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Beyond Post-Islamism: Transformation of Turkish Islamism Toward ‘Civil Islam’ and Its Potential Influence in the Muslim World

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Abstract (2. Language): 
Turkey have been seen as an almost unique case as far Islam-state-secularism-democracy relations were concerned but the recent transformation of Turkish Islamism coupled with the global turmoil in the post-9/11 world has made the Turkish case much more important. Dynamics that affected the change in the Turkish Islamists’ Islamic normative framework have not been analyzed in detail. This paper endeavors the answer the question what kind of factors causes a change in political Islam in Turkey. Thus, this study endeavors to analyze the main factors behind the newly emerged tolerant normative framework of the JDP leaders who were formerly Islamists. After showing that there are historical reasons arising from the Ottoman experience of secularism and democracy and arguing based on a brief theoretical discussion of the plurality of Islamisms, this paper arg ues that the Turkish Islamism has always differed from the other Islamist experiences. Therefore, in this study, a detailed evaluation of the Turkish Islamist experience starting from the Young Ottomans is undertaken. Then, this paper attempts to show that Islamic groups’ physical and discursive interaction has been a crucial factor in the Turkish Islamism’s transformation. Main premise of this paper is that the Gülen movement’s ‘Civil Islam’ has been an influential factor that has helped the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, hereinafter referred as JDP) leaders to develop a more tolerant normative framework and to eventually jettison their Islamism. It is of course difficult to establish casual relationship between two social phenomena but one can underscore correlations. As the main hypothesis is that the Gülen movement has been an influential factor in the normative transformation of the former Islamists’ mental frameworks and their religio-political worldviews, this paper provides a comparative discourse analysis between Fethullah Gülen’s and Islamists’ ideas on several issues that have been relevant for both Islamism and newly-emerged post-Islamism. In addition to having been influential in Turkey, Gülen’s understanding of Islam, one can expect, will also be influential in the wider Muslim world in parallel to the increasing influence of both Turkey and the movement on a global scale.

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