591) Understanding of Justice in the Turkish State Tradition

The Kutadgu Bilig, a didactic work in verse which Yusuf Has Hacip completed in 1069/1070 and presented at Kashgar to the Karahanid sovereign Abd Ali Hasan bin Süleyman Arslan, is a historical source that provides philosophical and moral advices about state administration and describes an ideal social life. This work contains views and thoughts concerning the social life, morals, value standards and state administration of the Turks. The Kutadgu Bilig defines the function of the protector of law and institution of justice as follows: "Folks obey customs and law in the same way as Lords behave in accordance with customs and law." . .

"The Turkish custom is that the Sovereign administers justice at a high court which might be called the court of complaints or wrongdoings in his capacity as head of state and as the father of the nation bearing the titles of Yarfu, Yolak and Dar-ul-Adl. The chief duty of the Turkish heads of state and government towards their subjects was to administer justice.

We learn from historical sources that in the Anatolian Seljuk state hearings were held twice a week at the High Court and complaints of people were looked into regardless of their religion. This practice was the continuation of a tradition of the Great Seljuk State. We also know that in the Ottoman state great importance was attached to justice as is testified to by the dictum Justice is the basis of the country." (1)

Thanks to governing in justice, which is one of the most important principles of the Turkish state tradition, the Ottoman state was able to make its citizens live together in peace, tranquillity and prosperity for centuries in a manner which was never achieved by any other state throughout history.

Under the Ottomans

"personal rights of those who believed in religions other than Islam were legally protected by the State. No ethnic group whatsoever was favoured before law and different ethnic groups were never oppressed." (2)

"It is a well known fact that believers in every religion such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism lived in the Ottoman lands. Had it not been for the freedom of religion in the Ottoman state, it would not have been possible. The Ottomans were obliged to preserve what in existence and to be watchful and diligent towards expansion." (3)

"The islamic law had already guaranteed human rights to all her subjects. Right to life, right to own, right to raise a family, right to inherit had their places in the legal system.

Ottomans outlook on life is a human centred one. Islam deals with Man by taking the World and hereafter as a whole. It is essential in Islam that the concept of human rights has a divine character The Turks have understood Islam as submission to God, obedience to his orders, being kind to his creature. and fair conduct." (4)

The Ottomans lasted for centuries as a sovereign state just because they governed non-Turkish and non-muslim minorities in justice with no oppression at all on their customs, beliefs and ways of life.

It has never been a State policy with the Ottomans to attempt to assimilate the minorities resorting to certain methods as was done by some great powers. This is the reason why they had been able to stamp some centuries in history as the Ottoman centuries. The centuries old tolerance shown by the Ottomans towards other religions and ethnic groups is an undeniable historical fact.

If it were otherwise, linguistic and religious geography of many countries would have been completely different today. . .

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Understanding Of Justice In The Turkish State Tradition


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