Situating islamic existentialism in Turkey: key existentialist concepts in Sezai Karakoç’s works

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Bilkent University
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The purpose of this dissertation is to put forward an analytical account that Sezai Karakoç, a conservative Muslim intellectual, author, and one of the founders of the Second New movement in Turkish poetry, created a sui generis characterisation of what this study calls Islamic existentialism in Turkey. An important literary figure of the 20th century, Karakoç utilises the existentialist concepts of death, freedom, authenticity, and isolation while following the Islamic and Sufistic doctrines since he preoccupied himself with the same philosophical questions existentialism asks and attempted to find their answers from a different angle and source, that was Islam. In this study, it is argued that Karakoc professes Islamic existentialism, primarily by stating that it is imperative to (i) overcome the anguish and despair of this life by accepting the reality of death and being willing to move past it to be reunited with Allah as the only Creator; (ii) pursue an authentic life by being a true believer, (iii) achieve the ultimate freedom-seeking for the divine love and by abiding by Islamic principles and rules heralded by the prophets, and (iv) transform the individual’s alienation by attempting to become a soldier of resurrection within Karakoç’s doctrine of the resurrection. While this study does not argue that Karakoç is an existentialist, it does argue that existentialism and its core concepts are resonated in his worldview and thoughts on what a true individual is, how to live an authentic and honest life, how to create the ultimate, Islamic, civilisation, and eventually how to unite with God as a sincere believer. This dissertation aims to contribute to the literature by conceptualising Karakoç’s doctrine of resurrection, encompassing the four concepts of existentialism and the teachings of Islam, which permeated his poems, essays, and worldview as such.

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Islamic existentialism, Death, Freedom, Authenticity, Alienation, Second new poetry, Sezai Karakoç
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