Literary Reflections

'Turkey' from Oxford Islamic Studies Online

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This article outlines modern Turkish history as context for Orhan Pamuk's novel Snow. The article by Feroz Ahmad is reprinted from The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World in Oxford Islamic Studies Online.


One of the successor states created from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Turkey became the first secular state in the Muslim world. The new state was declared a republic in October 1923 after the defeat of the Greek army and of the sultan 's forces in a bitter civil war. The abandonment of the sharīʿah and the adoption of a secular legal system based on Western codes of law, as well as the declaration of a secular republic in 1928, were radical departures from tradition. The new Turkey was predominantly Muslim, with non-Muslims accounting for only 2.6 percent of the population in 1927. There were many who argued that retaining such Islamic symbols as the caliphate would provide legitimacy for the new regime. Until 1924, Turkey had been the seat of the caliphate, and from the very genesis of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish state and society had been deeply influenced by Islamic traditions and culture, especially the tradition of the gazi (Arabic, ghāzī) warrior. Not surprisingly, Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, enjoyed the honorific “Gazi” into the 1930s.

Ottoman Period.

Asia Minor had been penetrated by Turks and Muslims in the eleventh century, but the conquest of the region came only after the Seljuks defeated the Byzantines in 1071. By the thirteenth century, when the Ottoman state was created, Islam was well established under the influence of such Ṣūfī dervish orders as the Naqshbandīyah, Mawlawīyah, Malāmīyah, and Bek- tāshīyah (in Turkish, Nakşibendi, Mevlevî, Melami, and Bektaşi). Not only were these orders influential among the people, but many sultans too were followers of their shaykhs. Even under a strong state with its own ideology based on the Ḥanafī school of Sunnī Islam, the influence of Ṣūfī orders and the ʿulamāʿ (Turkish, ülema), the guardians of state Islam, remained considerable. The heterodox Bektāshīyah order was particularly influential because of its intimate connection with the Janissary corps, the heart of the Ottoman army. They retained their influence until the dissolution of the Janissaries in 1826, when the order was abolished and driven underground; other orders, especially the Naqshbandīyah, were allowed to flourish throughout the empire.

The balance between the official Islam of the ʿulamāʿ and the popular, folk Islam of the Ṣūfīs began to turn in favor of the ʿulamāʿ in the eighteenth century. This was part of the process of the centralization of power and the modernization of the state in order to meet the challenge of the West. The Ṣūfī orders were viewed as a conservative force in society and an obstacle to westernization. The orders, as well as the ʿulamāʿ, had been able to maintain a certain autonomy vis-à-vis the state thanks to the revenues of religious foundations or awqāf (Turkish, evkaf; sing., vakf). But the sultans began to restore their authority over these foundations, and finally Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839) brought them under the control of the newly created Inspectorate (later Ministry) of Evkaf. He also incorporated the ʿulamāʿ into his remodeled state by creating an official office for the Shaykh al-Islām known as the Bab-i Mashihat or Fetvahane. The Shaykh al-Islām was transformed into a civil servant with advisory and consultative functions; later he became a member of the cabinet appointed by the sultan.

The process of rationalizing and secularizing the state—and to a lesser extent the society—continued until the founding of the republic in 1923. The Tanzimat reforms (1839–1876) accelerated this trend, and an 1869 law established the right to Ottoman citizenship regardless of religious affiliation. The opening of modern schools like Robert College (1863) and Galatasaray (1868) introduced education in a foreign language, marking an important stage toward religious desegregation.

The Early Republic.

Meanwhile, however, the Ottoman regime stressed the Islamic character of state and society as a response to the growing nationalism of its Christian subjects and increasing imperialist encroachments on Muslim lands in Asia and Africa. The sultans, especially Abdülhamid II, emphasized Islamic solidarity and their own role as the caliphs of all Muslims. This trend continued throughout the Young Turk period, and even the Kemalists fought the war of liberation based mainly on a religious ideology. Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) was emphatic about this, noting on May 1, 1920, that the “nation whose preservation and defense we have undertaken is composed not only of one ethnic element [the Turks]. It is composed of various Islamic elements,” including Circassians, Kurds, and Lazes.

