ISLAMIC MODERNITIES: FETHULLAH GULEN and CONTEMPORARY ISLAM

Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and Rumi Forum April 26-27, 2001 Georgetown University Salaam Conference Center 7th Floor, Bunn Intercultural Center (ICC)

DIASPORA AND STABILITY CONSTITUTIVE ELEMENTS IN A BODY OF KNOWLEDGE
Yasin Aktay

Introduction One conventional way of portraying a person intellectually is to look at his intellectual works, the references he has made; where he studied and the figures that inspired him. But this usually results in the reduction of a person to his formative components and neglects the creative role an individual plays in his own composition and performance of the specified knowledge. Especially in the case of Fethullah Gülen, it would be a mistake to reduce such a man to the books read, the schools studied, the religious or intellectual influences, etc. Undoubtedly many have read the same books, have received a similar education, have traveled to the same locations and have been influenced by the same people, but nobody became Fethullah Gülen except himself. Indeed, a hermeneutical point of view, which we will pursue in this paper in outlining Gülen's sources of knowledge, acknowledges uniqueness in the formation of one's body of knowledge. 1 Thus not only Gülen's knowledge, but also all personal
1 Hans-Georg Gadamer treats this dimension of understanding in terms of the role of

knowledge should be considered unique, including the creative performance of their reader. That is, knowledge is not there to be appropriated in an objective way. It is always subject(ive) to the reader's pre-understanding which is mostly determined by one's general history and particular biography. Furthermore, the reading process and the formation of a body of knowledge is mostly determined through an aesthetic dimension which includes the creative performance of the knowing subject. Of course a simple conclusion of this formula is the fact that the same collection of knowledge resources may be, and usually is, worked by different persons in completely different ways. Therefore, I will concentrate mainly on two historical elements that can be considered constitutive in the formation of Gülen's body of knowledge: One is the diasporic element which has operated in a special way within the consciousness of Islamist generations throughout the Republican period. Diaspora is a concept associated with Judaic history. It refers to the historical exile of the Jews from Palestine and their being dispersed dramatically throughout the world. It also refers to their permanent state of dispersion, fragmentation and exile. The word has been employed by social scientists as a way to explain some modern experiences of migration or mobility in a wider sense, especially the social mobility created by some wars and other massive migrations in the modern world. Even modernity has been considered a state of exile because often results in the non-belonging to a place, and the drastic rupture from a space and the permanent movement over the world. 2 In this sense, modernity can be understood as an existential moment through which everybody feels himself exiled from his homeland. I will employ the word diaspora to conceptualize some aspects of the Islamist
prejudices in the process of reading a text and of the analysis of the historically effected consciousness. Here the prejudices are not as usually understood as negative elements in the understanding, but they are positively contributive in the constitution and reconstitution of one’s body of knowledge. They work as pre-understanding of a text, which stimulate the understanding process. For more, see. Gadamer, Truth and Method, Second Revised Edition, Trans. by, Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall, Crossroad, New York, 1991, pp. 341 ff. 2 For example see. N. Papastergiadis, Modernity as Exile: The Stranger in John Berger`s Writing, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993. 2

discourse in general, and Gülen`s discourse in particular. From the destruction of the Ottoman state onward, there has been a strong and peculiar kind of a diasporic theme dominating Islamist discourse. The peculiarity of the theme stems from the fact that it is a diaspora produced discursively without a geographical base. It is characterized by the phrase “being a stranger and pariah in his own homeland”, expressed in the poetry of Necip Fazil Kisakürek, one of the most prominent Islamist poems. This kind of diaspora is maintained through identity-making literature, which defines the position of the Islamist Subject before the political power. Therefore, focusing on the diasporic theme provides us a ground for considering several aspects of the mechanisms of making the political identity of the Islamist subject. The second constitutive element considered here will be the quest for stability as a characteristic element of the traditional Islamic ulema, which produced a correspondent ideology of obedience to state. This ideology is articulated in special ways by Gülen's characteristic nationalism, which distinguishes itself from the other parts of Turkish Islamism. Of course, this will not mean a reduction of all knowledge to these constitutive elements, but rather that they will be distinguished when outlining Gülen's political theory. That is to say, although concentrated on intellectual and educational projects, Gülen's individual or communal movement has much to do with the politics or the political. This relevance is evidenced by the movement's program of growing new generations by way of education, which is a completely political ideal. No less important is a conception of the political that superficially narrows the sphere of its content. In this conception it seems the political is reduced to a formal competition for attaining the government apparatus, and in this special usage, negative significations are assigned to the political. It is something "bad" intentioned to take part or to think to take part in the political struggle. By their set of actions, however, Gülen and his community are not only taking part in the political sphere, but more importantly demonstrate the best example for the new orientation of political action in Turkey. For a few decades Turkish society has invented the civil possibilities of political sphere as
3

"sub-politics" 3 apart from the struggle for attaining the formal governmental apparatus. However, a study of outlining new possibilities of politicization and Gülen's political theory would be the object of another investigation. Now, we should go on mapping the intellectual heritage of Turkish Islamism which produced a strong diasporic mood with the corresponding peculiar political action in order to locate Gülen's epistemological resources.

Diasporic Discourse in Turkish Islamism Since the foundation of the Turkish Republic as a replacement for the Ottoman Empire (1923), the Turkish state has been a symbol of disembodiment for the Islamists. Its foundation displaced a political body, the Caliphate, which embodied all Muslim political ideals. For the early Islamists of the time such as Mehmed Akif Ersoy, the poet of the Turkish National anthem (Istiklal Marshi), Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, one of the last Ottoman prominent ulema, Mustafa Sabri, the last Sheikhulislam who escaped to and spent the rest of his life in Egypt, Said Nursi, the predecessor of Gülen and the author of the collection of Risale-i Nur, the abolishment of the Caliphate meant a disembodiment of the Muslim spirit. In spite of several criticisms they made about the late Caliphate, they were not at all content with such an end. As a matter of fact, most of the Islamists of the time have actively or passively protested the Revolutions. Looking at some of the various forms of these protests may help us understand the immediate effect of the decaliphatization. For example Yazır has sequestered himself in home, in order to avoid the social Revolutions of the Republic. He devoted himself to growing roses at home. This typology is illustrated in the novel entitled Gül Yetiştiren Adam (The Man Who Grows Roses) 4 by Rasim Özdenören, one of the most
3. Ulrich Beck describes the sub-political development as the process of the reinvention of politics. By this reinvention, what he means or depicts, is indeed not but usual development of the civil society, see. Beck, Reinvention of Politics: Towards a Theory of Reflexive Modernization, in Reflexive Modernization: Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order, U. Beck, A. Giddens, S. Lash (eds.), Stanford: University Press, 1994, pp. 1-55. 4. Rasim Özdenören, Gül Yetiştiren Adam, İstanbul, Akabe Yayınları, 1079. 4

important Islamist literary, 5 to represent and exemplify the attitude of a significant number of the ulema to the Republican Revolutions. For them, the world outside had become irrelevant because of the disembodiment of the Islamic political existence. An Islamic political body or a body politic was in many respects that which made the Islamic life or existence possible. Modern Turkey was "like a transgendered body with the soul of one gender in the body of another." 6 Undoubtedly, this is because of the fact that Islamic religion is conceived as a blueprint of the social order. For, a political existence embodied through a Caliph was conceived as sine qua non of the existence of a Muslim existence, which otherwise has to be deprived of a meaning and the absence of the Caliphate seemed to create a radical sense of estrangement in these persons. In Özdenören's novel, the story of the later ulema under this condition is typified as such. "The man who grows rose", indeed, has nothing else to do. He has even lost the language through which he could communicate with the society embodying the new dominant foreign soul. Therefore the only communication he can develop is with the roses he grows. Communicating with the roses has become easier than communicating with any other modern person. Another element in the novel is the child coming to take some informal lessons from the man who grows roses. That is the element of hope within almost all stories of this kind, the best symbolic possibility of consolation under the boring diasporic conditions. Mehmed Akif, another man of diasporic literature, has gone to Egypt to spend the rest of his life after the absolute decline of the Ottoman body politic. He would cease to write poetry after the foundation of the Republic. His silence was thought to have produced the most meaningful symbolic message. He was the poet of the Nightingale (Bülbül), and now the nightingale was silent forever because of the absolute absence of hope. He would compare his condition with that of the ever-crying nightingale
5. Özdenören has been studied as an important Islamic intellectuals in Michael E. Meeker's article, "The New Muslim Intellectuals in the Republic of Turkey" in Richard Tapper, Islam in Modern Turkey, I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd Publishers, London, New York, 1991, pp. 205-210 6. Hakan Yavuz uses this metaphor for depicting the image of the Modern Turkey's transition from the point of view of the Islamists and the Kurds see. "Cleansing Islam from the Public Sphere," Journal of International Affairs, 54:1 (2000), pp. 21-42. 5

