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Comparing Islamic Resurgence Movements in Turkey and Iran
This article examines and compares the Islamic resurgence movements in Iran between the 1950s to the revolution of 1979 and in Turkey from the 1950s to the present. It focuses on wide-ranging socioeconomic, political, ideological, psychological, historical, and cultural factors, in addition to the religious and spiritual motivations, behind the phenomenon of Islamic revivalism and intends to find the similarities and/or differences between the Islamization movements in both countries.
We are witnessing the ongoing and increasing revival of Islam in the contemporary
Muslim world. This has been the motivation for my article, which focuses on the Islamic resurgence movements in Iran from the 1950s to the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and in Turkey from the 1950s up to the present day. In choosing these two non-Arab Muslim countries, which were never formally colonized, I argue that in spite of certain parallels in the revival of Islamic movements in the Muslim world, they have diverse, deep-rooted historical foundations and unique features and therefore should be analyzed distinctively in consideration of the internal dynamics and specificities of each country. In my study, I ended the analysis of Islamic revivalism in Iran with the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic that marked the opening of a new era in which the secularist regime was replaced with a theocratic one. I considered this as the ultimate stage that Islamic activism can reach. In other words, the Islamic resurgence movement in Iran has resulted in the establishment of an Islamic order. However, in contrast to Iran, given the country-specific conditions, religious revivalism in Turkey is still an evolving and dynamic process, which continues to develop by taking different forms and appearances in its struggle with the established secular forces. Therefore, the analysis of Islamic revivalism in Turkey is carried up to the present. The present study aims to determine the essential factors which account for the Islamist mobilization in each of these countries. which factors mobilize the masses along Islamist lines? who are the actors and supporters? what are the similarities and differences in the nature of Islamic revival movements in both countries? Is there a common pattern? what are the implications and consequences of the Islamic movements in Iran and Turkey? why have the outcomes been different? These are the questions that I will answer in this article in consideration of the unexpected occurrence of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the electoral success in Turkey of the Islamist welfare
Sena Karasipahi is a lecturer in the Political Science department at Texas A&M University. She would like to thank Professors John Voll, John Esposito, and Shireen Hunter, as well as the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim and Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, for their invaluable support and comments. Her forthcoming book, Muslims in Modern Turkey: Kemalism, Modernism and the Revolt of the Intellectuals, will be published in January by I.B. Tauris.
MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL M VOLUME 63, NO. 1, wINTER 2009 DOI: 10.37188.8.131.52
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Party and its successor, the Justice and Development Pary (AKP). There exists a huge body of literature about the Islamic revival process in both Turkey and Iran that posits different explanations or generalizations about its occurrence, nature, and consequences. This study intends to deal with each of these factors separately and find the similarities and/or differences — if there are any — between the Islamization movements in both countries by employing an all-encompassing and comparative approach. Thus it will focus on wide-ranging socioeconomic, political, ideological, psychological, historical, and cultural factors besides the religious and spiritual motivations behind the phenomenon of Islamic revivalism in Turkey and Iran. Before focusing on each factor separately, it is useful to begin with an overview of the general characteristics of the Islamic revival process in each country.
Islam is a very important element in both Iranian and Turkish social, cultural, and political life. Moreover, in Iran and Turkey alike Islamic movements are instigated mainly by — although by no means only by — the alienated and disinherited groups of society. As Shireen Hunter points out, Islam was used as a means of opposition and resistance by various elements of society from different economic and social milieus to express their discontent and resentment towards the state’s policies.1 In other words, Islamic revival is not restricted to a specific social, economic, or professional group.2 This fact is very much obvious in the Iranian case, where many different segments of the society — including the clergy, students, workers, middle class merchants in the bazaar, shopkeepers, workshop owners, and middle class technocrats — who were dissatisfied with and lost their confidence in the Shah’s policies eventually united around Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Similarly, in Turkey, we observe the increasing public visibility of Islam and the reclamation of religious values not only by the economically dispossessed and traditional lower income classes, but also by the middle or upper income classes, many of whom have a higher social status. Moreover, the Islamic movement in Turkey is not unified or monolithic. Instead we are observing diversity among Islamic groups. In fact, during the Ottoman era Islam had multiple forms of representation. That is to say, the community of Muslims has been at all times “heterogeneous and multidimensional,” consisting of orthodoxies and mystical orders in diverse shapes and roles that differ with district and community.3 Likewise, Islamic groups in Iran also were not united or homogenous. There existed divergences along the range of political and religious viewpoints among moderates, conservatives, and radicals, which become more evident after the revolution.4
1. Shireen Hunter, The Politics of Islamic Revivalism, Diversity and Unity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. x. 2. Hrair Dekmejian, “The Anatomy of Islamic Revival: Legitimacy Crisis, Ethnic Conflict and the Search for Islamic Alternatives,” The Middle east Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1 (winter 1980), p. 2. 3. Serif Mardin, “Religion in Modern Turkey,” International social science Journal, Vol. 29 (1977), p. 280. 4. Ali Mirsepassi-Ashtiani, “The Crisis of Secular Politics and the Rise of Political Islam in Iran,” social Text, No. 38 (Spring 1994), p. 68.
Nazih Ayubi. 8. It served as the “socializing agent. Sufi orders. 7. Ayubi. . Moreover. Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the arab World (New York: Routledge.7 In both countries. p. Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the arab World. which had been enormously powerful political and social forces under the Ottoman regime. 144. 148. the associational and institutional capability of the Iranian clergy.5 Furthermore. except among the secularized elites. Huwzehs that acted as vital means of communication among the revolutionary contenders” distinguishes them from the religious class in Turkey.9 On the other hand. As Nazih Ayubi points out. 148. the revolution occurred as a result of the alliance of both the modern and the pre-modern or traditional sectors. Therefore. Movement without Revolution: Comparing Islamic Activism in Iran and Egypt. it has multifunctional social and cultural roles in both societies. pp. neither in much more westernized and modernized Turkey nor in Iran was religion totally eliminated. 6. is led mainly by clerical leaders. Although the state banned all mystical religious orders and closed their lodges in 1925. which resulted in the revolution. Asef Bayat. Rather. 2003). 1991).” Comparative studies in society and history. followers of the Islamist parties in Iran are both from the provincial lower classes and the urban middle and lower middle classes. p.6 Likewise. Turkiye’de Din ve siyaset [Religion and Politics in Turkey] (Istanbul: Iletisim. 2-3. Modern Iran (New Haven: Yale University. 2002). who act as state officials. As Nikki Keddie points out: In Iran and elsewhere. as Quintan wictorowicz also indicates. Islam cannot be reduced to just a matter of faith. 160. contemporary Islamic activism in general is neither a solely rural nor solely urban phenomenon. it means that Islam is reentering politics and government in a stronger and more militant way than it had in most areas for many decades. Moreover. the mosques.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 89 It would be misleading to claim that the main motivation behind mass Islamic activism is only religious.”8 Likewise. this is in contrast to Turkey. which have a vital place in the everyday life of Muslim societies. p. Islam is strongly embedded in the fabric of the society and constitutes a societal building block as an indispensable and inseparable part of the two cultures. rather. The Islamic movement in Iran. For this reason. Nikkie Keddie. p. in the Iranian situation. where the lay segments of the population played an active role during the 1970s. act as a “religiospatial mobilizing structure” among various Islamist groups in Iran by serving as an organiz- 5. Vol. the so-called Islamic revival doesn’t mean that most people are more religious than they used to be: for the majority the degree of religiosity shows no sign of significant change. Serif Mardin.” source of identity. 1 (January 1998). which had control “over 10.000 mosques. mediator between state and society. “Revolution without Movement. 40. Islam has never been absent from the social and cultural lives of most Turks. and a means of protest against injustices. No. 9. Islam in Iran “was the only force within the civil society that the Shah had not managed to crush and it was thus able to provide the organization and ideology that all revolutions need. Hosseiniyyehs. have continued to play an important role in society and politics during the Republican era.
with the aid of the new Islamist intellectuals. in 874. 13.90 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL ing agent throughout the whole country. 12. pp. the print and visual media served more effectively as an educational and mobilizational agency.. 106. p. Hamid Algar. after the demise of the Safavid dynasty and with the emergence of Qajar rule in the 18th century. 2003). and does not exist in Sunni Islam. 15. Initially. 18. Muhammad al-Mahdi. which has had important political and social implications. hIsToRICal anD RelIGIoUs DIMensIons Historical factors shaped recent and contemporary events and made the Islamic revivalist movements unique and specific in each case. becoming the single country in the Islamic world with a Shi‘ite majority at that time has the utmost importance for our understanding of the Islamic resurgence movements in Iran in the 20th century. a class of Shi‘ite ‘ulama’ has been developed constantly in Iran. This led to the arrival of Shi‘ite Arab scholars from traditional Shi‘a centers in Iraq. Quintan wictorowicz. p. Initially. 11. The notion of the Imamate in the Shi‘a school of thought has great significance. However. Therefore. the balance of power was in favor of the shahs and the Shi‘ite ‘ulama’ remained loyal to the state. 14. a class of Shi‘ite clergy did not exist in Iran. 2001). Algar. Roots of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This historical fact places the Islamic revivalism in Iran during the 1970s apart from the Islamic movements in Turkey. whose power and autonomy decreased considerably during the 19th century as a result of the state’s increasing power through 10. Islamic activism: a social Movement Theory approach (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Iran’s adoption of Shi‘ism as the state religion in the 16th century. in contrast to the Ottoman ‘ulama’. Hakan Yavuz. when the Safavids came to power. I will now elucidate the political influences. when it converted to the Twelver Shi‘ism with the establishment of Safavid dynasty during the 16th century. The Imam is the legitimate successor of the Prophet in “a legal. I will now focus on each factor that contributed to the Islamic resurgence process in the respective countries. 14-15. instead of mosques.10 However.13 This Shi‘a philosophy was adopted in Iran. 10. with the former being Shi‘ite and the latter Sunni.14 Consequently. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Roots of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (London: Islamic Publications International. ed. this source of legal judgment and legitimate authority vanished. Shi‘ism has flourished and been embedded in the Iranian national identity since then. . their power and independence from the state as well as their antagonism towards the state increased during the late 18th century. Algar. p. p. the exercise of authority by any worldly power is considered to be illegitimate unless it proves that it can rule on behalf of the Hidden Imam. administrative and military capacity” and is considered as the immaculate interpreter of the Qur’an and Islamic law and the only guide and leader of the Muslim community. 2004). in the case of the Turkish Islamic revival. Roots of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.11 After having surveyed these general features of Islamic revivalism in both countries.12 with the occultation of the Twelfth Imam.
which means “religion and state.” Ruhollah Khomeini.21 This found its expression in the formula of din-u devlet (din wa dawla). p. In fact it should be indicated that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. p. all non-Islamic rulers) and embraces all three branches of government — judicial.’ In other words. the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the son of ‘Ali. and every place is Karbala. immoral. 22. Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini. scholars. 20. according to Sunni ideology. Shahrough Akhavi. an independent religious class similar to that of Iran did not exist during the rule of the Ottoman Empire nor in Republican Turkey. The Roots of the Islamic Revolution. Moreover. 1981). which they associate with the tyrannical. Keddie. 1964). the relatively independent and privileged position of the clerics and their tradition of opposition to rulers is one of the most distinctive factors that makes the revival of Islam in Shi‘ite Iran different from Turkey. in which the state’s interests and its unity was prioritized in order to ensure the preservation of Islam. is considered to be illegitimate temporal. 19. 16. p. and sufis: Muslim Religious Institutions in the Middle east since 1500 (Berkeley: University of California Press. was: ‘Every day is Ashura. they have the exclusive right to provide interpretations on issues of law. a history of the Modern Middle east (Boulder: westview Press. and tyrannical.” Algar. 15. Keddie. legislative.19 Generally speaking. The utilization of independent human reasoning to new situations exercised by a qualified mujtahid. 1980). Indeed the Ottoman Empire adopted the policy of raison d’état. p. where the Muslim population is predominantly Sunni and inclined (with some exceptions) to be obedient and loyal to their rulers. p. saints. by the Umayyad Caliph Yazid at Karbala in 680 also contributed to the religious classes’ and Shi‘a communities’ distrust and hostility towards all authoritarian political regimes. As Hamid Algar explained: “In the course of the Revolution in Iran one of the interesting slogans that was constantly raised. restricted. religious practice and political acts. the worldly authority of the rulers. and sufis.”17 Consequently. and unjust rule of the Umayyads. other than the Imams and those who act on their behalf. 12. Turkiye’de Din ve siyaset. Cleveland.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 91 the creation of a centralized bureaucracy and modern military system. 110. The Development of secularism in Turkey (Montreal: McGill University Press. According to Ayatollah Khomeini. Translated by Hamid Algar (Berkeley: Mizan Press.16 So. Nikki R. the Iranian clergy not only was involved in politics from the earliest times onwards but also dealt with contemporary social and political problems in addition to religious matters. 17.”22 Therefore. and which shows clearly the importance of Imam Husayn not only for the religious but the political consciousness of the Shi‘a.18 which gives the ‘ulama’ the right to resist the arbitrary acts of the government in the absence of the Hidden Imam. pp. wherever the Muslim is. p. Niyazi Berkes. Mardin. 212. 18. and executive. saints. there existed in a sense a separation of the realm of state and religion. 115. 21. Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-state Relations in the Pahlavi Period (Albany: State University of New York Press. 233. . 96. and of the Sultan’s secular authority and the religious power of the ‘ulama’. 113. “tyrannical rulers refers to all illegitimate powers and authorities (that is. 2004). is a field of struggle where the forces of justice and legitimacy are confronted by the forces of tyranny. scholars. p.15 The Iranian ‘ulama’ gradually “established their claim to be the legitimate interpreters of the will of the Hidden Imam by assuming the right to exercise ijtihad. 9. unlike the Turkish ‘ulama’. 10. 1981). william L.20 In fact.
