“Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet) bans Alevi – Sunni marriage” says Al-Monitor’s Pinar Tremblay
Al-Monitor’s Pinar Tremblay wrote an article on 15 January 2016 and asserted that the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs says a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry an Alevi man due to Islamic rules. “The headlines on Jan. 4 reported that the Diyanet had declared”, wrote Tremblay, “marriage to Alevis impermissible.”1
The Status of the Religious Affairs Directorate in Turkey
The Presidency of Religious Affairs (PRA) was established in 1924 with the duty of teaching the ethics of Islam and executing the religious works like worship and administering places of worship.
In that context, the PRA publishes the answers of questions concerning Islam when asked, but the opinion/answer is not imperative to be carried out by the citizens.
Alevism and Sunni Islam in Turkey
Alevism is an Islamic sect which is not very prominent in Turkey because the majority of Turkey identifies themselves as Sunni Muslims. According to statistics released by the Directorate of Religious Affairs, 77,5 percent of Turkish Muslims identify themselves as Hanafis(one of the four sunni sects linked to Islam).
On the other hand, the number of Alevi citizens are not to be called a “minority group”, because there are an estimated 15 to 25 million Alevis living in Turkey.2
The Question of Alevi-Sunni Marriage
After being asked by a citizen if it is permissible or impermissible for a Sunni-Muslim woman to marry an Alevi man on 4 January 2016, the DRA released an answer and the answer reads:
“People that deny the decretals of Islam totally or partly or performing blasphemy verbally or actually are not to be considered as Muslims. There are both Sunni and Alevi rooted people that are living far away from these traditions, such as atheists. A Muslim is not supposed to marry such a person. But as for people who recognize the five pillars and the credendum of Islam, it is permitted for a Muslim to marry such a person regardless of his or her sect.”
The Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs
Mehmet Gormez, the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs since 2010 is known to end any prejudiced idea concerning people of different sects in Turkey. He is known to have said, “No matter their sect, temperament, language, culture and region, all Muslims around the world need to develop a common language, culture, thought and feelings togetherness”3 in a letter he wrote to Alevi leaders in Turkey in the month of Muharram; a month that is significant for both Sunni and Alevi Muslims.