Islam is a monotheistic religion practiced by Muslims. They believe that Allah gave revelations to the Prophet Muhammed through the Angel Gabriel around A.D. 600. Jesus Christ and the prophets of the New Testament are accepted as Islamic precepts. During their rule of the Ottoman Empire, Islamic laws dictated the way of life for the Turks. In 1924 with the new republic government, Islamic Law was abolished as a state religion. The government removed religion from public policy and restricted it exclusively to personal faith.
This led to the abolishment of the religion’s hierarchy and the closing and confiscation of the lodges, meeting places and monasteries as well as outlawing their rituals and meetings. The government restricted religious public attire for men and women as well as trying to substitute Turkish words for Arabic words of Islamic origin. This was a swift and harsh attempt at change. During the 1940’s there was a relaxation of some political controls and by the 1950’s people wanted to return to traditional religious practice.
In fact starting in the 1950’s religious education was made compulsory in secondary schools and in 1982 it was extended to primary schools as well. A lot of the controversy that followed was found in the universities. Female students committed to Islam began to cover their heads and necks with scarves and long overcoats. This lead to the regulations in 1987, forbid female students to cover their heads in class. Protests by other religious students and professors overturned the dress code in the 1990’s. Today, a Turkish woman’s dress has become the center of much debate. (Bollag,B., January 8, 1999). The Muslim religion accounts for 99% of the population in Turkey. Non-Muslim’s religions include: Christians, Protestants and Jews. The members of these religions usually reside in a single area and are very small in number.