Presidency of Religious Affairs

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"Diyanet" redirects here. For other uses, see Diyanet (disambiguation).
Presidency of Religious Affairs
Diyanet logo.jpg
Logo of the Presidency of Religious Affairs
Formation 1924
Type Islamic education, religious administration
Headquarters Ankara, Turkey
Official language
Mehmet Görmez
Allocated by Government
Website website
Nahit Serbes Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı Cami Açılış Belgesi.jpg

In Turkey, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı also Religious Affairs Directorate, and normally referred to simply as the Diyanet) which is found in article 136 of the Constitution of Turkey,[1] is an official institution established in 1924 after the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate. Founded by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a successor to Sheikh ul-Islam.

As specified by law, the duties of the Diyanet are “to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshiping places”.[2] The Diyanet drafts a weekly sermon delivered at the nation’s 85,000 mosques and more than 2,000 mosques abroad that function under the directorate. It trains and employs all of Turkey’s imams, who are technically considered civil servants,[3] and provides Quranic education.

Started from 2006 the Diyanet was "beefed up", and by 2015 its budget had increased fourfold.[4][5] and staff doubled to nearly 150,000,[4] In 2012, it opened a television station,[6] now broadcasting 24-hours a day.[4] It has expanded Quranic education to early ages and boarding schools, "enabling the full immersion of young children in a religious lifestyle",[6] and now issues fatawa on demand.

According to some observers (David Lepeska, Svante Cornell), since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power in 2002, the mission of the Diyanet -- originally to exercise state oversight over religious affairs or ensure that religion did not challenge the Turkish republic’s "ostensibly secular identity" -- has changed to promoting mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam, "a conservative lifestyle at home, and projecting "Turkish Islam abroad".[4] It has been criticized for ignoring the Islam of the 33-40% of Turkey that is not Hanafi Sunni Muslim.[6]

Activities and history[edit]

In 1984, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği, or DİTİB) was opened in Germany to cater for the religious needs of the large Turkish minority there.

At least prior to 2010, the Diyanet had taken some non-traditional stances on gender and health issues. In 2005 450 women were appointed Vaizes (which are more senior than Imams) by the Diyanet,[7] and it allows in vitro fertilisation and birth control pills.[8][9]

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI travelled by car to the Diyanet, where he met with its then president, Ali Bardakoğlu, and with various Turkish Muslim leaders, among them the Grand Mufti of Ankara and the Grand Mufti of Istanbul.[10] Bardakoglu's successor was less accomdating, publicly called the Pope “immoral” in 2015 over his stance on the Armenian genocide.[6]

Turkish Muslims outside the Diyanet[edit]

Diyanet has been criticized for following mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam and being "indifferent to the diversity of Turkish Islam". Non-Hanafi Turkish Muslims (self-identified Muslims) include "about 15 million Alevis, perhaps three million Shi’a, and over a million Nusayris (Alawites)", plus the 12-15 million Kurds who follow the Shafi’i and not the Hanafi school, making up "a third to two fifths" of Turkey's population. "In Alevi villages, imams in Diyanet-built mosques have no work aside from issuing the call for prayers that no one attends".[6]

2010 and after[edit]

In 2010-2011, Diyanet began its transformation to "a supersized government bureaucracy for the promotion of Sunni Islam".[6] Bardakoğlu refused to recommend that Muslim women wear the (hijab, saying the religion does not require it.[6] He was fired in late 2010 and replaced by Mehmet Görmez.[6]

Under the AKP government, the budget of the Diyanet has quadrupled to over $2 billion by 2015, and it now employs between 120,000[6] and 150,000 employees.[4][6][4][11] In 2015 its budget allocation was 40 percent greater than the Ministry of the Interior’s and equal to those of the Foreign, Energy, and Culture and Tourism ministries combined.[4]

The Diyanet runs İmam Hatip schools for training Imams and offers Qur’an courses. Reforms undertaken in 2012 have led to what one Turkish commentator called “the removal, in practice, of one of the most important laws of the revolution, the Tevhid-i Tedrisat (unity of education)".[6][12]

In 2012, Turkish President Abdullah Gül visited the institution and said “it is undoubtedly one of the most important duties of the Religious Affairs Directorate [Diyanet] to teach our religion to our people in the most correct, clear and concise way and steer them away from superstition”.[13]

The Diyanet has been accused of showing support for the ruling AKP party.[6]

