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Abdullah Cevdet (Ottoman Turkish: عبدالله جودت‎‎; Turkish: Abdullah Cevdet Karlıdağ; 9 September 1869 – 29 November 1932) was an Ottoman-born Turkish intellectual and physician of ethnic Kurdish origin.[2] He was one of the founders of the Committee of Union and Progress. In 1908, he turned against the Committee of Union and Progress and joined the Democratic Party which merged with the Freedom and Accord Party in 1911.[3] He was also a poet, translator, radical free-thinker, and an ideologist of the Young Turks until 1908.

Dr.

Abdullah Cevdet
Abdullah Dschewdet.jpg
Born(1869-09-09)9 September 1869
Died29 November 1932(1932-11-29) (aged 63)
Resting placeMerkezefendi Cemetery, Istanbul
NationalityOttoman, Turkish
EducationMedicine
Alma materMilitary College in Constantinople
OccupationPhysician, writer and intellectual
MovementYoung Turks (1895-1909),[1] Committee of Union and Progress (1889-1908), Democratic Party (1908-1911)

Contents

BiographyEdit

The son of a physician, and himself a graduate from the Military College in Constantinople as an ophthalmologist, Cevdet, initially a pious Muslim, was influenced by Western materialistic philosophies and was against institutionalized religion, but thought that "although the Muslim God was of no use in the modern era, Islamic society must preserve Islamic principles".[4] 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.

His poetry was linked with the Symbolist movement in France, and he received accolades from leading French authors like Gustave Kahn.[5]

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).[3]

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).[6] 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.[7] For a brief period between 1921 and 1922 he was active for Kurdish independence.

Religion and scienceEdit

Cevdat wanted to fuse religion and materialism, that is, under the influence of Victor Hugo and Jean-Marie Guyau, discard God but keep religion as a social force. In one poem he says:

We are pious infidels; our faith is that

Being a disciple of God is tantamount to love.

What we drink at our drinking party is

The thirst for the infinite.[8]

"Ranging from the New Testament to the Qur’ān, from Plato to Abū al-‘Alā’ al-Ma’arrī, he created an eclectic philosophy, reconciling science, religion, and philosophy with one another",[9] and in order to specifically build an "Islamic materialism" (he was a translator of Ludwig Büchner, one of the main popularizers of scientific materialism at the end of the 19th century), he would use medieval mystical authors like Al-Maʿarri, Omar Khayyam and Rumi, and try to find correspondence in their works with modern authors such as Voltaire, Cesare Lombroso, Vittorio Alfieri and Baron D'Holbach.[10] His "final step was to present modern scientific theories ranging from Darwinism to genetics as repetitions of Islamic holy texts or derivations from the writings of Muslim thinkers", trying to fit the Qur'an or ahadith with the ideas of peoples like Théodule Armand Ribot or Jean-Baptiste Massillon. He found that "the Qur’ān both alluded to and summarized the theory of evolution."[11]

Disillusioned by the ulema's lukewarm response to his role as "materialist mujtahid" (as he would term it), he turned to heterodoxy, the Bektashi (he called "Turkish Stoicism") and then Bahaism. Being unfruitful in that regard as well, he'd spent his last efforts as purely intellectual.[12]

DeathEdit

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.[13]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History, Robert Elsie, 2012, Page 436
  2. ^ Fevzi Bilgin & Ali Sarihan, Understanding Turkey's Kurdish Question, Lexington Books (2013), p. 13
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), p. 41
  5. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), p. 46
  6. ^ Karl Süssheim, “Abd Allah Djewdet’, Encyclopedia of Islam (EI1; Supplement), Leiden/Leipzig, 1938, 55–60.
  7. ^ Hanioğlu, M. Şükrü (1995). The Young Turks in Opposition. p. 202. ISBN 978-0195091151.
  8. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), p. 47
  9. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), p. 49
  10. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), p. 52
  11. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), pp. 55-56
  12. ^ Şükrü Hanioğlu, "Blueprints for a future society: late Ottoman materialists on science, religion, and art" in Elisabeth Özdalga, "Late Ottoman Society: The Intellectual Legacy", Routledge (2005), pp. 59-60
  13. ^ "Abdullah Cevdet" (in Turkish). Yazar Mezar. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.

ReferencesEdit