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December 20, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8426

In Official Public Record, Turkey's AKP Government Publishes 'Ethical Rules' For Financial Auditors Citing Quran, Hadiths: 'The Auditor Should Act With The Fear Of Allah'

December 20, 2019
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8426

On December 14, 2019, Turkey's T.C. Resmi Gazete, which is the country's official public record that publishes new laws, decrees, regulations, memoranda, official announcements, and other formal material, announced, in its "board decisions" for that day, three decisions that cited verses from the Quran and the hadiths of Muhammad as a basis for Turkish law. The decisions pertain to the "ethical rules" to be followed by the auditors of interest-free financial institutions.

Faik Öztrak, a spokesman from the opposition CHP, said that the rules go against the principle of secularism outlined in the Turkish constitution and that "these ethical rules that the auditing employees will obey are entirely based on fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence]. What do does fiqh have to do with the ethical principles of auditing? Or else has Turkey transitioned into a dual legal system without the nation being informed of it?" There have also been responses to the rules in the press.[1]


CHP spokesman Faik Öztrak said the rules are "entirely based on fiqh" (source: Sozcu.com.tr).

The decisions can be found in a 106-page document cataloged as decision number 75935942-050.01.04 [01/309-01/317].[2] All three decisions are dated December 12, 2019, and come from the board of the Public Surveillance, Accounting, And Auditing Standards Institute. This report will review text primarily from the decision numbered 01/309, and briefly from the decisions numbered 01/311 and 01/315, as well as excerpts from the Turkish constitution, which repeatedly emphasizes the secular nature of the Republic of Turkey.

Government-Issued Rules Cite Organization That Prepares "Shari'ah Standards For Islamic Financial Institutions And The Industry"

The first page of Decision 01/309 gives the subject of the decision as "The Publication Of Ethical Rules For Auditors Carrying Out Independent Auditing Of Interest-Free Financial Institutions." It reads: "It was decided that... for the purpose of passing into law the standard published by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) under the title 'Code Of Ethics for Accountants and Auditors of Islamic Financial Institutions,' the 'Ethical Rules For Auditors Carrying Out Independent Auditing Of Interest-Free Financial Establishments' would be published."

These rules were also published on the official website of Turkey's Institute Of Public Surveillance, where it includes, alongside the Institute's logo, the logo of AAOIFI, whose website says the organization is "an Islamic international autonomous non-for-profit corporate body that prepares accounting, auditing, governance, ethics and Shari'ah standards for Islamic financial institutions and the industry."[3] Its stated mission is the "standardization and harmonization of international Islamic finance practices and financial reporting in accordance to Shari'ah," and the objective listed first on its website is  "to develop accounting, auditing, governance and ethical thought relating to the activities of Islamic financial institutions taking into consideration the international standards and practices which comply with Islamic Shari'ah rules."[4]


The AAOIFI logo appears prominently on a PDF released on a Turkish government website.

"The Auditor Should Act With The Fear Of Allah, The Exalted" And Be "Constantly Aware That Allah, The Exalted, Is Watching Him"

Decision 01/309 cites ten hadiths of Muhammad and 20 Quran verses, including: 16:90, 4:58, 33:72, 2:30, 6:165, 11:61, 5:2, 3:102, 65:2-3, 103:1-3, 3:104, 16:90, 2:195, 4:1, 13:33, 20:7, 99:7-8, 4:86, 4:6, and 3:199. The introduction of the decision begins: "Accounting is one of the professions that the religion of Islam has made Fard Al-Kifayah [collective obligation]. In addition to its technical definitions, accounting is an instrument used for... carrying out fiqh rulings."

The document continues: "From the Islamic perspective, the ethical rules that the auditors will follow (in addition to all of the other foundations) are based on the faith of Islam and the principle of fiqh." It says that the rules therein "will be applied to auditors carrying out the independent audit of interest-free financial institutions. The auditor is responsible for his assistants and workers following these rules in the course of the audit. If there are other professional ethical rules that bring additional rules and are not against the principle of fiqh and its rules, those rules may also be followed."