one should not forget that a continuity exists between Khomeini’s assertion of his power and the long tradition of the Shi‘ite ‘ulama’’s opposition to worldly authority. 4. Mardin. the state had precedence and control over religion and the ‘ulama’. who are salaried government employees. Due to the Shi‘a belief that all non-divine authorities other than the Imam and his successors are illegitimate. politically. and antireligious influences by using an Islamic rhetoric. the clergy in Iran have been not only religiously.B. Turkiye’de Din ve siyaset. An important mujtahid. the ‘ulama’ opposed the Shah’s policy of granting concessions to Britain on Iran’s entire tobacco production and export. This situation is also effective in modern Turkey. Politics and literature in a secular state (London: I. the Shah accepted the establishment of a constituent assembly. In addition to this. issued a fatwa declaring the use of tobacco unlawful as long as Britain’s monopoly on the tobacco crop continued.. and the guilds. Mirza Hasan Shirazi. as the state has total control over religion and the religious authorities. who were the servants of the state. the existence of alternative routes and ideologies for expressing political opposition and discontent in Turkey distinguishes the Turkish Islamic revival from the Iranian. 25. and socially powerful but also financially independent through their receipt of the religious taxes of zakat and khums as well as through their control over the waqf (endowment) lands. Khomeini. Consequently. they had very close and profitable relations with the traditional urban merchants. In 1891. This clerical financial independence is a characteristic distinction between Sunnis and Shi‘ites. the Constitutional Revolution26 of 1905-1911. Equally important. p. Together with the reformers and bazaar classes. Islam in Modern Turkey: Religion. Moreover. Unlike the ‘ulama’ in the Ottoman Empire. they led large antigovernment demonstrations in 1905. Islam and Revolution. where religion was the only “legitimate” mechanism through which the masses could display their political protest due to the autocratic rule of Muhammad 23. 26. . people’s readiness and inclination to follow the orders of the clergy contributed greatly to their success. ed. Tauris.24 Unlike the ‘ulama’ in Sunni countries. Richard Tapper. 130. as a result. In all of these historical instances the ‘ulama’ in Iran were quite effective in directing and mobilizing the public masses against the “corrupt” and “illegitimate” government. the ‘ulama’ were successful in rallying the public and leading a popular protest movement against the government. foreign occupation. such as the Tobacco Protest25 of 1892. 327. we witness the ‘ulama’’s traditional opposition to all autocratic political power from the 19th century onwards in several historical instances. 27. 1991).23 Thus. the bazaar classes. large numbers of the Iranian ‘ulama’ (though not all of them) supported the constitutionalist movement — not for achieving reform but for curbing the Shah’s power through a constitution as well as maintaining and securing their independence from the state. p. opposition to the Shah and his rule was seen as an “Islamic duty” by Ayatollah Khomeini — a very different view compared to the Turkish case.27 In fact. p. 24. This relationship became consolidated after the hierocracy’s detachment and alienation from the Pahlavi state during the 1960s and 1970s as a result of the Shah’s centralization and modernization program.92 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL This division was more apparent in the application of the Sultan’s secular codes of law (kanun) and the increasing secularization of the bureaucracy during the 18th century. and the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
In Iran. they began to show their resentment towards the authoritarian and anti-clerical policies of the state against “folk Islam. which had become much more secularized during the 1930s and 1940s. 28. especially from the 1950s onwards. 32. a large portion of the population was also alienated by the state’s militant. “Religion and Politics in Modern Turkey. given the limited effectiveness of secular oppositional groups and democratic institutions such as an independent media and unions. 34. Kemal Karpat. the anticlerical policies in Turkey and Iran curbed the power and autonomy of the religious classes in both countries. Furthermore. Turkiye’de Din ve siyaset.” p. the son of Reza Shah. p. 155. 31.” in James Piscatori. Consequently. Related to this. ed. this process was heightened during the 1950s by Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. Karpat. Interview by author with Seyyed Hossein Nasr. lifestyles.”34 This moral vacuum became filled with Islamic ideology after the 1950s. p. alienating them from the state to a great extent. 1959). therefore. p. 30. Islam in the Political Process (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Serif Mardin. “The Crisis of Secular Politics and the Rise of Political Islam in Iran. “the inability of Atatürk’s educational reforms to reach the rural masses left a gap in their understanding of social reality. “The Crisis of Secular Politics and the Rise of Political Islam in Iran. which eventually led to a more violent and strong reaction than in Turkey. the modernization process in Iran. . 1983). Mirsepassi-Ashtiani. their worldviews. and customs were strongly Islamically oriented. Islam served as the main viable channel through which the masses could transmit their voices. 130. His intensive and very rapid modernization policies together with the growth of the state’s power during the 1960s and 1970s weakened the power and influence of the ‘ulama’ and deprived it of its institutional and financial basis. It is hard to argue that the secularist and modernization policies transformed the countryside as much as it affected the intellectual elites in big cities and towns. 2006. 271. In other words. was very rapid. what had been achieved in Turkey in two centuries was compressed into a very short period and did not include the restructuring of the political system and the creation of the necessary institutions for the development of democracy.29 Iran and Turkey’s Islamic revivalism also has its roots in the secularization and westernization programs which were pursued vigorously during the 1920s and 1930s in both countries.” p.30 This turn of events explains their leadership’s initiation of an Islamic movement that mobilized the masses and protested against the government. Turkey’s Politics: The Transition to a Multi-Party system (Princeton: Princeton University Press.. who already were acquainted with western values. April 10.31 The vast majority of people remained traditional and retained their religious beliefs. Mirsepassi-Ashtiani.33 Moreover. Turkey’s Politics. 51.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 93 Reza Shah.”32 This is more acute in the Iranian case. where the general society was much more traditional in comparison to Turkey. especially after the one-party era.28 Indeed. 271. 77. radical secularization process in both nations. 33. in Turkey. Mardin. which became critical as social change mobilized large numbers of them. 29. p.
38 The Shah put the middle class in particular under close supervision and restricted their political participation and associational activity. The modernization project of Muhammad Reza Shah was accompanied by the consolidation of his dictatorial rule during the 1960s and 1970s. 143. 39. Marvin Zonis. 1979. who contributed to the modern politicization of Islam. moral decadence and the invasive penetration of western culture were other essential catalysts for the revival of an Islamic rhetoric for the reestablishment of cultural authenticity and moral values within each society. the top-down modernization and secularization policies in both countries distanced the traditional population from the state and strengthened their attachment to Islam. as stated earlier. highhand- 35.” The new York Times. corruption. moral corruption. torture. and disrespect of the traditional values of the masses created tension in the society. As Iran became one of the fastest growing economies in the late 1960s. 37. the incompatibility between the socioeconomic transformation and political development also increased people’s dissatisfaction and mistrust towards their states’ secularist policies. norms and symbolic value. Islam is such a deeply integrated part of Turkish and Iranian culture and has such a major role in both societies’ lives that its influence did not weaken even after religion became subordinate to the state and was pushed into the private sphere of people’s lives. . The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (Oxford: Oxford University Press.” p. Now He Gets All the Blame. 36. the lifestyles and values of upper and middle class Iranians changed. which become overt and intensified after the relaxation of the state’s stance towards religion beginning in the 1950s. 38. 195. Arjomand. “He Took All the Credit.”36 This aspect of Islam as an integrative and mobilizing force was largely utilized by the Islamic activists. Islam continued to have a vital and dynamic role within each society. January 14. 73. The increase in conspicuous consumption and luxurious living. “Revolution without Movement.94 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL CUlTURal. Movement without Revolution. An Iranian economist explained the general feeling of the people by complaining that: “we are told we owe our material well-being to the shah. anD MoRal asPeCTs of The IslaMIzaTIon PRoCess In spite of vigorous secularization processes in Turkey and Iran. Said Amir Arjomand. Islam was more effective in attracting and uniting people than “a constructed ethnic nationalism or socialism and its power stems from its flexible network systems. 1988). p. Bayat. The banned Sufi tarikats and religious orders continued their activities in a clandestine manner. On the contrary.37 Distinctively from Turkey. the autocratic regime and arrogance of the Shah in Iran and the deficiency of political freedom is one of the explanatory causes for the people’s displeasure and their attraction to Islamic political solutions. 55.39 A considerable number of members of these classes were consequently attracted to Khomeini’s message. p. p.35 Islam served as an appropriate ideology for these alienated groups to convey their discontent and opposition. but we find unacceptable the regime’s repression. Moreover. The Turban for the Crown. As Hakan Yavuz has pointed out. PolITICal. Moreover. Yavuz. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. For historical reasons.
