as the latter never believed that nationalists were sincere in their approach to Islam. In the same book, he criticized reformist demands for changing the language of sermons to Turkish as an attempt to gradually remove Arabic Kara, The use of Turkish in worship would, according to nationalists, render the word of God more accessible to Turks and lead to the elimination of superstitious beliefs which obstructed the progress of the society.

The rational essence of Islam would be unveiled through the Turkification of worship. The Friday sermon hutbe was the first Islamic ritual Mustafa Kemal wanted to reform. During the Ottoman period, Friday sermons were in Arabic and intoned melodiously by an orator hatip - preferably talented in music and chanting Manaz, Thus it gave the national movement a religious consecration in the eyes of the believing population.

His sermon was published in the newspapers on February 8, In case you read the sermons of our Prophet and the rightly guided caliphs, you will see that all these are about daily matters related with military, administrative, fiscal and political issues. Sermons are meant to enlighten and guide the people, and nothing else. To recite sermons of a hundred, two hundred, or even one thousand years ago is to leave the people in a state of ignorance and negligence.

The admonition sections mev'iza ve nasihat of Friday sermons were critical in the transmission of the republican state's messages to the people. Some concrete changes were made in the content of the sermons in The first change made by the government was to remove the prayer for the Caliph, whose position was abolished in that year. T hese official sermons reflected the Kemalist regime's use of Islam in the service of the nation-state as they emphasized, for instance, the importance of national service as a holy duty or making calls for donating alms zekat to the Aviation Society Teyyare Cemiyeti.

The DRA's position was at this stage not at all in line with the nationalist approach to Islam ibid: Besides, the question of which translation was to be used in worship could not be answered. Nevertheless, none of these translations was officially recognized by the DRA as an appropriate source.

Kasimirski Cemil Said, This translation was later to be used in and during the public recitations of the Koran in Turkish upon the order of Mustafa Kemal. This report and its suggestion about worshipping in Turkish did not get backing from Mustafa Kemal and hence had no official result cf.

Nevertheless, the project of reform in religion was never given up but postponed. As a matter of fact, the reforms of worship in Turkish in and proved that Mustafa Kemal never gave up his nationalist urge to reform Islam, as long as he could keep it under the government's control.

Neither the officials of the DRA had changed nor, probably, had their ideas about the unacceptability of prayer in Turkish. What became different in the s was the Kemalist leadership's belief and their decisiveness in reforming the Islamic practice by Turkifying the ritual.

This reform was in fact a part of the project of making Turkish dominant in all cultural fields. This dominance of Arabic, according to Mustafa Kemal, impeded the national consciousness of Turks. He told them that it was important that people understand what they listen to and wanted them to read the Turkish translation of the final prayers that they were going to recite during the service in the mosque Okur, Because of the great interest of the people, the recitation of the part of the Turkish Koran began to be repeated in almost all mosques of Istanbul after all ritual prayers.

Nevertheless, neither the recitation of the Turkish Koran nor that of the fully-Turkish sermon was repeated in later years. The final version of the new call to prayer read as below: The committee in the academy decided to use different tunes at five different times of the ezan.

The aim was to initiate the compulsory performance of the new ezan and the kamet the call to prayer which is recited in the mosque before the prayer in all mosques during the month of Ramadan which would begin on December 29, It was reported on January 2, by the newspaper Milliyet that almost half of the 1.

The public recitation of the tekbir after funeral prayers also had to be done in Turkish. The latter's argument was that the meaning of the Koran was essential rather than its wording. Hence it could be expressed in any language.

However, this theological legitimation of the official promotion of worship in Turkish did not garner any popular support for the Turkish ezan. Two public protests against it were recorded in the s. The one who recited the Arabic ezan from the minaret was interrogated by a policeman whose action led to a debate within the congregation.

Why do they oppress us, while Jews can worship freely in their synagogues and Christians in their churches? The Director of the Pious Foundations sent the group to the office of the governor, but because the governor was not there the group waited for him on the stairs of the building. Mustafa Kemal learned about the event on his way to İzmir, and immediately went to Bursa.

Mustafa Kemal stayed in Bursa only one night. Telegrams from mayors all around Turkey to the President of the Republic, protesting against the reactionaries in Bursa and expressing their support for the Turkish ezan , began to be published in newspapers. This article was amended with the enactment of Law No. The ban on the Arabic call to prayer was imposed during his presidency more strictly in parallel with the official campaign for the excision from the language of Arabic and Persian elements Rustow, 90; Heyd, When the Democratic Party DP won the majority of the votes in the general elections on May 14, , its leadership endorsed the latter position on the issue.

The first action of the DP-majority parliament was the lifting of the ban on the recitation of the call to prayer in Arabic on June 16, The new law no. It was a reform which was inspired by the history of vernacularization in Western Christianity as well as being based on the idea of a national Islam unaffected by foreign Arab languages and cultural traditions.

The reform stemmed from the conviction of Mustafa Kemal and his close circle that the people needed to learn and practice their religion in their native language in order to have access to the essence of Islam, which was allegedly obstructed by superstitious traditional intermediaries.

This vision of an inherently rational Islam which was adaptable to the needs of modern society was an important constituent of the discourse of Kemalist secularism. The restoration of the ban on the Arabic call to prayer has not been endorsed except by a small group of intellectuals and politicians. The removal of the ban in has been seen by Kemalist opinion leaders as a populist and backward step and as betrayal against the Kemalist revolution.

Nevertheless, the return to the Arabic call to prayer was perceived by large masses and the conservative nationalist intellectual elite, who were willing to revise Kemalist secularism, as the beginning of an era of freedom. A bun-Nasr Jamil M. Akif Tural, eds. Traduction nouvelle faite sur le texte arabe par M. J uynboll , Th. Brill, pp. R ustow Dankwart A. F rye ed. Kur'an radyoda okunabilir mi? T homas Lewis V. The following translation is mine.

The report suggested also measures such as introducing contemporary and instrumental music into the places of worship, putting chairs in the mosques, and letting people in to the mosques with their shoes on. Cumhuriyet , January , There are only speculations about possible reasons.

However, it is more plausible to argue that the difficulties of supervision of such a practice was the main problem here. The controversy on the reliability of existing Turkish translations of the Koran might have been another reason why this practice was not institutionalized. See the inteview with him on the issue in Milliyet , November 30,


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