Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's personal life

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Atatürk ve Rukiye Erkin.jpg
Atatürk and his adopted daughter Rukiye Erkin, 1926
Ali Rıza oğlu Mustafa
(Mustafa son of Ali Rıza)

(1881-05-19)19 May 1881 (a posteriori)
Died10 November 1938(1938-11-10) (aged 57)
Cause of deathCirrhosis
Resting placeAnıtkabir, Ankara, Turkey
Alma materOttoman War Academy
Imperial Military Staff College
Known forMilitary commander, revolutionary statesman
Spouse(s)Latife Uşaklıgil (1923–25)
Children8 (adopted)
Parent(s)Ali Rıza Efendi
Zübeyde Hanım
RelativesMakbule Atadan (sister)
Signature of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.svg

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ((1881-05-19)19 May 1881 a posteriori – 10 November 1938) founded the Republic of Turkey, and served as its president from 1923 until his death in 1938. His personal life has been the subject of numerous studies. According to Turkish historian Kemal H. Karpat, Atatürk's recent bibliography included 7,010 different sources.[1] Atatürk's personal life has its controversies, ranging from where he was born to his correct full name. The details of his marriage have always been a subject of debate. His religious beliefs were discussed in Turkish political life as recently as the Republic Protests during the 2007 presidential election.

Mustafa Kemal's personality has been an important subject both for scholars and the general public.[1] Much of substantial personal information about him comes from memoirs by his associates, who were at times his rivals, and friends. Some credible information originates from Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Kâzım Karabekir, Halide Edib Adıvar, Kılıç Ali, Falih Rıfkı Atay, Afet İnan, there is also secondary analysis by Patrick Balfour, the 3rd Baron Kinross, and, most recently, Vamık D. Volkan and Norman Itzkowitz.[citation needed]


In Turkish tradition, names have additional honorary or memorial values besides their grammatical identification function. It is possible to translate a name from Turkish to other languages, but care should be given as names' form varies from one language to another. Atatürk had Mustafa as his name at birth. Mustafa (Arabic: مصطفى‎ – Muṣṭafā, "the chosen one"), an epithet of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was a common name at that time. Young Mustafa studied at Salonica Military School, the military junior high school in Salonica (now Thessaloniki in modern Greece), where his mathematics teacher Captain Üsküplü Mustafa Sabri Bey gave him the additional name "Kemal" ("perfection") because of his student's academic excellence.[2]

On 27 November 1911, Mustafa Kemal was promoted to the rank of Binbaşı, an Ottoman military rank denoting the commander of "a thousand soldiers," equivalent to the rank of Major in the modern Turkish army. Since, in Ottoman military ranks, "Bey" was a common title given to all ranks for Binbaşı and above, Mustafa Kemal Efendi, henceforth, was addressed as "Mustafa Kemal Bey". On 1 April 1916, Mustafa Kemal was promoted to the rank of Mirliva, equivalent to Major General today. In Ottoman military ranks, Pasha was a common title given to all ranks at and above Mirliva, and he was from then on addressed as "Mustafa Kemal Pasha" (Turkish: Paşa).

Kemal Pasha, disgusted by the capitulations and concessions made by the Sultan to the Allies, and by the occupation of Constantinople (known as Istanbul in English since 1930) by the British, resigned from his post on 8 July 1919. He escaped from Istanbul by sea, passing through British Royal Navy patrols and landing on the Black Sea port city of Samsun, to organize the resistance against the Allied Powers' occupation of Anatolia. After his resignation, the Sublime Porte, the Ottoman imperial government, issued a warrant and later condemned him to death in absentia.[citation needed]

On 19 September 1921, the Turkish Grand National Assembly presented him with the title of Gazi, which denotes, a combat or wounded veteran, with the religious connotation of defeating non-Islamic forces, and bestowed upon him the rank of Marshal for his achievements during the War of Independence. Henceforth, he'd be addressed as "Gazi Mustafa Kemal".[citation needed]

On 21 June 1934, the Grand National Assembly recognized the need for registration and use of fixed hereditary surnames. The Surname Law was proposed and later put into force. On 24 November 1934, the Assembly enacted a special law to bestow on Mustafa Kemal the surname "Atatürk," which translates as "Father of the Turks,"[3][4] and established "Atatürk" as a unique surname.[note 1]

List of names and titles[edit]

Atatürk's identity documents after the Surname Law
Atatürk's identity document from 1934
1934. Serial number: 993 814
Atatürk's identity document from 1935
1935. Serial number: 993 815
  • Birth: Ali Rıza oğlu Mustafa
  • 1911: Mustafa Kemal Bey
  • 1916: Mustafa Kemal Paşa
  • 1921: Gazi Mustafa Kemal Paşa
  • 1934: Kemal Atatürk
  • 1935: Kamâl Atatürk

Birth date[edit]

Due to differences between calendars of the period, Atatürk's precise birth date is not known. The Ottoman Empire recognized the Hijri calendar and the Rumî calendar. The Hijri was an Islamic calendar, used to mark the religious holidays. It was lunar, with years of 354 or 355 days. The Rumi was a civil calendar, adopted in 1839. It was solar, based on the Julian Calendar. Both counted time from the Hijra, the migration of Muhammad to Medina. Between the two calendars significant differences in elapsed time were present. Various reforms were made to reconcile them but typically there was always a difference.

