Times of illness give the opportunity to repeat some incomplete readings. When putting together today's column, I wanted to share notes from an interview that calls us to rethink our old issues…
The upcoming years are going to be an era in which many incompatible definitions of the Muslim world, both strategic partner and enemy, are going to be pushed. When preparing for this era, there are going to be two principle questions. These long-debated questions for which no method could be determined are: “How can a return to Islam be ensured?” and “How can the political vision of Islam, which takes 'righteousness' as basis in the face of mischief, be strengthened?”
I presented these two important questions to philosopher-theologian Associate Professor Sadık Türker. Türker said, as an initial step, “Genuine Islam, Islam's political-economic stance and historical Islam need to be differentiated; then, we need a 'thinker type.'”
Despite the degree of risk of the attempts made in the name of achieving genuine Islam, they cannot be greater than those that can be caused by historical Islam. We first need to create a thinker type. This cannot be achieved with a Turkish intellectual identity produced in relation to a concept such as the Turkish enlightenment and has no reality. Or in its equivalent in the Ottoman language, “münevver,” or enlightened. Münevver is not the identity of a thinker.
What kind of identity should it be?
For starters, it should be a genuine identity. Second, it should be critical; it is required to be an identity able to touch everything related to its own history and the past. It is not possible to reach the truth without this questioning. I believe Islam has such a characteristic in its nature. For instance, some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad come to him and say, “Oh messenger of Allah, we have such thoughts come to our minds that we would rather burn to ashes than to utter them.” In response, Prophet Muhammad says, “All praise is to Allah, who has bestowed His slaves to suspect their faith.” Islamic faith is a dynamic system and is established on a moral and intellectual approach that takes into consideration the influences mainly of its opposition on the Muslim individual. Once this tension becomes static, thought stops… There is also the tough way. You need to touch your beliefs, touch the general structure of the culture. But when you do touch it, you will feel as though you performed a live operation on your own arm. That is just how painful it is. One needs to be prepared for it.”
The elimination of the balance the mind is required to establish between the holy text and the existing world, has pushed the “thought-producing” doors of the Islamic world into strict stereotypes. In time, preachers and thought-producing thinkers became one and the same. And with the amalgam of the scholar and judge identities, Islamic thought was left to “experts on Islam” limited to the historical-traditional or Western clichés, rather than thinkers on Islamic thought.
Türker says Islam should not avoid questioning in order to break this vicious cycle. When stating that questions do not make one a heretic, he gives an example. “There is a lovely commentary by Rumi on the term 'sibghatullah' [the colors of Allah]. In relation to the Quranic verse, 'Is there any color more beautiful than the color of Allah?': 'For one thing you connected with Islam. Islam is such a thing that it will penetrate all the way to your marrow. You cannot escape it even if you try.' There is a justice in the nature of Islam. This justice alone is an ideal that attracts humans and draws them in.”
It is not possible to create a political vision without pondering two principle terms, mischief and righteousness, alongside the call to contemplate Islam in accordance with its nature. Türker says the following regarding this:
“The Islamic vision is established on two principle concepts: Mischief and, against that, righteousness. It is not possible to create a vision without taking these into account. In verse 2:205, al-Baqarah, in the Quran, Allah says, 'When he turns his back, His aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle.' The main objective of Islam is righteousness, rectification, peace. Hence, the Islamic political vision has a historic struggle with mischief. If you fail to define this correctly, it is not possible to protect your own being. The principle of Islam, which allows different elements to live together in righteousness, as it is in its nature, should be embraced.”
Wishing an increase in the number of Islamic thinkers, happy new year.