saying:
"You have a partner, a nest, a spring to be waited for; Why is this uproar, o nightingale, what is paining you? You ascended an emerald throne, founded a divine kingdom Your land won’t be invaded even if all lands in the world are involved ...Then, while the strangers (na-mahram) walking on the intimate places of Islam Silent o nightingale! It is mine, not your, the right to mourn. 7 Esin var, asiyanin var, baharin var ki beklersin Kiyametler koparmak nedir ey bulbul, nedir derdin? Bir zumrut tahta kondun, semavi saltanat kurdun Butun cihan cignense cignenmez senin yurdun ..O halde Islamin haremgahinda gezerken namahrem Sus ey bulbul! Benim hakkim, senin hakkin degil matem (should be checked)

While this poem was written in response to the false news that the Greeks had invaded Bursa, it also played a very significant role in articulating the diasporic sentiments of the Islamists in modern Turkey. In his later poems, Akif would reflect deeper anxieties and mourning: "I'm stupefied, o God! Where is your light, where is your blessing? / Should my separation (hicran) make a hell walk on my horizons?" 8 Of course it was not only the abolishment of the Caliphate that made the late ottoman intellectuals feel themselves in a diaspora. Other Revolutions made by the new body politic to abolish all remaining religious institutions also elaborated this feeling. With the Caliphate the Ministry of Shariah and Evkaf also was abolished in 1924. The operation of the Unification of Education (1924) closed all medreses, which were the only institutions for higher learning or transferred them to the Ministry of Education. This transition almost completely cut off the supply of religious trainees and would cease all ways of reproducing an Islamic leadership. This attempt would be accomplished by the abolishment of the Faculty of Divinity as part of the general University Reform in 1933. In 1925 the dervish orders were outlawed, their apparatuses were confiscated, and all magico-religious practices and all rites and titles connected with them, that is, almost all visibility of the religion were made illegal, and

7See. Mehmed Akif Ersoy, Safahat, Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı Yayınları, 1989 8. Ibid., p. 452. 6

the target seems to be the elimination of some civil possibilities of any Islamic socialization. 9 With these steps almost all religious staff lost their positions, and were withdrawn from the scene. The propaganda made about them devalued and humiliated them in the eyes of the masses. For many years the words medrese, imam, ulema, turban, sheikh have been stimulating, for many, connotations of the horror movies with some complex feelings between fear and irony. 10 In the same year, the Hat Law, which is known as the wardrobe revolution, was issued, declaring, "Every civil Turk would wear a hat, which is the trade-mark of being a civil man." No surprisingly, this was conceived as appropriation of the individual bodies as the carrier of the soul of the "other". Therefore it was met with resistances. In 1926 the law Reformation was made and secular ones replaced the laws that corresponded to the notion of the unity of an Islamic identity. Thereby, the laws governing land holding, marriage, inheritance, incest, parental authority and responsibility, and a host of other things were changed from the Islamic to the Swiss Civil Code. In 1928 the alphabet Revolution that

changed the alphabet from Arabic to Latin script had much to do with a rapid mobilization of the collective mentality. It was to have a shocking affect on the minds. Perhaps nothing can better exemplify a consciousness in exile than this step, because, the majority of people that were literate suddenly became illiterate by this reform in a very short time. Of course my aim is not to give the detailed history of the Republican Revolutions concerning the secularization, but to outline all these practices as a counterpart to another story. That is the story of disembodiment, of decaliphetization and of the beginning of a diasporic experience. All these revolutions were to dissolve an Islamic political embodiment that made even the everyday life relevant for the believers. They would also elaborate all parameters of a diasporic consciousness. I propose that the
9. Paul Stirling, Religious Change in Republican Turkey, Middle East Journal, Vol. 12, 1958, p. 396-7. 10. For a good depiction of this process see Erol Güngor, İslam'ın Bugünkü Meseleleri, Ötüken Yayınları, 1981, p. 208-209; Yasin Aktay, Political and Intellecetual Disputes on the Academisation of Religious Knowledge, Unpublished MS Thesis, METU, Ankara, 1993, p. 4546. 7

Islamism of modern Turkey should be understood within the context of such a diasporic history, peculiar to Turkish Islamism. That is by no means to say that the majority of the masses have had the same experience. We should distinguish the attitude of the masses from the attitude of the remaining Ottoman Islamist elites in the early times of the Republic. As Paul Stirling indicated, the masses were even "less clear about the distinction between loyalty to Turkey and loyalty to Islam", 11 and another part of the Revolutions required an appropriation and instrumental employment of an Islamic vocabulary for making the new nation. Therefore, the other aspect of all these revolutions was an obvious quest for a national religion as a source of vocabulary for the Turkish nationalism. However, while such a pragmatical and instrumentalist approach to religion couldn't be justified and tolerated by an Islamic point of view which depended on a relative universalism, it was adopted and legitimized in the eyes of the majority of the masses. This process deepened the diasporic positions of the Islamist intellectual, because they seemed to loose their social support, too. They became alienated from the majority of their societies. In discourse, however, the Islamist never admitted this reality. They always claimed to represent and to address the 99 percent of the society. What was alien was only the existing political body that represented the Western ideals and values. It had ignored the hopes and expectations of the masses, while the masses indeed remained innocent and helpless. However, the Republic had either gained the consent of the masses or created a sufficient mass out of the Turkish-Muslim society to support the new regime. Then, tragically appeared that the Islamist intellectuals were more likely to be situated as estranged to the society. As a matter of fact, considering the effect of secularization in modern Turkey on the late Ottoman intellectuals, Şerif Mardin finds that Ottoman intellectuals had to situate themselves as persons who communicated with an abstract public.
Modern Turkish litterateurs like Necip Fazıl felt a sense of disequilibrium both because 11. Stirling, p. 399. 8

their traditional status as intellectuals had been restructured while remaining equivocal and also because they had lost a guiding pattern for the elaboration of the self. Nevertheless, they established a new link with the Turkish population at large through the new audiences built by mass media. This new relation may be described as ideological and was a new input into Turkish society. 12

The "disequilibrium", the "equivocality", and "the loss of a guiding pattern" are associated with a self-narrative among the Turkish Islamist intellectuals who described themselves as "alienated in their own country", employing such vocabulary as "gurbet, "garip", "pariah", "home-coming" etc. This narrative is not better exemplified than "Sakarya Türküsü" written by Necip Fazıl whose poetical personality has been characterized by the title he gave to the collection of his poems: Çile, Suffering. Sakarya, is the name of a major river in Turkey which has historical significance because one of the most important battles in the Turkish Liberation War was fought on its coast. In the poem it is identified with or used to symbolize the country, the essential sons/daughters of the country, with whom Necip Fazıl declares a joint fate:
"But Sakarya is different, it climbs an uphill! As if a burden made of lead has been charged on its foamy body ... O Sakarya was this burden charged upon you This suit is despised, this suit is orphan this suit is great ... There is not but a bitter morsel, from the food cooked with poison And a separation, from your mother, your country and friend ... Equal to compunction, o Sakarya, boil! boil! You are a stranger in your own home, a pariah in your own country! O Sakarya the pure son of the innocent Anatolia We remained alone in the way of the God " Fakat Sakarya başka! yokuş mu cıkıyor ne, Kurşundan bir yük binmiş köpükten gövdesine; ... Eyvah, eyvah Sakarya'm sana mı düştü bu yük? Bu dava hor, bu dava öksüz, bu dava büyük!... Yalnız acı bir lokma, zehirle pişmiş aştan; Ve ayrılık, anneden, vatandan arkadaştan,... Vicdan azabına eş, kayna kayna Sakarya, Ozyurdunda garipsin, öz vatanında parya! Sakarya saf çocuğu masum Anadolu'nun, Divanesi ikimiz kaldık Allah yolunun!