Atatürk's birth date was recorded in the public records of Turkish Selanik as Anno Hegirae 1296 with no sign whether this was based on the Rumî or on the Hijri calendar. In view of this confusion Atatürk set his own birthday to coincide with the Turkish Independence Day, which he announced was 19 May 1919, the day of his arrival in Samsun, in a speech given in 1927. His identification with Independence Day implied his selection of the civil calendar, in which AH 1296 lasts from 13 March 1880 to 12 March 1881. The latter dates are in the Gregorian Calendar just adopted for the Republic by Atatürk for purposes of standardization (the Julian Calendar was rejected earlier). Atatürk therefore listed his own birthday in all documents official and unofficial as 19 May 1881.[5]

Atatürk was told by his mother that he was born on a spring day, but his younger sister Makbule Atadan was told by others that he was born at night during a thunderstorm.[citation needed] Faik Reşit Unat received differing responses from Zübeyde Hanım's neighbors at Salonika. Some claimed that he was born on a spring day, but others stated on a winter day during either January or February. A date that has gained some acceptance is May 19, a date which originated with the historian Reşit Saffet Atabinen. 19 May is the symbolic start of the Turkish Independence War, and Atabinen linked Atatürk's birth day to the start of the Independence War – a gesture which Atatürk appreciated.[citation needed] There was even a plan to establish a "Gazi" day. Another story about this date is that a teacher asked Atatürk his birth date, that he responded he did not know it, and that the teacher suggested 19 May. Then again, there are two ways to interpret this; the "Gregorian 19 May 1881" would imply Rumî 1 March 1297, which conflicts with the only recorded information, Rumî 1296. It is also possible to say "Rumi 19 May 1296", which implies a date in the Gregorian year 1880.

Some sources ignore the day and month altogether, and print his birth date as Gregorian 1880/81. Other claims are:

  1. Enver Behnan Şapolyo claimed that Atatürk was born on Gregorian 23 December 1880.[citation needed]
  2. Şevket Süreyya Aydemir claimed that he was born on Gregorian 4 January 1881.[citation needed]
  3. Muhtar Kumral, former head of the Mustafa Kemal Association, claimed that he was born on Gregorian 13 March 1881, and stated they used Makbule Atadan. A conversion from Gregorian to Rumî sets the day in Rumî to 1 March 1297. The validity of this claim is questionable, since the written record states Rumi 1296, not 1297.[6]
  4. Tevfik Rüştü Aras claimed that Atatürk was born between 10 May and 20 May. He stated that this information was shared with Atatürk, and that Atatürk responded "Why not May 19."[citation needed]

The memoirs of the Soviet diplomat Simon Aralov mention a conversation between Aralov and Atatürk, where Aralov says he was born in 1880, and Atatürk responds "just like me".[citation needed]

Atatürk's last official identity document (Turkish: nüfus cüzdanı) does not include the day and month, but the year 1881 is visible.[6] It is exhibited in the Atatürk Museum in Şişli.[6] The Republic of Turkey announced 19 May 1881 officially to the public and diplomatically to other countries as his accepted birthday.[6]


The Ottoman Empire was not a national state and the records were not kept based on nationality, but on religion. The rise of nationalism in Europe had extended to the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century and the Millet system began to degrade. Atatürk's parents and relatives used Turkish as their native language and were part of the Muslim millet.[7] His father Ali Rıza Efendi is thought by some to have been of Albanian or Slavic origin;[8][9][10][11][12] however, according to Falih Rıfkı Atay, Vamık D. Volkan and Norman Itzkowitz, Ali Rıza's ancestors were Turks, ultimately descending from Söke in the Aydın Province.[13][14] His mother Zübeyde is thought to have been of Turkish origin[10][11] and according to Şevket Süreyya Aydemir, she was of Yörük ancestry.[15] There are also some suggestions about his partial Slavic origin.[16][17][18]

Early life[edit]

Atatürk was born during the Belle Époque of European civilization. Russia was implementing reforms; Japan opened its doors to the West during the Meiji Restoration. The Ottoman Empire was going through transformation. Ottoman military reform efforts, like the contemporaneous Modernization of Japanese Military 1868–1931, managed to develop a modern army. Racial, regional, ethnic and national stereotypes were part of discourse throughout the world. Ottoman people were not immune to these developments and there was a rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman State had been weakened by Turkish Islamism. Conservatism was strong both in government and society. Although the empire was transforming itself, the Hippocratic school of medicine, Ptolemaic astronomy and geography, and other branches of medieval studies were still in force. Many of these studies had been first amended, then discarded in western Europe with the Age of Enlightenment. Except for European military technology, the penetration of European ideas and practices into Turkey was slow.[citation needed]

Preparatory school[edit]

Ali Rıza Bey's desire was to send Atatürk to the newly opened Şemsi Efendi School, which had a contemporary education program. Zübeyde Hanım wanted him to attend a traditional school. The traditional Muslim schools had programs based on mostly prayers and hymns. This caused arguments within the family. He first enrolled in a traditional religious school. He later switched to Şemsi Efendi School.

In 1888, Ali Rıza Efendi died at an age of 47. Atatürk was 7 years old. Zübeyde Hanım was 31. Zübeyde Hanım and her two children lived with her brother Hüseyin for a period. Hüseyin was the manager of a farm outside Salonika. Mustafa worked on the farm.

Zübeyde Hanım married Ragıp Bey. Ragıp Bey was also a widower with four children. Atatürk liked Süreyya. His other step brother was employed by Regie Company. Because he was not the senior male in the house after his mother's marriage, Atatürk left the house and lived with a relative.

Military education[edit]

1901, student at Ottoman War Academy.
Photo taken at the Andriomenos Photo Shop on the day of graduation from the War Academy.

Atatürk wanted to attend the military school. As a young boy, he admired the Western-style uniforms of the military officers. He enrolled to the military junior high school Turkish: Selânik Askerî Rüştiyesi in Selânik. In 1896, he enrolled in the Monastir Military High School. Monastir is today's Bitola, in the North Macedonia. Both of these regions saw discontent and revolts towards the Ottoman administration.[citation needed]

On 13 March 1899, he enrolled in the Ottoman War Academy in Constantinople (Turkish: Mekteb-i Harbiye-i Şahane). It was a boarding school with dormitories within its premises. The military school was strictly controlled by Abdul Hamid II. Newspapers were not allowed in the school, and textbooks were the only accepted books. The school not only taught military skills but also religious practices and social work. The curriculum at this school demanded either donating money or working for charity. He graduated from the Ottoman War Academy in 1902.[citation needed]

On 10 February 1902, he enrolled in the Imperial Military Staff College in Constantinople, from which he graduated on 11 January 1905. There were two officer tracks in the Ottoman imperial army. One of them was the officers "educated within the army itself", Alaylı, and the other consisted of officers trained in modern military schools, Mektepli. He was a "school trained" officer. School educated officers had a strong ideological imprint toward family and country, and he had shown tendencies toward both. When he joined the Ottoman Army, he had already passed 13 years of military education.[citation needed]


Zübeyde Hanım's first child was Fatma, then Ömer, later Ahmet was born. They all died in early childhood. Mustafa was the fourth child. Makbule followed him in 1885. Their sister Naciye was born in 1889. Naciye was lost to childhood tuberculosis.[citation needed]

Ragıp Bey had four children from his first marriage. In sequence, child1?, Süreyya, Hasan, and child4? were born. Süreyya died during World War One. Ragıp Bey had a brother Colonel Hüsamettin. He and Vasfiye Hanım had a daughter named Fikriye (1897 – 31 May 1924).[19] Of the 9 siblings, five sharing at least one parent, only his biological sister, Makbule (1885–1956), survived him.

Hacı Abdullah Ağa
İbrahim Ağa
Güzel Ayşe Hanım
Feyzullah Ağa
Hafız Ahmet Efendi
Hüsamettin[citation needed]
Hüseyin Efendi
Hasan Efendi
Mehmet Emin
Ragıp Bey
Zübeyde Hanım
Ali Rıza Efendi
Step 1
Step 2
Abdurrahim (p)
Sabiha (a)
Rukiye (a)
Zehra (a)
Afet (a)
Fikriye (a)
Ülkü (a)


Mustafa Kemal's wife Latife (1923).
Atatürk and Latife Hanım (far right) with her family in early 1923.
Latife and Kemal at one of the tours of Anatolia.

Atatürk married only once, to Latife Uşaklıgil (or Uşşaki); a multilingual, and self-confident woman who was educated in Europe and came from an established, ship-owning family from Smyrna (now Izmir).[citation needed]

Atatürk met Latife during the recapture of occupied Smyrna on 8 September 1922. Kemal was invited to Uşaklıgil residence during his stay in Smyrna. He had chance to observe Latife closely. Their initial acquaintanceship period lasted a relatively short time as he had to return to Angora (now Ankara) on 2 October. Kemal opened up his interest to Latife by asking her "Don't go anywhere. Wait for me." On 29 January 1923, he arranged for the permission to marry from her family, with the assistance of the chief of staff Fevzi Çakmak. Kâzım Karabekir was present at their wedding. These were not random decisions.

