In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful



Towards Change


[Shamim Siddiqi, New York]


Turkey is a predominant Muslim country of Asia holding a significant enclave in the Continent of Europe since its days of glory during Ottoman Khilafah which was abolished by Mustafa Kamal Pasha in March 1923. Ata-Turk practically abandoned Islam from the political arena of Turkey altogether, abolished Arabic language, adopted secularism as his cult and made military Establishment its guardian. Since then, all efforts to change the pattern of government from secular to Islamic have been thwarted four times from 1962 and onward by forceful intervention by the Military establishment. Turkey's military and its secular constitution are zealously protecting the secular characteristic of the Republic, come what may. This situation was the hanging sword on the head of Islamic forces for the last 84 years


As such, time and again the Islamic forces in Turkey were trying unsuccessfully to change the flow of secularism but failed.  A president was put to gallows while another was dismissed and jailed in this process. Now secularism has become its need to continue till Turkey gives up its desire to be the member of European Common Market which currently appears as next to impossible. The newly elected President Abdullah Gul is its greatest and ardent advocate who talks secularism but lives like a Muslim with his wife Hayrunisa wearing head scarf, wrongfully being taken as symbol of “Islamism” in Turkey, Europe and America.  To Turkish secularist it is a landmark towards the "restoration" of Islam in Turkey but he is appreciated very much by secular Europe except President Sarkozi of France who is not prepared to accept a Muslim Turkey to its European Christian Club. However, Turkey, with Abdullah Gul elected as its President on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 has reached to a climax, a turning point towards Islam in due course of time.   


President Gul is the candidate of Justice and Development Party [AKP} which is rooted in the banned Justice Party of ex-PM Arbakan. It has successfully brought an economic revolution and given stability to its market condition. Due to attaining economic stability and bringing prosperity to Turkey’s middle class, AKP has recently secured 340 seats in the house of 550 and thus created a broad based vote bank of its own. It augers well for the future. It guarantees stability in state policies and pledges to continue secularism as its creed. The newly elected President Abdullah Gul has committed himself in his inaugural address with a clear declaration that he represents the cross-section of Turkish people, will strict abide to the principle of secularism and the public will be completely free to practice and observe what they would prefer to do in their private sector. Maintaining the principle of secularism, Government will not interfere in their private affairs. In fact, this is the real spirit of secularism. The AKP will carry it out as an axis of state policies. It would not disturb the "secular apron" of Ata-Turk but help in flourishing the Islamic Character of Turkish people by strictly observing the spirit of secularism.


In my recent visit to Turkey in March 2006, I noticed with concern clear signs of division of masses in two different camps: one of Islamic and the other secularist. It looked as if the country is on the path of polarization in two antagonistic cultures. The pattern of educational system in Turkey is totally secular in government sector whereas in private sector Islamic education is gaining ground. For some time this difference will remain visible but ultimately the private sector is likely to grow more and more Islamic, giving true “inherent” color to Turkish society. The secularism as defined by President Gul will help in developing Islamic Institutions at accelerated pace in Private sector. It would help the Turkish people to carve out their collective life as Islam ordains without any “interference” or support from the state. It would help the Muslim masses in maintaining and promoting the Islamic values and building the Islamic  character of the people in greater spectrum, Insha Allah.  


Shamim Siddiqi

August 29, 2007