Other sections read: "These rules put forward an ethical framework for auditors that takes as its foundation the principle of fiqh and its rules... The auditor should act with the fear of Allah, the Exalted, whatever the views of his superior or the other people may be... By believing that carrying out his responsibilities to Allah, the Exalted, will be a means of carrying out his other responsibilities, and by giving priority to this [responsibility] compared with the others, the auditor should carry out his responsibilities to Allah, the Exalted, in the best way possible... The auditor should take precautions to avoid everything for which Allah, the Exalted will be able to punish him."


The rules, published in Turkey's official government record, cite Quran verses and hadiths.

Among the auditors' responsibilities that the document lists are: "Being constantly aware that Allah, the Exalted, is watching him... being constantly aware that he will give an accounting [of his deeds] to Allah, the Exalted, on the Day of Judgment... showing love and fraternity for the sake of Allah, the Exalted."

The subject of Decision 01/311 is given as: "Interest-Free Finance Inspection Standard 4: Testing By Independent Auditors According To Suitability For The Principle And Rules Of Fiqh." One section title reads: "The Responsibilities Of The Independent Auditor Concerning The Provision Of Suitability To The Rules And Principle Of Fiqh." The subject of Decision 01/315 is given as: "Interest-Free Finance Inspection Standard 6: Inspection In Accordance With Fiqh (The Guarantee Inspection On Providing Suitability For The Principle And Rules Of Fiqh In Interest-Free Financial Institutions)." The appendices to this decision include example reports and suggested elements for longer reports.

Turkish Constitution: "The Republic Of Turkey Is A Democratic, Secular And Social State Governed By Rule Of Law" 

The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey mentions secularism directly ten times, emphasizing its importance.[5] The Preamble to the Turkish constitution says that "sacred religious feelings shall absolutely not be involved in state affairs and politics as required by the principle of secularism." Article Two of the constitution describes the "Characteristics of the Republic" as follows: "The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by rule of law..." Article 13 reads: "Fundamental rights and freedoms may be restricted only by law and in conformity with the reasons mentioned in the relevant articles of the Constitution without infringing upon their essence. These restrictions shall not be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the requirements of the democratic order of the society and the secular republic and the principle of proportionality."

Article 14 reads: "None of the rights and freedoms embodied in the Constitution shall be exercised in the form of activities aiming to... endanger the existence of the democratic and secular order of the Republic based on human rights. The statutes and programs, as well as the activities of political parties shall not be contrary to... the principles of the democratic and secular republic."

Article 81 requires members of parliament to swear as follows upon taking office: "I swear upon my honour and integrity... to remain loyal to the supremacy of law, to the democratic and secular republic, and to Atatürk's principles and reforms..." Article 103 requires the president to swear as follows before parliament upon taking office: "In my capacity as President of the Republic, I swear upon my honour and integrity before the Great Turkish Nation and before history to safeguard... the principles and reforms of Atatürk, and the principles of the secular republic..."

 

[1] Sozcu.com.tr/2019/ekonomi/resmi-gazetede-tartisma-yaratan-dini-hukumler-chpden-laiklik-tepkisi-5515489, December 17, 2019; Gazeteduvar.com.tr/gundem/2019/12/18/resmi-gazetede-fikih-referansina-tepki, accessed December 20, 2019; Birgun.net/haber/seriat-hukumleri-ilk-kez-resmi-gazete-de-korfez-den-sadece-para-gelmiyor-280682, December 19, 2019.

[2] Resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2019/12/20191214-7.pdf, December 14, 2019.

[3] Aaoifi.com/?lang=en, accessed December 19, 2019.

[4] Kgk.gov.tr/Portalv2Uploads/files/PDF%20linkleri/standartlar%20ve%20ilke%20kararlar%C4
%B1/FFDS/FFK%20Denet%C3%A7ileri%20%C4%B0%C3%A7in%20Etik%20Kurallar_RG.PDF, accessed December 19, 2019.

[5] Global.tbmm.gov.tr/docs/constitution_en.pdf, accessed December 19, 2019.

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