Is it shirk to sign and read secular oaths?

Aug 16, 2022 | Aqidah (Belief)


Is it shirk for teachers to sign the oath “I swear on my honor that I will protect, develop and abide by secularism and Ataturk’s reforms”? Every teacher and civil servant in our country has to do this. Otherwise, they cannot become teachers. Can the National Anthem be sung standing against the Atatürk bust in official ceremonies? are these shirk


To deal with situations in which telling the truth outright would lead to extreme difficulty, the shariʿah allows for using a word with dual meaning. This is when the speaker assumes a different meaning of the word and the listener assumes a different meaning. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) used this allowance when during the migration to Madinah Munawwarah a member of the search party asked him who the man next to him was, indicating towards the Prophet ﷺ, and Abu Bakr replied, “This is my guide.” What he intended was “guide in life” but the impression the questioner got – which was the impression Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) wanted him to get – was “guide in the journey”. This is called “tawriyah” in the terminology of the jurists.

While swearing to “protect, develop and abide by” secularism would be problematic if the word secularism is taken in its modern meaning of “complete separation between religion and the state” or “no involvement of religion in public life”, it would not be problematic if taken in the original meaning for which it was coined. According to the University of Pittsburgh Keywords Project, “Secular comes from Latin adjective saecularis, from saeculum, “generation” or “age.” The Latin poet Horace wrote his Carmen Saeculare in 17 BCE at the request of the Emperor Augustus to mark the inauguration of a new age. Within medieval Latin Christianity, saecularis designated what pertained to “the world,” in contrast to the Church. The implied contrast is between what is of an age and what is eternal: the timed versus the timeless… In this usage, the secular could still be closely affiliated with the Church. As early as 1380, John Wycliffe wrote of “the seculer arme of þe chirche,” the means by which the Church could physically punish offenders.” (Keywords Project | Secular (

Thus, according to this meaning, secular was that which had to do with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter. Taken in this meaning the pledge to “protect, develop and abide by secularism” would reflect a concern for this worldly life, which is not problematic from the perspective of the shariʿah.  As far as the commitment to Ataturk’s reforms is concerned, for this part of the oath one can make the intention of any of his reforms that are not contrary to the shariʿah. With these intentions it would be permissible to sign the oath.

There is nothing in the words of the Turkish national anthem that are problematic from the perspective of the shariʿah, nor would it be impermissible to sing it next to the bust of Ataturk if the intention is not to honour him.

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (6/ 134)

(قَوْلُهُ: وَيُوَرِّي) التَّوْرِيَةُ أَنْ يُظْهِرَ خِلَافَ مَا أَضْمَرَ فِي قَلْبِهِ أَتْقَانِيٌّ. قَالَ فِي الْعِنَايَةِ فَجَازَ أَنْ يُرَادَ بِهَا هُنَا اطْمِئْنَانُ الْقَلْبِ وَأَنْ يُرَادَ الْإِتْيَانُ بِلَفْظٍ يَحْتَمِلُ مَعْنَيَيْنِ اهـ وَفِيهِ أَنَّهُ قَدْ يُكْرَهُ عَلَى السُّجُودِ لِلصَّنَمِ أَوْ الصَّلِيبِ وَلَا لَفْظٌ فَالظَّاهِرُ أَنَّهَا إضْمَارُ خِلَافِ مَا أَظْهَرَ مِنْ قَوْلٍ أَوْ فِعْلٍ، لِأَنَّهَا بِمَعْنَى الْإِخْفَاءِ فَهِيَ مِنْ عَمَلِ الْقَلْبِ تَأَمَّلْ. (قَوْلُهُ: ثُمَّ إنْ وَرَّى لَا يُكَفَّرُ) كَمَا إذَا أُكْرِهَ عَلَى السُّجُودِ لِلصَّلِيبِ أَوْ سَبِّ مُحَمَّدٍ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ تَعَالَى عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – فَفَعَلَ وَقَالَ نَوَيْت بِهِ الصَّلَاةَ لِلَّهِ تَعَالَى، وَمُحَمَّدًا آخَرَ غَيْرَ النَّبِيِّ

Answered by:
Apa Myra Hamid

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel