Sadri Maksudi Arsal

A Documentary Study

A renown multidisciplinary scholar, philosopher, statesman and first and foremost a Turkish nationalist from Kazan, Sadri Maksudi Arsal has left his mark in history with his valuable contributions to Atatürk's reforms and with his pioneering work in law, linguistics and history in the period 1925 to 1935.
He was elected to the II. and III. Dumas (1907-1912) to represent Russian Moslems. Following the 1917 revolution, he was active in the formation of "The Inner Russia and Siberia Muslims National-Cultural Autonomous Administration" which would later be referred to as the "Idil Ural State". He was elected Chairman to the Assembly of this administration and defended its rights at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

In 1923 he settled in Paris and lectured at the Institute of Slavonic Studies of the Sorbonne University.   In 1925 upon Atatürk’s invitation he moved to Ankara and founded the Department of the History of Turkish Law, initiating the study of pre-Islamic Turkish Legal System.  He also taught Philosophy of Law, General History of Law and History of Turkish Law for long years at the University of Istanbul.

He served as a deputy at the Turkish Grand National Assembly for three terms from Şebinkarahisar (1931-1935) and Giresun (1935-1939). In 1950 he was re-elected from the Democrat Party from Ankara.

The purpose of this web site

Obituary Comments

Prof. Halil İnalcık
It is a truly human virtue to remember and commemorate. Yet, there are events that merit more than a commemoration, it is our national duty to commemorate them. Such commemorations are occasions to express a nation’s commitment to its eternal aspirations and reflect the dynamism of national conscience. The commemoration of those who have served our national life and culture, attest to the maturity and strength of our national pride.
Two years on his death, while summarizing his latest book, I reflect not only on his teaching virtues but also on Prof. Emeritus Sadri Maksudi’s important significance in the Turkish world.  Sadri Maksudi passed away to eternity two years ago on the twenty first of February. He was not only a teacher lecturing justice and law to thousands of young men from the podium of the Faculty of Law. He was not only a Turkish intellectual who studied the thinking of mankind’s great scholars from their own writings and analyzed them under a Turkish approach. He was one of the major contributors to the establishment of the cultural foundations of modern Turkey in his role as a close associate of Atatürk during the reform period.
The source and guide of Sadri Maksudi’s activities was his ardent faith in the Turkish nation and its future. Sadri Maksudi fully comprehended and felt the importance of the role of the Turkish nation in history and civilization, he was a national warrior who dedicated his life struggling to dignify it.
(Halil İnalcık, Vatan, March 2, 1958)

Prof. Tayyip Gökbilgin
“Sadri Maksudi Arsal occupies an important place in the recent history of our science and culture, especially in the realms of our national history and Turkish nationalism. For more than thirty years, he has authored works of unparalleled importance for our universities and scientific life. Through his vast knowledge, unwavering energy and his pure and fervent dedication to Turkism he was able to accomplish great services at the Turkish Institute of History.”

(Gökbilgin, Tayyip, “Sadri Maksudi’nin Türk Tarihi ve Türk Soyu Hakkındaki Görüşleri”,
Türk Yurdu April- May 1970, Vol. II, Issue 4, pp 23-27)

Prof. Dr. Nadir Devlet
“Sadri Maksudi is the most important figure in the 20th century history of the Tatar people. Until recently his ideas and actions have remained exemplary.”
(Nadir Devlet, “Stateman and Thinker Sadri Maksudi Arsal, on the 50th anniversary of his death, 13 May 2007)

Prof. Dr. Reha Poroy
Institutions certainly have their own unique and ongoing personality. On the other hand, institutions are born and live only thanks to some people. To commemorate these people, to imagine the resonation of their voices under the dome of the institution, is not only a tribute, it is a necessity in the evaluation and further progress of the institution. That is the best description of what Ord. Prof. Sadri Maksudi Arsal meant to our Faculty of Law.
(Opening speech of the commemoration meeting held at Istanbul University Faculty of Law. Journal of Turkish Culture, Year V, Issue 53, March 1967)

Shafiga Daulet
Sadri Maksudi, one of the foremost Turko-Tatar intellectuals of the twentieth century, was born in the small Kazan Tatar village of Tashsu, about 30 kilometers north of City of Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. His unusual and distinguished career included serving in the parliaments of Czarist Russia in St. Petersbourg (in the Duma of 1907 to 1912), in the first Kazan Tatar National Assembly of parliament (Milli Mejlis) in Ufa in 1917, and in the Turkish Republic’s Parliament in Ankara (1931-1939 and 1950-1954). Maksudi was the brain behind the formation of the National Cultural Autonomy of the Turko-Tatars (of Muslims of Inner Russia and Siberia or Rusya ve Sibirya Müslümanlarının Milli Medeni Muhtariyeti).
(Kazan and Moscow, Kase Press, Hudson New Hampshire, 2003)

About Gülnur Ayda Üçok