12. Şerif Mardin, "Culture, Change and the Intellectual: A Study of the Effects of Secularisation in Modern Turkey: Necip Fazıl and the Nakşibendi", in Cultural Transitions in the Middle East, Şerif Mardin (ed.), E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1994, p. 211. 9

Feeling like a pariah in his own country, and estranged in his own home brings an unusual dimension to a diaspora. It need not be a geographical displacement from a home, but a diaspora experienced in one’s home. Obviously such a movement has to be realized by an elaborate discursive effort. Therefore, apart from some individual cases that may be associated with a spatial dimension, it usually takes place at discursive level. The new Islamist intellectuals have elaborated this discourse since the foundation of the Republic. Not only in Sakarya Türküsü, but also in most of Necip Fazıl's poetry we see such themes as having been estranged from one’s own country, which made life insufferable and meaningless. One feature common to all these intellectuals is that they all personally are very shy and live in seclusion, and are not social persons. This aspect of their personalities is the subject of various anecdotes told about them. 13 Furthermore in much of the writings of Eşref Edip, as well as the works of literatuer, Sezai Karakoç, Nuri Pakdil and other Islamist intellectuals, one can see the elaboration of the same themes. Karakoç's literary movement, for example, takes the name diriliş (resurrection), to imply the death of the mission as a result of the series of interventions which made the Muslims live in diasporic conditions. His audience is chosen or defined to be the generation of resurrection (diriliş nesli). In all his writings he emphasizes the diasporic condition of the Muslim's existence under the rule of the Republic, which has meant the disembodiment of the Islamic ideals. Not surprisingly he gives a central place to the hijrah, the Prophet's migration from Macca to Madina, in his narrative of the Islamic history, but he takes it as a symbolic movement to encompass all Islamic existence. For Karakoç, the Muslims all live in a state of hijrah. It
13. Sezai Karakoç, in spite of very secluded intellectual/poetical personality, has found a political party, taking the same title as his movement: Diriliş Partisi. Indeed, such activity has been understood almost as deliberate irony, because he, like Nuri Pakdil, and several other intellectuals of this kind, is very shy and asocial, and not expected to charge upon himself a role of being a leader of a political party. A good analysis of his movement and personality see. Elisabeth Özdalga, "Modern Bir Haçlının Kusurları, W. Montgomary Watt ve İslâm'ı Entelektualizmle Fethetmenin Zorlukları", Tezkire, 1997, Number, 11-12, p. 33. Özdalga notes that her attempts to meet with Karakoç during her study, failed because of his famous personal features. 10

should signify all moments of Muslim's existence, so that he should see the ultimate reality that he is in a diaspora in the world. 14 Of course in spite of such construction of his audience, the name diriliş, as well as all several themes in his writings suggest a kind of hope. Of course, this hope is similar to that which an ideology always requires for making an identity and for making the masses of the ideology think themselves as Subject (with the capital "S"). This doesn't contradict with a sense of diaspora, on the contrary it supplements the total condition. The diasporic discourses are mostly elaborated for their higher value in producing such energy. Just as Nietzsche has shown us that, even the discourse of victim-ness, of oppressed-ness is (mostly) another expression of the "will to power". However you can show you are treated unjustly and you are wronged, the more you can claim a power. The expression of the wrongedness or the negative conclusions associated with such a treatment justifies any claim for power. Therefore, while the diasporic discourse may be the result of real conditions, appeals to this discourse are usually associated with an implicit or explicit claim for power. The unjustly treated always have a hidden right to power. Furthermore, like most of such discourses, they are indeed highly involved in the politics, more than their formal language may suggest. 15 It should be clarified again that the Turkish Islamism's diaspora is a discursive rather than a spatial movement. It creates a sense of estrangement through words, through literature and poetry. Thus, it represents a different diasporic experience, within one's own country, and this conception of the country, of "home", has determined the form of the participation in the social contract of Turkey. For a long
14 In one of the prominent books, Karakoç tries to interpret all moments of the Muslim daily life in terms of the hijrah. Undoubtedly such promotion of the hijrah, in turn plays very important role in making a diasporic identity. See. Sezai Karakoç, Kıyamet Aşısı, İstanbul, Diriliş Yayınları, 1968, p. 24-26. For more on the analysis of these names see Yasin Aktay, Body, Text, Identity, Islamist Discourse of Modernity in modern Turkey, Unpublished PhD thesis, METU, Ankara, 1997. 15. Nietzsche's aphorisms against the quasi-humble and otherworldly and seclusion discourses of the Christian priests is well known. In the Anti-Christ (Deccal trans. in Turkish from the German by Oruç Auroba, İstanbul: Hil, 1995) and in the Will to Power (Trans. by W. Kaufman & R. J. Hollingdale, New York: Random House, 1968) he tries to show how much such discourses are involved in the will top power. 11

time, the Turkish Islamists have considered the existing body politic as a foreigner that, by its conclusions, had estranged them from their own home. Of course the apparent paradox in this situation has created several complexities in their political participations and discourses. Indeed, many problems related to Turkish political life arise from this deep problem of mutual legitimation. This reciprocal requirement of legitimation has characterized the modern Turkish history of secularization. While the state has constituted itself on the basis of the opposition to some religious elements, it also has been in a quest for legitimation at religious level, which led it to several religious policies, such as creating a unique Turkish Islam. On the other hand, the Islamists have always been both in a mood of diaspora, of having been treated unjustly, and of a quest for legitimation at the state level. The Turkish political life concerning secularization and modernization has been characterized by this tense contrast. Undoubtedly one of the most important sources of this tense relation is the lack of conditions of a social contract, the ambiguous conditions of citizenship, and of course the painful process of the replacement of one body politic with the other, which took place on a ground of competing parts. Then, under the conditions of the lack of consent, Islamism survived and was revitalized by the objection to such a configuration of the body politic. Until it came to power in 1996, the Welfare Party tradition had relied on a complex conception of the body politic, but for a significant number of people this governmental experience brought about a decrease in the diasporic discourse. It had been seen that the existing system, the current, tacit or implicit social contract, indeed included sufficient possibilities to represent the national body politic of Turkey. From the Islamist's point of view, this represented a level of peace with the existing political apparatus that had been injured since the twenties. But, this moment of peace that was usually signified by the Welfare party as the “peace of the nation and state” was again ruptured by the 28 February 1997 intervention of the army in the political sphere. 16
16. For more detailed analysis on this process see. M. Hakan Yavuz, Cleansing Islam from the Public Sphere. 12

Now, a strong mood of diaspora is still in place among the Islamists, because the constitutive definition of the state and the politic are revised and the elimination of all public Islamic elements strengthens the secularist element. In this context, the Welfare Party has been closed and its successor, The Virtue Party, is in the same way, it waits to be closed; the Imam-Hatip Schools growing religious leaders were blamed for being the “behind-garden” of the backwardness and were abolished. Now, the prohibition on veiling which is conceived by the state authorities as a political symbol of antisecularism is going on causing the occurrence of very dramatic scenes. Only the details of these scenes would be enough to identify a strong channel of the flowing diasporic discourse, the estrangement of the citizens to the body politic. 17

