Turan Dursun

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Turan Dursun
Turan Dursun.jpg
Born 1934
Şarkışla, Sivas Province, Turkey
Died 4 September 1990 (aged 56)
Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Citizenship  Turkey
Occupation Former mufti, writer

Turan Dursun (1934 – 4 September 1990)[1] was a Turkish Shia Islamic scholar and a writer. His work, which is influenced by the 9th-century Persian skeptic philosopher Ibn al-Rawandi, heavily criticizes Islam and the founders of its major branches.[1][2]

Dursun, originally a Ja'fari Muslim from the Twelver Shi'a madhab, first worked as an Islamic cleric before becoming an atheist during his study of the history of monotheistic religions.[3] Dursun wrote a number of books about religion, which included interpretations of Islamic texts. He was an open critic of religion and was frequently threatened by Islamic fundamentalists.[4]

He was eventually assassinated on September 4, 1990, outside his home in Istanbul.[4] After this event, his books sold tens of thousands of copies in Turkey.[3]


Dursun's father was a devout Ja'fari Muslim from the Twelver Shi'a madhab. From his childhood on, he was motivated by his father to be an Islamic scholar, unprecedented in terms of knowledge, even in Basra and Kufa.[5] With this purpose, he worked very hard and mastered all major Islamic texts.[5]

Years as a mufti[edit]

After passing the necessary exams to become a mufti, Dursun was unable to officially become one as he did not have a primary school diploma. Dursun had to complete primary school exams without attending school and did so with understandable speed. He achieved mufti status in 1958.[5]

Whilst the mufti of Sivas, Dursun began establishing himself as a mufti of a different kind. Using his position, he initiated a number of projects for the development of the area and its imams:[5]

  • Organised for 50 tree plantations in the different villages of Sivas.
  • Forced plans for a mufti accommodation center to be changed for hospital to be built, with success.
  • Collected wheat from villages as aid for the hospital project.
  • Gave importance to the non-religious education of imams, through cinema and attendance of conferences.
  • Facilitated issue of school diplomas for imams through the Ministry of Education.
  • Put pressure on the mayor of Sivas for exhausting water supplies to be addressed.

Dursun gained a lot of followers and enemies at Sivas and was threatened on numerous occasions. He was exiled to the city of Sinop and stayed in what he called a "broken down shack". He received help from Ali Şarapçı, a teacher who was tormented and falsely labeled as communist, as Dursun was.[5] His mufti career ended in 1966.[5]

First atheistic thoughts[edit]

In an interview with Şule Perinçek, Dursun recounts one of the first instances, where he began doubting the existence of God. During a time when he was in love at the age of 11, Sabo, the older sister of the girl he loved, called Safi, was disabled. Dursun felt sorry for Sabo and one night during his sleep he saw God in his dream.[5] After making him swear that he will not get angry, Dursun asked God why he created this Earth if he also created heaven and asked why Sabo was disabled and Safi was beautiful.[5] In the same interview, Dursun states that:

I was "always questioning and rebellious towards the concept of God", but the transition to atheism was an "evolving" one.[5]

Dursun discovered what he called "Muhammed's passings on" when he began learning about the holy books that existed prior to the Koran. He states:

I did previously have knowledge of Judaism and Christianity, but through Islamic interpretations.[5] I didn't know them from their own sources. I got to know their own sources in the 1960s.

Dursun began researching into Christianity when it was planned that he would be proudly introduced to the Pope as an intellectual mufti.[5] To prepare for this meeting and to "be able to talk with him (the Pope) with more strength", Dursun studied Christianity but "instantly" realized the "con" as he compared his already vast knowledge of Islam with Christian information.[5]

After coming to negative conclusions about religion, Dursun became "angry" that Mohammed took away valuable years of childhood and youth. He said:

So many people can't live their childhood properly because of him. So many people are sufferers of his disasters. So many people know what's right as wrong and what's wrong as right because they think the darkness that he chose exists. Human emotions and human creations haven't progressed in many ways, because of him.[5]

Dursun was an independent theist for a short period of time before he became an atheist. First, he pronounced to himself that

If there is a God, he's not Mohammed's.

