Turkish Interior Ministry orders use of Allah, not God, in military prayer

When Turkish soldiers say grace before a meal, they will now have to use the word Allah rather than the word Tanrı (God), according to Cumhuriyet newspaper.

A circular sent by the Interior Ministry orders soldiers to say “Thanks be to our Allah” in place of “Thanks be to our God”, thus settling a longstanding problem with religious soldiers on military service who would often insist on saying Allah instead.

Tanrı, while now usually referring to the same deity in the singular, comes etymologically from Tengri, the principle deity of the Shaman religion many Central Asian Turkic peoples subscribed to in the past.

As a consequence, some Turkish Muslims reject the use of the word in favour of Allah, which also means “the God” in Arabic, including in other Abrahamic faiths.

The military choice of Tanrı in saying grace is likely related to the heady mixture of linguistic nationalism, official secularism and French-rite Freemasonry – which is careful not to discriminate between monotheistic gods – that characterised the early Turkish republic.

Indeed, between 1932 and 1950, a Turkish version of the call to prayer was mandated using the word in place of Allah.


The new Turkish military grace:

Prayer leader – Thanks be to our Allah

All soldiers – Thanks be to our Allah

Prayer leader – Long live our nation

All soldiers – Long live our nation

Commander – Enjoy your meal

All soldiers – Thanks