A Symbolic Geographical Journey: From Erzurum to Izmir through Edirne Fethullah Gülen was born in a village of Pasinler, a district of Erzurum, an eastern province of Turkey. Having been born in Erzurum and by a father working as a mosque leader (hoca) were the first two determinates of his intellectual world. Erzurum is a unique city in eastern Anatolia, known as having a culturally conservative population. The population is highly pious and conservative. Piety has remained due to the widespread religious institutional possibilities, leading religious personalities, and the informal educational courses in medreses. With the Reform of Unification of Education in 1924, Turkey has banned all religious educational activities outside the limited number of Imam-Hatip Schools, which also very soon were closed completely. 18
17. For a good analysis of the veiling issue in Turkey in the context of this debate see. Elisabeth Özdalga, The Veiling Issue, Official Secularism and Popular Islam in Modern Turkey, Surrey: Curzon, 1998. 18 This is the first closure of these schools in the early period of the Republic. The second period of the Imam Hatip schools began in 1949, when they were opened to grow “enlightened and secularist religious men to cope with religious backwardness. In fact, the existing schools are the cosequence of this decree issued by the Republican Populist Party in 1949. For more on Imam-Hatip schools and the cosequences of Turkish Reform of the Unification of Education (Tevhid-i Tedrisat) see. Gotthard Jäschke, 1972, Yeni Türkiye'de İslâmlık, Ankara, Bilgi Yayınevi, 1972; Bahattin Aksit, “Imam-Hatip and the Other Secondary Schools in the Context of Political and Cultural Modernisation of Turkey”, Journal of Human Science, 1986, Vol. V, No 1; Bahattin Aksit, Islamic Education in Turkey: Medrese Reform in Late Ottoman Times and ImamHatip Schools in the Republic”, in Islam in Modern Turkey: Religion, Politics and Literature in a 13

These figures and institutions have never been recognized by the state, but they remained and kept a wide network of medreses throughout Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia. In these medreses various modern sciences and philosophy were taught in some extent alongside Islamic sciences such as Koranic exegesis, hadith (Prophetic traditions) fikh and Arabic. The medrese network had been broken up or forced to go underground during the one-party regime of Turkey, but they never completely disappeared. In this period, the underground experiences of the medreses which offered the only possibility of transmitting the Islamic or Koranic scholarship, were a source of very interesting stories. These experiences would create popular narratives of escaping, hiding from the state operations. The state officials were prosecuting those who read, learned or taught the Koran in Arabic secretly, because, as part of the reformer's policy of nationalizing Islam, the Arabic literation of the religious texts had been prohibited. This prohibition was unacceptable for the majority of people for whom it meant a direct attack on Islam. Therefore the conservation of the remaining institutions, even at underground level, was pursued. 19 While there was not any formal education available outside state institutions, Gülen left his formal education at the middle of the elementary level and began an informal educational process. This seems to constitute the early phase of the diasporic experience, which is an important determinant not only in Gülen's life but also in the life of almost all Turkish Islamists. His mother, who profoundly influenced him, taught the Koran to the girls of the village secretly, and Gülen learned his first lesson this way at night. 20 Indeed this circumstance, together with the general conditions of the country, was enough to create a sense of himself as the "other" of the dominant policies. Of course, this was not the only informal education of Gülen. His grandfather was also

Secular State, Ed. By Richard Tapper, I. B. Tauris and Co Ltd., London; Yasin Aktay, Religious and Intellectual Disputes on the Academization of Religious Knowledge, Unpublished MS Thesis, METU, Ankara, 1993. 19. For the literary narration and depictions of this mood see, Necip Fazıl Kısakürek, Son Devrin Din Mazlumları, İstanbul, Büyük Doğu Neşriyat, No Date. 20. Latif Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi: Küçük Dünyam, Ad Yayıncılık, İstanbul, 1995, 30 th edition, pp. 25. 14

very influential on the formation of his personality and education. He was the hero of Gülen’s early life, a heroism decorated by his resistance against the government insistence on wearing a hat, by insisting on wearing a turban. He would thus make a difference with to villagers who wore hats in fear of the government soldiers. 21 Another important figure in Gülen's early life was again a traditional one, named Alvarlı Hoca. As he tells it, he found himself together with his parents "at the fountainhead ready to water his thirsty heart" 22 Alvarlı seems to have given Gülen his elementary education, as well as an education of personality. Under his supervision he committed the Koran to memory and took the elementary lessons of Arabic, fikh and exegesis. Thus, Erzurum, as well as many other eastern Anatolian cities played its characteristic role in its resistance against the modern educational Reform. In spite of such opposition to the Republican policies, however, Erzurum as a city has been an important center carrying and defending the Turkish-nationalist ideology. This ideology, in turn, would easily be articulated with a statism, even of its existing conditions. Erzurum's special kind of conservatism is characterized by the dadaş character of its people, as mentioned by Hakan Yavuz. Dadaş culture of "identity .. is characterized by the culture of frontier conditions, which stresses security over other concerns. Due to this geographic frontier position and the presence of immigrants from Caucuses, the cultural identity of the region has always been highly politicized" 23 In the Turkish popular cosmopolitan culture dadaş has other connotations also, which imply such traditional virtues as honor, generosity, manliness and loyalty. But more prominent are its frontier kind of nationalist implications. A dadaş takes upon himself the protection of the Turkish-Islamic frontier against the attacks that come from the East. Here the East is a very sensitive concept because it makes dadaşizm as usually
21. Ibid., pp. 43. 22. Ibid., pp. 28. 23 Yavuz, indicates the historical events such as the organization of the first national congress by Mustafa Kemal and thereby becoming a centre of national liberation as a constituent moments in the identity of the city, see, Yavuz, Towards an Islamic Liberalism?: The Nurcu Movement and Fethullah Gülen, Middle East Journal, volume: 53, No. 4, Autumn, 1999, pp. 594; Search for a New Social Contract in Turkey: Fethullah Gülen, the Virtue Party and the Kurds, SAIS Review 19.1, 1999, pp. 121. 15

works as a defense against the threats from inside rather from the outside. What makes it a threat is the possibility of finding supporters inside the country. In this sense, like the former threat posed by Russian communism which found support among the Turks, the Iranian Islam, too, in the eastern frontier of Turkey should be encountered by dadaş Islam. Therefore, while settled as a frontier culture, now dadaş Islam is organized against the possible insider enemies. Turkey is already an eastern society, but further Eastern movements are also challenging ones that should be scattered, just as now in the personality of Gülen it recruits ideological support against Iranian Islam which is more eastern and which politically threatens Turkish Islam. The dadaş identity thus has been prominent in its historical reaction to the threat which came from Russian communism. 24 As an eastern city Erzurum is sensitive to threats from the eastern side, in this case Russia. During the seventies Turkey was divided into the rightist-nationalist and leftist-communist movements, and the dadaş identity demonstrated its career in being almost the most zealous defender of the Turkish nationality against communism, as well as other possible challenges. We see in Gülen's biography that, one of his earliest political activities was his leading the organization of the "Association of the Struggle Against Communism" in Erzurum. 25 Thus, Erzurum was not a passive site of settlement for Gülen, but it had a crucial role in developing his deep covictions. In addition to his birthplace, Erzurum, Gülen makes another point of his origin, which goes back to Ahlat by his grandfather. Ahlat is a district of Bitlis, another eastern Anatolian city. According to Gülen, the city's most prominent feature is it’s being the gate of Anotolia for both Turkish and Muslim access on the one hand, and a shelter for those who fled from the oppressions of the Umayad and Abbasid regimes for being the grandsons of the Prophet. Thus Ahlat become a

24. Nevertheless, in spite of Gülen's efforts, which will be mentioned below, it is still difficult to say that the same degree of sensitivity was exhibited against Iranian Islam, as an Eastern threat. But the reaction and the way of putting out this reaction is still comparable with that which was put out against communism. 25. It is really interesting to mention that this organization is the second branch office whose center was in İzmir, the Western Anatolian cosmopolitan city, which would be the second important settlement for Gülen, see Latif Erdoğan, 1995, pp. 78. 16

meeting point of the Turkish and Islamic cultures. Hitherto, it has given shelter to a significant number of men of heart and morality. 26 Of course, the emphasis placed on both features of Ahlat in Gülen ‘s selfnarrative illuminate constitutive element of his personality and his world of consciousness. 27 His choice of such elements gives us some clues to the nature of Gülen's identification. Here, we can distinguish the shelter quality of the city in question. In fact, a shelter is a temporary place. It is a standstill point, wherein one prepares to go on his own way. Though Gülen's ancestors had to flee from there for some reasons, altogether these journeys would emphasize their impact, or in turn would be employed, in constituting a diasporic consciousness. As we shall see, Gülen's body of knowledge is prominently marked by a diasporic discourse. Indeed this discourse corresponds to a reality in Gülen's biography, more than any other Islamist figure. He went to the other frontier city in western Anatolia, Edirne, wherein he felt himself very much stranger, as Edirne is more secular than Erzurum. After spending about four years as a mosque leader, he fulfilled his military duty, and then spent one more year at another city in the same region. While the circumstances of these cities made him feel like he was in another country, he never ceased to work and propagate his own ideals. In 1966 the Turkish Religious Affair appointed him to another frontier, but also the third biggest city of Turkey, namely İzmir. While preaching in various mosques of the region, he experienced some troubles with the legal rules. Therefore, since the late sixties he has been subject of legal prosecutions. He was blamed for nurcu activities several times. During the military regime begun in the 12 September 1980, he had to escape from such a prosecution for six years. Only after 1986 could he appear publicly, though only in a very shy, cautious and prudent manner. While all these characteristic manners could be related to his mystical dimension, one become more inclined to see an ever-escaping personality in his face.
. Ibid., pp. 14. 27. A self-narrative is a story which one can tell about himself in order constitute his identity. It works as a method of making political identity. For more on such mechanisms in constituting identity see. Ernesto Laclau (ed.), The Making of Political Identity, Verso: London, 1995. 17
26

As a matter of fact, in spite of all his attempts at reconciliation and legitimation, he is now in his last exile from his country.