He began carrying out random experiments to see if God existed or not during his mental battle with him. He began believing that humans evolved over millions of years and continued learning about anthropology. He states that his independent theist period lasted "two or three years".[5]

Life as a producer and a writer[edit]

Following his resignation as a mufti, Dursun struggled to earn a living in Istanbul and even became a binman. The decision to quit as a mufti was a tough one, but Dursun stated that his principle was always "never to have a contradiction between what I thought and what I did".[5]

Due to a number of friends he made as a thinking mufti, he was able to get a foot in at the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, (TRT), working firstly in basic administrative positions before taking and passing an exam to become involved in programme production.[5]

Among his productions are, "Turks in history", "Mankind from the beginning" and "Towards the evening" (unofficially translated titles). There is also a production which has never been allowed to be broadcast, titled "Before and after the first Grand National Assembly". Dursun resigned from TRT in 1982, after 16 years of service.[5]

In 1987, Dursun was introduced to Doğu Perinçek, a self-proclaimed socialist politician with heavy nationalist undertones, who was the editor of the magazine 2000'e Doğru (Towards 2000). Dursun contributed to the magazine with a column titled "Din Bilgisi" (Knowledge of religion). He also wrote for other publications such as Saçak, Teori and Yüzyıl. He wrote countless books in the 1980s, including a Turkish translation of Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah, collating his vast knowledge of Islam and languages of the Middle East, opening the religion to internal criticism through the mass media, perhaps for the first time in the religion's history.[5]


On 4 September 1990, shortly after leaving his home in the Asian part of Istanbul, Dursun was assassinated by two gunmen. Later it was discovered that many items were missing from Dursun's library shelves. A book was found on his bed entitled "the Holy Terror of Hizbullah" which, according to his relatives, did not belong to Dursun and had probably been left as a message by the terrorists.

The police report did not mention any items missing.

As a result of the investigation, 15 suspects were arrested but they were immediately released after their first appearance in court.[6]


  • God (Turkish: Tanrı)
  • This is Religion 1: God and the Quran (Turkish: Din Bu 1: Tanrı ve Kur'an)
  • This is Religion 2: Hz. Mohammad (Turkish: Din Bu 2: Hz. Muhammed)
  • This is Religion 3: Society and Secularism in Islam (Turkish: Din Bu 3: İslamda Toplum ve Laiklik)
  • This is Religion 4: Taboo Lingers (Turkish: Din Bu 4: Tabu Can Çekişiyor)
  • Religion and Sex (Turkish: Din ve Seks)
  • Prayer (Turkish: Dua)
  • Is the Universe a Joke? (Turkish: Evren Bir Şaka mı?)
  • Qullatayn (Turkish: Kulleteyn)
  • Quran (Turkish: Kur'an)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 1: Aba-Mind (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 1: Aba-Akıl)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 2: Accra-Arab (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 2: Akra-Arab)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 3: Arabu-Debt (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 3: Arabu-Borç)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 4: Vain-Prayer (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 4: Boşa-Dua)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 5: Pray-Hijra (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 5: Dua-Hicret)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 6: Hijra-Infidel (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 6: Hicret-Kafir)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 7: Kalb-Doubt (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 7: Kalb-Kuşku)
  • Encyclopaedia of the Quran 8: Power-Miracle (Turkish: Kur'an Ansiklopedisi 8: Kuvvet-Mucize)
  • Sources of Sacred Books 1 (Turkish: Kutsal Kitapların Kaynakları 1)
  • Sources of Sacred Books 2 (Turkish: Kutsal Kitapların Kaynakları 2)
  • Sources of Sacred Books 3 (Turkish: Kutsal Kitapların Kaynakları 3)
  • Islam and Nurculuk (1971) (Turkish: Müslümanlık ve Nurculuk (1971))
  • Such Sharia (Turkish: Şeriat Böyle)
  • Letters to Celebrities (Turkish: Ünlülere Mektuplar)


Books about[edit]

  • Abit Dursun, Turan Dursun Father (Turkish: Abit Dursun, Babam Turan Dursun)
  • Abit Dursun, Turan Dursun, and the Enlightenment (Turkish: Abit Dursun, Turan Dursun ve Aydınlanma)
  • Perinçek Sule, Turan Dursun tells the story of (Turkish: Şule Perinçek, Turan Dursun Hayatını Anlatıyor)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yonah Alexander; Milton M. Hoenig (2008). The new Iranian leadership: Ahmadinejad, terrorism, nuclear ambition, and the Middle East. Greenwood Publishing Group · ū. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-275-99639-0.  line feed character in |publisher= at position 34 (help)
  2. ^ Dursun Işık Tutmayı Sürdürüyor, Cumhuriyet, 4 Eylül 2005
  3. ^ a b Turkish Islam and the secular state: the Gülen movement By M. Hakan Yavuz, John L. Esposito
  4. ^ a b Gazeteci Dursun Öldürüldü, Milliyet, September 5th, 1990
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Perinçek, Ş., "Turan Dursun Hayatını Anlatıyor", Kaynak Yayınları
  6. ^ http://arsiv.ntvmsnbc.com/news/19613.asp

External links[edit]