The Islamic component of Turkish nationalism was bound to be strong because the majority of the new nation 's people were Muslims. The composition of the population within the borders of the new republic had changed dramatically between 1914 and the census of 1927; the non-Muslim population had declined from 20 to 3 percent and continued to decline thereafter. But secularization might not have been so radical or so swift had the conservatives not used Islam to challenge Kemalist leadership. After dissolving the sultanate in 1922, the Kemalists toyed with the idea of retaining the caliph as a symbolic figurehead; however, the ambitions of Caliph Abdülmecid, supported by Mustafa Kemal 's opponents, forced the government to act swiftly and abolish the caliphate on March 3, 1924. All educational institutions were placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Instruction, and a Directorate of Religious Affairs under the prime minister was given charge of “all cases and concerns of the exalted Islamic faith which relate to dogma and ritual.”

The Kurdish rebellion of February 1925 led by the Naqshbandī Shaykh Said prompted the creation of an extraordinary regime that lasted until March 4, 1929. The Kemalists used these four years to launch a program of reforms that effectively removed Islam from political life and secularized society. The dervish orders and sacred tombs were closed down in November 1925, and practices such as fortunetelling, magic, and cures by breathing performed by shaykhs, babas (elders of religious orders), seyyids (Descendants of the Prophet), murshids (spiritual guides), dedes (dervish leaders), and çelebis (leaders of religious orders) became illegal. The wearing of the fez, a symbol of Muslim identity, was outlawed, and men were required to wear hats. The Gregorian calendar was adopted along with the twenty-four-hour clock. The Swiss civil code, adapted to Turkey's conditions, replaced the sharīʿah in 1926, depriving the ʿulamāʿ of their traditional source of influence. In 1928, the Assembly voted to remove the words “The religion of the Turkish state is Islam” from Article 2 of the constitution, completing the disestablishment of Islam. Meanwhile, a committee set up to study the implementation of an “Islamic reformation” presented its findings. It recommended, among other things, introducing pews into mosques and sacred instrumental music into the service. These proposals were too radical, and the committee was quickly disbanded, suggesting that the government had no intention of alienating Muslim opinion. However, the committee 's proposal to replace Arabic with Turkish as the liturgical language of Islam was adopted a few years later.

The purpose of these radical reforms was not anti-Islamic but political: to remove from the jurisdiction of religious leaders and their political allies all legal, social, and educational institutions and place them in the hands of the Directorate of Religious Affairs. The state would then direct religious energy toward its own socioeconomic program. One of the reformers defined a secular government as “one which transfers the leadership in religious affairs from the ignorant to the enlightened,” and the Kemalist daily Hakimiyet-i Milliye (December 30, 1925) editorialized, “We can sincerely claim that our Revolution has more of a religious than an irreligious character as it has saved consciences from harmful tyranny and domination.… To think that a nation can live without any religion is nothing less than denying humanity, sociology, and history.”

Islam as an Instrument of Government Policy.

It was recognized as a vital component of the nation 's cultural constitution and was mobilized to enhance national unity and instill civic virtues. Prayers, especially Friday prayers in the mosque, were encouraged because they instilled discipline and a sense of community; fasting “builds endurance and patience,” while giving zakāt (alms; Turkish, zekât) “stimulates one 's sense of generosity.” The Friday sermon was specially written to educate the mosque-going public (especially the illiterate) in civic duties. They were told that their religious obligations (farz; Arabic farḍ) included paying taxes, doing military service, cooperating with the government, and being loyal and obedient citizens. Islam was presented as a rational and scientific religion (“our Prophet informs us that science is essential for a Believer”); it was open to innovation (“Muslims do not hesitate to accept new movements”) and it was national (“every nation addresses God in its own tongue”). Specially trained military chaplains were assigned to the army, and religious instruction was made a part of the military routine.

