The founding of an Islamic university in Turkey

The founding of an Islamic university in Turkey

It is very important that the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Head Mehmet Görmez said the following, after listing several Islamic educational institutions in the world: “Scholars from these places, instead of solving problems, are themselves becoming problems in many areas.” 

In a very true diagnosis. Professor Görmez is saying that “the downfall has started” in the Islamic world. Really, is there one example of a regime that has been formed and is acting in the name of Islam that is worthy of appreciation? On the contrary, what are the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levants (ISIL), the Boko Harams, the al-Shabaabs, the Talibans and the al-Nusras? And why are they happening in the Islamic world in the 21st century?

Professor Görmez’s opinion is this: “Muslims’ biggest problems are not being able to establish the correct relations between religion and life; reason and revelation.”

Actually, this is the basic issue; the correct and wrong establishment of the relationship between the laws of life and reason with the aims of revelation and religion.

This is the summary of the experiences of 1,400 years of Islamic history: Setting the wrong or right relation between religion and life; reason and revelation.

The rampant Kharijites declared Caliph Ali an unbeliever and martyred him with the sword in the 7th century. These Kharijites’ foreheads were marked because of too much prayer. What kind of a relation had these Kharijites formed between life and religion, between reason and revelation, that they murdered Caliph Ali? Oh the similarity of the Kharijites to today’s ISILs, Talibans and Boko Harams!

On the other hand, there are also bright relations that Rumi, Yunus Emre and Hajı Bektaş Veli formed between religion and life, reason and revelation. Can you now see how crucially important the problem is?

Education can provide an answer. With education, you are able to advance both free thought and bigotry. Throughout history, those enlightened centuries that we call the Islamic civilization happened thanks to free thought. However, a dark education was also present in history, and that was how the downfall started. Today, ISILs are raised in such places.

Respected scholar Mehmet Görmez, mentioning Al-Azhar University and Saudi Arabia’s Islamic University and the like, said, “The Islamic world should discuss what kind of an education they have received at which sharia faculty.” He also warned that "instead of solving problems, scholars educated in these places are becoming problems themselves in many areas.” He is absolutely right.

Turkey’s higher education in religion and theology departments is much better, but it is still not free of trouble and it are still not adequate.

A bigger problem is the mass translations from Arabic, which have caused the emergence of political Islamists who are not well informed about the Ottoman experience.

There are people in our country who do not know about the great scholar Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, the architect of the legal reforms in the Tanzimat era, but who regard Mevdudi, who said, “Women cannot be civil servants” as a “great Islamic scholar.” 

The Diyanet, by staying carefully away from politics, can do a lot of things in the direction of re-instituting religious thoughts in Islam. I find it very accurate that Görmez will meet with YÖK and is initiating the founding of an Islamic University to this end.

In our country, we have valuable scholars and their books and have formed the relationship between religion and life in such a way to open new horizons to Muslims. I have cited the names and books of some of these scholars here from time to time.

I highly recommend the book by Görmez’s that I recently read, “The Methodology Issue in the Comprehension and Interpretation of Sunnah and Hadith” (Otto Publications). In it, the author explains the separate places of reason and revelation. Indeed, this is the main issue both in religion and even in sciences, “the problem of methodology.”