The historical expansion of Turkic Peoples influenced the great religions of the Middle East and Asia. New forms of these religions were created and became militant and political tools for Turkic expansionism. In early Islam civil wars erupted and that was turned into waves of Jihadist imperial ambitions by the Turkic elements in the new faith who constituted the bulk of armies and later on became the rulers in the new empires. Arabic Islam was very short-lived and it was replaced by conflicting Turkish Islam and its rival Persian Islam. Long before the appearance of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, Persia itself was no longer Iranian as a result of Turkic infiltration.
As Fethullah Gu¨len put it “We are not here as Turkish Muslims to put ourselves in the service of Islam, but to put Islam in the service of life.” What is meant by “life” in this quote actually means “Turkic life” which implies the use of different forms of Islam to serve their expansion policies.
Below is brief article was written by M.Hakan Yavuz (a professor of political science at the University of Utah, Department of Political Science, The Middle East Center), and was posted on turkicworld.org.
The full article (20 pages) was posted on the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 24, No. 2, October 2004
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, 24 October 2001; Carleton University (Canada), 30 March 2002; Waseda University (Tokyo), 7 October 2002; and John Hopkins–Abant Platform, 19 April 2004.
This brief and severely reduced review lets a 15-min course on the specifics of the Türkic and Turkish Islam, its common traits with other Islamic zones, and its uniqueness in the Islamic family. To remain within the historical scope, I deleted most of what addresses the current status and politics. I also “adjusted” somewhat derogatory references to Shamanism and substituted them with less misleading references to Tengrianism.
While the Arabs class their per-Islamic past as “unenlightened period” of idols and polytheism, The Türks are known to believe in a single omnipotent Tengri from the first records of their history, and the notorious confusion of Tengrianism religion with utilitarian services of Kams (Shamans belong to a different ethnos) brings a distortion as a remnant of old prejudices. For a complete PDF file, click on Link above.
The Zones of Islam
There are at least seven diverse competing and conflicting zones of political Islam. Conversion patterns, colonial legacy, types of nationalism, and political economy all factor into these evolving separate zones. Under certain political conditions, one sees the emergence of consensus and similar ‘public opinion’ across zones on various issues. For instance, the Arab–Israeli conflict and Bosnia helped to form a shared position under the rubric of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, but not the conflicts involving indigenous Muslim populations in Nagorno-Karabakh, Kashmir, or Cyprus.
Each zone’s understanding of the political role of Islam no doubt varies in terms of numerous socio-political groups employing Islamic idioms and identity claims within their respective zones, while themselves being influenced at the regional level by national culture and diverse historical and economic factors. None of these zones works in isolation and there is a constant fertilization of ideas, practices, and skills across zones, and a flow of ideas, skills, and ways of framing issues by intellectuals. In addition, the production of religious knowledge and the use of Islam in everyday life in each zone, are conditioned by its history and socio-political environment.
Such a heuristic approach is essential to understanding the various contingent manifestations of political Islam while evaluating the evolution of political Islam in specific zones, such as Turkey, and its relation to the non-Islamic Western world. Across the seven zones of Islam, it is clear that there has been a rediscovery of Islamic identity. This has generally taken place along the unexpected path of nationalism, which, in earlier studies, was regarded as antithetical to Islamic identity. Since the 1990s, almost all zones experienced a transformation of nationalism into forms of ‘Islamic patriotism’. On the one hand, there is an evolving transnational Muslim consciousness as a result of the persecution of Muslim communities in different parts of the world, brought to Muslim households through the rapidly expanding communication networks of television and Internet. These same images have also facilitated formation of an assertive ethnic nationalism.
There are also attempts to redefine Islam n national terms in order to consolidate the nation-state and national identity. Thus Islam has been an important facet of all Arab, Persian, Turkish, South Asian and Malay–Indonesian nationalisms, and it has also been mobilized for transnational causes such as in Bosnia or Palestine. In other words, the revival of nationalism in these zones has also led to the revival of Islamic symbols, practices, and institutions that had previously been an integral part of the social fabric of these countries. In other words, it is not only the universal principles of Islam that ground our everyday actions, but also the practical and immediate issues which Muslims confront. Although Islam provides a universal set of principles to make life meaningful, the principles are vernacularized and localized in specific narratives. One has to observe the critical distance between the universal principles of Islam (rather than a utopian model of Medina) and local narratives through which believers seek to preserve and perpetuate these principles.
By offering these zones, I seek to bring this critical and dynamic distance between the ethical principles of Islam and the local narratives into the forefront in order to understand that there is no universal model or a single highway to salvation but, instead, there are multiple ways of being and becoming a Muslim. I will disaggregate the Islamic world into seven separate zones and identify the major historical and social factors which shape these zones. These seven diverse ethno-cultural zones are Arab, Persian (Shi’i), Turkish, South Asian (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan), Malay–Indonesian, African and Minority (Diaspora) zones. Each zone’s understanding of Islam is primarily informed by its own national culture and by diverse historical and economic factors. In this paper, I will deal briefly with the first two zones and dwell mostly on the Turkish zone of Islam.