Clash of two Islams in Turkey


Date posted: March 11, 2014

ZEKI SARITOPRAK

Turkey, an ally of the United States and member of NATO where 99 percent of the population is Muslim, is often hailed as an example of the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Recent events have tarnished Turkey’s democratic credentials.

The relationship between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen has been a focus of much of the recent U.S. media coverage of events in Turkey. However, that coverage has by and large neglected to explore the deep philosophical differences between these two men and the visions which they represent.

Mr. Gulen and the movement which takes his name are rooted in the mystical tradition of Islam and focus on education and social and cultural projects while Mr. Erdogan is an advocate for political Islam and its desire for political power.

Though he had been associated with political Islam in Turkey since the 1970s, Mr. Erdogan came to power in 2002 with the promise of full democracy and the rule of law. His Justice and Development Party, the AKP, while having a core leadership of people associated with the tradition of political Islam in Turkey, campaigned on a platform that eschewed much of that tradition and attracted a wide following within Turkish society. Mr. Edogan himself made it known that he was leaving behind the robe of political Islam. In the decade that followed, this promise slowly faded. Despite the current corruption allegations against Mr. Erdogan and some of his leading ministers, today, Mr. Erdogan again holds the mantle of political Islam in Turkey and seems to have lost his toleration for any criticism or opposition. His attacks against Mr. Gulen, who advocates for a moderate Islam, show that the AKP government has become similar to that which it originally sought to overthrow: the authoritarian state.

Mr. Erdogan was an early follower of the founder of Turkish political Islam and cut his political teeth as head of the youth organization of a party espousing political Islam. Turkish political Islam views Europe in general, and the European Union specifically, as inherently anti-Islam and thus not a place for Turkey. This view is not shared by Mr. Gulen, who finds that the essence of Islam necessitates dialogue with Christians and Jews and sees Turkey’s entrance into the European Union as a practical step towards dialogue. Mr. Gulen sees cooperation with the West as necessary for Turkey’s future. Mr. Gulen is regularly attacked by political Islamists in Turkey for his dialogue with Christians and Jews.

For Turkish political Islam, politics is the main goal and people in the tradition believe that through politics they can bring about an Islamic state. Further, the state is infused with holiness and is the defender of Islam — hence, for the sake of the state, some injustices can be justified and individual rights can be sacrificed. In the mystical tradition of Islam, the establishment of an Islamic state is not a goal. Adherents believe every human is a universe and as such deserves respect. What is important in this tradition is service and increasing social harmony throughout the world.

The recent actions by Mr. Erdogan and the leadership of the AKP seem to be sending mixed signals. On the one hand, Mr. Erdogan recently visited Brussels and talks in the Western media like someone who is sincere about Turkey’s European future. On the other, in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan continues to crack down on any threat to his rule and has reined in many democratic and civil society institutions. The current spat between Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Gulen should make it clear that these two men do not share a similar philosophical understanding of Islam. Hence to simply paint them as two sides of the same coin is a gross misreading of the men and the movements they represent, whose fundamental differences regarding politics and interpretations of Islam are of profound importance to the future of Turkey’s relationship to the West.

*Zeki Saritoprak is an associate professor of Islamic studies at John Carroll University.

Source: cleveland.com , March 11, 2014


Related News

Somalian students condemn plot against Kimse Yok Mu

Kimse Yok Mu has presence in 113 nations directly providing aid to 300 thousands. The non-profit passed a controversially rigorous 2-month inspection with flying colors.

Rule of law(lessness) in Turkey?

It turned out that I was overly optimistic, for I did not want to believe that a prime minister who bravely fought the old, authoritarian establishment in the people’s name for years could have changed so much, adopting just the same behavior we were subjected to in the past. I had thought that those bitter experiences were only a distant memory. Unfortunately, I was wrong — terribly so.

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Abductions, forceful disappearances, tortures, and political target killings have always been among the burning human rights violations in Turkey; however, they skyrocketed during Erdogan’s rule and especially after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The story of the boy who cried wolf

The Sabah newspaper greeted the news of the 10-hour National Security Council (MGK) meeting with the headline “Parallel structure added to red book.” But this was, of course, a complete lie. For a long time now, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been indicating that the Hizmet movement — which he refers to as the “parallel structure” — would be officially added to the National Security Strategy Concept Paper as a “domestic threat.” This is a part of his personal vendetta and Erdoğan has kept up this propaganda war even as president of Turkey.

VIDEO – Was July 15 Erdogan’s Reichstag Fire?

What really happened on the night of July 15, 2016 in Turkey? Why thousands of judges and prosecutors were the next day? Why hundreds of journalists were arrested and media outlets shut down after the coup attempt by Erdogan? Was the failed coup attempt Erdogan’s Reichstag Fire?

Wife: Jailed Former Prosecutor, Heavy Cancer Patient, Needs Urgent Health Care

Prosecutor Kuriş was detained over allegations over involvement into coup attempt despite he was in rest at home because of his serious sickness, cancer. However, the biased forensic medicine department has always issued reports claiming that Prosecutor Kuriş is eligible to stay in prison conditions.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Fethullah Gülen lawsuit [in the US] thrown out in setback for Turkey’s Erdoğan

‘Ankara no longer producing laws compatible with EU norms’

Moderate Islamic Gulen Movement Builds Bridges of Understanding With Christians, Jews

Turkish-Americans in Tennessee worry about their homeland

Nearly 2,500 turn up for International Language and Culture Festival in Thailand

Volunteers Back from Medical Service in Somalia

Row between Turkish government and Gulen Movement takes new twist

Copyright 2023 Hizmet News