p. Islamic groups took advantage of the relative political liberalization after the 40. The imam hatip schools were turned into middle and high schools. p. In fact. Islam and Revolution.41 This further exacerbated the hierocracy’s position vis á vis the state because they not only lost their educational and judicial power but also their hold on the religious endowments.” The Washington Post. 25. The Turban for the Crown. Arjomand. Arjomand. 2006. 1983). 43. the reform program that the Shah introduced in 1963 and which included land reform. Khomeini’s first public appearance occurred in 1963. 41. Khomeini said in a speech he made at the Fayziya Madrasa in Qom: “we come to the conclusion that this regime also has a more basic aim: they are fundamentally opposed to Islam itself and the existence of the religious class. caused discontent among the religious class as it led to the rearrangement of the land which belonged to the mosques and seminaries.42 As a consequence of this reform program. 1978. Farhang Rajaee. due to his opposition to certain aspects of the Shah’s reform plan and his perceived un-Islamic and despotic regime. aggravated the general population’s discontent and facilitated their embrace of political Islam. which culminated in Khomeini’s arrest and subsequent exile. Khomeini was less concerned with land reform. 29. the CHP introduced certain changes such as the introduction of voluntary religious courses in primary schools and the foundation of schools for the training of preachers and prayer leaders. They do not wish this institution to exist. Interview by author with Seyyed Hossein Nasr. However. November 26.44 Essentially. towards the end of the One Party era and after the center-right Democrat Party’s (DP) accession to power in place of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). which have been very influential in the revival of Islam in Turkey. 60. Yavuz. Khomeini was convinced that the ‘ulama’ would be eliminated. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Public discontent against the monarchy gained momentum with Khomeini’s severe denunciation of the Shah and his policies in 1963. On the Turkish side. and the issue of women’s enfranchisement. p. 83.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 95 edness and the ruling class’ contempt for the rest of nation. called imam hatip schools. 44. Consequently. this relaxation of the state attitude towards religion and favorable conditions for the Islamic groups paved the way for the re-Islamization of society and the politicization of Islam. 42. Islamic Values and World View: Khomeyni on Man. some of the elements of the white Revolution. conservative masses. which existed in the Shah’s reform program. 83. “Iran’s Middle Class: On the Sidelines. In order to appease the traditional. so long as it remained loyal to Islamic precepts. p. p. 45. and International Politics (Lanham: University Press of America. combined with the ongoing secular and pro-western rule of the Shah. the arbitrary and semicolonial rule of the regime and its pro-American and pro-Israeli policies. .”40 Consequently. He was mainly worried about the eroding and weakening role of Islam. p. the great and the small alike.” Khomeini. Indeed. The Turban for the Crown. they do not wish any of us to exist.45 In the multiparty era.43 Consequently. these liberal policies towards Islam and Islamic activities continued and the role of Islam in public and political space increased constantly. the state. and his failure to co-opt people. the Shah’s self-confidence. 177. April 10. Khomeini himself was not against the monarchy until the 1940s and 1950s. a relatively tolerant period of the state’s attitude towards religious activities began in the 1950s.
the Felicity Party (saadet Partisi. together with its organizational capability.” International Journal of Middle east studies. On the contrary. Vol. 2001-present). 241. after its closure by the Constitutional Court in 1998. Vol. p.48 The NSP remained in politics until its abolition by the 1980 military coup. Umit Cizre Sakallıoglu. 1997-2001). It signified the first major occurrence of the institutionalization and politicization of provincial Islam. “Islam in Politics: The Case of Turkey. and pro-Islamic discourse — with its strong emphasis on the equal distribution of wealth. Mehmet Zahit Kotku.46 The leader of the Naksibendi order. 48. including Ankara and Istanbul. This party was banned in the wake of the military coup of 1971 and reestablished under the name of the National Salvation Party (Milli selamet Partisi) — or NSP — in 1972. and the reestablishment of cultural authenticity and traditional religious beliefs. 28 (1996). traditional. 4 (1983). The success of political Islam in Turkey was also an expression of people’s dissatisfaction with the performance of the parties in power. and they have been effective in the founding and policymaking of subsequent Islamic parties. as well as the economically disadvantaged lower classes. which was established by Necmettin Erbakan in 1970. The wP’s emphasis in its discourse on Just Order (adil Duzen). By provincial Islam. social and economic equity.96 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL 1950s. which obtained 21. . it would be misleading to state that the popularity of the wP was restricted to the traditional. Subsequently.3% of the total vote and 158 seats in the 550-seat Parliament in 1996 following its triumph in the municipal elections of March 27. Ilkay Sunar and Binnaz Toprak. The incapability of the nationalist development project and social democratic parties to satisfy the needs of the impoverished and marginalized classes and eliminate economic imbalances together 46. conservative small merchants and artisans (esnaf) in the provincial centers and other non-traditional elements of society in the fast developing regions. the National Order Party (Milli nizam Partisi). 62. heir to the former NSP. the elimination of corruption. they also were largely favored and supported in the big urban centers. The first remarkable electoral success of political Islam in Turkey was achieved by the Islamist welfare Party (wP).” Government and opposition. 47. which had strikingly deteriorated after the rapid socioeconomic growth during the 1960s and 1970s — attracted economically dispossessed. Moreover. 1994. The wP received 19. small provincial cities. Traditional Sufi orders like the Naksibendi order or other post-Republican Islamic groups such as the Nurcus were integrated into the state machinery under the DP regime through co-optation. conservative upbringing in rural areas.7% of the national vote and the mayorship of 29 large cities. Yavuz. No. 441. I mean to imply people with Islamist leanings and a traditional. p.47 The NSP’s anti-imperialist. most of whom were migrants and living in the shantytowns of the urban cities. with the Virtue Party (fazilet Partisi. attracted primarily the conservative and culturally alienated middle and upper middle classes. honesty. 18. was effective in the creation of the first Islamist party. populist. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. was established in 1983 again under the leadership of Necmettin Erbakan and was followed. “Parameters and Strategies of Islam-State Interaction in Republican Turkey. the welfare Party (Refah Partisi). p. 2001-present). and the Justice and Development Party (adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi. The wP’s electoral victory represented the climax of the ongoing process of the politicization of Islam in Turkey since the emergence of the first Islamist parties that preceded it.
