"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, February 14, 2022

Religion in Turkey Today

The role of Islam in Turkey has been changing since the turn of this century, after having changed a lot at the turn of the previous century, especially in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. A recent book helps us understand these recent changes: Kim Shivley, Islam in Modern Turkey (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), 256pp.

This book, the publisher tells us,
  • Investigates the social and political forces that have shaped Islamic practices in Turkey, from 1923 to now
  • Covers a different topic in each chapter: the Kemalist revolution, Sunni Islam, the Alevi minority, Sufi communities, political parties, religious education, and the contemporary period
  • Explores issues that have shaped public debates about the role of religion in the Turkish secular state in case studies on, for example, veiling; the use of Atatürk imagery, and the liberalisation of the media
  • Looks at the important – if contested – role of women and gender in religious practice in modern Turkey
  • Draws on ethnographic detail based on the author’s research in Turkey over the last 28 years
  • Provides the historical context for the rise of the controversial Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party
  • Includes a note on Turkish usage and a glossary of key terms
Additionally the publisher reports this: 
This book provides a survey of Islam in Turkey since the founding of the modern republic in 1923. It examines the secularising policies of Turkey’s founders and how these policies have shaped the development of religious institutions and social expectations around religious practice up to the present day. A special emphasis is on the relationship between religion and politics, with chapters focusing on state-based religious institutions, religious education, Sufi orders and religious communities, Alevism, Islamic-oriented political parties, and the effects of economic liberalization on the practice of Islam in Turkey.
Readers will also learn about the political and social developments that contributed to the rise of the current Islamist government of the Justice and Development Party. In this way, Islam in Turkey provides vital historical context for understanding both the rise of the controversial President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and current events in Turkey and the Middle East more broadly.

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