This pragmatic attitude toward Islam might have continued had not circumstances in the early 1930s convinced the regime of the need for a more aggressive ideology. The world economic crisis and the appeal of Italian fascism and Soviet communism in these difficult times were two contributing factors. The more immediate stimulus was the failure of the multiparty experiment of August-November 1930; political liberalization and the formation of the Free Party encouraged an Islamist reaction against the secular regime. Even more traumatic was the Menemen incident of December 1930, in which Dervish Mehmed, a Naqshbandī devotee, called on the people to destroy the impious regime. He beheaded an officer sent to quell the disturbance, yet no one in the crowd intervened to defend the state. The Kemalist elite was shocked that citizens of the republic had stood by and even applauded Dervish Mehmed. The people had failed to understand the reforms, and that had to be rectified.

The ideology known as Kemalism was launched in May 1931 and written into the constitution in 1937. Its core was the six “fundamental and unchanging principles of Republicanism, Nationalism, Populism, Statism, Secularism, and Revolutionism.” Islam was “nationalized” in January 1932, with the Qurʿān being read in Turkish, followed by the Turkish call to prayer in 1933. Although the regime became more consciously secular, Islam was still mobilized for civic ends. Mosques, for instance, continued to disseminate propaganda in favor of the national economy.

There were signs of liberalization following the death of President Atatürk in November 1938. His successor, İsmet İnönü, wanted to build a consensus and therefore permitted members of the old opposition, more sympathetic to Islam, to enter politics. A real relaxation of militant secularism, however, came only after the introduction of multiparty politics in 1945, when the ruling Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (Republican People 's Party, CHP) recognized that the competition for votes against the Demokrat Parti (Democrat Party, DP) required the manipulation of Islam. Islam also became an important weapon in the cold war against Moscow as well as against left-wing dissidents at home. Consequently the CHP, the party of secularism, began to undo some of its earlier reforms. In 1948 pilgrims were permitted to visit Mecca. The following year, courses to train prayer-leaders and preachers were set up, and a Faculty of Theology (Ilahiyat) was opened in Ankara in October. Also in 1949 religious education was restored to the classroom, and sacred tombs that had been closed down in 1925 were reopened.

Despite these concessions, the Republicans lost the election in 1950. The Democrats continued the policy of liberalization and gained great popularity, especially by restoring the Arabic-language call to prayer (Turkish ezan; Arabic, adhān) in June 1950 and lifting the ban on religious radio broadcasts. Turkish voters, however, responded not so much to these religious concessions as to the DP 's development policies, which transformed Turkish society by opening up the country with roads, mechanized agriculture, and farm subsidies, bringing a prosperity peasants had never known. As election results have consistently shown, voters supported the parties they thought would improve their material life.

Resurgence of Islam.

With political liberalization, the Islamic sentiment that had gone underground reemerged and became vocal. More people attended mosques, and new ones were built. Writers who had been biding their time met the growing demand for religious literature. These developments exposed the fundamental weakness of the Kemalist reforms—their failure to reach deeply into society. Only the cities and large towns benefited under Kemalism and developed a small class committed to it. The countryside remained virtually untouched by the benefits of modern education, and literacy grew only slowly. Thus, even though the social institutions associated with the dervish orders were destroyed, their influence remained strong and began to reassert itself by 1950. Nonetheless, there was no question of going back to an Islamist order under the sharīʿah or permitting the Ṣūfī orders to stand in the way of change. Both the DP and the CHP were committed to change; when some Ṣūfī orders attempted to regain their influence, their leaders were prosecuted with the full force of the law—the Tijānīs, Naqshbandīs, and Mevlevîs in 1950, and the Qādirīs in 1951—all by the supposedly pro-Islamist DP. In time the religious orders became appendages of certain parties, exercising influence and patronage through them. The Democrats began to exploit Islam for political ends only after 1957 when their power waned as a result of economic setbacks. A political deadlock with the opposition triggered the military coup of May 1960, which opened a new chapter in the political life of modern Turkey.

