Ahmet Vehbi Ecer

Keywords: Idea of Atatürk, Laicism, Religious Affairs

Abstract

The word and concept of "laik" or "laicism" came into Turkish from the Western languages. However, this concept was known in the runic Orhun inscriptions erected in the sixth century by the Göktürks in Central Asia, in the basin of the Orkhun River. There, there was no religious services among the duties of the kagans, that is the Turkish kings. The Seljuki Sultans too preferred töre, that means traditional rules, rather than Islamic rules and regulations in their governingship. In the Ottoman period, the sultans ordered some declarations in case of necessity (maslahat). These are called örfi or sultani hukuk or canons. The sultans were the absolute authority.

After the declaration of republican system, in 1937, the principle of laicism was included into the Constitution. This system of laicism in Turkey is organised with regard to the suitability of social structure and religious beliefs and practices of the Turkish people. It is not an exact imitation of the westerns'. Because there is no any clergy system or dominantly authorised clerics seen in the West or Christianity, is not found in Islam. Religious education and training, religious duties and services are therefore regarded as public and civil service and individuals those who are responsible for these services are appointed. All for these affairs, Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Presidency of Religious Affairs) is included in the Constitution.