Heinz Kramer. The military coup in September 1980 instigated a number of political. and cultural autonomy. Like the former wP. moral. Vol. Islamic revivalism accelerated and entered a new phase after the 1980s as the Islamic groups began to take advantage of the benefits of modernity and contribute to further politicization and institutionalization of Islam. is a combination of “Turkish nationalism and moderate Islam and its essentials were the family. as a result of which the Islamization of society and politics gained momentum. 18. increasing unemployment. the military. 52. 745. and ideological changes. This is also true for the Islamically oriented Justice and Development Party (AKP).” Third World Quarterly. 2000). The AKP increased its take to 46. 4 (1997). the success of the Islamist wP depended largely on its ability to use Islam effectively to address the political. which promised social justice. 50.” p. 242.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 97 with high inflation. p. which achieved electoral success in 2002 under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and defeated all other parties by taking 34% of the votes and 363 of the 550 seats in the National Assembly.” which was formed earlier by the aydınlar ocagı (“Intellectual Hearths”) during the 1970s. religious education became obligatory in public schools as a result of the 1982 constitution.” Comparative Politics. “Political Islam and welfare Party in Turkey. and corruption also contributed to the success of the Islamist parties. p.”51 As a consequence.49 Therefore. as well as a social reunification and consolidation. Furthermore. . “Parameters and Strategies of Islam-State Interaction in Republican Turkey. Vol. cultural.53 The number of imam hatip schools rose remarkably “by 59 percent. the “Turkish-Islamic synthesis. No. In fact. the AKP’s insistence on social welfare reform together with its Islamic past appealed to a large portion of the population. No. It would be beneficial to elaborate on this process. 1 (October 1997). Sakallioglu.” p. this moderation of the state’s attitude towards Islam led to the “Islamisation of secularism” and at the same time the “nationalization of Islam. and economic grievances of the masses. Rather. 30.” which accelerated with Prime Minister Turgut Özal’s liberal policies towards Islam. “Parameters and Strategies of Islam-State Interaction in Republican Turkey. people’s preference for the Islamist parties cannot be explained solely with religious reasons as obscurantist revivalist movements which aim to reestablish an Islamic state based on shari‘a. “The Political Economy of Islamic Resurgence in Turkey: The Rise of the welfare Party in Perspective. and the military barracks. the people’s demand for a larger political and economic share in the system as modernity advanced also played a large role in the success of the Islamist parties. Sakallioglu. 53. from 374 middle and high schools to 604 between 1983 and 1987 and their student enrollment 49. a Changing Turkey: Challenges to europe and the United states (washington: Brookings Institution Press. 244. with the intention of eradicating social and political conflict. 65. 51. emphasized the role of Islam and supported the “Turkish-Islamic synthesis.6% of the votes in the July 2007 elections with a landslide victory and consequently consolidated its power. the mosque. Hakan Yavuz. Moreover. p. economic. 67.52 Initially. which has a central and autonomous position in the country’s politics as the guardian of Kemalist principles and secularism. Ziya Onis. economic efficiency.”50 This ideology also was considered a tool to eliminate the leftist and communist threat.
127. 27. “The Political Economy of Islamic Resurgence in Turkey. Sufi orders. No. newspapers.502. p.”63 Essentially.” p. and publishing houses. which were largely supported by the recently created Islamic entrepreneurs.”54 These imam hatip schools have a unique effect on the “islamisation of the state and society. “interviews with a dozen workers revealed that their support for the exiled Muslim leader is motivated more by his opposition to the Shah than by religious dictates. magazines. No.58 Consequently. p. These policies included the privatization and deregulation of the mass media. “Secularism & Islamism in Turkey: The Making of Elites and Counter-Elites.” The Middle east Journal. 55. 60. p. 51. Nilufer Gole. Yavuz. together with the privatization of education. Özal’s liberal policies on Islam also facilitated the expansion of the activities and public appearances of Islamic groups. Yavuz. 7. which led to a rapid proliferation of Islamic television channels.” p. human rights organizations (e.” . “Political Islam and welfare Party in Turkey.991 total middle and high school students to 511. Onis. 1 (Autumn 1997). November 19..57 Furthermore. 25.g. Hakan Yavuz. wictorowicz. 56. Sakallioglu. 62. 69. “Despite Army’s Presence. Onis.56 Moreover.60 and “from the periphery to the center of the political forum. Likewise. took the form of Islamic resurgence. 57. 59. in the same article Ibrahim also relates the following statements of a worker for the water and Power Authority: “the Ayatollah has brought the eyes of the world on our problem here and made them see that the Shah is a puppet of the foreigners who are stealing our money. Islamic activism.” p. 127. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Vol. 1 (winter 1997). as a consequence to the development of liberal democracy. led to the proliferation of religious schools.” p. p. According to the functionalist approach. 61. psychological and emotional grievances and dissatisfaction. 761. Islamic business associations (e. 47.62 As Youssef Ibrahim stated in The new York Times. Yavuz. the urban population 54. These organizations began to affect and manipulate the political and economic life of the country. the Islamic groups gained power and autonomy. democratization and the liberal environment fostered the emergence of a more pluralistic and open society. and trade unions (e. “Parameters and Strategies of Islam-State Interaction in Republican Turkey. p. various socio-cultural Islamic organizations.. Vol.”61 soCIoeConoMIC Reasons Social and economic motives also have been extremely determinative. Iranian Oil Town Is Challenging the Shah. 1978. 750.” Journal of Palestine studies. In the Iranian case. “Turkish-Israeli Relations through the Lens of the Turkish Identity Debate.” The new York Times. which paved the way for the spreading of civil society and non-governmental organizations. which occur as a reaction to structural factors. which enabled them to transmit their messages to public places. Mazlum-Der). 244.g.98 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL increased from 220. MÜSIAD)..59 So. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. 63. “The Political Economy of Islamic Resurgence in Turkey. the increasing financial and political power of the Directorate of Religious Affairs. the modernization and industrialization policies in both countries created significant economic growth and huge social transformation accompanied by massive urbanization during the 1960s and 1970s.”55 At the same time. 20. p. 58.g. Hak-Is) prospered during this period.
such as the creation of the institutional foundations for a modern society or the transformation of the political culture. selective.” foreign Policy. 74. the extravagant spending of the royal family. 66. The Turban for the Crown. its benefits did not spread evenly. p. 10. This elitist and forced modernization created friction between the ordinary people and the ruling elite. Income inequality in Iranian society in favor of the high capital entrepreneurs and wealthy classes was very dramatic and corruption widespread. were important actors in Islamic revivalism. The modernization and westernization projects of both countries was imitative. Richard Cottam. As this accumulation of frustrations intensified the tension and resistance of society against the Shah. and were carried out very quickly and in a top-down manner which overlooked the internal dynamics and indigenous characteristics of their societies. 68. . which eventually created resentment and disillusionment with the government and its policies. Besides. p. in both countries. Yavuz. “Goodbye to America’s Shah. as a result of the migration of agricultural laborers to urban areas in search of employment after a period of rapid industrialization. 9. The Turban for the Crown. and the number of people with a university or professional school education trebled to 150.67 Similarly. his subservience to the United States. the declining influence of religion and traditional values.” p. one-third of the country’s oil income was wasted by the Shah’s arms purchases. urbanization was accompanied by the significant increase and expansion in education facilities and literacy rates. up from just 25% in 1950. p.66 In addition. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. p. Yavuz. Arjomand.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 99 rose from 31% to 47% between 1956 and 1976. In their sermons.000. especially in 1976. The number of people with higher education quadrupled to nearly 300. which compelled Iran to import food.64 Similarly. The lack of other aspects of modernization. Moreover. which led to a further escalation of public dissatisfaction. the younger population. Moreover. resulted in the failure of the modernization process in this regard in both Turkey and Iran. in Turkey the urban population increased to 59% of the total population in 1993. and the presence of foreigners in dominant positions and their cor64. largely due to internal migrations. 34 (Spring 1979). Arjomand. 82. This situation became worse. as a result. No. 69.69 The rise in the economic growth rate after the oil boom in 1973 led to an increase in inflation. 83. and superficial. which came to big cities for their university education or were children of members of the recently migrated traditional. conservative lower middle classes. 67. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. and the replacement of the Islamic calendar with the monarchist calendar that represented Iran’s pre-Islamic past also increased the Shah’s unpopularity. the expansion of education facilities during the Republican era in Turkey increased people’s political consciousness. people became more politically conscious.65 One of the most important implications of this demographic transformation was the re-Islamization of the urban sphere through the new migrants’ bringing their traditional and Islamically oriented identities and lifestyles to the cities.68 Moreover. 74. the religious class played the leading role.000. which impoverished large masses of the salaried middle class. Additionally. p. “Goodbye to America’s Shah. 65. As a result of this social dislocation and movement towards urban areas there emerged an identity crisis and sense of alienation among the newly urbanized people in both countries. they harshly criticized the Shah’s policies. Cottam. agricultural productivity declined.
1991). concomitant with rapid urbanization. are to enjoy legal immunity. 71. Arjomand observed the existence of 322 Hosayniyyeh-like centers in Tehran for the remembrance of Imam Husayn’s martyrdom. Khomeini. Serif Mardin indicates that “Islam had an aspect which addressed itself to man’s being-in-this world. they have sold our independence. which helped dispossessed people to address their identity crisis and feelings of insecurity. No. they will not permit this nation to be the slaves of Britain one day. to his basic ontological insecurity. For more information see Arjomand. … All of our troubles today are caused by America and Israel. Arjomand. whose sentiments he shared. Ayatollah Khomeini’s charismatic and powerful leadership combined with his strong empathy for the dispossessed people. 731 in Azerbaijan. but still they light up the city and dance . mechanics. 181-187. Khomeini’s statements in a speech that he delivered in Qom in 1964. The Turban for the Crown. eds. these associations served as a 70. upwardly mobile. 3 (June 1983). Our dignity has been trampled underfoot. Islam and Revolution. pp. Nikkie Keddie. p.. they will not permit Israel to take over the Iranian economy. and an additional 12. Islam has become stronger in Turkey because social mobilization had not decreased but on the contrary increased the insecurity of the men who have been projected out of their traditional setting.300 religious associations in Tehran that were established after 1965. Vol.70 In addition to this.” “Religion and Secularism in Turkey. … If the religious leaders have influence.” p. So it was religion and religious organizations. which led to his exile. the preachers and servants of Islam. “Iranian Revolutions in Comparative Perspective. 92. which enabled it to fasten itself on to psychological drives. “Iranian Revolutions in Comparative Perspective. and of America the next. The Turban for the Crown. in addition to 305 in Khuzestan..” in Ali Kazancigil and Ergun Ozbudun. as well as an alternative ideology for people’s problems.73 There was a proliferation of religious institutions and a concomitant increase in religious activities parallel to the large scale urbanization that occurred during the late 1960s and 1970s in Iran. they will not permit Israeli goods to be sold in Iran. 73. 200.100 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL ruption. the dignity of Iran has been destroyed. p. p.71 In fact.72 The discontented masses resorted to Islam to reestablish the dignity of their society and to struggle with the cultural and economic domination of the west. 218. and religious orders in both cases. Keddie. Islam served as a common language for expressing popular frustration. 595. technical and administrative officials. illustrate the point: They have sold us. the Shah’s inability to incorporate displaced. these deputies and ministers that have been imposed upon us derive from America — they are all agents of America. . Israel itself derives from America. 88. to strengthen popular support for his Islamist movement. as Said Amir Arjomand explained. and recently educated people into his system provided Khomeini and the Iranian clergy with the opportunity to mobilize the disparate masses around themselves.. but the ‘ulama of Islam.” The american historical Review.74 Consequently. The dignity of the Iranian army has been trampled underfoot! … American cooks. together with their families. If the religious leaders have influence. are to live banished or imprisoned. ataturk: founder of a Modern state (London: Archon Books. 72. 74.
10. Kuru.”78 In fact. “Globalization and Diversification of Islamic Movements: Three Turkish Cases. magazines. p. 261. 269. served as a mechanism which contributed to the religious. 83.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 101 mechanism for cooperation. No. offering jobs and support for people and mobilizing them along the lines of Islamist ideology through their religious and social network. which came into being during the late 1960s in the form of a provincial group around Izmir. Sencer Ayata. newspaper. Mardin.76 Although Sufi orders officially were banned after the foundation of the Republic. Yavuz.” p. but also have been economically effective by strengthening their ties with several economic institutions and private ventures. p. in which all of the successful elements of modern Turkish Islamic politics have originated. Ahmet T.” p. the neo-Nur movement of Fethullah Gulen. Turkiye’de Din ve siyaset. integration. 79.. they continued their activities by providing religious education in underground madrasahs.81 To elaborate. 120. . Serif Mardin. 137. one of the most important among them. “Parameters and Strategies of Islam-State Interaction in Republican Turkey. 75. Kuru. No. 101. 82. 2 (June 2005). 6. Tapper.84 The rigid income inequality and deteriorating economic conditions gave impetus to Islamic groups in both Turkey and Iran that preached for social justice and an end to political and moral corruption as well as favoritism. 84. moral. 81. p. Rupture and Reconstruction in Operational Codes. 76.80 The ideology of the peripheral Nurcu movement of 1950s also became dominant in urban areas due to the improvements in modern media such as television. the aim of the Gulen movement is the “bottom-up” restructuring of the society thorough education. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. the followers of this order not only dominated the leadership of these parties during the 1970s and 1980s. Vol.” Political science Quarterly. there has been a significant rise in the activities of the traditional Sunni Sufi orders and religious communities since the 1950s. p.77 Serif Mardin describes the Naksibendi order as “an extraordinarily resilient revivalist movement. p. Mardin.83 Parallel to the social movements of diverse Islamic groups. 77. ed. was transformed into a nationwide and then transnational Islamic movement through their establishment of a wide network of educational institutions and media and business organizations both at home and abroad. in Turkey. “Traditional Sufi Orders on the Periphery: Kadiri and Naksibendi Islam in Konya and Trabzon.” Turkish studies. which acted as the basis of Islamic revival. Yavuz. Vol. and radio during the 1990s. p. p. the number of voluntary organizations such as Qur’anic schools and societies for mosque building increased from 237 in 1951 to 510 in 1967 mostly in more traditional provinces. Islam in Modern Turkey. 152.75 The Naksibendi order. Islam in Modern Turkey. 243. “Globalization and Diversification of Islamic Movements. 78. 2 (2005). 110. “Turkish Islamic Exceptionalism Yesterday and Today: Continuity. and spiritual education and awakening of the people. Ozal’s center right Motherland Party (MP) obtained important support from Naksibendi and Nurcu groups. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. 224. Similarly. Sakallıoglu.82 In fact. Turkiye’de Din ve siyaset. and interdependence for the newly urbanized people. p. 80. ed. 133.. Ahmet Yucekok indicates that these associations made up one-third of all Turkish associations during the 1960s.” in Tapper.79 Moreover.
If we would let him. poverty stricken lower income classes whose number increased considerably after the 1980s. who had been negatively affected by the economic and industrial policies of the government. p. Qom. . The bazaar will be flattened so new buildings can go up. the Shah would destroy us. 16. It is our duty to begin exerting ourselves now in order to establish a truly Islamic government. 72. rose from 3.” delivered at a Dayan Center conference on “Contemporary Turkey: Challenges of Change. there was a remarkable increase in religious education during the 1950s. The big stores will be given most or our business. who vigorously promoted an export-oriented. instruct them in it. “Religion and State in Turkey. Kramer. legal aspects of Islam.89 Essentially. There was a proliferation of religious institutions which paralleled the large scale urbanization of the 1950s. Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran.. 126. in Iran two-thirds of the wholesale trade was managed by the merchants in the bazaar.e. educating them on the principles and facts of their religion) in both of these countries. In Turkey. Indeed. Therefore. 86. 129-130. Akhavi.85 They were powerless vis á vis the state and thus consolidated their ties with the mullahs and clergy. but more important are the political. Binnaz Toprak. November 7. Islam and Revolution. 1999. one of the most important centers of Shi‘ism. p.200 in 1952 to 5. 88. economic. free market economy in compliance with the pressures of global capitalism. urbanization and migration were two of the causes for such an increase.” June 20. and convince them of its validity. where the political and ideological message of Shi‘ism was propagated and people’s religious consciousness were awakened by religious classes. A merchant in the bazaar said: “The banks are taking over. 87. the introduction of an open market economy after the 1980s exacerbated the growing socioeconomic inequality in the country. pp. 89. Khomeini was well aware of this fact: You must teach the people matters relating to worship.000 in 1956. Khomeini. caused the impoverishment of the middle and lower classes and exacerbated Turkey’s income inequality. we must generate a wave of intellectual awakening to emerge as a current throughout society and gradually to take shape as an organized Islamic movement made up of the awakened.87 It is not surprising that a significant number of supporters of the Islamist wP were largely composed of the economically disadvantaged.” “Iran’s Students and Merchants Form Unlikely Alliance against Shah.88 In fact. p. the number of students in Qom. InTelleCTUal MoVeMenTs anD DeVeloPMenTs The role of intellectual activity and education played an important role in raising the Islamic consciousness of people (i. For instance. the majority was hit hard by the capitalization of the economy and suffered from high inflation and rising costs of living. committed and religious masses who will rise up and establish an Islamic government. a Changing Turkey. the liberal economic policies of Turgut Ozal. served as headquarters of the Islamic 85. 15.86 while only a minority benefited from the economic expansion.102 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL To illustrate. 1978.” The new York Times. we must propagate our cause to the people.
and contamination. Religion amd Politics in Contemporary Iran. 97. 95. 118.90 In Turkey as well as in Iran during the 1960s and 1970s. played a significant role in the revival of an interest in Islamic thought with his works on philosophy. and contributed greatly to the intellectual awakening of the people in Iran before the revolution. some of his students played major roles in the Islamic revolution. Hamid Algar. p. “Iran in Revolution. 94. Jalal Al-e Ahmad. Ayatollah Allameh Tabatabai. p.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 103 movement in Iran. 75/76. “‘Allama Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai. In Iran. 218-219.” MeRIP Reports. and ‘Ali Shariati. a history of the Modern Middle east.” Journal of Islamic studies. the regime of the Shah. “The Crisis of Secular Politics and the Rise of Political Islam in Iran. many religious societies were established in the universities. under the leadership of Mortaza Motahhari. superstition.92 He was a very dynamic thinker and tried to confront Islam with modern thought. He taught in Qom and Tehran and wrote a 27-volume commentary on the Qur’an. . Ervand Abrahamian. which assisted the political Islamic movement led by Ayatollah Khomeini. 23. 22. as can be seen from his own words: There is no doubt that Islam will have an appropriate role in its construction. 93. Sufism. Exegete. a cluster of ‘ulama’. and is put forth as a living ideology. Mirsepassi-Ashtiani. p. stagnant ‘ulama’. upwardly mobile people’s religious consciousnesses were significantly raised. That is the task of the true intellectuals of Islam. when it has freed itself from the effects of centuries of stagnation. and after his return to Iran he established a religious school where he offered lectures on his new interpretation of Shi‘ism as a revolutionary ideology for social transformation. Islam and Revolution. Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran. p. 92. Only in this way will Islam — after a renaissance of belief and an emergence from isolation and reaction — be able to take part in the current war of 90. where he was a professor. “‘Allama Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai: Philosopher. began a series of lectures in the Faculty of Theology of Tehran. 5.” March-April 1979. In his essay “Ijtihad dar eslam” (“Making Independent Judgment”) he introduced a non-traditional explanation of Shi‘ism and the notion of clerical leadership (velayet-e faqih). and western domination. and Qur’anic commentary. He studied sociology in France at the Sorbonne. Khomeini.93 Moreover. ‘Ali Shariati was one of the most important ideologues of the Islamic revolution.96 His reformist ideology was a unique amalgamation.” p. p.97 He was against the established order of the official. entitled Tafsir al-Mizan.94 In fact. In the 1960s and 1970s these intellectuals initiated a renewal of interest in Islamic thought and philosophy and catalyzed a reformist intellectual movement. which constitutes one of the essential causes of the Islamic resurgence in Iran. 70.95 Furthermore.91 During 1960. 101. 91. 426.” p. who is one of the greatest scholars of Iran. high schools and universities were places where newly urbanized. Mortaza Motahhari. Cleveland. They were against the traditional styles of thinking within the religious institutions and aimed to revitalize Shi‘ism and reform its institutions. He initiated a “cultural revolution” through his teachings and his works on Qur’anic exegesis. 96. No. while taking a revolutionary Shi‘ite and reformist perspective. April 2006. pp. Akhavi. Akhavi. where students were exposed to the thoughts and lectures of important clerics and intellectuals such as Ayatollah Allameh Tabatabai. Algar. and Gnostic. “Iran in Revolution: The Opposition Forces.
Algar. His commentaries on the Qur’an are collected in his famous work Risale-i nur (epistle of light) where he “developed the teachings of the Qur’an on the truths of belief that incorporates the traditional Islamic sciences and modern scientific knowledge. 98. 2003). which prepared the intellectual grounds of the Islamic revival.” p. known as the Nur movement.101 These intellectuals played a great role in “rationalizing. 99. Ibrahim Abu Rabi. He was a profound Muslim thinker and revivalist. he had enormous influence on young high school and university students.”102 Similarly.98 Shariati promoted a progressive new interpretation of Islam. 111. Vol. to command the center and serve as an example to contemporary thought. pp. which has been influential in Turkish political. and secularism. Islam and Change.104 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL beliefs and. in particular. Nikki Keddie.” p. the founder of the Nur movement. 1. and the monarchy with an Islamicized version of socialism. Roots of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. and improvements in communication technology. 103. 101. whose teachings and ideology are still being followed today. socioeconomic injustice. Mirsepassi-Ashtiani. p. 536. Marxism and other Western fallacies (Berkeley: Mizan Press. Islam at the Crossroads (Albany: State University of New York.”103 with the further proliferation of the printing press. “many people were ready to participate in the Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini to a certain degree because of the influence upon them of Dr. 4 (1980). media. whose Gharbzadegi (“westoxication”) criticized modernity and the unselective and superficial imitation of western culture and its values and called for the restoration of indigenous and Islamic values and traditions. This transformation from a secular to religious criticism of the pro-western regime attracted many young students and thinkers. “Iran: Change in Islam. 9596. Necip Fazıl Kısakürek is another important Turkish Muslim thinker and a famous poet who has been an inspirational figure for subsequent Muslim revivalists in Turkey. 11. Ali Shariati. Islam and Change. Shari’ati. his teachings reached and influenced wide masses of the population. 1980). Said Nursi. contributed greatly to the spiritual development and maturation of the society.99 As Hamid Algar pointed out. exploitation. the petty bourgeoisie. and economic life through its vast network of education. where the new human spirit is seeking the means to begin a new world and a new humanity. in Turkey.”100 Another influential intellectual was Jalal Al-e Ahmad. popularizing and even legitimizing of Shi‘ism and Shi‘ite clergy in the decades before the Revolution of 19781979. social. 100. mass media. He resisted western imperialism. which aimed to combine Islam with socialism. 64. and took the form of a significant Islamic social movement. and business organizations. materialism. 535. Keddie. He tried to rejuvenate Islam and its values in an age of crisis against the rising values of positivism. “The Crisis of Secular Politics and the Rise of Political Islam in Iran. 102. and intellectuals. “Iran: Change in Islam. especially the younger generations. No. p.” International Journal of Middle east studies. p. as well as on the Islamic Marxist guerilla organization Mujahedin-e Khalq. . More importantly.
