Ahmet Ağaoğlu

Ahmet Ağaoğlu
Born December 1869 (1869-12)
Shusha, Elisabethpol Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 19 May 1939(1939-05-19) (aged 69–70)
Istanbul, Turkey
Resting place Feriköy Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Occupation Journalist and politician
Nationality Azerbaijani

Ahmet Ağaoğlu, also known as Ahmed bey Agayev (Azerbaijani: Əhməd bəy Ağayev; 1869–1939) was a prominent Azerbaijani and Turkish politician, publicist and journalist. He was one of the founders of Pan-Turkism.[1]


Early life

Ağaoğlu was born in December 1869 to a Shia Muslim family in the town of Shusha in the Elisabethpol Governorate,[2][3] then controlled by the Russian Empire. His father, Mirza Hassan, was a wealthy cotton farm owner of the Qurteli tribe, and his mother, Taze Khanum, was of the seminomadic Sariji Ali tribe.[4]

In 1888, he arrived in Paris, where he studied until 1894 and came under the influence of French Orientalists like Ernest Renan and James Darmesteter on Persianocentricism. After his return to Baku, he taught French and wrote books on various subjects. He also began embracing his Turkish identity. He spoke fluently a lot of languages (Ottoman, Azerbaijani, Russian, Persian, French).[5]

Nationalist politician

In 1905, Ağaoğlu played an important role in the prevention of ethnic clashes between Armenians and Azeris. He was also elected as Duma representative for the Muslims of Trancaucasia. Along with Nasib-bey Yusifbeyli, Ağaoğlu became a founder of the "Difai" (Defender) National Committee in Ganja, which in 1917 merged with the Turkic Party of Federalists and Musavat into a single party.

Fleeing police persecution and possible imprisonment, in late 1908, Ağaoğlu moved to Constantinople during the Young Turk Revolution.[6] Along with other émigrés from the Russian Empire, like the pan-Turkist writers Yusuf Akçura and Ali bey Huseynzade, he became a key figure in the Turkish movement led by Akçura’s journal Türk Yurdu ("Turkish Homeland") and became president of the Türk Ocağı ("Turkish Hearth") movement. With increasing influence in the Committee of Union and Progress regime, he became a deputy in late 1915, advocating for the Ottoman Empire to unite all Turkic nations.

Upon the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) in May 1918, Ağaoğlu returned to Azerbaijan. He took up Azerbaijani citizenship, was elected to the Parliament (Milli Mejlis) and was chosen to represent the ADR at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. However, he was imprisoned by the British on Malta while on his way to the conference. He was set free only in 1921.[6][7]

Later life

After the Soviets took power in Russia, Ağaoğlu had to leave the country. He moved to Ankara and continued his journalistic and political activities there, working as the director of the press bureau, as editor-in-chief of the official newspaper Hâkimiyet-i Milliye ("National Sovereignty"), and as a close adviser of Atatürk. Speaking in support of Westernization and secularization of Turkish society, he wrote in 1928:

If the West is superior in the material then it is due to its totality - its virtues and its vices. The Eastern system is permeated by religion at all levels and this brought decline, while secularization of the West brought superiority. If we want to survive we have to secularize our view of religion, morality, social relations, and law. This is possible only by accepting openly and unconditionally the mind as well as the behavior of the civilization which we are bound to imitate.[8]

Ağaoğlu died in Turkey in 1939. He was laid to rest at the Feriköy Cemetery in Istanbul.


Ağaoğlu considered cultural and educational progress to be the major part for national liberation and viewed the emancipation of women as part of the struggle. Ağaoğlu was the first member of the Azeri national intelligentsia to raise his voice for the equal rights for women.

In his book Woman in the Islamic World, published in 1901, he claimed that "without women liberated, there can be no national progress".


  • Audrey L. Altstadt: The Azerbaijani Turks. Power and Identity under Russian Rule, Stanford 1992.
  • Adeeb Khalid: The politics of Muslim cultural reform. Jadidism in Central Asia, Berkeley 1998.
  • Charles Kurzman: Modernist Islam, 1840-1940. A Sourcebook, New York 2002, p. 229.
  • A. Holly Shissler: Turkish Identity between Two Empires. Ahmet Ağaoğlu and the Development of Turkism, London 2002.
  • Tadeusz Swietotochwksi: Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920. The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim Community, New York 1985.


  1. Khalid, Adeeb (1998). The politics of Muslim cultural reform: Jadidism in Central Asia. University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-520-21356-2.
  2. A. Holly Shissler, "Excerpts from Ahmet Ağaoğlu's The Turkish World, 1912-1913", in Camron Michael Amin, Benjamin C. Fortna, Elizabeth Brown Frierson, The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-19-926209-0, P. 344.
  3. Ada Holly Shissler. Between Two Empires: Ahmet Agaoglu and the New Turkey, I.B.Tauris, 2003, p. 43
  4. Ada Holly Shissler. open citation, p. 44
  5. Shissler - A. Holly. Between Two Empires: Ahmet Agaoglu and the New Turkey. ISBN 9781860648557.
  6. 1 2 Ada Holly Shissler. open citation, p. 3
  7. Charles Kurzman: Modernist Islam, 1840-1940. A Sourcebook, New York 2002, p. 229.
  8. Betram, Carel (2008). Imagining the Turkish house: collective visions of home. University of Texas Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-292-71826-5.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.