Reflection on Ataturk

Reflection on Ataturk

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Bursa Speech, his first and only Khutba

O Nation! Allah is one. May His peace, mercy and blessings be upon you. Our Prophet has been sent and assigned by God to disseminate religious truth and realities and to promulgate them to human beings. And the basic laws he has preached are, as you all know very well, the very facts that are taught by the Holy Koran itself. Our religion is the last and the most perfect religion because its principles are consistent with reason, logic and reality. There is no inconsistency between the divine laws and natural laws.

Mosques are not places to prostrate and stand up without looking at each other. Mosques are built to make us think and deliberate about what we can do for religious and worldly affairs. All are guided better through deliberations.
As you know, the Prophet used to consult with his companions and he would even state at times that their knowledge about worldly affairs was stronger and more in-depth than his. Likewise, in your own work all of your mind needs to be engaged and active. Here we should express and discuss openly what we think about our full and unconditional independence. I don’t want to tell you what I think; I would like to learn your thoughts. In essence, National will and national desires and national tendencies do not amount to the wishes of a few people from among many; it means the essence of one nation’s discussions. It is wrong to go beyond and feel oppressed by this essence. To find the correct approach it is important to understand people’s sentiments. Please ask me all you want to ask; I will be stepping down (from the elevated preaching area) to listen to your questions.

Khutba, in essence, means addressing to people thus it does not mean talking. Thus when one says khutba we should not infer different meanings. Those who make public speeches are called Khatip, which literally means those who speak. As you know, when the prophet was alive he delivered Khutbas himself. If you read the Khutba’s of our prophets and four caliphs you see that they discuss contemporary affairs–the military, administrative, economic and political social issues. When the Islamic faith started to expand, the prophet and his chalips could not deliver speeches everywhere so they designated others to deliver speeches. They are the best leaders of the Muslim world. They would show up in mosques and other places to enlighten people and guide them towards the right path. In order for this tradition to continue, it was necessary for the Leaders truthful statements to people that they be able to listen and not to deceive people. It was essential for the leaders to inform the people. Only when all is stated openly will people’s minds be active and engaged and they will do good deeds and refuse those that are against public good and won’t follow people randomly. [Thus] Khutba does not have any other meaning other than enlightening the people and guiding them to the right path. Reading Khutbas from a century, or two centuries or a thousand years ago leaves people in ignorance and (mental) laziness. Khatips need to deliver their sermons inn easily accessible language. As I stated in my speech at the parliament last year, Minber (the places where sermons were delivered) became the source of knowledge and light for people’s consciousness and awareness. For such a role it is important that those words delivered in Khutba should be consistent with science and facts. It is essential for our Khatips to follow political, social and contemporary developments. Therefore, all Khutba’s should be in Turkish and address the contemporary needs.

Second part
Here I must explain a very important point: the nation and the army had no suspicion at all of the Sultan Caliph’s treachery. On the contrary, because of the religious and traditional ties that had been handed down for centuries, they remained loyal to the throne and its occupant.
Now, gentlemen, I shall ask you: in such circumstances, what decision could be taken in order to save the country? Three proposals had been put forward:
1. The protection of Britain should be demanded.
2. The United States should be accepted as mandatory power.
3. The country should be saved by allowing each region to act in its own way.
My decision
I did not think any of these three proposals worthy of being accepted. The reason was that they were based on false assumptions. The foundations of the Ottoman State had been shattered by that time and it was on its last legs. The Ottoman Empire was disintegrating; only the homeland remained. Such expressions as “The Ottoman Empire”, its “Independence”, “Sultan”, “Caliph” and “Government” had become meaningless words.
Whose existence was it that had to be saved? How, and with whose help, might this be done?
In these circumstances only one course of action was possible: the creation of a new and completely independent Turkish state, founded on the principle of national self-determination.
Independence or death
The soundest and most logical arguments for arriving at this conclusion were as follows: The Turkish nation should live in honour and dignity. Such a condition could only be attained by complete independence. No matter how wealthy and prosperous a nation may be, if it is deprived of its independence it no longer deserves to be regarded as anything more than a slave in the eyes of the civilised world. To request the protectorate of a foreign power is to admit to a lack of all human qualities; it is to admit to weakness and incapacity. Indeed, it is unthinkable that any group of people should ever voluntarily accept the humiliation of being ruled over by a foreign master.
But the Turk is dignified and proud; he is also capable and talented. Such a nation would prefer to die rather than subject itself to a life of slavery. Therefore independence or death!
Educating the people
If we were to carry out our resolution it was necessary that questions of which the nation had previously known nothing, should now be discussed openly. We were compelled to rebel against the Ottoman government, against the Sultan, against the Caliph of all the Muslims, and we had to bring the whole nation and army into a state of revolt. There would have been no advantage in making our final aims known to the public at the very beginning of the struggle; on the contrary, it was necessary to proceed by stages, making use of every opportunity that arose along the way to work on the nation’s feelings and alter their ideas, proceeding step by step to our goal. If our actions are examined as a logical sequence, it will be seen that we have not deviated from our original intention.
As the national struggle, carried on with the sole intention of freeing the country from foreign invasion, proceeded and became successful, it was natural and inevitable that it should gradually develop of itself the principles and forms of national sovereignty. The Sultan foresaw this historical development and declared himself the enemy of the national struggle from the very beginning. I too anticipated this historical development, but I did not make my views known at first. If I had said too much about the possibilities I saw in the future, our realistic efforts would have been looked upon as dreams; and those who were discouraged by the nearness of the danger from without would have resisted us from the first, fearful of changes which went against their traditional ways of thought. The shortest and safest way to success was to deal with each problem as it arose, at the right time–and that is what I did. To sum up, I may say that it fell to me to keep within my mind, as a national secret, my perception of the great capacity for progress in the soul of the nation and in its future, and to apply this vision gradually to our whole social organization.

Reflection papers (45%) INFORMATION ONLY

Students are expected to write brief reflection papers (three pages maximum, twelve point-font, one inch margin, double-spaced) on the documents, films and novels ( all reflection papers are marked by below). The reflection papers on original writings and novels are due on the day of their class discussion. The reflection papers on docu-films are due the class meeting following screening in class.

The assigned documentaries, films, and novels expose different aspects of conundrums of democracy in Iran, Israel and Turkey from the lenses of these countries’ founders or citizens. Reflection papers encourage students to delve into the ideas and images presented in readings, films or novels.

Among others, reflection papers can address questions such as, what are the main arguments or events described in the writing/documentaries? Are these arguments recognized in popular discussion of the region? What do we learn about the country’s state’s power and political system from the writing or docu-films? If and how do the views and experiences of key leaders and average individuals offer insight to the historical and ongoing political conflicts? Reflective papers tend to become more effective when they delve into important questions posed in the readings, present specific examples, recognize inconsistent points of view, compare/contrast a specific reading with others.


Reflection papers-Tips
There are no definite rules or a fixed template to guide the development of a good reflection paper; however, here are some tips that might be useful:
Before you write your introduction:

i. Identify an issue/question (a few issues/ questions) you would like to address (Were Khomeini’s ideas consistent? What room, if any, did he leave to non-religious Iranians in the emerging regime? Who would distinguish bad religious leaders from good ones? Why did Khomeini oppose Islamic Democracy? )
ii. Define your argument(s) (e.g. Khomeini’s ideas were (in)consistent, his arguments against democracy did not address clearly some questions such as the rights of those who opposed the rule of religious leaders)
iii. State your main goals (what you expect to achieve in your reflection paper) in your introduction.

Development of your ideas

iv. Make sure that your paragraphs are coherent, one can read a single paragraph and understand it without clearly without referring to other parts of your paper. (E.g., don’t start with a statement this idea was rejected.. It is not clear which idea this refers to. )
v. Using examples makes your writing and arguments much more effective. If you use personal examples, make sure that they are clearly tied to your arguments (e.g., Some of Khomeini’s statements about human nature can be quickly disputed or affirmed by observing some common behaviors. For instance, my interactions with)
vi. As you write continue to refer to your introduction to make sure that you are developing your arguments as you outlined them.
vii. Cite your sources. You can use any citation format as long as you are consistent; it does not matter which format you use.
viii. Check your spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
In a short paper summarizing all of your explanations might not be needed. You might want to highlight your main argument(s) and overall conclusion (s) (e.g., Khomeni’s explanations emphasize the common interests of Iranians against oppressive regimes and thus are very appealing to anti-Shah groups. However, he does not recognize the plurality of positions, different interests and beliefs in Iran.)