35.107 All of these thinkers have been quite influential and inspirational for the evolution of a new genre of Muslim intellectuals in contemporary Turkey. whose thoughts have inspired even militant Islamist groups such as IBDA-C (Great East Raiders Front) and Hizbullah to a certain degree. he had a great deal of influence on the contemporary Muslim intellectuals in Turkey. . Sezai Karakoç is another influential Islamist thinker and poet. and Ersin Nazif Gürdogan. who began to dominate the public and intellectual discourse during the beginning of the 1980s. this spiritual awakening would make the realization of an ideal Islamic society possible. 82-128.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 105 He strongly denounced the radical secularism of the Kemalist state and stressed the importance of indigenous cultural. religious. socialist. Consequently. 1999). 107. Kısakürek. Konusmalar. Konusmalar [Conversations] (Istanbul: Buyuk Dogu Yayinlari.B. He attempted to create an Islamic revival around his Dirilis ideology. Sezai Karakoc.105 He has been very influential for the succeeding generations of Islamists in Turkey. His “Great East Ideal” aimed to establish an Islamic system.108 Their distinctiveness comes from their intense opposition to and overall nega104. 106. p. 95. Necip Fazıl Kısakürek. particularly the younger generation. He put emphasis on the sociological and historical aspects of the spiritual revival of the Muslim people. and many are employed in some of these professions simultaneously. In his struggle. 105. p. Tauris.106 In his view.”104 His plan aimed to establish an Islamic system in Turkey as it was lived and practiced during the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions. authors. he gave great importance to the younger generation and tried to mobilize them around this ideal. p. in which the secularization process and the authoritarian policies of the Kemalist state and its removal of Islam from the public space played a significant role. government officials. “is the only formula for the salvation of the Turks and the whole humanity. Ismet Özel. which. Islamin Dirilisi. He was a radical thinker and political activist. 33. He strove for the regeneration and revitalization of Islamic culture and civilization. novelists. 2. p. Muslims in Modern Turkey: Kemalism. such as Ali Bulaç. pp. he thought. and secularist policies in Middle Eastern countries. 108. 1999). It is essential to state that he was influenced and inspired by the Islamic resurgence movements. More importantly. . which began publication in 1960. based on Qur’anic principles. 2009). poets. and national values. Sena Karasipahi. who had been liberated from the oppression and subjugation of their western colonizers. Karakoc. Modernism and the Revolt of the Intellectuals (London: I. His intellectual magazine Dirilis (Revival). These intellectuals are newspaper columnists. which gained momentum after the bankruptcy of nationalist. Islamin Dirilisi [Revival of Islam] (Istanbul: Dirilis Yayinlari. The formation of his quest for the creation of Islamic unity and his dream of the Great East is very much related to the historical transitions and transformations of his age. Rasim Özdenören. they have been reclaiming Islamic values by demonstrating their Muslim identity in a distinctive way as a reaction to the secularization and modernization project of the state. was quite effective in raising the Islamic consciousness of the public. and academics.
high inflation. Other than these factors. Thus. it would be inadvisable to reach a single and simplistic conclusion. the quintessential role and importance of the military in Turkey as the guardian of secularism and Kemalist principles not only represents a key difference from Iran. The failure of the secular regimes to provide a common moral ideology that is compatible with Islam is another important reason for the Islamic revival in each country. In essence. where the Islamic movement resulted in revolution. More specifically. they consider Islam not as an alternative but as a single solution. they have been playing a significant role in the Islamic revival process in contemporary Turkey by increasing the knowledge and understanding of the people about Islam through their writings. In fact. rather it is a product of social. and inequity. Unlike the distinctive characteristics of Shi‘ism. Islam was seen as a panacea to solve the problems associated with rapid modernization and societal transformation. moral decadence. loss of identity. That is to say. the revival of Islam did not happen suddenly or unexpectedly. but is also one of the important factors that limits and prevents the ultimate success of the Islamic resurgence movements. with its tradition of opposition and rebellion to illegitimate holders of authority who are not Imams or are not appointed by the Imams. Moreover. migration. At the same time. Therefore. Islam in Iran provided a medium in which to display dissent and resistance. the destructive effects of the unbalanced and rapid socioeconomic growth associated with the advance of globalization. Sunnism generally has been submissive and obedient to the ruler’s authority. their emergence was facilitated by the opening up of the provincial towns. as well as the spread of education. differed from the Iranian case. political corruption.106 M MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL tion of western civilization and their struggle to deconstruct traditions and mainstream interpretations of Islamic discourse. such as alienation. the distinction between the official culture of the state and the popular culture of the society led to popular alienation and consequently discontent and friction. corruption. they are products of both the Kemalist modernization project and the Islamic revival process in the post-1950s. There are some similarities and parallels between the Islamic movements in Iran and Turkey. the existence of a relatively secularist and liberal environment in Turkey made alternative avenues for expression of protest possible which did not exist to the same degree in Iran. Government inefficiency. and intellectual works. they often are the role models and ideologues of young people — specifically “upwardly mobile” high school and university students both in provincial towns and big cities who are generally from traditional and conservative circles and of middle class origin. and intellectual developments and their unique convergence. failed modernization. and social mobility. Furthermore. and the diminishing role and effect of Islam in society are the major factors that directly or indi- . economic injustice. As it should be clear from the comparison of Iran and Turkey. public speeches. ConClUsIon The Islamic revival process in Turkey and Iran is very complicated and multidimensional. country specific characteristics should be taken as implicit when examining and understanding the Islamization phenomenon. political. This fact meant that Islamic revivalism in Turkey. a predominantly Sunni country. Thus.
with consideration to Iran. the state’s adoption of a Turkish-Islamic synthesis. public opposition to the Shah’s autocratic and arbitrary rule and calls for more political liberalization and participation. the gradual liberalization of the economy and politics after the 1980s. On the other hand. and renewed interest in Islamic thought under the influence of reformist intellectuals during the 1970s were substantial factors that instigated the Islamic resurgence in Iran. In the end. and the ability of the Islamist parties to address the social and economic problems of the lower classes through their stress on justice and morality facilitated the revival of cultural and political Islam. reclaiming traditional values with a demand for a return to the golden age of Islam.ISLAMIc RESURgENcE MOvEMENTS IN TURkEy AND IRAN M 107 rectly influenced a significant number of people in both societies to resort to political Islam and adopt Islamic ideologies. with regard to Turkey. either by politicizing it. . or reconstituting and reconceptualizing it through the means of modernity. people in both countries took refuge in Islam and its political ideology to confront westernization and its challenges. denunciation of subservience to the US. The repudiation of western cultural influence and demands for political and economic autonomy are other common themes behind the rise of Islam in both countries.