Introduction This chapter examines the process through which the Caliphate was brought to an end following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Here I focus on domestic political struggles within the caliphal center, Turkey, analyzing two cases in particular: the abolition of the Ottoman monarchy (1922) and that of the Caliphate itself (1924). After discussing the post-war politico-military context of the collapsing empire, I locate these two crucial events in their historical context and present a discourse analysis of the political struggle between the pro-Caliphate group (mostly consisting of modernist Islamists) and the antiCaliphate, secularist group led by Mustafa Kemal, who emerged as the leader of the Turkish resistance against the Greek invasion of Anatolia between 1919 and 1922. I demonstrate that, though the secularists won the political and legal battle by destroying both Ottoman rule and the caliph’s power, both groups extensively resorted to the meta-discursive strategy of deriving justification from Islam. In fact, the frequency and intensity of such Islamic legitimization could be said to be equal to, or at times even higher than, earlier periods. Religious symbolism and rhetoric was extremely visible and abundant during the 1920-1923 period, when Turkish nationalists, who would later abolish the Caliphate, as well as Islamic law and institutions, needed to legitimize themselves in a struggle that the caliph (Mehmed VI) did not approve of and to receive financial, medical, and military help from the Muslim world. As Kara (2008) observes, one of the famous “consultation verses” (3/159) was inscribed behind the seat of the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s (GNA) president, which was not the case in the Meşrutiyet era, and the ulema and sheikhs constituted the highest percentage of the deputies in the GNA’s first term, which lasted three years and four months. The GNA president, Mustafa Kemal, also appointed two Sufi sheikhs as his vice presidents. His – and other secularists’ – political discourse was truly “Islamic,” albeit instrumentally, until at least mid-1923, less than a year before they abolished the Caliphate. During this time, they extensively deployed such familiar discursive strategies as invoking the sacred texts of Islam (the Qur’an and the prophetic traditions), and making references to Islamic history. They also enjoyed the strategic support, as Midhat Pasha had in

the debates over the 1876 Constitution (see Chapter 2), of some of the ulema, particularly Seyyid Bey, who was a deputy between 1920 and 1923 and the minister of justice between 1923 and 1924, and Vehbi Efendi, who was the minister of religious affairs when the Ottoman monarchy was abolished. It was also a Sufi sheikh, Safvet Efendi, who prepared the proposal of the law that abolished the Caliphate. In both cases, Seyyid Bey was especially instrumental in framing Mustafa Kemal’s secular moves in religious terms, using his extensive knowledge of Islamic law and theology. The secularists’ main discursive strategy was

iii reconstructing the Caliphate as a purely religious/spiritual authority; but they also employed several complementary strategies, including

iii establishing the Islamicity of a two-tiered political system in which the Caliphate was separated from the monarchy,

iii elevating the Caliphate’s status vis-à-vis the “un-Islamic” monarchy, iv redefining the Caliphate as an “un-Islamic” institution in contrast to the

Islamic state of the GNA, iv mixing an Islamic discourse with a (Turkish) nationalist one, and vi adapting religion to modern conditions.