Islamic Institute in Turkey

March 26, 2024

First, a couple of observations: Gormez’s remarks arrived in Mecca, in which he had been heading the Turkish delegation for hajj, or perhaps the Islamic pilgrimage. Additionally, Gormez had additionally criticized Saudi authorities during the same journey, blaming them for “destroying record” by building huge skyscrapers that overshadow the Kaaba. This was, besides becoming a personal remark, an objection by the history-sensitive “Turkish Islam” to your literalist “Saudi Islam.”

Second, the establishment that Gormez heads, the DRA — a peculiar quasi-ministry of faith in a supposedly secular chicken — could not be able to make statements about education prior to the era associated with the incumbent Justice and developing Party (AKP), in other words., the period from 2002 to these days. Before after that, Turkish training, like many “strategic” issues, had been in thumb of hard-core secularist generals. Therefore, neither an “International Islamic University” would-be allowed, nor would the DRA be active in its development.

However, when you look at the AKP’s “New chicken” many taboos have been broken and new habits are appearing. The state’s support for religious education — like “Imam Hatip” schools, or high schools with a quasi-religious curriculum — has actually significantly increased. Meanwhile, theology faculties that existed throughout the pre-AKP period but that have been limited have actually attained more state help, financing and prestige.

The increase of ISAM, the guts for Islamic Studies, an Istanbul-based institute launched in 1988, is a typical example of this trend. Underneath the AKP, ISAM expanded, and ultimately had been transformed to the might 29 University this year. (May 29 is traditionally acknowledged given that time associated with conquest of Istanbul, that was after that known as Constantinople, by the Ottomans in 1453.) An innovative new, modern and colossal building for university is being integrated the Umraniye district of Istanbul. Notably, as Gormez noted, it really is this college that will be transformed in to the “International Islamic University” of chicken.

While this task could be admirable for Turkey’s educational life it self, it is clear so it also reflects an effort to have a stronger voice from chicken regarding Islam into the international scene. No wonder Gormez talked about other major Islamic universities in the remarks — like Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the Medina Islamic University or even the Islamabad Islamic University in Pakistan — and included:

“I have been focusing on the issue for 36 months to see the curriculum of these universities doesn't help in offering solutions to the problems of Muslims. The scholars which graduate from these universities have become the issue on their own, in the place of solving the difficulties.”

You are able that AKP government is specially disturbed by the importance of Egypt’s Al-Azhar given that main spiritual expert in the Muslim world, specially following the help written by Al-Azhar authorities to your army coup of July 3, 2013, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Erdogan had openly slammed the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar in a speech in August 2013 for “siding with all the coup.”

But will Turkey’s very own center of Islamic learning help advance democracy and other necessary civic values inside Muslim world? In the event that projected university could be a center of scholastic freedom, openness and diversity, then yes, needless to say. Certainly, Turkey has a generation of qualified and open-minded theologians, who've published important works on things such as reinterpretation of Islamic legislation, revitalizing logical thought within Islamic theology and launching much more crucial reasoning on Islamic custom. It is often a pity that their particular publications and articles, written nearly solely in Turkish, have actually remained mainly not known into the outdoors world. If the recommended Overseas Islamic University will help get this to Turkish grant much more accessible to various other communities, and produce space for more reformist views in Islamic thought, it can make an important share.

Luckily for us, this is exactly what Gormez seemingly have in your mind, while he is known to have “re-interpretive” views on Islamic texts, specifically with regards to hadiths, and/or reported sayings of this Prophet Muhammad. (Gormez was, in reality, the pinnacle of DRA’s “hadith project, ” that has been hailed when you look at the Western news as “radical revision of Islamic texts.”) In the remarks in Mecca, also, Gormez particularly said: “Muslims stress outside factors [for problems], but try to avoid admitting internal reasons, ” contrary to the conspiratorial thought that describes the shortcomings for the Muslim globe by just blaming “imperialists” or “Zionists.”

But Turkey is an intellectual (and political) battleground involving the aforementioned rational, reformist views of contemporary theologians together with more dogmatic, stagnant views of much more traditional scholars. Moreover, the latter camp may involve some weight within AKP groups. Among their particular questionable attempts was to eradicate required viewpoint classes in theology divisions, a 2013 choice by the degree Council (YOK), that was happily retracted when confronted with powerful criticism. (we published about this conflict in Al-Monitor: “A Salafi Assault on Turkish Theology?”)

Consequently, while Turkey’s Global Islamic University is great news, it is a meaningful share into Islamic globe only if it isn't ruled because of the ultra-conservative school of jurisprudence and theology, of which chicken has its own share. The AKP federal government must also maybe not frame this school as only foundation for its temporary governmental and personal requirements, but as a long-term project that will assist present brand-new ideas and fresh perspectives to an Islamic civilization that has been intellectually stagnant for centuries.

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