Gülen `s Sources of Diasporic Mood and the Quest For Overcoming it Now, we shall try to show how one of the best ways to understand him is to situate him within the context of the Islamist history of diaspora, to which he brings a peculiar solution and interpretation. Indeed, Gülen's biography is filled with some moments of terrible conflict with the existing laws clearly exemplifying the diasporic experience. He was prosecuted or tried and sentenced numeruous times because of his several activities, and imprisoned several times. Almost all of his activities seem to have taken place under the pressure of the legitimation problem. Having to make explanations for the true meaning of his actions seems to be one of his most common actions. His oral autobiography interview with Latif Erdoğan is filled with such anecdotes. Having to pass through such experiences would play a deeper role than one may think. Furthermore Gülen seems to have inherited the diasporic discourses of his predecessors. He often makes references to Mehmed Akif's poems, which make a powerful impact in a preaching speech. He also usually makes references to Necip Fazıl's writings and poems. In his youth he organized conferences to invite him to, and he also organized groups to read and even to distribute his publications, mainly the Büyük Doğu Mecmuası, the major periodical published by Necip Fazıl. 28 Gülen also treats Sezai Karakoç in the same way. He has read him and distributed his works. Of course, the most important figure in this context is Said Nursi. Gülen has grown within this context of Turkish Islamism, inheriting a strong political identity based on the socalled diasporic ground. It would be necessary to maintain the contribution of Said Nursi, his predecessor, in the constitution of such a consciousness. It is well known that Nursi is the most influential figure in Gülen’s development. As for the contribution of Nursi to the diasporic mood, one can see at first sight a rich material in his
28 Latif Erdoğan, ibid., p. 54 ff. 18

biography. He spent almost all his life after the foundation of the Republic under prosecution or in exile. Most of his books were written and distributed secretly, under these conditions in Barla, Isparta, and Eskisehir, where he lived as an exiled man. He was arrested several times and questioned for some of his ideas, and exiled to these places. All of his works were tried numerously by courts, though each time acquitted. These days in Nursi`s life have been reported as the days of secrecy or camouflage that would then have settled in the social actions of the nurcus. 29 Earlier disciples and also the most important carriers of the nurcu movement, including Gülen himself as a youth, have grown during these yeas. Indeed, the nurcu political action was deeply influenced by this mood of diaspora and wrongedness. Furthermore, this mood has also deeply impacted Nursi`s approach to various intellectual issues. For example, he refused to accept the opening the gate of ijtihad (reasoning in Islamic jurisprudence) making reference to these conditions that were depicted as diasporic. For Nursi, while the gate is essentially not closed, it should not be used, because Islam was under collective attacks by its enemies. 30 One can very easily identify in Nursi a higher level of diasporic mood expressed ontologically and also in a political sense. As Yavuz indicates "he had always felt himself in gurbet (estrangement) and explain(ed) how he overcame this sense of isolation through dynamic belief, trust and patience" 31 Undoubtedly, having been deeply influenced or shaped by this legacy, Gülen, too, passed through similar phases. But while he came from the Nurcu tradition, led by Said Nursi, he differed from the mainstream movement by supplementing his viewpoint with different sources of knowledge other than the Risale-i Nur, the collection of books written by Nursi, 32
29. For the details of Nursi`s life and his experiences in exile see. Şerif Mardin, Religion and Social Change in Modern Turkey: The Case of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, New York: Suny Press, 1989; of Bediuzzaman Said Nurs, Tarhice-I Hayati,Istanbul: Tenvir, 1987. 30. For the affect of the diasporic mood on Nursi`s approach to several issues, see. Yasin Aktay, Body, Text, Identity, Chapter V. 31 M. Hakan Yavuz, "The Assassination of Collective Memory: The Case of Turkey", The Muslim World, Vol. LXXXIX, No: 3-4, p. 199. 32. For a good example, in 1995-96 the newspaper of the community, Zaman, announced the ten volumes exegesis Hak Dini Kur'an Dili, written by Elmalili Hamdi Yazir as the "Exegesis of the Era". Possibly it was an unintended implication, but for the mainstream Nurcu movement 19

developing a different branch within and outside the general nurcu movement. Though he never departed completely from Said Nursi, sharing with or inheriting from him a strong mood of diaspora, he also differed from him through developing a peculiar way to overcome the diasporic conditions. Briefly, this way is related to a different approach to politics and the state apparatus. This is an approach to the non-Islamic state apparatus, or as we tried to show above, the way of reconciliation with the foreign body politic. Since the beginning of the nineties Gülen has been a strong ally of the state authorities in various policies in exchange for tolerance for his activities. He engaged and took active roles in the Central Asian societies, opening schools and motivating his clients to invest there. This activity that brought him to the center of the current, was based on an ideology that was not difficult to produce by the existing configuration of the Gülen movement. Turgut Özal, in an interview just before his death, said to Cengiz Çandar that they would represent the pioneering conquerors of the neo-akıncı 33 movement of the new Turkish new imperial-era. 34 This historical moment had been attempted several times during the Selcuk and Ottoman conquering of large countries. This alliance with the state, no doubt was a sign of the deep alliance of Gülen with the existing political body. It is because of this that in Gülen's discourses the diasporic mood shifted from a political discourse to an ontological and mystical one. This shift required an ascetic conception of the world for the staff to be motivated there, working hard and expecting low wages for the sake of a value transcending the physical values, the employment of a rich vocabulary of the Islamic ethic of working hard, selfsacrificing, self-devoting etc. Of course, the terms like gurbet, hicrah, ghazi, fikir

another name of the Risale-i Nur has been the same. 33. Akinci names the very often irregular frontier warrior groups in the Ottoman society. 34. Cengiz Çandar, "Değişim Sürecinde İslâm", İslâm” Araştırmalar, Kış, 1993-94; In an inteview made by Eyup Can, Gülen seems to have voluntarily appropriated such a task in its best way. He explains his task in the Central Asian countries in these terms. Eyup Can, Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi ile Ufuk Turu, İstanbul: AD Yayinlari, 15th editon, 1998, p. 53 ff. See also M. Hakan Yavuz with another approach to the same issue, “Orta Asya`daki Kimlik Olusumu: Yeni Kolonizator Dervisler: Nurcular”, Turkiye Gunlugu (Ankara) 33 (March-April 1995), pp. 160-164, 20

