Towards a Muslim Secularism? An Islamic ‘Twin Tolerations’ Understanding of Religion in the Public Sphere
Turkish Journal of Politics, Vol. 3, No. 2, Winter 2012
12 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2013
Date Written: December 1, 2012
Since the mid-1920s, the top-down homogenization and secularization policies of the hegemonic Kemalist elite have aimed at socially engineering secularist nationalist Turkish citizens. The acronym LAST (Laicist, Atatürkist, Sunni, Turk) describes this ideal citizen typology. The state has also tried to monopolize Islam and has attempted to construct a state version of Islam (Lausannian Islam), marginalizing, vilifying and even criminalizing other Islamic interpretations. Nevertheless, non-state Islam and civil Muslim actors have not disappeared from the Turkish public sphere. One of these influential actors is the counter-hegemonic Turkish Islamists. They demand a role for Islam in the political realm, in a binary opposition to the assertively secularist Kemalists. Another influential actor, the intellectual leader of the largest faith-based movement in Turkey, Fethullah Gülen, offers a third way between these two extremes on state-religion-society relations.
This paper endeavors to show that an interpretation of Muslim secularism that inhabits religious and secular worlds simultaneously, that is in critical engagement with them and that blurs conventional political lines on the hotly debated issue of state-religion-society relations is possible.
This understanding of ‘Islamic twin tolerations’ challenges the artificially constructed binary oppositions. It also resonates with the Habermasian (2006) ‘religion in the public sphere.’ It argues that the faithful from all religious backgrounds can legitimately have demands based on religion in the public sphere and in the final analysis; it is the legislators’ epistemic task to translate these demands into a secular language in the legislative process.
Keywords: Kemalism, Secularism, Islam, Twin Tolerations, Hegemony, Rawls, Habermas, Fethullah Gülen
JEL Classification: Z01
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation