Dr. Abdullah Cevdet
9 September 1869|
Arapgir, Ottoman Empire
|Died||29 November 1932
|Resting place||Merkezefendi Cemetery, Istanbul|
|Alma mater||Istanbul Military Medical Academy|
|Occupation||Physician, writer and intellectual|
|Movement||Young Turks (1895-1909), Committee of Union and Progress (1889-1908), Democratic Party (1908-1911)|
Abdullah Cevdet (Ottoman Turkish: عبدالله جودت; 9 September 1869 – 29 November 1932) was an Ottoman-Turkish intellectual and medical doctor. He was one of the founders of Committee of Union and Progress. In 1908, he turned against the Committee of Union and Progress and joined Democratic Party which merged with the Freedom and Accord Party in 1911. He was also a poet, translator, radical free-thinker, and an ideologist of the Young Turks until 1908.
Cevdet was influenced by Western materialistic philosophies and was against institutionalized religion. He published articles on socio-religious, political, economic, and literary issues in the periodical İçtihat, which he founded in 1904 in Geneva and used to promote his modernist thoughts. He was arrested and expelled from his country several times due to his political activities and lived in Europe, in cities including London and Paris.
The overall goal of early Young Turks such as Cevdet was to bring to end the absolutist regime of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. For this purpose, Cevdet and four other medical students (including Ibrahim Temo) at the Military Medical Academy in Istanbul founded the secret "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP) in 1889. Initially with no political agenda, it became politicized by several leaders and factions and mounted the Young Turk Revolution against Abdul Hamid II in 1908. However, Abdullah Cevdet cut his ties with the CUP soon after 1908, instead promoting his secular ideas until his death. In 1908 he joined the Ottoman Democratic Party which was founded against the CUP (Ottoman Turkish: Fırka-i İbad; Turkish: Osmanlı Demokrat Fırkası).
Cevdet was tried several times in the Ottoman Empire because some of his writings were considered as blasphemy against Islam and Muhammad. For this reason, he was labelled as the "eternal enemy of Islam" (Süssheim, EI) and called "Aduvullah" (the enemy of God). His most famous court case was due to his defense of the Bahá'í Faith, which he considered an intermediary step between Islam and the final abandonment of religious belief, in his article in İçtihat on 1 March 1922.
Left alone in his final years, Abdullah Cevdet died at the age of 63 on 29 November 1932. His body was brought for religious funeral service to Hagia Sophia, which was still used as a mosque at that time. However, nobody claimed his coffin, and it was expressed by some religious conservatives that he "did not deserve" Islamic funeral prayer. Following an appeal of Peyami Safa, a notable writer, the funeral prayer was performed. His body was then taken by city servants to the Merkezefendi Cemetery for burial.
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- idem, Bir siyasal örgüt olarak Osmanlı Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti ve Jon Türklük, Istanbul, 1986.
- idem, The Young Turks in Opposition, Oxford University Press, 1995.
- Necati Alkan, "The eternal enemy of Islam: Abdullah Cevdet and the Baha'i Religion", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 68:1, 2005, 1-20.