The personification of Islamic cause: Ismail Gaspirali

İsmail Gaspıralı, the leading thinker, journalist and politician was born in Bahçesaray, a Crimean town in 1851

The personification of Islamic cause: Ismail Gaspirali

One of the prominent figures that comes to mind when Crimea concerned is without doubt İsmail Gaspıralı. The leading thinker, journalist and politician was born in Bahçesaray, a Crimean town in 1851. Heavily influenced by Czarist Russian political atmosphere where minorities had been restricted and oppressed, Gaspıralı embraced Turkish nationalism with a strict sense of Islam. Although having been a member of royal family and had a prosperous life, Gaspıralı did not throw a blind eye to his community’s hardships.  

Gaspıralı received Russian education in public schools and was graduated from Army College in Moscow. At that time, his views were shaped by Russian intellectuals but he stood against the Slavic intention of establishing a state on ethnic background. He believed the unity of Muslim and went to Paris via Istanbul.  

He worked as an assistant to Ivan Turgenyev, worldly-known Russian author in Paris. This period he was interested in the idea of ‘Enlightment’. When he was back to Istanbul, applied to be an Ottoman military officer but his application was rejected. However, his stay in Istanbul was efficient since he had the chance of meeting with members of Turkish intelligentsia such as Ahmet Mithat Efendi, Muallim Naci, Namık Kemal.

After coming back from Istanbul to his homeland Bahçesaray, he was elected to be the mayor and remained in this post for four years. In 1883, he founded a newspaper with the intention of spreading his ideas to all around Turkic world. Published in a number of Turkish dialects, Tercüman, the newspaper had large effect.  

Exploring his purpose to making Ottoman Turkish the language of entire Turkic world, he commented “The first and foremost reason of our backwardness is our ignorance. We have no idea has been invented or what happened in Europe. In order to get out of this isolation, we should read what is written in Europe. We have to learn European ideas again from European sources. These ideas must be included to our schools’ curriculum so that our students can reach them.”
He attached immense importance to the women’s education. He founded a magazine called “The world of women”. He was also among founding members of Islamic Unity in Russia which was established in 1907 with the aim of coming Muslim intellectuals together. The association organized the first Muslim Congress in Russia.    

His motto of “Unity in language, world view and work” had triggered many national awakening in different regions including Anatolia. He built the base for the democratic struggle of deported Crimean Turks to return Crimea.

His house where he published Tercüman newspaper for 35 years is now a museum. In the 100th anniversary of his death, UNESCO declares 2014 as the year of Gaspıralı after Turkey’s suggestion.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ekim 2014, 12:10