Professor of Philosophy
Middle East Technical University, Ankara
Secularization policies implemented by Muslim states such as Turkey, Egypt and Iran at the beginning of the twentieth century caused serious conflicts between state and religion. Attempts at the resolution of these conflicts by either party necessitated in turn, certain modifications both in the state mechanism and religious institutions. However, there are yet some major issues that have so far persisted, waiting for solution. I have attempted in this short article, to display the basic elements of the conflict, in the case of Republic of Turkey, adding a philosophical analysis to the sociological narrative of the events.
The need for a revision of the role of religion in state mechanism first appeared in the Gülhane Imperial Charter in 1839, which as a written document of modernization contained among other things, few articles concerning civic rights of non-Muslim subjects of the empire; which could be interpreted as departure from Islamic law Shari’a. Few other reforms were implemented in the fields of international commerce and navigation. In the following decades, a new educational reform program was enacted, with the aim of establishing new schools on European model, for military personnel and beauraucratic functionaries alongside with the madreses, the traditional Islamic schools (Mardin, 1989, 120). All these were indicating the fact that Islamic law and institutions were no longer good enough to handle the problems facing the Ottoman administration in the 19th century. It was due to this apparent inefficiency of Shari’a that a re-interpretation of the basics of Islamic law was thought to be necessary. A group of expert jurists were commissioned by the political authorities in 1868 under the supervision of Ahmet Cevdet Paşa, the renowned scholar of his time, to revise the existing codes and... [continues]
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