akıncısı (the Ottoman frontier of ideas) etc. are only the prominent examples of this vocabulary. In the books mostly comprised of his preaching and speeches which are regularly distributed by the daily newspaper Zaman, and which are handbooks of his students, are contained texts that very successfully motivate people to participate in such values and activities. 35 Of course, the content of the books would be another issue to be treated, but briefly they contain a peculiar configuration of a body of knowledge. They combine the modern sciences with the traditional ones, and they try to solve the exaggerated science-belief conflict in behalf of religious claims. In these books, even hicrah, gurbet and other akin words of a diasporic vocabulary are employed in an aesthetic manner to mobilize the community members to go out of the country to be employed voluntarily even in the worse conditions in the educational network of the community. The ultimate purpose of this hicrah, however, now is defined in terms of Turkish Islamic nationalism. 36 The shift in question also required a sort of nationalism, which could be reconciliated with a religious universalism. For, above all, the employment of the Turkish frontier movement should be provided by and associated with such a conception. Though, the intellectual and ideological background of Gülen, as mentioned above, was ready enough to provide such a service, in critical times the alliance required more than a voluntary engagement in nationalism. In the process
35. Gülen has rarely written books. Much of his writings rely on his short articles published in the monthly journal Sizinti, which is led by him, or the stenographical reports and writings of his speeches, preachings and interviews that were edited ultimately under his supervision. Thus, indeed, the operating of Gülen's influence on the community is by itself an interesting point to be examined in terms of the nature of the operation of an oral speech. He usually works out his influence by all possibilities of oral addressing, while they also were reproduced in writing way and shared the communicative and hermeneutical possibilities of the written texts. Thus his works constituted a wide range of configuration of knowledge, from Koranic exegesis (Kur'andan İdrake Yansiyanlar, 2 volumes, Zaman, 2000), to Islamic mysticism (Kalbin Zümrüt Tepeleri, several volumes, 1998, İzmir: Nil Yayinlari); from the emphasis on numerous modern problems and their Islamic solutions to ethical and moral advices to the new generations (Çağ ve Nesil, 7 or more volumes, each with its own subtitle, İzmir, 1998-2000); from replies to some suspecting questions to a performance of literary expresison of some values etc. This mostly oral dimension of the discourse, of course, provides a very rich material for a possible hermenetuical study. 36. In reply to a question concerning the term hicrah, Gülen preaches that: "Every body should be locked into this idea and constitute himself as ready to work just as a soldier in case a task charged upon himself, in Turkey or outside Turkey, in Asia, Europe, America, Australia and any other place." M. Fethullah Gülen, Prizma, Zaman Publisher: İstanbul, 1997, Vol. 1, p. 43. 21

began by the February 1997, calling for a campaign against the Islamist movement led by the Welfare Party, Gülen took his place on the part of the state and blamed the Welfare Party for creating tension with the Turkish nation. He appeared several times national television and declared his difference with “other" Islamists, making reference to "tolerance", "Turkish Islam", "cultural Islam versus political Islam" etc. He permitted to be employed by the state-dominated media as an alternative to the political Islam led by the Welfare party, as a characteristically culturalist, enlightened, 37 national and indigenous religious man. Thus, he was promoted and apparently he took his reward in exchange for this kind of employment. Nevertheless, the same media and state forces have always remained suspect, reserved about Gülen's possibility of making camouflage (takiyye), because his past was filled with speeches and declarations implying his difference and hostility to the existing political body. Indeed, in a process like that through which Gülen had passed, one might really have changed, but the degree of violent campaign against the Islamic formations would go on deciding about the hypocrisy of Gülen's revised movement against the Republican authorities and values. The result is that the diasporic discourse has increasingly been transformed into diasporic condition. Actually, the movement is under permanent prosecution, Gülen is out of his country, now experiencing an actual diaspora. The university he advised, which is really very qualified, and ranking the fifth among more than eighty universities, recently was chosen by the Institution of Higher Education for gradual closure. Then, not just Gülen himself, but also his followers have fallen into the same mood of diaspora. In such a context one really cannot measure true intentions. The only available logic is that a diaspora implies nothing but a “distorted condition of communication”, in Habermasian terms.

37. The "enlightened religiousman" has been the ideal target of the educational policies of Turkey, since the establishment of the Republic. 22

From Experiencing Modernity as Diaspora to a Religious Existential Diaspora Although Gülen didn’t receive a modern formal education, he represents a highly modern ideology in many respects. 38 One respect is the experience of the modern world as an exile or as a diaspora. For one way of reading modernization is to see in it the feeling of strangeness, an exile, or in subtler term a diaspora. What characterizes this sense of diaspora is above all the higher mobility that modernity brings about. But not less important is that which results in the distance between corresponding ideologies defining authentic ideal life worlds and the actual reality. The imagined and idealized world always has to be out there. It cannot be present, because the possibility of its presence, naturally, put an end to the working of the ideology. What makes the modern world a diasporic one is already the domination of this distance, the non-presence, or the différance in Derridean terms. 39 In its early stages, modernity made people believe in the possibility of closing this distance, but, over time, this belief had to be replaced by a sense of hopelessness, which corresponded to a discourse of diaspora, or an exile. The communists are exiled from their idealized world; 40 almost all nationalists are distant from their original countries or the ideal country they hope to arrive at. While political ideologies rely on the maintenance of the distance of the idealized world and the existing realities in
38. Gülen's movement is even considered as representing a postmodern condition in terms of its orientations in the organization of the faith, science, and recruitment of students and the sources of motivations. Ömer Laçiner emphasizes those aspects of Gülen's movement as signifying its postmodern quality. For Laçiner, this quality becomes apparent especially in its practice of selecting the members to be recruited to the movement. The prominent criterion here is the higher IQ and achievement. This criterion is expected to cut across the modern evaluations of the social stratification system. Such a trend in the stratification system is more discriminative even than the one based on class conflict, because it includes an element that can never be exceeded. A boy having a lower rank of IQ can never increase it by working. Therefore the new stratification tendency corresponding the postmodern promotion of the IQ level seems to be properly adopted by the movement. See. Ömer Laçiner, “Postmodern bir Dini Cemaat: Fethullah Gülen Cemaati”, Birikim, Number: 72, 1995. 39. For the nature of the meaning in oral and written communication as différance rather than a presence, see. Jacques Derrida, Writing and Différance, Trans. Alan Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978; For the role of this différance in the constitution of ideologies see. Slavoc Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, London: Verso, 1989. 40. Indeed the Hegelian-Marxist term "alienation" is worth attention, both in terms of its implication of this distance but also in the proliferation of its role in the human self-realisation in this world. In Hegel alienation has positive roles in the historical journey of the gheist, while in Marx it is a result of the unequal and unjust world that should be exceeded. 23

experiencing their diaspora, religions rely on their conceptions of the Golden Ages. No doubt, the tradition of Islamic religion, like all other religions, provides a rich vocabulary for such a conception. The famous Prophetic traditions as "man is in exile in this world"; "the best people are those who live in my time, then come their successors, then theirs"; "the world is the hell of the believer" etc., are in use among the believers. The terms "gurbet", i.e., estrangement, being away from one's home, or "garib", i.e., alien and strange, were used to describe the strangeness of a believer in the worldly life. A huge discourse was performed in the Sufi literature elaborating the implications of gurbet. 41 But this discourse has also proliferated, it also has produced such discourses as "a sufi is a child of the time" (ibn al-waqt) as well as the sufi as resisting against the on-going-realities. While the former usually implies a resistance or a
41. These poetic words by Gülen, which were written during his journey to America, probably represent more than a longing for his own country. My mind is just like a blender of questions / My emotions are dead, answers are ambiguous / I lounge about as tired and idle A steamy Sadness, everywhere / My heart is sensitive just as my mother’s heart / My all states signify my estrangement A poet of absence from home in my ears / A northeast wind coolness in all melodies / My thought farewells to these places Since I left my homeland / I buried the joy and gayety in my bosom / I’m longing for those blue days An exile is raining into my horizon / No flash of lightening in the sky / The streets are cool like the icebergs Man, things, and the being are separated / The rivers don’t flow toward us … The hearts are not inspired in these places / The doors of the skies and earths are closed / Each is in the solidness of matter No beauties shrink here in the spirit / I longed for our gardens / where are those green spring days? …
Beynim tıpkı bir sorular harmanı, / Hislerim ölgün, cevaplarım sisli; / Gezer dururum yorgun ve avare. Sarmış bir buğulu hüzün dört bir yanı, / Kalbim annemin kalbi gibi hisli; / Her halim garibliğime emare... Kulaklarımda heb bir gurbet şiiri, / Her nağmede bir poyraz serinliği... / Düşüncem "veda" diyor bu yerlere †lkemden ayrıldığım günden beri, / Gömdüm sineme sevinci, neşeyi / Hasretim şemdi o mavi günlere... Gurbet yağıyor ufkuma muttasıl, / Bu semada hiç bir şimşek çakmıyor; / Aysbergler gibi sopsoğuk sokaklara. İnsan, eşya ve varlık fasıl fasıl, / Irmaklar bize doğru akmıyor. / İhtilaç içinde kalabalıklar. Bu yerde kalbe ilhamlar inmiyor, /Kapalı kapıları gökler-yerler. / Ve madde katılığında her biri... Burda ruha güzellikler sinmiyor, / Tüter gözümde o bizim bahçeler; / Nerde o yemyeşil bahar günleri? Doğ ey ışık doğ gönlümün içinden! / Tasayla dolaştığım bu ellerde; / Bana ruhumun sırlarıın duyur! Bir ses sun o eski bestelerinden, / Þu hüzünlü şafakta perde perde. / Açlıkla kıvranan ruhumu doyur!

While "these places" which inhibit the inspirations falling into one's heart, "this country" into which no beauty associate with the spirit; "these skies under which no any illumination occurs" etc. literally seems to represent the actual place the poetry was written, that is America, indeed, the statements represent a rather deeper sense of estrangement. This sense, taking usually a form of deeper nostalgia refers to an existential sense of diaspora as a modern condition in general, and as a condition of the Turkish Islamist in particular. 24

conflict with the on-going realities, the latter is usually employed to accommodate. Actually these double aspects constitute an interesting perspective in Gülen's discourse. Obviously in Gülen one can see a strong appropriation of both aspects of these traditional elements. In various speeches he emphasizes his strangeness in this world. The days, even the years, he spent in Edirne, Kırklareli and İzmir have frequently made him feel such an actual distance from his home, but he is very qualified in reading and accommodating the changing conditions. This accommodation, of course, takes a form of "understanding the contemporary place to meet modern challenges and 'understand our faith'". 42 The performance of his community to synthesize its Islamic ideal with the global conditions is striking. Furthermore, the political reconciliation articulated by a dialogic discourse, though maintaining some traces of double speaking, seems to indicate the same performance stimulated by a sense of diaspora.

The Accommodative Affects of Diaspora Perhaps it is the proper place to review some parallel aspects of the original experience of diaspora by the Jews. We find there a deep and fragile sense of the world, and a quest for accommodating the conditions, probably the result of a defensive reflex. We read from Mircea Eliade's A History of Religious Ideas about the The Babylonian Talmud, which appeared in the diaspora period that,
(it) played a decisive function in the history of the Jewish people: it showed how the Jews should adapt themselves to the different sociopolitical environments of the Diaspora. Already in the third century, a Babylonian master had formulated this fundamental principle: the legislation of the regular government constitutes the only legitimate law, and must be respected by the Jews. Thus the legitimacy of local governmental authorities receives a ratification of a religious order. In matters which concern civil law, the members of the community are obliged to present their litigations before the Jewish

42. These are the words by which Hakan Yavuz indicate the implications of the meaning of Risale-i Nur (the name of the collection of works by Said Nursi, Gülen's predecessor) in Uzbekistan. See, Yavuz, 1999, pp. 597. 25

courts. 43

Of course, it would not be proper to try to find strict parallelisms between this Jewish experience of diaspora and Gülen's experiences in question. But those aspects are inspiring enough to understand how diasporic feelings or discourses usually lead to an accommodation rather than conflicts. While the statist vision of Gülen and his movement might be sincerely motivated by his Nationalist world view whose parameters are outlined above, it must significantly be influenced by a search for security. Indeed, in Gülen's appeals to anti-communist movements and to political Islamism articulated by the Welfare Party tradition, such a concern is evident. And it is really difficult to distinguish whether his sincere nationalism or a clientele relation with the state is at hand. The special characteristic of diasporic experiences is that they raise a communal solidarity among the believers in exile. This may take a form of defensive solidarity against the challenging dominant forces, as in many examples of ethnic or religious minorities. The Protestant believers have exemplified such solidarity in various occasions. 44 This may also take a form of ambitious desire to gain positions in social, economical and political spheres for the sake of the group. In any case, such diasporic experiences create a higher-level social capital even in a foreign society.

An Aporia in Such Usage of the Term Nevertheless, if an aporia would be sought in this conception of the diaspora, that is, the diaspora in one's own home, it would be found in the dissimilarity of the original purposes and conclusions of a diaspora. In the original experiences of diaspora led by the Jewish people, the main purpose in diasporic activity was to flee
43. Eliade, Mircea, 1985, A History of Religious Ideas, volume 3, Translated from the French by: Alf Hiltebeitel and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 155. 44. I think what has called for the contributions of the Protestants in the development of capitalism is their diasporic feelings which seems to have created a high level of solidarity under the threat of the Catholicism, rather than their ascetic calling for working hard. See. Yasin Aktay, Türk Dininin Sosyolojik İmkanı, İstanbul, İletişim Yayınları, 1999, pp. 120 ff. 26

from the enemies, from pressures to get rid of them. In fact, the diaspora always meant a relative freedom compared with the life in the departed places. What makes it painful is the separation from the home, the estrangement to the new countries that would be possible to overcome. In our employment of the term, depicting the conditions of modernity, however, the pain is permanent and diaspora means also the continuity of pressures, prosecutions, and the undesired conditions. In fact a true diasporic experience should mean a relative emancipation, and therefore, under such conditions it should be desired. Then, really, what is diasporic in such experiences of the Turkish Islamists in general, and of Gülen in particular? Indeed, a significant amount of the relative freedom seems to be occurring in the relations with the imagined original country, with the literal meanings of the texts, with the idealized conditions etc. I mean, the liberating conditions of a diaspora are provided by the pressures themselves. Feeling himself estranged in one's own home paradoxically provides an additional legitimacy to feel himself free of the charge of an Islamic ideal life. Everything could be delayed and actually abolished because of the dominant evil conditions. One can violate even his main principles because of the conditions making their application impossible. Such discourse of diaspora, thus, fulfils its function in articulating a liberal way of life associated with a rightist or conservative ideology. It mobilizes a strong discourse of accommodation to the real conditions, while also basing its reason of existence on the hopes and intentions of changing the world, which now should be delayed, because of the impossibility of closing the great gap between the ideas and the on-going world. Indeed, Leonard Binder, in his Islamic Liberalism, has demonstrated how some radical movements may paradoxically result in strengthening the liberal mode of life, just because of the constant vacancy between the ongoing reality and the ideal world, and of usually the anachronistic conception of the social world. 45 While this vacancy may initially create tensions in society, in time it
45. See, Leonard Binder, 1988, Islamic Liberalism, London: The University of Chicago Press. Max Weber also mentions this paradox in his observations on the fundamentalist religious movements in Europe. He had observed that fundamentalism by the same reasons had paradoxically led to secularization. For more on such analysis, see, Max Weber, the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, translated by Talcott Parsons; introduction by Anthony 27

is replaced by a greater level of accommodation to reality, perhaps with a contribution of a relative civil society based on the communal solidarity. 46 In various recent speeches and interviews, one can see admissions of political withdrawal in Gülen's ideas and practices. He declared, for example, the innecessity of an Islamic state, since it constitutes just a small portion of the total Islamic life. Even in the interviews which made Gülen a public figure, the themes centered on how to create a strong Turkish country, society and nation, how to make Turkey powerful among the other nations. This clear identification of the community with the national body politic occurred even in the heydays of the political campaign against the Islamist movements led by the state or media organizations. Of course, from such employment of the movement only, one cannot induce a liberalist tendency in Gülen's political philosophy and practices. For, in these practices there is a prominent authoritarian manner. The liberal effect, therefore, appears rather in the relationships with the religious texts and their application to the real world. "Thus the legitimacy of local governmental authorities receives a ratification of a religious order. In matters which concern civil law, the members of the community are obliged to present their litigations before the Islamic courts." That is just the diasporic effect on the observation of a religious belief in a liberal way.

