In a span of a week we heard [Turkey's] powerful religious affairs office, Diyanet, issuing a fatwa endorsing the classical Muslim thinking in which a man can renounce his wife unilaterally by pronouncing the word talaq on three occasions. That is against Turkey's civil laws and the constitution. In fact, by issuing that fatwa Diyanet violated Article 136 of the Constitution, which requires Diyanet to function in line with the constitutional principle of secularism.
In another occasion, the provincial Mufti of Hatay told a gathering of parents that they should marry their daughters between the ages of nine and 15, "as commanded both by the Quran and by our Prophet."
Diyanet's fatwa and the Mufti's call for the marriage of nine-year-old girls gave me the opportunity I was craving in the past years. H.F. is, or rather was, my best Greek friend. I tolerated his faith thinking he, being Christian Orthodox, is a "person of the book." A few years ago H.F. shocked me when he confessed that he was a radical polytheist.
|"Kill the polytheists wherever you find them."
The Quran (9:5)
I have spent the past few years trying, unsuccessfully, to have him converted to Islam. He refused. I waited with patience. He refused again. And I waited. He would not get circumcision and become a Muslim, stubborn H.F. I told him endless times that he should repent, establish prayer and give zakah. He refused. Which left me with one unpleasant option.
One day as he parked his car, got out and started walking on a dark street I quietly went after him and shot him in the back of his head three times. H.F. died immediately. I walked to the nearest police station to inform law enforcement authorities about the murder. My lawyer arrived at the courthouse and demanded my immediate release. The prosecutor on duty asked my lawyer to legally substantiate his demand, to which my lawyer simply answered by citing a Quranic verse (9:5):
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
I had waited for the sacred months to pass before killing H.F. I had acted exactly in the way the Quran commanded Muslims to act. So, where was the offense? Was it an offense when Diyanet or the Mufti endorsed behaviour that is in line with holy commandments but is not entirely legal? Why not apply the same logic to the murder case? Was every offense stated in the laws not the same from the legal point of view?
Fortunately the prosecutor, being a devout Muslim, ordered my immediate release. Now I can go and discuss conversion with my best Italian friend who, unfortunately, is another polytheist. I hope he will agree to establish prayer.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.