In Turkish culture, the groom asks his family or respected people, with whom he has close relationships, to perform this act. Latife did not cover her face during the wedding, though during this period it was the tradition for brides to do so. They did not have a honeymoon just after the wedding. The elections for the parliament were coming. He received the representatives of local newspapers next day of his wedding. He prepared for his public speech on 2 February. The honeymoon, an Anatolian tour, was a chance to show his wife's unveiled face as a role model for modern Turkish women. "It's not just a honeymoon, it's a lesson in reform," one observer remarked.[20]

As a First Lady, she was part of the women's emancipation movement, which started in Turkey in the early 1920s. Latife showed her face to the world with a defiance that shocked and delighted onlookers.[20] She did not wear a hijab but covered her head with a headscarf (Turkish: Başörtüsü). She urged Turkish women to do the same and lobbied for women's suffrage.[21] Atatürk passed the law giving women the right to vote after he was elected.[citation needed]

Latife insisted on accompanying him to the eastern towns even though the wives of other officials stopped at Samsun and did not travel further to the devastated east. The attention of Atatürk was directed to conventional gatherings. The balance was hard to establish. At Erzurum, Latife and Kemal reached a breaking point. They had a public quarrel. Atatürk asked Latife to go to Angora, with his trusted ADC Salih Bozok. They were divorced on 5 August 1925. The circumstances of their divorce remain publicly unknown. A 25-year-old court order banned the publishing of his former wife's diaries and letters, which might have contained information on the matter. The Turkish History Foundation kept the letters since 1975. Upon expiration of the court order, the Turkish History Foundation said that Latife Uşaklıgil's family demanded that the letters were not to be disclosed.[22]


17 January 1929, Nebile's wedding.
Adopted daughters of Mustafa Kemal; left to right: Zehra Aylin, Rukiye (Erkin) and Sabiha (Gökçen).
Left to right: Rukiye (Erkin), Sabiha (Gökçen), Afet (İnan), and Zehra Aylin.
Atatürk with Sığırtmaç Mustafa (Mustafa Demir, 1918–1987), 1929.

One of his quotes was "Children are a new beginning of tomorrow." He established 23 April as "Children's Day" and 19 May as "Youth and Sports Day". Children's Day commemorates the opening of Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1920. The designation of Children's Day came in 1929 upon the recommendation of the Institution of Children's Protection. Both days are celebrated today. Youth and Sports Day is a national holiday in Turkey.[citation needed]

He had no biological children from this marriage but had seven adopted daughters and one son. The names of his children were Zehra Aylin, Sabiha (Gökçen), Rukiye (Erkin), Afet (İnan), Nebile (Bayyurt), Fikriye, Ülkü (Doğançay, later Adatepe), and Mustafa. Additionally, he had two children under his protection, Abdurrahim Tunçak and İhsan.[23]

In 1916, Atatürk took Abdurrahim, aged eight, under his protection. There is a photograph showing Atatürk with his uniform during his assignment in Diyarbakir accompanied with the early teenage Abdurrahim. Abdurrahim was entrusted to Zübeyde Hanim's care. He did not remember his biological parents. This brought questions if he was left an orphan during the Caucasus Campaign. Abdurrahim stated his earliest memories belong to the Zübeyde Hanim's house in Akarether. Atatürk gave the surname Tunçak to Abdurrahim.[citation needed]

In 1924, Zehra from Amasya, Rukiye from Konya came under his protection. She fell to her death from a train near Amiens on 20 November 1935. France police inquiry concluded that it was a suicide rather than an accident. On 22 September 1925, Atatürk adopted a 12-year-old girl Sabiha (aged 12), an orphan who approached him at Bursa train station. She was sent to Russia for training. On 25 October 1925, Atatürk met an 18-year-old girl, Afet (İnan). She was the daughter of a close family friend. She had lost her mother, and her father had married another woman. She was trying to make a living in Smyrna (Izmir) by teaching young girls. She lacked advanced education. Atatürk supported her advance education expenses, while she continued to support herself by teaching. Later, she became a trusted person. He asked her to copy edit his speeches, and dictate his materials. In 1935, Atatürk met a three-year-old girl, Ülkü. She was the child of a retainer of his mother and the stationmaster. She was the only daughter that stayed close to him until a few weeks before his death.[citation needed]

1937, at the rose garden with Ülkü.
Atatürk on Ege steamer during a tour to Antalya, February 1935.

According to Atatürk:

There is one trait I have had since my childhood. In the house where I lived. I never liked to spend time with my sister or with a friend. Since my childhood I have always preferred to be alone and independent, that is how I always lived. I have another trait: I have never had any patience with any advice or admonition which my mother – my father died very early – my sister or any of my closest relatives pressed on me according to their lights. People who live with their families know that there are never short of innocent and sincere warnings from left and right. There are only two ways of dealing with them. You either ignore them or obey them. I believe neither way is right.[24]

