28east

Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Government without religion

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Both times I heard it, it was indicated that it was quite the ubiquitous expression. Yet I’ve still only heard it twice. Perhaps this is merely a testament to the fact that I haven’t spent enough time in Turkey. Or perhaps it’s just not the kind of thing you hear in the teahouses.

The expression is “dinsiz hükümet olmaz,” or “government without religion is not possible.”

Seeing the phrase, one has to wonder how many Turks believe it. Or, more interesting, how many among those who believe it think that the rule of the AK party satisfies it by constituting a religious government. Is the secular nature of the state somehow ameliorated by the presence of an Islamist party?

Even more interesting—how many Muslims believe it?

To a Muslim with literalist tendencies, God did not reveal Islam in order that it be a “religion.” Rather, Islam is a dīn—which is better described as “religion together with its practices in general.” Part and parcel of this dīn is a certain form of governance, and the AK party; according to the literalist, certainly doesn’t fit the bill.

As Turkey reintroduces itself to the Muslim world, it reintroduces itself to the kind of criticism that it endured from such literalists during the Ottoman era—that its brand of Islam is not the Islam given to man by God (ironically, later critics said that the Republic of Turkey destroyed Islam by abolishing the Ottoman caliphate). Today’s AK party, which has been called neo-Ottoman on many occasions, takes up the gauntlet once again—this time as an aggressive salesman (call them Ottomongers) to the victims [?] of the Arab Spring. Whether the Turkish model will ring true on the Arab market remains to be seen.

Yeah, I don’t think it’s likely, either.

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Written by M. James

October 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm

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