The military regime accelerated Turkey  's transformation into an industrial society by introducing new institutions, including a liberal constitution that guaranteed, among other things, social justice, the right to strike, and freedom of expression. As a result a Workers ’ Party (Türkiye İşçi Partisi) was formed and challenged the policies of the ruling classes from the left. The establishment responded by mobilizing “Islam as the antidote to communism,” the catchword for any criticism aimed at rectifying the socioeconomic problems in Turkish society. The polarization between left and right soon assumed a religious character. As a result Turkey 's Alevis (Arabic, ʿAlawīyah), a heterodox offshoot of Shiism who make up an estimated 8 million of the current (1992) population of 52 million, came under attack from the right. They were accused of being leftists even though their only sin was being longtime supporters of the secular CHP. Finding that the CHP no longer satisfied their political needs, they formed the Unity Party (Birlik Partisi) in October 1966, though they have never identified it as an Alevi party.

A major consequence of the rapid economic growth of the 1960s—about 7 percent a year between 1963 and 1973—was the concentration of economic power in a few large conglomerates. This process undermined the small producers and merchants of Anatolia, who responded by withdrawing their political support from the principal party of the right, the Justice Party (Adalet Partisi), the DP 's successor. They formed splinter parties like the conservative Democratic Party (Demokratik Partisi), the neofascist Nationalist Action Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi), and the National Order Party (Millî Nizam Partisi, MNP), the first openly Islamist party of the republic.

Islam and Political Parties.

The MNP was led by Necmettin Erbakan, an engineer trained in Germany, who also enjoyed the support of the Naqshbandīs. He was a new politician who emerged in the 1960s to fill the vacuum left by the Democrats, disqualified from political life by the junta. He was provincial rather than cosmopolitan in outlook and had nothing in common with the old elite except the ambition to develop the country. Such people were willing to adopt Western technology to create a modern, capitalist economy, but they were at home in the culture they associated with Islam and were contemptuous of the imported Western culture they identified with loose morals and decadence. The MNP never called for the restoration of the sharīʿah; they campaigned only for a national economy independent of foreign control and a national culture based on Ottoman-Islamic traditions and free of corrupting fashions imported from the West.

The party was banned by the military regime in 1971 but regrouped as the National Salvation Party (Millî Selamet Partisi, MSP) in 1973. In the next general election the MSP garnered 11 percent of the vote and became the coalition partner of the social democratic CHP, as both shared a similar economic program. When the coalition broke up, Erbakan continued to play a significant role in new coalition governments led by the Justice Party. This gave him considerable powers of patronage, which he exercised on behalf of his supporters, especially the Naqshbandīs. As a result Islamists were soon entrenched throughout the bureaucracy, posing a threat to secular education.

The MSP was banned again by the military junta that seized power in September 1980. When political activity was partially restored in 1983, the Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi) led by Turgut Özal, a former member of the MSP, assumed the mantle of political Islam. But Muslim opinion in Turkey, radicalized by the Iranian revolution, wanted a more militant party to support. Initially the Welfare Party (Refâh Partisi, RP)—the MSP reincarnated—attempted but failed to meet these radical expectations. After failure in the 1987 election the party changed its strategy and emphasized “the struggle against feudalism, imperialism, and fascism.” The strategy paid off, and the RP, in coalition with the neofascist Nationalist Labor Party (Milliyetçi Çalısma Partisi), won 17 percent of the vote in 1991. It also fared well in local elections of March 27, 1994, winning municipalities in squatter and working-class areas, but it was still far from winning power throughout the country. However, it was accused of strengthening its position by colonizing the state bureaucracy with its loyalists. The party was said to be entrenched in the Interior Ministry, holding some 700 of the 1,500 key executive posts such as provincial governors and inspectors.