One changing view about Atatürk is his foresightedness, foster and promotion of the leadership among Turkish revolutionaries.[25] Initial reviews depict him as an unchallenged leader, the single man. Recent studies analyze the period from the populist perspective. His leadership activities had extending effects on the political, social and cultural context of the Republic.[25] These studies gives clues on his abilities to foster the cooperation among different people, such as in the "History of National Struggle Volumes I through V".[26] His significance during independence was cited for his ability to unify people. It is pointed out that organizations in the countryside for resistance against occupation was happening effectively before his involvement. His ability to channel people did not. The foundation for the civilian participation in the government [parliament being never closed during his reign] and establishment of civic society [his insistence of keeping military out of daily politics] are cited having the roots in the Kemal's presidency, not after.[25] The failed reforms of the regional countries, after the passage of its leaders, were generally used as an example of the Atatürk's leadership among the Turkish Revolutionaries. His effect lasted many years after his passage.[citation needed]

Love of nature[edit]

He attached importance to his horse Sakarya and his dog Fox. He was also anecdotally linked to preservation of Turkish Angora after an article in the Turkey's Reader's Digest reportedly claimed that Atatürk said "his successor would be bitten on the ankle by an odd-eyed white cat.[27]

Atatürk established the Forest Ranch in 1925. He wanted to have a modern farm in the suburbs of the capital including a green haven (arboretum) for people.[28] The Forest Ranch developed a program to introduce domesticated livestock and horticulture in 1933. As a consequence of children being interested in the animals Atatürk involved in developing a program which then became known as "Ankara Zoo". The modern zoo which took 12 years to build, first of its kind in Turkey, gave a chance to people observe animals beyond the boundaries of circus and fairs. Atatürk, with his smallest adopted daughter Ülkü spend his time at the Forest Ranch and throughout the development stages of the Zoo until he died in 1938. The official opening was in 1945.[citation needed]


Atatürk was a heavy drinker of alcohol, against social norms at that time.[29][30][31] He loved reading books, listening to music, dancing, horseback riding and swimming. He liked to play backgammon and billiards. He was interested in Zeybek dance, wrestling and Rumelian songs. In his free times, he read books about history. Instead of dealing with other issues, a politician who detested reading more than necessary told him, "Did you go to Samsun by reading a book?" Atatürk replied: "When I was a child, I was poor. When I received two pennies, I would give one penny of it to the book. If it was not so, I would not have done any of this."[32]

Atatürk told the Romanian Foreign Minister of the time, Victor Antonescu, on 20 March 1937:

Religious beliefs[edit]

President Mustafa Kemal Pasha and Mufti Abdurrahman Kamil Effendi in Amasya (1930)

There is a controversy on Atatürk's religious beliefs.[34] Some researchers have emphasized that his discourses about religion are periodic and that his positive views related to this subject are limited in the early 1920s.[35] Some Turkish sources claim, he was a devout Muslim.[36][37][38][39] However, according to other sources, Atatürk himself was an agnostic, i.e. non-doctrinaire deist,[40][41] or even an atheist,[42][43][44] who was antireligious and anti-Islamic in general.[45][46]

Sources point out that Atatürk was a religious skeptic and a freethinker. In 1933, the US ambassador Charles H. Sherrill interviewed him. In the interview, he said it was good for mankind to pray to God. According to Atatürk, the Turkish people do not know what Islam really is and do not read the Quran. People are influenced by Arabic sentences that they do not understand, and because of their customs they go to mosques. When the Turks read the Quran and think about it, they will leave Islam.[47]

In his youth, he underwent religious training, though it was brief. His military training included religious imprinting. He knew the Arabic language well enough to understand and interpret the Quran. He studied the "History of Islam" by Leone Caetani and the "History of Islamic Civilisation" by Jurji Zaydan. He authored the chapter in "Islamic History" himself when he wanted history books for high schools prepared. Atatürk's religious knowledge was considerably high in its nature and level.[36]

General perception[edit]

Atatürk believed that religion is an important institution:

Religion is an important institution. A nation without religion cannot survive. Yet it is also very important to note that religion is a link between Allah and the individual believer. The brokerage of the pious cannot be permitted. Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable. We are against such a situation and will not allow it. Those who use religion in such a manner have fooled our people; it is against just such people that we have fought and will continue to fight. Know that whatever conforms to reason, logic, and the advantages and needs of our people conforms equally to Islam. If our religion did not conform to reason and logic, it would not be the perfect religion, the final religion.[48]

However, his speeches and publications criticized using religion as a political ideology.[36] He stated that religion should be in conformity with reason, science and logic. The problem was not religion, but how believers understood and applied religion. True religion could not be understood as long as false prophets isolated and religious knowledge is enlightened. The only way to deal with false prophets was to deal with the Turkish people's illiteracy and prejudice.[49]

Religion and the individual[edit]

Religion, particularly Islam, was between an individual and God in Atatürk's eyes.[50] When compared to Ottoman practice (political Islam integrated to government life through Millets), Atatürk believed in a form of reformed Islam (Islam between an individual and God). He believed it was possible to blend native tradition (based on Islam) and Western modernism harmoniously.[51] In this equation, he gave more emphasis towards the modernization. His modernization aimed to transform social and mental structures (native traditions of Islam) to eradicate the irrational ideas, magical superstitions and so on.[51]

