Logo of the Directorate of Religious Affairs
|Type||Islamic education, religious administration|
|Allocated by Government|
In Turkey, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, normally referred to simply as the Diyanet) is an official state institution established in 1924 under article 136 of the Constitution of Turkey by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a successor to the Shaykh al-Islām after the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate.
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”. 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 provides Quranic education for children and trains and employs all of Turkey's imams, who are technically considered civil servants. It has been criticized for ignoring the Islamic creed of the 33–40% of Turkey's population that is not Hanafi Sunni Muslim.
Started from 2006 the Diyanet was "beefed up", and by 2015 its budget had increased fourfold, and staff doubled to nearly 150,000. In 2012 it opened a television station, now broadcasting 24 hours a day. It has expanded Quranic education to early ages and boarding schools – "enabling the full immersion of young children in a religious lifestyle" – and now issues fatawa on demand.
According to some observers (David Lepeska, Svante Cornell), since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, the mission of the Diyanet has changed – from one of exercising state oversight over religious affairs and ensuring that religion did not challenge the Turkish republic's "ostensibly secular identity", to that of promoting mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam, "a conservative lifestyle at home, and projecting "Turkish Islam abroad".
During the government of the Democrat Party İmam Hatip schools which offered religious classes and were run by the Diyanet, (re-)opened. The amount of schools offering Quran classes rose from 61 to in 1946 to 118 in 1948. From 1975 onwards, graduates of the İmam Hatip schools were given the same status as regular high-school graduates and therefore they were granted permission to study at universities. in 1975 there existed more than 300 İmam Hatip schools with almost 300`000 students. 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, and it allows in vitro fertilisation and birth control pills.
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. Bardakoglu's successor was less accommodating, publicly called the Pope “immoral” in 2015 over his stance on the Armenian genocide.
Diyanet has been criticized for following mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam and being "indifferent to the diversity of Turkish Islam", i.e. the non-Hanafi who make up "a third to two fifths" of Turkey's population. Non-Hanafi self-identified Muslims in Turkey include "about 15 million Alevis, perhaps three million Shi’a, and over a million Nusayris (Alawites)", plus the 12–15 million Sunni Kurds who follow the Shafi’i and not the Hanafi school.
In 2010-2011, Diyanet began its transformation to "a supersized government bureaucracy for the promotion of Sunni Islam". Diyanet chairman Ali Bardakoğlu, who had been appointed by a secularist president, was fired in late 2010 and replaced by Mehmet Görmez. In 2010, while the AKP was involved in policy changes that ended bans on hijab, Bardakoğlu refused to recommend that Muslim women wear the hijab, saying the religion does not require it.
Under the AKP government, the budget of the Diyanet quadrupled to over $2 billion by 2015, making its budget allocation 40 percent greater than the Ministry of the Interior's and equal to those of the Foreign, Energy, and Culture and Tourism ministries combined. It now employs between 120,000 and 150,000 employees.
Reforms undertaken in the administration of the İmam Hatip schools 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)".
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 [i.e. the Diyanet] to teach our religion to our people in the most correct, clear and concise way and steer them away from superstition”.
Also in 2016, Diyanet instructed affiliated imams and religious instances to collect detailed information on the Gülen movement. It handed 50 intelligence reports from 38 countries over to the Turkish parliament.
In 2017, some argued that "Diyanet’s implication in Turkish domestic and foreign politics opens a new chapter on Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism".
In 2018 Mustafa Çağrıcı claimed “The Diyanet of today has a more Islamist, more Arab worldview”. The same year, Diyanet has suggested citizens practice e-fasting during Ramadan. E-fasting refers to cutting down on use of technologies such as smartphones, laptops and social media.
The Diyanet began issuing fatawa on request sometime after 2011, and their number has been "rising rapidly". Among the activities it found forbidden (haram) in Islam over a one-year period ending in late 2015 were: "feeding dogs at home, celebrating the western New Year, lotteries, and tattoos". (Although the Diyanet is a governmental body, its fatawa do not have the force of law in Turkey.)
One activity the Diyanet has not forbidden is the use of toilet paper. In an April 2015 fatwa that made news outside of Turkey's borders, the Diyanet ruled its usage permissible within Islam though it emphasized that water should be the primary source of cleansing.
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 their engagement period.
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 on 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 a reply 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. A "social media storm" ensued 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, posting that the fatwa page was “under repair.” It later issued an official statement to the press, insisting 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.[Note 1]
In February 2018, Diyanet stated that using left hand for eating or drinking is not desirable, warning that “demons eat and drink with their left hand.” Diyanet added that people with physical disabilities could use their left hand if necessary.
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (German: Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion e.V., Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği), usually referred to as DİTİB, was founded in 1984 As of 2016, the DİTİB funds 900 mosques in Germany. The headquarters of DİTİB is the Cologne Central Mosque in Cologne-Ehrenfeld.
Of the 475 mosques in the Netherlands in 2018, a plurality (146) are controlled by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). Diyanet implements the political ideology of the Turkish AKP party and employ imams trained in Turkey in mosques under its control. Critics of the Diyanet imams, some of whom do not speak Dutch, hinder the effective integration of Dutch-Turkish Muslims into the society of the Netherlands by promoting allegiance to the Turkish state while neglecting to promote loyalty to the Dutch state.
According to Dagens Nyheter in 2017, nine mosques in Sweden have imams sent and paid for by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). Along with their religious duties, the imams are also tasked with reporting on critics of the Turkish government. According to Dagens Nyheter, propaganda for president Erdoğan and the AKP party is presented in the mosques.
The following people have presided over the institution:
|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|
|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|