The parties of the center-right and center-left remained divided, allowing the Welfare party to become the leading party in the general election of December 1995 with 21 per cent of the vote and 158 seats in parliament. As no party had the electoral strength to form the government, they were forced to negotiate a coalition. The secular parties refused to form a coalition with the Islamists even though Erbakan declared that he had no interest in changing the constitution in order to institute the sharīʿah, and that his party wanted work for the state and the welfare of the people.

Finally on March 6, 1996, the center-right parties—Motherland and True Path—formed a coalition that proved to be unstable given the rivalry between the leaders. On June 6, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz resigned, and another round of negotiations followed. On June 29, Erbakan and Tansu Çiller, leader of True Path, announced the formation of a coalition—after both leaders agreed to shelve investigations of corruption against each other. The coalition, between an Islamist and a self-declared secularist, and based on pure opportunism was bound to be unstable. The secular media constantly scrutinized and criticized Erbakan, especially after his visit to Iran and Qadhdhāfī 's Libya. Erbakan wanted to strengthen Turkey 's links with the “Islamic world” and balance his country 's pro-western foreign policy. He was humiliated by the generals who signed a Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement with Israel without the approval of his government on August 28, 1996.

Erbakan had also to appease his party 's base. He did so by such gestures as inviting Islamic leaders to his residence and promising to build mosques in Taksim, the very center of secular Istanbul. But the rank and file was not so easily appeased, and in January 1997, the Welfare Party 's mayor of Sincan organized a “Jerusalem Day” rally to protest Israel 's occupation of that city. The generals responded by sending tanks through Sincan, a surburb of Ankara, and having the mayor arrested. On February 28, the national Security Council, dominated by the generals, ordered the government to clamp down on Islamist activity, especially the wearing of headscarves by women working in the public sphere. This event came to be known as “the post-modern coup” or the “February 28 Process.” In August parliament passed a law extending secular education from five to eight years so as to weaken the hold of Islamists on the youth. A new law placed independent mosques under government control, another measure to curb Islamic radicalism. Under such pressure Erbakan decided to resign in June hoping that that the “Welfare Path” would continue under Tansu Çiller, the coalition 's deputy prime minister. But President Süleyman Demirel accepted his resignation and appointed Mesut Yilmaz to lead the new coalition.

Even before the constitutional court ordered the dissolution of the Welfare Party in January 1998 for violating the principles of the secular republic, the Islamists had founded the Fazilet Partisi (Virtue Party) in December 1997. The new party had learned that there was no point in defying the army and no longer talked of withdrawing from NATO or introducing Islamic banking. But there were still many hardliners in the party who wanted to challenge the dress code by supporting the headscarf.

The Islamists had been marginalized, and Turkey was led by a nationalist coalition until the election of April 18, 1999. Thanks to the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers ’ Party, the nationalists emerged the winners while parties of the center-right and left collapsed. Though the vote of the Virtue Party also declined, it still managed to win almost 16 percent of the vote and performed even better in local elections. The center had collapsed because the voters were tired of the bickering between the parties and their leaders and therefore preferred to vote Islamist or in this case nationalist.

The Kavakçı Affair.

When the new parliament convened on May 2, it erupted in fury when Virtue Party 's Merve Kavakçı entered wearing a headscarf. Bülent Ecevit, soon to be the prime minister, declared: “No one may interfere with the private lives of individuals, but this is not a private space. This is the supreme foundation of the state. It is not the place to challenge the state.” Merve Kavakçı was not allowed to take her oath and was disqualified from being a deputy on the technicality that she had not made her dual Turkish-U.S. citizenship public. Her party was described as a “cancer-producing metastasis” and on June 22, the constitutional court dissolved the Virtue Party. The Islamists were now irrevocably divided between Erbakan 's “traditionalists,” and those described as moderate reformers. The Kavakçı affair was the last attempt of the traditionalist to challenge the system so openly.

