Can resurrecting the caliphate solve Muslims’ problems?

Aydoğan Vatandaş
Aydoğan Vatandaş

Date posted: January 13, 2015


The recent terrorist attacks in Paris once more brought up the issue of how homegrown terrorism is shaping up to be one of the most striking elements of today’s terror threat, as former US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano predicted in 2011.

As I pointed out in my previous article (“Why are they becoming terrorists?” Today’s Zaman, Jan. 8), the available data explicitly indicate that the individuals affiliated with homegrown terrorism that is motivated by a Salafi jihadist interpretation of Islam are not necessarily connected to religiosity and are often ignorant about Islam, but are instead under the influence of a process of radicalization.

Peter Neumann and Brooke Rogers describe the radicalization process as “the changes in attitude that lead towards sanctioning and, ultimately, the involvement in the use of violence for a political aim.” However, it is necessary to note that not all radical ideologies necessarily cause violence or approve of violence. Likewise, while some Salafi jihadist groups approve of using violence to reach their political goals, some do not and prefer to organize and struggle in the form of political parties.

For example, Egypt’s Nour Party is known as a Salafi party which supported President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. When asked about any connections to armed Salafi groups in the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere, Nader Bakkar, the party’s spokesman, is known to have said, “There are no communications whatsoever between the Nour Party and any armed groups on the Egyptian borders.”

Salafi jihadist groups are generally characterized by their highly legalistic interpretations of religion. They rely on only core Salafi jihadist scholars. They also are strictly of the belief that Islam and the West are not compatible. They are also known for their intolerance of other Islamic interpretations, which they see as deviance from their own theology.

As mentioned before, not all the Salafi groups endorse using violence to reach their political goals. One of the main elements that the Salafi jihadist groups and non-violent Salafi groups or parties and some political Islamist parties have in common, however, is their goal to actually establish political rule or seize the state apparatus and resurrect the caliphate. The Ottoman caliphate was abolished in 1924 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. It is safe to say that the abolishment of the caliphate by Atatürk was the mother of all crimes, not only for the Salafi jihadist groups but also for some political Islamists as well.

It is also known that al-Qaeda’s intended goal is the establishment of the caliphate, as this has been declared by their leaders in the past, while the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has already made clear its goal by “declaring” the caliphate.

However, declaring a caliphate or working to establish a caliphate in an imagined future and using violence to reach this goal has not helped Muslims solve any of their problems thus far.
As the prominent scholar Jessica Stern notes in her well-known article “Deradicalization or disengagement of terrorists: Is it possible?” the terrorists who claim to be motivated by a religious ideology are often ignorant about Islam and are not even religious.

As far as Turkish political Islam goes, some of the leading political Islamists in Turkey are facing huge corruption allegations and display behaviors which are totally against Islamic core values.

The Turkish experience also provides evidence that some segments of the Turkish youth, who are under the influence of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership, show tendencies towards radicalization. Even though Erdoğan himself has never claimed that he has an ambition to resurrect the Ottoman caliphate, he never rejected his followers referring to him as the expected caliph in an imagined future.

It is also noteworthy that one of the prominent spiritual leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, made remarks in September 2014 declaring that Turkey is where the caliphate will be established.

It is safe to say that Erdoğan seems convinced that he will establish the “Grand Turkey” in 2023, a hundred years after the New Turkey that was established by Atatürk. Erdoğan does not even try to hide anymore that he wants to replace Atatürk.

Is Erdoğan’s witch hunt against Mr. Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement a coincidence?

I believe it is not.

Erdoğan’s biggest motivation and dream was to seize state power and establish his own political rule, which is an extrinsic motivation. By institutionalizing his own regime Erdoğan is actually injecting himself into the system using Islam as a device for the manipulation of the masses.

As an authoritarian leader, Erdoğan’s motivation has always been extrinsic; while Gülen has promoted intrinsic values and motivations for serving others through many means, including education.

These intrinsic values partly explain why the institutions established by the Hizmet movement are held in such high regard around the world. They do not seek to gain benefit in the locations where they serve; instead, they seek to make a lasting contribution to humanity.

*Aydoğan Vatandaş is an investigative journalist based in New York.

Source: Today's Zaman , January 12, 2015

Related News

Kimse Yok Mu delivers humanitarian assistance to Yazidis, Turkmens

Kimse Yok Mu, one of the largest charity organizations in Turkey, has sent humanitarian assistance worth nearly TL 2 million collected by volunteers to help Turkmens and Yazidis escaping Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in Iraq.

Turkish court orders 81-year-old man to stay behind bars on coup charges

A Turkish court has ruled for a continuation of the arrest of an 81-year-old Turkish man with walking and speaking difficulties, several Turkish media outlets reported.

Iranian gold stars in Turkish corruption scandal

It is difficult to predict how the bribery/corruption investigation into several Turkish ministers will end. Although there are those who frame the event as a power struggle between the Fethullah Gulen movement and the government, conspiracy theories expand its dimensions to include the United States and Iran. The government is looking for US and Israeli hands in the operation because of the use of Halkbank to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Iran.

Why are they becoming terrorists?

Whatever the reason or the motivation for the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, it is obvious that it is against the basic principles of Islam and should be strongly condemned by Muslims throughout the world.

President Erdoğan envies the Hizmet according to prominent columnist

Subsequent to the corruption probe the AK Party had denied the charges, blaming the Hizmet movement accusing it of orchestrating the probe. “This is when the antagonizing rhetoric started,” according to Alkan. President Erdoğan has in fact openly vowed to bring down the movement and anyone it perceives as being affiliated with it.

Hizmet movement and Kurdish question in Turkey

Through educational projects, the Hizmet movement helped to alter the social fabric of Turkish people who consciously or otherwise supported the institutional resistance of state and governmental bodies. Through dialogue and face-to-face encounters, Turkish people have had the chance to experience and feel the grievances of their Kurdish brothers and sisters and listen to their stories.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

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

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Gülen sues Ankara chief public prosecutor for defamation after terrorist label

Somalia: Somaliland rules out closure of Gulen-linked school

New book looks closer into Hizmet Movement with questions, answers

Cultural diaspora

‘Hizmet is really something that demonstrates what’s universal about Islam.’

Prep school debate [in Turkey] continues

Turkey cooperating with Israel to help Gaza

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News