The Legacy of Islamic Political Philosophy: Stability versus Anarchy The ideological basis of such an accommodation relies rather on more Islamic terms, and one cannot see such Jewish references in either Gülen's or any other Islamic movement's discourse. I will restate that diaspora is only a metaphor to conceptualize the conditions of Turkish Islamism in terms of being deprived of any focus of decision, of a leader, of a political body, that is, a condition of decaliphatization as was reflected on the discourse of being estranged in one's own home. I tried to show how the
Giddens, New York: Scribner, 1976. 46. Properly, the analysis by Hakan Yavuz on the Nurcu movement and Gülen turns around the question "Towards an Islamic Liberalism?", see Yavuz, 1999 28

predecessors of Gülen had exemplified such discourse and how the successor, Gülen, tried to overcome this condition which separated the political body and the individual Muslims. While Gülen has been much influenced by his predecessors and inherited a strong theme of diaspora from them, he also articulated a special way of closing this gap with the state by his characteristic interpretation of the relationships of the state and the national and religious identities. This kind of interpretation has another important origin within the Islamic political practices as it was shaped during the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman periods. The problem of a legitimate Caliph or leader has always posed an important problem for the practice of an Islamic life. But, beginning with the existence of a Sultanate as a model of leading Islamic society and policy, the legitimation has been under question. The early four Caliphs were considered fully legitimate as successors of the Prophet, while the following ones were usually questioned because of the Sultanate nature of their rulership and succession. The Sunni and Shi'a sects were divided because of the conflict over the definition of a legitimate Caliph. While the Shi'a section insisted on the fully legitimate Imam, the Sunni ulema preferred a realistic way and reconciliated in a point that admitted the legitimacy of the Caliph only in case of applying the compulsory principles of Islamic religion. Then, the Muslim ulema condemned armed revolt against an established government. Obedience was required of all subjects. But this obedience was limited in that the individual should refuse to disobey a command of God. Similarly al-Ghazzali held that rulers should be obeyed because resistance, even to tyranny, was a worse alternative. For fear of civil war, any government had to be accepted as a matter of necessity. The Muslim jurists believed that in the absence of a strong government factional hostilities would lead to anarchy. These fears were not unrealistic. Under the pressure of political necessity Muslim jurists were led to accept any established government as legitimate and to put aside their insistence on the supremacy of the Caliphate. 47 For example, even Ibn Taymiyya, in spite of his entire
47. Ira Lapidus, A History of Muslim World, Cambridge: University Press, 1985, p. 183; for more on the debates in Islamic political philosophy about this problem see. Erwin I. J. Rosenthal, 29

fundamentalist tendency, admits the favorability of a stable administration versus anarchy conditions under which no religion could be applied. 48 Gülen's predecessor, Said Nursi, had also relied on such reasons in rejecting to the calling of Shaikh Said to revolt against the freshly established Turkish Republic. For Shaikh Said, the state should be revolted against because it had abolished the Caliphate and substituted a national identity that divided and discriminated a group of the ummah instead of an Islamic one. Thus, for Said, the state had destroyed the only principle holding the Turkish and Kurdish people together in a country. While Nursi, too, was a Kurdish person, his response represented both the characteristic attitude of the Ulama between anarchism and justice, and the interesting discourse of the religious nationalism. He said "I can not revolt against a nation whose ancestors had for centuries led the Islamic movement in the world." 49 Then, Nursi improved a special discourse against anarchism even within the secularist state, because of the worse conditions of instability. Apart from the complications of his special experience of a diasporic condition, this fear of civil war or anarchism seems to have influenced Gülen's political philosophy and attitude toward the existing system. The state "has an essential value even in a context of relativity." For Gülen, while the existence of a state or a system of law is essential, it would of course be better being administrated by a good ruler, and even best by the good Caliphs, but in their absence, even the worse ruler or state should be obeyed, because the absence of a state leads directly to anarchy which is always the worse alternative. Anarchical conditions make the application of even the simplest Islamic rituals impossible:
The absence of a state is an immediate anarchy. Statelessness means instability. It also means the excess of the hostility against every kind of idea. For a while assume the absence of a state, even of a socialist state in Turkey, you would see the blood would flow in the struggles between factions, religious sects, orders and groups. The mosque Political Thought in Mediaeval Islam, Cambridge: University Press, 1962. 48. Ibn Taymiyya, Siyasetu's Shar'iyyah, (Islamic Politics) translated into the Turkish by Vecdi Akyüz, İstanbul: Dergah, 1985. 49. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Hayatı, Mesleki, Tercüme-i Hali, İstanbul: Sözler Yayınevi, 1976. 30

communities would each be like the Anatolian principalities of the Ottoman times. One skilled preacher would arise and influence a crowd of people and lead them in the streets. In the tolerating conditions of democracy, sometimes we see such occurrences 50

The fear of anarchy and civil war which would threaten the existence of even the simplest Islamic body politic, would lead Gülen to favor the stability over complete justice, just as had the Sunni ulema made for centuries. Furthermore, he charges upon himself the defense and legitimation of the Turkish state policies concerning its international relations and cultural identity. This ideological or discursive service included the promotion of an Islam with its Turkish character, versus political Islam and Islamic models of other countries, such as of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In his various speeches, he declared the superiority of Turkish Sunni Islam especially versus the Iranian Shii Islam. His comparisons portray Turkish Islam as more humanitarian, tolerant, intimate and plausible while Shii Islam described in the contrary direction, as intolerant, insincere and a reactionary religion. 51 Gülen articulates the Turkish popular and official opinion against Iranian Islam in as much as he was credited as an “enlightened and culturalist” figure. By his efforts through his educational network he replies positively to serve in making the Turkish language a world language; 52 strengthening a culturalist Islam versus a political Islam, and denouncing terrorism in the name of Islam; 53 and growing a new type of citizen required by a Turkish state seeking to be a new super-power in the world. 54 Thus, Gülen's manner of overcoming a diasporic mood which resulted from the great vacancy between his ideas and the realities, is through accommodation and appropriation of the existing world. In turn, it is easily and strongly articulated with a rightist and conservative ideology for the sake of the burden charged by his tacit treatment with the dominant political forces.

50. Can, Ufuk Turu, p. 134-135. 51. Fethullah Gülen ile New York Sohbeti, İstanbul: Sabah Kitaplari, 4th edition, 1997, p. 7-52. 52. Ibid., p. 55-58. 53. Ibid., p. 83 ff. 54. Ibid., p. 97 ff. 31

Conclusion: The Hermeneutical Context To repeat, the diasporic condition as metaphor to represent the Turkish Islamism as well as Gülen's discourse, was employed in connotation and accordance with the widespread usage of the phrases "stranger in one's own home" and "pariah in one's own country" by the Islamist men of literature. I tried to show how such a mood was inherited or shared by Gülen and how it determined the formation of his body of knowledge. This diagnosis relied on a hermeneutical assumption that literature or certain knowledge cannot be appropriated objectively. On the contrary, it is appropriated in mediation of the constructive reading of an individual or a community. It is a historical principle that works in this constructive reading, of course, but the ontological and aesthetic dimensions hold their sway and certain volumes of knowledge flourish and are manifest in numerous ways. In Gülen's case, some historical conditions of a community, the special way of commitment of certain persons to a political and communal identity, the quests for religious and political (dis)embodiment and the corresponding tensions and conflicts seem to play their historical roles on the understanding of Gülen who would exhibit his own aesthetic contribution in the constitution of a body of knowledge. Apart from these conditions which were depicted through a diasporic vocabulary, the aesthetic performance of Gülen, his special skills in employing strong techniques of addressing his audiences, crying, composing influential preaches, preparing the students to be addressed in a community discipline, the usage of special techniques of speech such as employing metaphors, allegories, small historical anecdotes etc. and communicational channels in spreading the message, all have played a considerable role in the understanding of both Gülen and his community. A hermeneutical context would be found through taking these communication channels into consideration in understanding how a certain configuration of a body of knowledge has been made by Gülen and his community. The aesthetic dimension in Gülen's activities is very prominent in the formation of a peculiar personality. The influence of the oral or written texts he worked out function

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in aesthetic rather than in merely cognitive or argumentative ways. These texts that spread through videotape or cassette record and their deciphered written versions, the semi-religious mood of their reproductions and their consumption are very important in configuring a body of knowledge. In this context, the employment of diasporic elements in the discourse have much to do with the constitution of a political identity, of the relationship of the body politic and the political body, i.e., the society and the political apparatus. The more the diasporic mood increases the more the unity of a society and the integrity of a political body decreases. And in turn, this is very closely related to the developments of the definitions of the concept of citizenship in Turkish political life. Gülen's body of knowledge represents a characteristic moment in the unstable process of the formation of this concept.

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