Atatürk was not against religion but what he perceived as all Ottoman religious and cultural elements that brought limits to people's self being.[51] He concentrated his reforms (regarding popular sovereignty) against obstacles for the individual choices being reflected in the social life. He viewed civil law and abolition of the caliphate as required for reflection of individual choices. He perceived religion as a matter of conscience or worship, but not politics. The best response on this issue comes from himself:

Atatürk believed in freedom of religion, but he was a secular thinker and his concept of freedom of religion was not limitless. He differentiated between social and personal practice of religion. He applied social considerations (secular requirements) when the public practice of religion was considered. He said that no one can force another to accept any religion or a sect (freedom of belief).[53] Also, everyone has the right to perform or neglect, if he so wishes, obligations of any religion he chooses (freedom of worship), such as the right to not fast during Ramadan.[54]

Religion and politics[edit]

According to historian Kemal Karpat, the movements that perceive Islam as a political movement or particularly the view of Islam as a political religion hold the position that Atatürk was not a Muslim (true believer or religious Muslim). It is normal that this perspective was adapted, Karpat says: "He was not against Islam, but those who are against his political power using the religious arguments."[1]

Andrew Mango wrote in his book Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey (1999):

On 1 November 1937, his speech in parliament he said:

Religion of the Arabs[edit]

Atatürk described Islam as the religion of the Arabs in his own work titled Vatandaş için Medeni Bilgiler by his own critical and nationalist views:

Last days, 1937–1938[edit]

During 1937, indications of Atatürk's worsening health started to appear. In the early 1938, while he was on a trip to Yalova, he suffered from a serious illness. After a short period of treatment in Yalova, an apparent improvement in his health was observed, but his condition again worsened following his journeys first to Ankara, and then to Mersin and Adana. Upon his return to Ankara in May, he was recommended to go to Istanbul for treatment, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.[citation needed]

During his stay in Istanbul, he made an effort to keep up with his regular lifestyle for a while, heading the Council of Ministers meeting, working on the Hatay issue, and hosting King Carol II of Romania during his visit in June. He stayed on board his newly arrived yacht, Savarona, until the end of July, after which his health again worsened and then he moved to a room arranged for him at the Dolmabahçe Palace.[citation needed]

Death and funeral[edit]

Atatürk's funeral arriving at the Ethnographic Museum, 1938.

Atatürk died at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, on 10 November 1938, 09:05 am, at the age of 57. It is thought that he died of cirrhosis of the liver.[58] Atatürk's Islamic funeral performed by Turkish Takbirs and Prayers inside Dolmabahçe Palace's Auction Hall (not inside Mosque).[59][60] Atatürk's funeral called forth both sorrow and pride in Turkey, and seventeen countries sent special representatives, while nine contributed with armed detachments to the cortège.[61]

On November 1953, Atatürk's remains were taken from the Ethnography Museum of Ankara by 138 young reserve officers in a procession that stretched for two miles (3 km) including the President, the Premier, every Cabinet minister, every parliamentary deputy, every provincial governor and every foreign diplomat.[62] One admiral guarded a velvet cushion which bore the Medal of Independence; the only decoration, among many others held, that Atatürk preferred to wear. The Father of the Turks finally came to rest at his mausoleum, the Anıtkabir. An official noted: "I was on active duty during his funeral, when I shed bitter tears at the finality of death. Today I am not sad, for 15 years have taught me that Atatürk will never die."[62]

His lifestyle had always been strenuous. Alcohol consumption during dinner discussions, smoking, long hours of hard work, very little sleep, and working on his projects and dreams had been his way of life. As the historian Will Durant had said, "men devoted to war, politics, and public life wear out fast, and all three had been the passion of Atatürk."[citation needed]


In his will written on 5 September 1938, he donated all of his possessions to the Republican People's Party, bound to the condition that, through the yearly interest of his funds, his sister Makbule and his adopted children will be looked after, the higher education of the children of İsmet İnönü will be funded, and the Turkish Language Association and Turkish Historical Society will be given the rest.


Atatürk's geology notes. He has done research on natural science, history, and philosophy.

Atatürk published many books and kept a journal throughout his military career. Atatürk’s daily journals and military notes during the Ottoman period were published as a single collection. Another collection covered the period between 1923 and 1937 and indexes all the documents, notes, memorandums, communications (as a President) under multiple volumes, titled Atatürk'ün Bütün Eserleri ("All of the Works of Atatürk").

