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Islam in Modern Turkey and in Arab World - Essay Example

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Turkey is trying hard to sell itself to tourist as a modern nation, the nudist beaches, the shops with their stale global items, the postcards, the discos-all these are second-hand and even culturally debasing. The challenge to the nation of Turkey as a Europe nation, the strong, unmistakable signs of Turks rediscovering their Islamic identity, are everywhere: the full mosques, the pride in the Ottoman past, the women with their hijab, even man wearing the fez (Ozal)…
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Islam in Modern Turkey and in Arab World
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Download file to see previous pages The push toward the Ottoman past is now too strong to stop. It has been fuelled by events in Central Asia whose only links with the Turks are through the Ottoman origins in the Asian heartland (Ozal).
From the 1970s onwards a combination of factors has fed into an Islamic revivalism: the success of Sadat's October was against the Israelis in 1973; the use of oil as weapons by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia; the general resurgence of Islam -the triumph of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Islam for Khomeini meant Ithna Ashari or twelve Imam Shiism (Fereydoun 65). While providing the Shias with an immense reservoir of religious passion, this inevitably acted as a barrier between Shia and the Sunni areas and thereby created obstacles for Khomeini on the larger Muslim world stage (67).
Henceforth Islam was to become increasingly a force in Arab politics. Islam meant cultural identity and pride; it also meant social and moral purity in a world seen as corrupted by the West. Furthermore, it was a local native response to organizing and living in the world, not something imported from Moscow or Washington. But Islam would not have any easy run; Muslim activist would be killed and jailed and tortured in their thousands (Ozal). Their legitimate participation in election would be frustrated and their aims deliberately distorted in order to misinform people. The struggle is far from over.
Turks are tough and pound people, with developed perception of themselves as people of honour and worth. There is the story from the early 1950s about a Turkish bridge in the Korean War. Threatened by overwhelming communist forces, the Turkish commander refused to retreat. Defying the orders of his United Nation superiors, he sent a message back to saying the word "retreat" did not exist in the vocabulary of the Turks. The Turks were always in the front-line of Islam against Europe; but it was a sophisticated culture Islam embracing many societies (Ozal). Here many systems thrived; here Jews and Christians lived in safety and comfort. However, the Iranian strand reflects the oscillation in society between the dynastic principle of powerful kings and that of pious religious figures. The oscillation has been in evidence in the politics of Iran over the last few centuries. For example, how Majlisi, one of the leaders of the clergy in the late seventeenth century, actually led a revolution, not unlike that of Khomeini's, to impose the will of the clergy on the Safavid ruler (Fereydoun 31-63). The dilemma was difficult for the Iranians to resolve. According to one principle, power came from God, and humanity was to submit; according to the other, power came from the imperial dynasty, and genealogy decided their rich cultural heritage, the more they underlined the importance of royalty in their tradition, the further they moved away from the Islamic principle. So those who were against the Islamic principle would oppose it implicitly by talking of the glories of Persian culture, poetry and art. It was a subtext that announced their real political and religious positions (Fereydoun 31-63).
There is a central debate in Turkey now about how Islamic the Turkish pass was at the time of the Ottomans. Although the debate may appear academic to an outsider, it relate directly to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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