Indiana University Bloomington
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Islam and Politics in Turkey
Catalog number CEUS-U 320/520
Kemal Silay

This course, based on the previously offered seminar entitled “The Glorification of Jihad: From Medieval to Postmodern,” will explore the complex relationship between Islam and politics. Though the course will center around the case in Ottoman, and Modern Turkey, it will have a comparative approach with developments throughout the Muslim Middle East and other parts of the world effected by the phenomenon of political Islam and related jihadist discourses and activities. Jihad as a medieval literary genre, jihad as a medieval military tradition, and jihad as a modern/postmodern political weapon or “intellectual exercise,” and jihad as a “way of life” will be examined through the use of primary and secondary sources, such as the Qur’an, the Hadith, Ottoman historical and literary manuscripts, and especially more recent interpretations and analyses from Middle Eastern and Western popular and scholarly sources. This course will go far beyond the traditional classification of the concept as the “greater jihad/lesser jihad” and will try to locate and analyze it within the much larger context of political Islam. Thus discussions of terms and concepts such as “Islamic fundamentalism,” “Islamism,” “Islamo-fascism,” “Islamist terror,” “radical Islam,” “moderate Islam,” “militant Islam,” and many others will be an essential part of the course throughout the semester. Among the major sources of this course will be the world wide web, as it has become one of the foremost means of dissemination of political Islam. Students will be expected to participate actively in “surfing” this greatest virtual library of the 21st century for materials related to Islam as a cultural and social phenomenon, and Islamism as a political (and/or militant) program. Students will make their own intellectual determinations as to the topic, scope, suitability of material, etc., for what they bring to the discussion each week in the hope that we will see a wide range of ideas and approaches discussed freely and constructively in our class, thus benefiting from one of the most cherished values of our society called academic freedom. Some of the major themes of this course will be: Distinguishing Islam from Islamism; the Ottoman Jihad: Sources, Genres; Birth and Development of Islamism in Turkey; Secularism and Folk Islam; Iconography of Islamist Movements; Categorization of Islam and Muslims in Western Media and How it Collapses These Two with Islamism; Demonization of the West in General and the United States in Particular in Islamist Discourses; 9/11; post-9/11; Rapidly Growing Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism in Present-day Turkey and the “Root Causes” Argument; the Turkish Hizbullah; “The Great East” Movement;  the “Greater Middle East Project”;  Applicability of a Turkish Model of Secularism to the Countries of the “Islamic World.”


Required Books: