İskilipli Mehmed Atıf Hoca

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İskilipli Mehmed Atıf Hoca
Mehmed Atif Efendi (a.k.a. İskilipli Âtıf Hoca)
Mehmed Atıf

Died4 February 1926(1926-02-04) (aged 51)

İskilipli Mehmed Atıf Hoca (1875 – 4 February 1926) was an Islamist. He was born in Tophane, Çorum, Turkey. He started his early education in his village. In 1893 he came to Istanbul for Madrasa ("school" in Arabic) education. In 1902 he started Darü'l-fünun ilahiyat Fafültesi (Darü'l-fünun Divinity School). He finished his faculty in 1903 and started working as Ders-i Amm (Ulema, a person who teaches the Madrasa students) in the Fatih Mosque. He was later arrested and taken to jail several times, but freed. He was the founding member of Cemiyet-i Müderrisin[1] together with Mustafa Sabri, an Islamic group that supported the government under Damat Ferid and advocated the British Mandate and the Greek invasion of Turkey. They were fiercely against the national government in Ankara which later led the Turks to the Turkish War of Independence.[2]

Before the westernization movement in Turkey, he wrote a book titled Frenk Mukallitliği ve Şapka (literally, Westernization and the (European) Hat) in 1924. In it, he advocated Sharia law and opposed what he called western influences like "Alcohol, Prostitution, Theater, Dance" and the "western hat". From his viewpoint, the western hat was a symbol of the infidels, and wearing a hat would make Muslims to lose their Islamic identity.[3] After the passing of "The Hat Act", a law that passed on 25 November 1925 and ordered that no other headwear except the western hat was allowed (therefore banning the wearing the fez),[4] violent rebellion broke out in some provinces, which the government suppressed.

He was arrested and sent to Ankara on 26 December 1925 where he stood trial on 26 January 1926. The attorney general demanded three years of imprisonment, but the court postponed the trial to the next day. The next day, the Hodja declared that he no longer desired to defend himself. He was sentenced to death and hanged on 4 February 1926.

His views on Western civilization[edit]

In his book Medeniyet-i Şer'iyye ve Terakkiyat-ı Diniyye (The Civilization of the Sharia and Religious Progress), he presents his views on what is profitable and what is not in Western civilization:

Materially and spiritually, the Western civilization has two aspects, one of which is useful and one of which is harmful to humanity. The hadiths of our Prophet clearly allow and encourage the adoption of useful innovations of Western civilization by Muslims: “If one person invents something beautiful and this invention becomes useful to the people, this inventor would be blessed by God until the Day of Judgment," and, “You (people) know better the worldly matters.“ These hadiths clearly show that the Islamic religion does not forbid good and utilitarian inventions that will benefit the Muslim community and ensure its progress. The use of all tools and skills – from the sewing needle to reailroads, artillery, iron-clad warships and dreadnoughts, airplanes, and instruments of communication, land and sea trade, various arts and crafts, factories, agricultural tools and any other useful invention – is condoned and recommended in Islam. To prepare the ground for these inventions, Islam in fact orders the education of every individual, male and female. As understood from the works of European sociologist Gustave Le Bon, industry, like other aspects of civilization, was first instituted six or seven thousand years ago in Asia by the Assyrians, later moving to Egypt. The development of early Greek art is due to the influence of the civilizations of the Tigris and the Nile. Thanks to this favorable attitude towards science and scholarship, Muslims adopted the scientific discoveries of the earlier civilizations of Egypt and Greece, and later surpassed these civilizations by excelling in the arts and sciences.

As a consequence of crusades to Muslim countries, [European] Crusaders brought Islamic arts to Europe. This prepared th ground for the rise and blossoming of European art. Europeans marveled at the radiant splendor of the Andalusian civilization in Iberia [Spain and Portugal]. In these ages [early Middle Ages], western Europeans had languished in a miserable condition, living in savagery, ignorance, and darkness. The origins of Western civilization are, therefore, found in Eastern civilization.

Despite this, Islam inaugurated a new era for the development of the useful aspects of progress and created a wonderful civilization. One could wonder why today's Muslims are deprived of these high values. We believe that the most obvious answer is because they neglected one of the important requirements of the Muslim religion: to work in order to earn. Muslims could benefit from their religion only by living their life, conducting their business and acting according to the high principles of Islam and applying them faithfully. If Muslims keep these principles only in books and other documents and do not actually apply them to their daily life, they cannot benefit from them. The Prophet Muhammad said:“some knowledge is like ignorance.“ Knowledge that is not put into practice is no different from the lack of knowledge. The learned person who does not use this knowledge cannot distance himself from the common people. It is clear that the Islamic religion allows and encourages the good and beneficial aspects of Western civilization, and forbid the decadent, immoral, vice-prone and ugly side of it (such as unbelief [atheism], oppression, prostitution, gambling, drinking alcohol, or dancing). Islam prohibits the immoral aspects of Western civilization, such as bars, theatres, brothels and gambling dens. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden in Islam to imitate the Western lifestyle and live like non-Muslims. In fact, Western civilization is far from being a model civilization for humanity to adopt, since it does not take an interest in the mroal aspects and spiritual happiness of humanity, but focuses only on material gains and encourages mankind's animal instincts.[5]


  1. ^ Tarık Zafer Tunaya: Türkiyeʼde siyasal partiler Band 2, Hürriyet Vakfı Yayınları, 1986, p. 382
  2. ^ Binnaz Toprak: Islam and Political Development in Turkey, BRILL, 1981, p. 69
  3. ^ Yιlmaz, Hale. Becoming Turkish. Syracuse University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8156-3317-4.
  4. ^ Yιlmaz, Hale. Becoming Turkish. Syracuse University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8156-3317-4.
  5. ^ Ahmet Şeyhun, Islamist Thinkers in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic, BRILL (2014), pp. 42-43

External links[edit]

Media related to İskilipli Mehmed Atıf Hoca at Wikimedia Commons