The perception of Islam
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held an iftar dinner for prominent names from the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). I have to say that I resented the fact that the head of Diyanet, Mehmet Görmez, came with the controversial luxury Mercedes and stop there.
At the dinner, former heads of Diyanet talked about religious education and the perception of religion in society.
Let me briefly recount what they said.
Tayyar Altıkulaç: “There are not sufficient scholars on religious education. If the education on religion becomes so expanded, then the quality decreases. Post-graduate studies should be limited to faculties in Istanbul, Ankara and Bursa, which have a deep rooted tradition and efficient academic cadres.
The loss of quality in religious education is leading to serious problems about mentality.”
Problems on religious education
Sait Yazıcıoğlu: “We have youngsters that are affected by movements like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Radical trends are a big danger for the future of Islam. We need to take measures now before greater problems explode. Anyone talking about Islam needs to take to the forefront compassion, mercy and tolerance. The angry and otherizing rhetoric should be given up. The governments should endorse everybody. In the course of the past 13 years, the weakest area has been education. There is a deep quality problem.”
Professor Yazıcıoğlu, who was a parliamentarian during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) reformist period, advised that the election results are read properly and that a more compromising rhetoric be endorsed.
Profile of a Muslim
Ali Bardakoğlu: “We are fifty or so Islam countries. But we have not succeeded in putting a profile of a Muslim that gives confidence to humanity.
We the Islamic scholars share the responsibility in the fact that some remain distant to the religion or get carried away by radical religious trends. The religious information that we get from centuries-old sources and transfer to society does not correspond to today’s realities.
If we do not properly determine what to transfer to our people as religious information, increasing religious education in society will not solve the problem, it will further aggravate it. Currently Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are countries where you have intensive religious education, yet the problems are gigantic. Religious broadcasting on several TV channels is focused on either mobilizing anger and otherization, or spreading hearsay. Currently, religious brotherhood has given up on providing services, and become a race to be more powerful.”
A systemic problem
These respected scholars should write books based on these criticisms and Islamic arguments.
As a lawyer, I would like to recall how ancient sources are being used as propaganda for the presidential system.
If, in the 21st century, religious scholars use ancient sources dating back centuries to address “how a state can be better governed” without conducting any research on modern politics and constitutional sciences, then you end up with mentalities and movements like ISIL.
Don’t you see how important information quality is in shaping views?