The nationalist coalition, though marred by corruption, seemed stable. But on February 19, 2001, an ailing Ecevit created a crisis when he stormed out of the National Security Council meeting, accused by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer of turning a blind eye to corruption in the government and obstructing investigations. Ecevit's refusal to resign and allow a younger man to take over the leadership of the party and the government meant that a general election was the only way out of the political impasse.

In July 2001 the traditional wing of Islamists around Erbakan responded by forming the Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi). The party 's emblem, five stars floating within the crescent, was interpreted as either the five pillars of Islam or the party 's reincarnation of the four earlier parties of political Islam—National Order (Millî Nizam), National Salvation (Millî Selamet), Welfare (Refâh), Virtue (Fazilet)—plus Felicity (Saadet).

The “moderate” Islamists countered by forming the Justice and Development Party (JDP, Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) on August 14. Its leader was Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and its emblem a light bulb symbolizing enlightenment. Though its roots lay in the Erbakan movement, Erdoğan did not see it as the continuation of the earlier parties. It represented new elements in the country and was described as “democratic-conservative,” rather like Christian Democrats in Europe. While some of its supporters called for the sharīʿah (23 per cent), the majority (44 percent) were opposed, suggesting that the demand for the sharīʿah in Turkey was falling.

Erdoğan was also a new kind of leader, someone who did not come out of “the system” as had Menderes, Demirel, Erbakan, and Özal. He was a product of Kasımpaşa, a rough and ready, lower-middle-class district of Istanbul, and had made his reputation as the dynamic mayor of Istanbul. His earlier political career suggested that he was a militant Islamist, and in April 1998 he was even sentenced him to ten months for reciting lines from a Mehmet Ziya Gökalp poem: “The mosques are our barracks, / the domes our helmets, / the minarets our bayonets, / and the believers our soldiers.”

The West, or Islamic Tradition?

Turkey has undergone a societal change, and the tension is now between a westernized, secular elite and the traditionalists, who are more comfortable with what they describe as Islamic culture. It was no longer a conflict between Left and Right but between “Islamist” and “Secularists,” between so-called “white Turks” and “black Turks,” that is to say the secular, upper classes, and the traditional, Anatolian lower middle classes. The general election of November 3, 2002, was a clear victory for Justice and Development (JDP) that won 34 percent of the vote and 362 seats, a majority sufficient to form the government. Only the Republican People 's Party had cleared the electoral hurdle of ten percent, while the Felicity Party had been wiped out with barely 2 percent.

When the JDP came to power, issues such as secularism, the headscarf, the religious imam-hatip schools and the Higher Education Board were marginal issues. They soon acquired a new lease on life. However, the JDP has projected an image of moderation, making Turkey 's entry into the European Union (EU) its priority and passing reform packages to meet the EU 's criteria. By October 2004, Turkey had met these criteria, and in October 2005, Turkey began accession talks that were expected to last between ten and fifteen years.

The secular forces remain suspicious of the party 's Islamist past, convinced that the government has a secret agenda to Islamize Turkey. Thus the headscarf has remained a political issue, worn as it is by the wives of prominent JDP leaders such as Prime Minister Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül. Suspicions were aroused when the government wanted to pass a law criminalizing adultery under pressure from its Islamist base and when the Istanbul municipality attempted to ban billboards displaying bikini-clad models. But the adultery law was dropped in September 2004 in order to meet an EU requirement for women's rights. The governing party remains divided over such questions between “Islamists” and secularists, and the pro-EU faction is more popular. But like other political parties, the JDP has been guilty of colonizing the state by placing its members into strategic ministries, creating the fear that in a short time the state will lose its secular character.