In July 2016, Mehmet Bayraktutar, the head of Diyanet proposed a ban on the interactive mobile game Pokemon Go, as it undermined "the prominence and significance of mosques, which are the most beautiful worship places in Islam,” [14]

Following the July 2016 coup, President Erdogan removed 492 religious officials from the Diyanet.[9]


The Diyanet began issuing fatawa on request sometime after 2011.[6]

In April 2015 the Diyanet ruled that usage of toilet paper is permissible within Islam, though it emphasized that water should be the primary source of cleansing.[15]

fatawa of the Diyanet that have come under criticism from some members of the Turkish public include an early 2016 ruling that engaged couples should not hold hands or spend alone time during the engagement period.[16][17]

In January 2016 a controversy arose over a fatwa which briefly appeared on the “fatwa” section of the Diyanet website, answering a reader's question of whether a man's marriage would become invalid marriage from a religious perspective, if the man felt sexual desire for his daughter. The Diyanet posted an answer stating that there was a difference of opinion on the matter among Islam’s different Madhhab (schools of religious jurisprudence). “For some, a father kissing his daughter with lust or caressing her with desire has no effect on the man’s marriage,” but the Hanafi school believed that the daughter’s mother would become haram (forbidden) to such a man. The fatwa created a "social media storm", with "scores of users appealed to the Telecommunications Presidency’s Internet Hotline accusing Turkey’s top religious body of `encouraging child abuse`.” The Diyanet subsequently removed the answer from its website and posted a warning, saying the page in question was “under repair.” and later issued an official statement to the press, stating that its response was distorted through “tricks, wiliness and wordplay” aiming to discredit the institution, and that it would take legal action against news reports of the response.[17][18]

List of Presidents[edit]

The following people have presided over the institution:[19]

Name Tenure
Began End
Mehmet Rifat Börekçi 1924 1941
Ord. Prof. Şerafettin Yaltkaya 1941 1947
Ahmet Hamdi Akseki 1947 1951
Eyüp Sabri Hayırlıoğlu 1951 1960
Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen 1960 1961
Hasan Hüsnü Erdem 1961 1964
Mehmet Tevfik Gerçeker 1964 1965
İbrahim Bedrettin Elmalılı 1965 1966
Ali Rıza Hakses 1966 1968
Lütfi Doğan 1968 1972
Dr. Lütfi Doğan 1972 1976
Prof. Dr. Süleyman Ateş 1976 1978
Dr. Tayyar Altıkulaç 1978 1986
Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sait Yazıcıoğlu 1986 1992
Mehmet Nuri Yılmaz 1992 2003
Ali Bardakoğlu 2003 2010
Mehmet Görmez 2010

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hata Sayfasi. "The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  2. ^ Basic Principles, Aims And Objectives, Presidency of Religious Affairs
  3. ^ "Top cleric delivers Friday sermon in Mardin". Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Lepeska, David (17 May 2015). "Turkey Casts the Diyanet". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "2006 Mali Yilin Bütçesi" (in Turkish). Alo Maliye. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Cornell, Svante (2015-10-09). "The Rise of Diyanet: the Politicization of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs". Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  7. ^ Jones, Dorian (2005). "Challenging Traditional Gender Roles". DEUTSCHE WELLE/DW-WORLD.DE. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "Pope bans, Turkey allows". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  9. ^ a b Farley, Harry (20 July 2016). "Turkey's President Erdogan removes 492 religious staff as he imposes conservative Islam". christian today. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Pope's speech at Turkey's Diyanet". 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  11. ^ "2006 Mali Yilin Bütçesi" (in Turkish). Alo Maliye. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  12. ^ Cornell, Svante E. (2 September 2015). "The Islamization of Turkey: Erdoğan’s Education Reforms". Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  13. ^ "Gül first Turkish president to visit Diyanet in 33 years". World Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  14. ^ "Turkey’s union of imams proposes ban on Pokemon Go". hurriyet. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  15. ^ Özgenç, Meltem (7 April 2015). "Turkey's top religious body allows toilet paper". hurriyet. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  16. ^ "Turkey’s religious body says engaged couples should not hold hands". Doğan News Agency. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "Turkey’s Diyanet denies responsibility in controversial fatwa on father’s lust for daughter". hurriyet. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  18. ^ Tremblay, Pinar (January 15, 2016). "Incest fatwa lands Turkish religious directorate in hot water". al-monitor. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  19. ^ Former presidents, Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish)

External links[edit]