The list of books edited and authored by Atatürk is given below ordered by the date of publication:

  1. Takımın Muharebe Tâlimi, published in 1908 (Translation from German)
  2. Cumalı Ordugâhı – Süvâri: Bölük, Alay, Liva Tâlim ve Manevraları, published in 1909
  3. Ta’biye ve Tatbîkat Seyahati, published in 1911
  4. Bölüğün Muharebe Tâlimi, published in 1912 (Translation from German)
  5. Ta’biye Mes’elesinin Halli ve Emirlerin Sûret-i Tahrîrine Dâir Nasâyih, published in 1916
  6. Zâbit ve Kumandan ile Hasb-ı Hâl, published in 1918
  7. Nutuk, published in 1927
  8. Vatandaş için Medeni Bilgiler, published in 1930 (For high school civic classes)
  9. Geometri, published in 1937 (For high school math classes)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The law stated that the surname "Atatürk" may be used only by Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The surname "Atatürk" can be divided in two parts, "Ata" and "Türk," whereby "Ata" means "father" or "ancestor", while Türk denotes simply "Turk," the "Turkish people." Thus, "Atatürk" best translates to "Father of Turkish People". The current common practice in Turkey as well as abroad is to refer to him as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.


  1. ^ a b c Karpat, "The Personality of Atatürk", pp. 893–99.
  2. ^ Carl Cavanagh Hodge, Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914, p. 393; ISBN 978-0-313-33404-7
  3. ^ Turkish Justice Department website, Article Ataturk
  4. ^ Profile,; accessed 28 March 2015.
  5. ^ Zürcher, Erik Jan (1984). The Unionist factor: the rôle of the Committee of Union and Progress in the Turkish National Movement, 1905–1926. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 106.
  6. ^ a b c d "Atatürk'ün Doğum Tarihi" (in Turkish). Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  7. ^ Mango, Andrew, Atatürk: the biography of the founder of modern Turkey, (Overlook TP, 2002), p. 27.
  8. ^ Mango, Atatürk, p. 27
  9. ^ Lou Giaffo: Albania: eye of the Balkan vortex[page needed]
  10. ^ a b Jackh, Ernest, The Rising Crescent, (Goemaere Press, 2007), p. 31, Turkish mother and Albanian father
  11. ^ a b Isaac Frederick Marcosson, Turbulent Years, Ayer Publishing, 1969, p. 144.
  12. ^ Richmond, Yale, From Da to Yes: understanding the East Europeans, (Intercultural Press Inc., 1995), p. 212.
  13. ^ Falih Rıfkı Atay, Çankaya: Atatürk'ün doğumundan ölümüne kadar, İstanbul: Betaş, 1984, p. 17. (in Turkish)
  14. ^ Vamık D. Volkan & Norman Itzkowitz, Ölümsüz Atatürk (Immortal Atatürk), Bağlam Yayınları, 1998, ISBN 975-7696-97-8, p. 37, dipnote no. 6 (Atay, 1980, s. 17)
  15. ^ Şevket Süreyya Aydemir, Tek Adam: Mustafa Kemal, Birinci Cilt (1st vol.): 1881–1919, 14th ed., Remzi Kitabevi, 1997; ISBN 975-14-0212-3, p. 31. (in Turkish)
  16. ^ Great leaders, great tyrants?: Contemporary views of World rulers who made history, Arnold Blumberg, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995; ISBN 0313287511, p. 7. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  17. ^ His Story: Mustafa Kemal and Turkish Revolution, A. Baran Dural, iUniverse, 2007; ISBN 0595412513, pp. 1–2. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Whether, like most Macedonians, he had about him a touch of the hybrid —perhaps of the Slav or Albanian—can only be a matter for surmise." Atatürk: a biography of Mustafa Kemal, father of modern Turkey, by Baron Patrick Balfour Kinross, Quill/Morrow, 1992; ISBN 0688112838, p. 8.
  19. ^ Mango, Atatürk, p. 38
  20. ^ a b Turgut, Pelin (1 July 2006). "Turkey in the 21st century: The Legacy Of Mrs Ataturk". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
  21. ^ Güler, Emrah (25 August 2006). "Atatürk, his wife and her biographer". Turkish Daily News. Archived from the original on 29 August 2006. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
  22. ^ BBC News Atatürk diaries to remain secret,, 4 February 2005.
  23. ^ Terra Anatolia—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938),; accessed 1 April 2015.
  24. ^ Aydemir, Tek Adam: Cilt I, p. 20
  25. ^ a b c Karpat, "The Personality of Atatürk" page 897-898
  26. ^ Mahmut Goloğlu, (1971) Milli Mücadele Tarihi 5. Cilt [The History of the National Struggle Volume V]
  27. ^ "Turkish Angora A Zoological Delight". "Pet Publishing Inc.". Archived from the original on December 7, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2007.
  28. ^ "History of Atatürk Orman Çiftliği". Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007. "Yeşili görmeyen gözler renk zevkinden mahrumdur. Burasını öyle ağaçlandırınız ki kör bir insan dahi yeşillikler arasında olduğunu fark etsin" düşüncesi Atatürk Orman Çiftliği'nin kurulmasında en önemli etken olmuştur.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Atatürkʼün Uşağı İdim, Hürriyet Yayınları, 1973, p. 267