In 2006, the major issue was the succession to President Sezer, a militant secularist, whose term expired in May 2007. Prime Minister Erdoğan wanted his party to elect the president while his party had the necessary majority in parliament to do so. The opposition called for an early general election hoping that the JDP, whose popularity is said to have dropped to around 30 percent, would not have the necessary votes in the new parliament to elect its nominee as president. It would therefore have to settle for a compromise candidate and elect an above-party president. But Prime Minister Erdoğan stated categorically, “Don 't expect early elections.” On April 12, 2006, President Sezer told his War Academy audience that “Religious fundamentalism has reached alarming proportions and Turkey  's only guarantee against this threat is its secular order,” suggesting that some sort of military intervention was still in the cards if the governing party persisted in electing an “Islamist” president. Erdoğan chose Abdullah Gül, his moderate foreign minister, as the presidential candidate. The opposition claimed that a president could not be elected unless there was a two-thirds quorum in parliament, and they took their objection to the Constitutional Court. The court annulled the first round of voting on May 1, and when, five days later, parliament again failed to elect Gül, his candidacy was withdrawn. Meanwhile there were massive demonstrations in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir against the JDP in preparation for an early 2007 election to be held on July 22.

The election proved to be a triumph for the JDP. The party won 47 per cent of the vote and 341 seats mostly at the expense of the traditional center-right, secular parties. Many Kurds belonging to the Naqshbandī order also voted for JDP candidates instead of supporting candidates belonging to the Kurdish nationalist Democratic Society Party. Many analysts have therefore come to see the JDP, despite its Islamists roots, as the new representative of the center-right. That is the direction in which its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is taking it. Before the election he began to transform the party, purging about fifty members of parliament who belonged to the Islamist hardcore Millî görüş faction. In their place he appointed a number of secularists, especially women to give a modernist image to the party. The election of a secular conservative, Koksal Toptan, as speaker of the House to replace the hardliner Bülent Arınç has continued this trend. It remains to be seen whether the JDP will succeed in becoming a center-right party akin to Christian Democrats in Europe.


  • Allen, Henry Elisha. The Turkish Transformation. New York: AMS Press, 1968. Social and religious developments in Kemalist Turkey, originally published in 1935.
  • Barnes, John Robert. An Introduction to Religious Foundations in the Ottoman Empire. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1986. The rise and fall of the vakf s.
  • Berkes, Niyazi. The Development of Secularism in Turkey. Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964. The best book on the subject for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the early republic.
  • Birge, John Kingsley. The Bektashi Order of Dervishes. New York: AMS Press, 1982. Fine scholarly study of a neglected subject, originally published in 1937.
  • Finkel, Andrew. “Turkey: Torn Between God and State.” Le Monde Diplomatique (English ed.). May 2007.
  • Gibb, H. A. R., and Harold Bowen. Islamic Society and the West. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1950–1957. Somewhat dated but very informative about Ottoman society and institutions in the eighteenth century.
  • Göle, Nilüfer, and Ludwig Ammann, eds. Islam in Public: Turkey, Iran, and Europe. Istanbul: İstanbul Bilgi University Press, 2006. Important articles on Islam in the modern world.
  • Lewis, Bernard. The Emergence of Modern Turkey. 3d ed.London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Authoritative account of reforms in the Kemalist period up to the early fifties.
  • Rustow, Dankwart A.“Politics and Islam in Turkey, 1920–1955.” In Islam and the West, edited by Richard N. Frye, pp. 69– 107. The Hague: Mouton & Company, 1957. Stimulating and original.
  • Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. Islam in Modern History. Princeton, n.j.: Princeton University Press, 1957. A stimulating chapter on “Turkey: Islamic Reformation?”
  • Tapper, Richard, ed. Islam in Modern Turkey: Religion, Politics, and Literature in a Secular State. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1991. Excellent articles on a variety of topics by a new generation of Turkish scholars.
  • Toprak, Binnaz. Islam and Political Development in Turkey. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1981.
  • White, Jenny B.Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002.
  • Yavuz, M. Hakan. Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.


Ahmad, Feroz. "Turkey." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford Islamic Studies Online,

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"Muslim Journeys | Item #194: 'Turkey' from Oxford Islamic Studies Online", May 18, 2024