Europe’s test with Islam

For the last two centuries, Islam has been held subject to test from head-to-toe by Europe. Europe's world system, civilization and values are dominant and Islam is made to give account against this. The modernizations in Islamic communities took place by giving account before Europe. Turkish modernization is a striking experience of this. We even tried to change our problem in the name of modernization. We have done everything in response to Europe's holding us to account. When we couldn't change our religion we even tried to change Islam! We tied our history to their history. We learned about European history better than we know Ottoman history. All our social scientists still don't know Islamic societies despite knowing the history of the West's history of classes, families, sciences, clashes, sects to their finest detail. They neither know the Karmatis, the Mu'tazila nor the Melami. They act as though Islamic communities don't exist. Because when the West held us to account, it imposed its ideologies that force us to reject our everything. Leftism, nationalism and liberalism were all offering to read the world by disregarding our social history and existence. We have sociologists, political scientists and philosophers around us who are constantly talking about Kant, Plato, Heidegger. However, none of them know Farabi, Kınalızade, Yunus Emre, Tanpınar, Rumi, Mevlana Halidi al-Baghdadi. We have become the ignored scientists and culture experts of an ignored civilization.

Europe has always held Islam to account. In the conferences he gave at Sorbornne University in the early 1850s, positivist Ernest Renan had said, “Islam prevents advancement,” formulating this act of holding Islam to account. We have been striving for a century to answer this accusation. Many people from Namık Kemal to Aziz Çaviş, Filibeli Ahmed Hilmi to İsmail F. Ertuğrul wrote rebuttals. We found ourselves in a difficulty to defend. Suspicion had taken over us. Our thoughts and faith were faced with extinction as much as our lands. Our soldiers fought in tens of fronts and our intellectuals wrote rebuttals for centuries as part of this struggle to exist. We lost thousands of our commissioned officers at the fronts and hundreds of our intellectualists in the chaos of positivism and materialism. These were followed by accusations, other blames and other methods of holding to account. New Renans were raised. Harsher, severer and more brazen. This time they used labels such as Islamist, political Islamist, fundamentalist. Today, they are using the label Islamism, which they had used like a mark against Sultan Abdülhamid II, for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and stirring the world media. They are holding to account all our schools of through and wisdom with these labeling. They are otherizing every thought and action that questions their world order and is fighting for existence through these labels. They are forcing us to two options: Slave and rebel. Slave regimes, slave intellectuals, rebel organizations.

We are waking up to a new history. This is the history of the fall of European civilization. All the refugee problems, racist activities, Islamophobic practices are indications of this. The relationship between Europe and Islam is also facing a major fracture in this new history. Islam's test with Europe is now coming to an end. Instead, Europe's test with Islam is starting. How much room will Europe make for Islam, how much can it coexist and reconcile with it? Will Europe be able to make room for Islam within its religious pluralism theory? As a matter of fact, how sincere is Europe with its European secularism? Is secularism going to have a meaning that allows Islam to freely live and express its faith? These are the matters regarding which Islam holds Europe to account. These questions are making Europe's head spin. It is now face-to-face with a major test against Islam's dynamism and fight to exist. There will no longer be Muslims who are in a complex in this test; instead, it will be the Europeans. A Europe that fails to pass Islam's test is also going to be deprived of the opportunity to live in the world. It is at least going to withdraw from being a world being through the civilization perspective. The only way for Europe to overcome this is to radically review the relationship is established with Islam during the post-Ottoman era and develop a new approach.

The end of the two-century-old history of Islam-European relations are at the root of Germany, the Netherlands' and Sweden's ill-tempered reactions against Turkey. Because until now, they were establishing this relation through Turkey and showing it as an example to the world. The Turks are questioning this role. They want this to change. Their “boldness” is leading to great surprise.

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