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The "Turkish Islam" Expression

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Gülen's Thoughts

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This expression might appear to conflict with Islam's universality. Islam is the religion of humanity. If that weren't the case, even though they protected their own customs and traditions, Turks would not have entered Islam so eagerly. Ismail Hami Danismend notes that in the tenth and elevents centuries, thousands of tents of Turkish people became Muslim all at once. Here I would like to mention something in parenthesis:

Islam appeared in Makka and Madina, then followed a road toward Asia. Although it had entered eastern Anatolia while advancing toward Asia, it was spread and established in Anatolia by Central Asian Turks. The whole world of Islam is indebted to Mecca and Madina. Our second indebtedness is to Central Asia.

We owe many things to Central Asia, be it in the fields of Hadith, tafsir (Qur'anic commentary), and jurisprudence, or because of the renaissance that took place there in the fourth and fifth centuries AH. In that early period, Islam was protected and developed in a way compatible with the Qur'an, Sunna, ijma' (consensus), and qiyas (legal analogy). The influence of qiyas in a society's morality, psychological make-up, and socioeconomic conditions can't be denied. The social structure's influence can't be denied. The Turkish nation interpreted Islam in the areas open to interpretation. From this viewpoint, it attained a very broad spectrum and became the religion of great states. For this reason, I think the term "Turkish Muslimness" is appropriate. Another aspect of this is that in addition to profound devotion to the Qur'an and Sunna, the Turks always have been open to Sufism, Islam's spiritual life. Sufism has spead among Turks more than among other peoples. [Eyup Can, Zaman daily, August 13-23, 1995]

For me, being Muslim is an essential because it encompasses both my happiness in this world and the next. But among my general thoughts and perceptions I believe, as expressed by one of our famous poets, that the Turkish nation put its true values on a solid foundation after becoming Muslim. Turks reached their zenith as a nation only after becoming Muslim. I look at myself as a Muslim Turk from this perspective. I have never thought of separating the two. Being Muslim is my only guarantee for happiness in this world and the afterlife. But I didn't think of my Turkishness as separate from my Muslimness. At the same time, I am very, very far from racism.

Islam is universal from the perspective of its principles. Details can be interpreted. It's my humble opinion that the Turkish nation has interpreted those matters open to interpretation very well. If Ottoman tolerance existed today in the world, I believe there would be a very good basis for dialogue not only for Muslims but for humanity. In a world that is becoming more and more globalized, being open to dialogue is very important. [Ertugrul Ozkok, Hurriyet daily, 1/23-30, 1995]

Inteviews by Eyup Can and Ertugrul Ozkok