Identity versus morality: conceptions of islam, modernity and politics in the writings of Necip Fazil Kisakürek and Nurettin Topçu
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This dissertation analyzes diverging conceptions of Islam in the writings of Necip Fazıl Kısakürek (1904-1983) and Nurettin Topçu (1909-1975), and ensuing differences in their critiques of Turkish modernization and their views on the relationship between Islam and politics. It proposes an analytical distinction between Islam-as-identity and Islam-as-morality to identify Kısakürek’s and Topçu’s competing conceptions of Islam respectively. Based on grounded theory approach, the dissertation suggests that Kısakürek presents Islam as a total ideology in the form of a system of beliefs and rules that encompasses all aspects of life. His conception Islam informs a vision of an alternative Islamic modernity that includes technological developments owned by Muslims, a form of capitalism run by Muslims, and a totalitarian modern state governed by Muslims. Kısakürek thereby represents Muslimness as an alternative way of being in the world that denotes a distinct political identity. Whereas, Topçu conceives of Islam as a framework for morality through which one connects to the transcendental, i.e. God. He characterizes Muslimness as a way of becoming, rather than a being, through leading a moral life. His conception of Islam-as-morality offers a holistic critique of the notion of modernity that extends to material aspects of modernity including technology and capitalism as well as modern political forms. These differences stemming from Kısakürek’s and Topçu’s conceptions of Islam have informed, on the one hand, dynamics of Turkish politics since their immediate context in early Cold War, and on the other hand, contemporary debates and divisions within Islamic intellectual movement in Turkey.