  33. ^ Romanya Dışişleri Bakanı Antonescu İle Konuşma (in Turkish)
  34. ^ Political Islam in Turkey: Running West, Heading East? Author G. Jenkins, Publisher Springer, 2008, ISBN 0230612458, p. 84.
  35. ^ Düzel, Neşe (2012-02-06). "Taha Akyol: Atatürk yargı bağımsızlığını reddediyor"
  36. ^ a b c Ethem Ruhi Fığlalı (1993) "Atatürk and the Religion of Islam" Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi Dergisi, Sayı 26, Cilt: IX.
  37. ^ Prof. Utkan Kocatürk, Atatürk'ün Fikir ve Düşünceleri (Atatürk ve Din Eğitimi, A. Gürtaş, p. 26), Atatürk Research Center, 2007; ISBN 9789751611741
  38. ^ Prof. Ethem Ruhi Fığlalı, "Atatürk'ün Din ve Laiklik Anlayışı", Atatürk Research Center, 2012; ISBN 978-975-16-2490-1, p. 86
  39. ^ Atatürk'ün Söylev ve Demeçleri, Ankara 1959, 2. Baskı, II, 66-67; s. 90. III, 70
  40. ^ Reşat Kasaba, "Atatürk", The Cambridge history of Turkey: Volume 4: Turkey in the Modern World, Cambridge University Press, 2008; ISBN 978-0-521-62096-3 p. 163; accessed 27 March 2015.
  41. ^ Political Islam in Turkey by Gareth Jenkins, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, p. 84; ISBN 0230612458
  42. ^ Atheism, Brief Insights Series by Julian Baggini, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2009; ISBN 1402768826, p. 106.
  43. ^ Islamism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, John Calvert John, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008; ISBN 0313338566, p. 19.
  44. ^ Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the secular Turkish Republic said: "I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea..." The Antipodean Philosopher: Interviews on Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand, Graham Oppy, Lexington Books, 2011, ISBN 0739167936, p. 146.
  45. ^ Phil Zuckerman, John R. Shook, The Oxford Handbook of Secularism, Oxford University Press, 2017, ISBN 0199988455, p. 167.
  46. ^ Tariq Ramadan, Islam and the Arab Awakening, Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 0199933731, p. 76.
  47. ^ Atatürk İslam için ne düşünüyordu?
  48. ^ Ahmet Taner Kışlalı "Kemalizm, Laiklik ve Demokrasi [Kemalism, Laicism and Democracy]" 1994
  49. ^ Nutuk, vol. 11, p. 708.
  50. ^ Fığlalı "Atatürk and the Religion of Islam"; "But to mention that religion is a matter of relationship and communication between Allah and his servant" [recited from Kılıç Ali, Atatürk'ün Hususiyetleri, Ankara, 1930, p. 116]
  51. ^ a b c Jacob M. Landau (1984). Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey. London ; New York: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 90-04-07070-2. page 217
  52. ^ M.Orhan Tarhan "Should Government Teach Religion?" The Atatürk Society of America
  53. ^ Kılıç Ali, Atatürk'ün Hususiyetleri, Ankara, 1930, p. 57
  54. ^ A. Afet İnan, M. Kemal Atatürk'ten Yazdıklarım, İstanbul, 1971, pp. 85–86.
  55. ^ Quoted in Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey, by Andrew Mango; "In a book published in 1928, Grace Ellison quotes [Atatürk], presumably in 1926-27", Grace Ellison Turkey Today (London: Hutchinson, 1928)
  56. ^ Atatürk'ün Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi'nin V. Dönem 3. Yasama Yılını Açış Konuşmaları (in Turkish). "... Dünyaca bilinmektedir ki, bizim devlet yönetimimizdeki ana programımız, Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi programıdır. Bunun kapsadığı prensipler, yönetimde ve politikada bizi aydınlatıcı ana çizgilerdir. Fakat bu prensipleri, gökten indiği sanılan kitapların doğmalarıyla asla bir tutmamalıdır. Biz, ilhamlarımızı, gökten ve gaipten değil, doğrudan doğruya yaşamdan almış bulunuyoruz."
  57. ^ Afet İnan, Medenî Bilgiler ve M. Kemal Atatürk'ün El Yazıları, Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1998, p. 364.
  58. ^ "Kemal Atatürk". NNDB. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  59. ^
  60. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  61. ^ Mango, Atatürk, p. 526
  62. ^ a b "The Burial of Atatürk". Time Magazine. 24 November 1953. pp. 37–39. Retrieved 7 August 2007.


  • Karpat, Kemal H.; Volkan, Vamık D.; Itzkowitz, Norman (October 1985). "The Personality of Atatürk". The American Historical Review. New York: Macmillan. 90 (4): 893–899. doi:10.2307/1858844. JSTOR 1858844.
  • Volkan, Vamık D. (1981). "Immortal Atatürk—Narcissism and Creativity in a Revolutionary Leader". Psychoanalytic Study of Society. New York: Psychohistory Press. 9: 221–255. ISSN 0079-7294. OCLC 60448681.
  • Fığlalı, Ethem Ruhi (1993). "Atatürk and the Religion of Islam". Atatürk Araştırma Dergisi. Ankara: Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi Başkanlığı. IX (26).